There was a time as a lad growing up in Philadelphia that I wasn’t too tough. In actuality, I was considered a bit of a cry baby by some friends and family. Five soon to be six, I had a difficult time dealing with bullies. I had no father. Learned things of becoming a man I wasn’t offered, so in many ways I was left lacking. My father wasn’t deceased just absent do to sporadic irresponsibility and prison terms. Many children he fathered but failed to raise all over Philly and South Jersey. All were bastards minus one, me. My parents wed yet I have brothers a few months older and younger than I. Rest in peace to siblings lost many years ago before escaping adolescence. The price paid to the streets for morality we fail to instill in our children. Unfortunately most of my bastard siblings didn’t have what I had; people who cared enough to offer me guidance and direction.
A young bully by the name of Scottie roamed the streets of my neighborhood terrorizing kids from his bike. Run ‘em over and down is what he loved to do. A “CHiPS” helmet he wore on his head conjuring up mischief and assaulting his peers. On Scottie’s neck grew a large growth in the form of a huge brown bubble. It made him look almost disfigured but it never discouraged him from getting into a confrontation. As an adult, now I understand that his disfigurement most likely fueled his negative behavior. One day I became his victim. Scottie ran me over on his bike and I did what a cry baby does, I cried. Snot dripping from my nose I made my way into the house still shedding tears. I told my mother what happened then tried to make my way up to my bedroom to finish my cry. There was one thing standing in my way, you. You wouldn’t allow me to be defeated so easily.
You dragged me back outside to face my tormentor. Scottie smirked and other kids laughed because I was so soft you had make me come out and fight after I had been disrespected. Once in front of him you ordered me. “Hit him back!” I gave a weak attempt, hitting him lightly on the shoulder. Again you ordered me. “Hit him again. Hit him in the face!” I swung and hit the side of his “CHiPS” helmet hurting my hand more than my opponent. Back inside we went and I could see the disappointment in your eyes. Unknown to you, a lesson was learned and confidence gained that day. I started to see Scottie for who and what he was, a coward. If he were actually challenged who knows who might win. Nobody was fighting back; Scottie was winning by default. Cleaning my self up, I looked into the mirror and remembered the look in your eye. I respected you, and I needed you to respect me too. To garner that respect all I had to do was stand up for my self, something I should be doing anyway. Quietly I waited for my opportunity.
I went outside as often as possible over the next week hoping to have a confrontation with Scottie. Never the initiator of conflict, I had to be patient and wait for the trouble to come my way. Eventually the opportunity for redemption arrived. Scottie, being the bully he was, saw an opportunity to test me and he took it. I lingered in the alleyway just as he was riding down at top speed. He spotted me then targeted me. In my peripheral I could see him coming. I moved just in time so that he barely missed me. “Get out the way punk.” Scottie yelled as he turned his bike around and rode back towards me. I just looked on as he approached. He quickly dismounted his bike and walked up on me. “Yea punk, yo’ light skinned daddy ain’t wit you now. What you gonna do?” Without saying a word, I balled my fist up and got in a fighting stance. Scottie was stunned that he was actually being challenged; I saw it in his eyes. Inside me more confidence grew. Then your words rang in my ears. “He ain’t tough he just pick on dudes he knows ain’t gonna fight him. I bet if you fight him one time he won’t never pick on you again.” I knew then that you were right. Before he got his guard all the way up I swung my left fist, thumb tucked in my palm. I was aiming for his nose but he turned his face and I caught him in the temple. Scottie spun around and fell to the ground. The first thing I felt was fear for several seconds, I thought I had killed him, until… the kids in the alley erupted in laughter and cheer. The older kids started calling me the champ. Elation and pride came over me as they lifted me onto their shoulders. “Champ, champ, heavy weight champ.” Scottie’s older brother helped him to regain consciousness as I was carried off out onto the block to more cheers and praise.
I thank you for that day in my young life. As a man I would rather resolve my problems minus becoming violent but I still refuse to be bullied. You taught me that I’m not someone to be run over in life, figuratively or literally. The courage you instilled in me that day helped me to become the man I am today.
In those dark days when we question our value there are some things we need to be mindful of. No man is an island and it takes a village to raise a child. It’s a small world; there are many lives we touch during our existence on this planet. That good deed done, lesson taught or time spent may have taken little effort for you but remains monumental in someone else’s life. Please continue to leave your imprint through your offerings.
I heard you were a little down so I thought I’d drop you a few lines to remind you of the positive affect you’ve had on my life. I haven’t seen your face in over two decades but what I learned from you still resonates with me. Perry I want to thank you for the offerings you’ve given to me. Your presence in my life has been profound. Be blessed brother.