It took a few weeks before I was comfortable hanging out with my friends again during that summer before High School began… my face had healed and I was well under way in dads fighting lessons. I met new people, still hung out with football teammates, and girls were in the mix now too. Champions attract the hotties I guess. One particular girl, who lived a few blocks away, was friends with a lot of my teammates from the neighborhood. We were clannish that way I suppose, but she had her reasons. She had a crush on my buddy. He liked someone else. I kinda liked her. It turned out to be a strange frustrating love triangle that seemed hopeless for all involved, except my buddy. He liked a girl who liked him back. Lucky fucker.
We hung out almost everyday riding bikes around the town and looking for pools we could go swim in. The undefeated season drew a lot of admirers, including older guys who were proud that an Oak Forest team finally had success and glory. They would befriend us, then try to hit on our female friends that were hanging around. It was the sneaky, boy way of doing things. This didn’t bother me in the least since none of the girls seemed interested in me. Maybe one would serve as wingman to my quest and we could convince the girl I liked she should reconsider my appeal. It was a long shot… but i found a willing participant. He was as awkward looking as me.
On a regular group outing around town one day we all ended up inside the girls house. Her parents weren’t home and we usually behaved as such. We weren’t a gang by any stretch of the imagination. We had, what I believed to be, a set of unwritten rules we all followed. We joked with each other, were appropriate with the girls, respected each others parents and would see each other the next day. It was simple. She didn’t like me, but her crush wasn’t returned to her. There were no ill feelings. My newly appointed older wingman didn’t see things the same way. He was starting to embarrass me. I tried to give him signs to stop, withdraw and retreat.. but he seemed to not care. At all. At one point he slapped her on the ass. I had a little sister… ass slappin was over the line. I let him know.
The wingman heard the story how I got K.O.d. I knew this because he said to me, “didn’t you just get K.O.d?”. I replied that my fight has nothing to do with slappin her ass. I told him he was over the line and back off. He slapped the ass again. At this point she stood up for herself.. and kicked us all out of house. The wingman got loud with me on her front lawn and she demanded we leave her property. If we didn’t listen to her she would call the police. Another member of the group suggest we go to the park a block away… so the wingman and I could discuss things further if we wished. The wingman agreed… away we pedaled.
I felt the fear deep inside my body radiating from my stomach. My hands could barely hold onto the handlebars of my new, blue Schwinn 10speed, that was handed down to me by my cousin. I pedaled slower, purposefully, then the rest of the group. One or two guys were watching me… the wingman was saying he was gonna K.O. me quicker than the last fight… bets were starting to be made.
I knew I had no choice. I was, however, questioning my reasons for trying to stop the wingman.. what made me say something. After long thought I gave up searching for a reason. I had to take care of the business at hand… win or loose.. I was going to do my best.
As I pulled into the park the wingman was dancing around like Muhammad Ali. Talking as much shit as him too.
I hopped off my bike and let it roll into the grass of the field surrounding the park. I walked straight up to wingman ali and jabbed his face 4x with my left hand… then gave him two straight right hand punches as hard as I could to his nose. He stood there, confused, as the blood started to pour out of his nose. I stood there too, with the biggest smile I had ever shown in my previous 13 years of life. The group broke us apart. He went straight home that day. I did too as a matter of fact. Not to tell my dad, or call the girl. I didn’t want any recognition and felt no glory. I passed the test.
I went home searching for the address of the kid who broke my nose at the mall a year earlier.