down in the dumps.

once, in the sixth grade, i think, i didn't do so well on a math quiz. and by not doing "well," i mean i got a c. paul, this portugese jock with wavy hair and dimples, informed me, "man, you're down in the dumps." and another time, when i got first honors instead of high honors, my teacher, mrs. ogan asked me if everything was alright at home. "yeah, it's fine," i told her, and walked away. but before i could move two steps, she grabbed me by my red sweatshirt. "are you sure?" she asked, accusingly. she had a look in her eyes, disappointment or worry, i couldn't tell. i nodded, scared shitless. no teacher had ever touched me before. i was pretty sure they weren't supposed to. it happened at the back of the room, so no one really saw it. my memory isn't so good. sometimes i remember things from another perspective. maybe it happened to another kid.

other out-of-body, vague memories: age 3 or 4, my dad closing my door, telling me goodnight, but it must've been a dream, since i wasn't sleeping by myself yet. age 2 or 3, on an airplane to the philippines, me yelling at my dad for him to wake up, and he doesn't, at least not for a while. age 5, this second grader throwing me up against a fence. we were playing a game, but i told everyone he bullied me.

in kindergarten, i had this yellow lunch box with animals on it - a giraffe, a monkey, an elephant, and some others. thayne, a piece of shit nobody two grades ahead of me, walked right up to me, and said i shouldn't have that lunchbox because it was a "baby's lunchbox." even then, i knew i wasn't supposed to listen to such trite nonsense, but i did. i told my mom i just wanted a plain lunchbox. later, the same thayne gunther would go on to steal my self-titled rage against the machine cd at joseph's 12th or 13th birthday party.

i was pretty much left alone until high school. during my first theology class freshman year, this kid named dax, the epitome of a misogynistic, homophobic excuse for a jesuit jock, just started kicking me. he was sitting in front of me, and for some reason, he turned around and started kicking my leg, harder and harder each time. he looked over at another douchebag in class, and said, "look, i can just keep hitting him and he won't do anything." i guess i just expected our white teacher to notice that one of his students was being physically assaulted, or for dax to stop at some point, but when he didn't, i kicked him back. i guess it's what he wanted because he finally let up. this blonde-haired sorry excuse for a human being also picked on other minorities, including a soft-spoken thai-american kid named kevin.

another day, we had to play rugby during p.e. i got taken down hard a few times, but i didn't really care. i had no interest in playing a game i knew only white people played. but something must've happened. maybe it was all the shit-talking, or maybe i finally saw an opportunity to do what bill murray advised "the rest of us" to do in rushmore: "take dead aim at the rich kids. get them in the cross-hairs, and take them down." i pretty much snapped and felt a shot of adrenaline. i took travis ryan down, and then another. and then another. i was ready to die on the field that day.

coach hastie spat sunflower seeds all over some kid's bmw. i guess he knew the kid, and he didn't like him much.

the only thing i really learned in my four years of high school was passive-agression; to repress everything, and to let it all out in a destructive and hateful manner.

when i was a sophomore, columbine happened. it was april 20th, and i was giving a report in my english class about terrorism and violence in general. one classmate asked what "ATF" stood for. before i could answer, another student called out, "alcohol, tobacco and firearms." mrs. ellis interrupted him, "give him a chance to answer!" i answered, "alcohol, tobacco and firearms." when i got home, my mom was watching a handful of students on the tv screen, and all of them were crouching with their hands on their heads. she told me what had happened, but i couldn't say i was surprised. i was only surprised that it hadn't happened at our school yet.

i really felt no sense of brotherhood, or belonging, that others spoke/speak about. i did go on kairos (senior retreat), and temporarily deluded myself into thinking that this small group of boys who i hadn't spoken to for four years were going to be my brothers. had i never read catcher in the rye and come across the word "phony," things might've been different.

i still don't speak to anyone from high school, except for dong bui on occassion. dong was a pothead who eventually had to quit when his lung collapsed a few years back. he and i bonded, and still bond, over the common belief that our parents were duped into dumping money into a sexually repressed, hate-making, racist institution. he says he would love to teach at jesuit one day.

as for me, i've learned that i need to lighten up on the cynicism. i need to go into something, and not keep one foot out the door. it's tough though, you know, being down in the dumps.

1 comment:

Nino said...

I'm sorry things didn't work out so well. I gradauted a few years before you, guess I had a different experience. Feel better.