Saturday, October 07, 2006

Today's Moment of Dad..."Violence in Moderation"...or, "Lunchboxes, Self-Defense and You".

Before I start today's "Moment of Dad", I'd like to explain some Midwesternish concepts to you. (Also, Dad isn't a main character in the story, but rather, a very important supporting actor. And as usual, he gets the best lines.)

I don't know if the word "ornery" is universal...I've certainly never heard it used on "The Sopranos", and really, isn't that a touchstone for the world? (*sarcasm employed here*)

Anyway, "ornery" means different things to different people. Sometimes it's akin to "impish", a prankster who likes a good joke but doesn't REALLY mean to hurt anyone.

Some folks, however, employ "ornery" in a darker way. This use implies someone who is mean spirited, and actually would be OK if someone got injured (emotionally or physically) as long as HIS/HER good time was uninterrupted. that definitions are out of the way, here's the story I would like to share.

Our family lived in a rural area pretty much all our lives. My sister and I rode the school bus everyday when we were little. Like all kids, we got picked on, or befriended, or both. We usually departed the bus unharmed.

However, there were a couple of high school boys that thought it was cool to pull our hair, smack us around, and make our lives miserable. We tried to defend ourselves the best we could, but they were big boys, BROTHERS to boot, and personified the 2nd definition of "ornery". Looking back on this as an adult, I still don't understand it. They didn't have to be "big brothers" to us, but they didn't need to pick on little girls in such a physical way.

We endured it for as long as we could...Mom said that was the best way to deal with teasing. However, Mom wasn't on the bus. We were.

Then, one day, Ruthi came home with a bloody nose. Mom asked me who did it and I said, "The big N*** boys on the school bus." You could always tell when Mom was really gonna fight because she always said, "Oh, he DID, did he?"

Therefore, to quote "Dumb and Dumberer", it was on like Donkey Kong (only Donkey Kong wasn't invented, so maybe I should say "On Like Pong"? Oh god...back to the story).

When Dad came home, Mom took him aside and told him what happened. I think I heard Dad say, "Oh, he DID, did he?" (apparently, osmosis is employed in marital relationships...who knew?)

Ruthi and I weren't sure what was going to happen. We bot sat there like scared little bunnies, then Dad scooped both of us up in his lap and talked to us about it.

"What happened today with those boys?"

Ruthi said, "They wouldn't leave us alone, Daddy. They kept pushing us and pulling our hair, and then the bigger N*** boy hit me in the nose." I nodded in agreement and said, "They do this every day,'s scary."

Dad looked at us with eyes that showed loving, determination, and a tinge of anger all at once.

He then said, "All right, you've listened to your mother long you're gonna listen to me."

While stroking our hair and cuddling us, he said, "Tomorrow, when those boys start in on you, you fight as hard as you can. Hit 'em with everything you've got...your bookbags, your lunch pails, ANYTHING. You fight for each other...if they start with one of you and the other one's free, you fight as hard as you can. If you get in trouble, your mom and I will be right behind you. You know what else? If you break your lunchpails, we'll get you new ones."

It was like he knew our second greatest fear as much as our fear of the N*** boys. Amazing. How do parents do that?

While our sister and I were glad to hit each other on more than one occasion, it was surprising to me that Dad said it was OK to hit someone else. Mom and Dad both warned that this was a special case. We couldn't just do it whenever we wanted.

The next day, we had no trouble in the morning, but on the afernooon bus, the trouble started up again.

It started with words said in a mocking tone. The usual..."heh, you're ugly, heheheheh", "wow, you're a real bleeder," said by guys so dumb you can almost hear the misspelled words when they spoke.

Then the pushing. "Dumb girl...always got her nose in a book, don't she know she's dumb?"

Pulling of hair..."Hey man...should I snatch her bald? That'd be cool, heheheh"

(In case you were wondering where the bus driver was, he was there, and he'd yell at the boys, they'd stop, and then start in again when the driver was distracted.)

Finally, the bigger one of the two boys decided to go over the line. He grabbed Ruthi by the arm and pulled her up, then started twisting her arm behind her back.

Ruthi yelled for me..."Sue! Sue! Help me!"

I came running up to the boys, and they tried to grab me too. However, they were not prepared for my secret weapon...

My blue Snoopy and Woodstock lunch box.

It was molded blue plastic with bottom edges so it would stand up, and it was hinged. I loved that lunchbox. It had a matching thermos, and Mom packed it every day with my peanut butter sandwich, a slice of cheese and a cup of chocolate pudding.

I am like my mother in the sense that I usually can't hit the broad side of a barn when I hit something.

However, I must have been channeling Joe Louis that day because I nailed the biggest N*** boy dead in the face, and made his nose bleed...just in time for the bus driver to reach our house.

The big ape loosened his grip on my sister so she could wriggle away, and then was sumb enough to say, "Sue hit me with her lunchbox!" like I was some fifty-foot Amazon woman that was victimizing him.

The bus driver looked back at him and said, "I saw the whole thing, young man. You'd better sit down and BE QUIET!!" Sheepishly, the bleeding N*** boy sat down, slumped and defeated. His little brother was quite embarassed too, because I think his crotch narrowly escaped my backswing. (That would have been quite the feat for a first grader too...two jerks with one shot.)

The bus driver asked if we were OK and complimented me on my aim. I smiled back shyly and asked Ruthi if she was OK.

We came home to Mom and told her what happened, and I even showed her my lunchbox...which by the way had nary a scratch. (See, apparently I was economical in my younger days. Wish I could say the same now...ANYWAY...)

Later on, as we were eating dinner, the phone rang. Momma answered it, and sure enough, it was Mr. N***. All we could hear was Mom's side of the conversation, which went something like this:

"Uh-huh...yes, this is Mrs. John Dawson...yes, I have two daughters on your sons' bus route. What? Your oldest boy was hit in the nose by my younger daughter, causing it to bleed? She almost hit your younger son as well? Well, that's interesting. Would you like to know how old my daughters are? Well, the daughter WHOSE ARM WAS TWISTED BEHIND HER BACK BY YOUR OLDER SON is eleven years old, and the daughter WHO HIT YOUR OLDER SON IN THE NOSE TO GET HIM TO LET HER SISTER GO is SIX!!!!!"

(OH...when my mother is on a roll, I love her. She could take paint off a house with her voice.)

Mom said the next thing she heard was, "WHAT????" followed by, "You dumb sumbitch, what the hell do you think you're doin' , beatin' up little girls?", trailed along with "OW! Dad! OW!"

Dad patted us both on the head and said, 'Ya done good, kids..." which is the John Dawson Seal of Approval.

So the moral of the story is: Gandhi should have used a Snoopy and Woodstock lunchbox sometimes, and talked to my dad. Passive resistance my ass!!!!

Thus endeth today's moment of Dad.