All My Quarrels

1. Age seven, opposite two playground boys playing keep-away with my balled-up socks. Of whom, one, I punched.

2. Fifth grade, a Tony-named boy slammed my head in a desk. His revenge for my pushing him into an emergency exit door. I cried in the principal’s office. He did not.

3. Walking to basketball practice; 10 years old. A teen-aged person I had never seen before walked up and, introduction-less, did a flying, spinning karate kick to my head. He had mistaken me for someone else.

4. At my friend Jamie’s house, eighth grade, with my friend Sid, who punched me on the top of the head after an absurdly long game of Risk. Wait, actually I’m not sure this one is real.

5. Freshman year, soccer practice. An older kid kept pushing me and finally I swung at his face without warning. I earned myself a tough reputation and gave him a bloody lip. Both quickly reverted to their prior conditions.

6. Also freshman year. I pulled down the pants and underpants of a math classmate in front of several girls to whom, I’m sure, he would have preferred, under improved circumstances, to reveal his pubescent penis. He claimed the right under an obscure legal statute to punch me on the left shoulder for two weeks, and availed himself fully of it.

7. Senior year; not a fight, but I mouthed off to a man-child whose poofy hair scraped the hallway ceilings while we bumped shoulders. For this he rewarded me with a thorough choking. During which I noticed he had a tear tattooed on his cheek. I believe he was later expelled.

8. College; practice field for the ultimate frisbee team. After some retrospectively amicable bullying, I threatened my (much, much larger) opponent with unspecified harm. This inspired not fear, but curiosity, which I finally indulged by landing a single punch into his shoulder. In my underweight, eighteen-year-old mind, this should have been enough to knock him right over, Goliath-like. Instead it nearly knocked him (and several onlookers) over with laughter.

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