I found out years later that Mr. and Mrs. Arre were having marital problems at this time. Elle’s mama seemed to look right at me from the window of the now illuminated porch, she paused, then turned the light off. Meanwhile, Elle had yelled enough vulgarities at the stringy kid, I believe, causing him to back off and drive away with his car load of friends. Elle seemed particularly aggravated with me over the whole thing. I didn’t know this is how it would all play out so I became aggravated with her aggravation. I left that night not sure where I stood with Elle and wondering how I could have handled this better. What I didn’t know then, but I am aware of today, is when you see everyone as the enemy your life becomes a combat zone. I didn’t know this is how I viewed the world. I wasn’t even aware that these scenarios don’t play out in everyones life. I don’t remember ever thinking about how violent my life had become. I just knew I didn’t get caught by Elle’s mama so I still had a chance to receive intimacy lessons from her.
I remember the Brementown boys always laughing at my exploits. They, alone, had this gift for making me laugh at myself. They had a sarcastic, humor based way of seeing things. They were all sons of blue collar, hard working middle class families. Humor, as I learned throughout my life, can get you through anything. On Sundays, during the fall, we would all gather at Jims house for Chicago Bears games. Jims mom would make snacks, Jims dad would sit on the floor and the rest of us would talk shit and make fun of each other. Jims parents were welcoming of anyone in the neighborhood and would sit in on our shit talking sessions. We, for the most part, would talk openly and frankly in front of Mr. and Mrs. K.(Jims parents). They were the least judgmental adults I have ever known. By the time Elle moved on to an older guy, at the end of my Junior year, this whole little crew of people knew the background, daily occurrences and how heart broken I was over her. What I didn’t realize was how long it would take me to heal.
The summer between Junior year H.S. and Senior year H.S. I was grounded. My grades were horrible, I had been a regular in detention and I had been suspended for fighting in school a few times. The only consistency in my life throughout H.S. was the Brementown crew and wrestling. Now it was summer and I had nothing. My fathers mom, my Grandma, moved in at this time since both my parents were working. Mom had taken a job at a local bank and Dad still worked in Chicago for the gas company. My dads mom, Grandma Bird, was a frail little old Irish woman. She had an incredible sense of humor and let both me and my little sister know she didn’t want to get in our way. However she knew I was grounded and she told me she put land mines in the front yard incase I tried to escape. I always assumed this was a lie but I never tried to escape just in case. I spent that summer smoking weed, by myself, mourning the loss of Elle. I had no choice.
Senior year started and on the inside I was a complete mess of a human being. I was trying to fill the void of where Elle was so I was smoking a lot more weed than normal. I was never taught how to approach women. I had a lot of female friends by this point mostly because I never approached any of them inappropriately. They didn’t see me as a threat. By the time I had reconnected with the B-Town crew, after my grounding was over, there was a whole posse of females hanging out with us. My face cleared up, I was still doing Dads workout routine, I had wrestled for my entire H.S. career and now I was single. It was like I woke up one day in the fall of 1987 and realized there was an entire school of beautiful females who were friendly to me. The only problem was Elle was a senior too.
As the first day of senior year was coming to a close, I was reminded repeatedly that some Freshman was telling people he kicked the shit out of me in my car in front of my girlfriend. I didn’t understand this because I never spoke of fighting. My friends never challenged me and I never challenged them. It was a part of me that I didn’t ask for advice on and didn’t go out of my way to expose to anyone. The more I hung out with my friends, it seemed, the less I worried about being attacked. I felt safe. These reminders were coming from people who weren’t my friends… so it bothered me. Looking back, I saw myself as someone who had to fight like hell to have any friends. When I lost fights – I lost friends. I didn’t want to loose these friends. This threat had to be dealt with as soon as possible. I do remember consciously thinking to myself that this Freshman had some fucking stones. He approached me alone, for the most part, and was avenging a wrong done to his girlfriend. I kind of respected that. However, I couldn’t let this go on. I had to act rageful, out of control and blood thirsty to squash this shit. I instinctively knew how to handle it.
I wandered the halls looking for the stringy freshman. When I found him, I shoved him into an open locker knocking all of his books loose. He was with his friends and I got loud with them all. I never struck him and assumed he wouldn’t attempt to strike me. I was correct. His eyes were as big as saucers so i knew there would be no further shit talking. We ended up shaking hands and agreeing to forget about the whole thing in front of the Dean in his office. We never crossed paths again.
Today, that stringy freshman is a MMA fighter… he is in his 40’s