It’s funny how things happen. I was the toughest boy in high school you know. Did you know that? I bet you didn’t.
It wasn’t my fault. How it happened, I mean. And it didn’t happen in the way you might imagine.
You know I never went in for bravado; I couldn’t, due to me not being very brave. It was just a rumor that did it. That is all it took to start the ball rolling. I was able to perpetuate a gathering pace to the ball by not denying my toughness. For ‘strong, silent, don’t mess with me or I’ll kick you backside’, read, ‘Too shy and not brave enough to speak up and deny’. Maybe I should credit myself with a modicum of intelligence too; self-preservation suggests, had I denied it I would then be open to attack. Best keep quiet. I think.
Bloody hell, the last thing I wanted was to get into a fight!
I went through the whole of high school never having got into a fight. This falasey of toughness; my calm and quiet nature. It made people respect my opinion. I built a reputation based on respect and reason. I was fair on all sides. I was saviour of the underdog and sometimes the bullied. It was easy to remember that I too was an underdog, risen to the top on good word of mouth press coverage.
I didn’t ask to be in this position Mum, and I was too weak to affect things to be otherwise.
It was Brett that started the rumor. I came to the school with him and four other boys from junior school. He was an alright lad. We’d had a fight at junior school once; well, about three punches worth. He was a bit rough, somebody to be fearful of. It happened that he had me corneerd and threw a punch. Being scared of the potential pain I moved my head and he hit the wall instead. I instinctively threw a punch back and hit him on the nose. Then, inexplicably I threw another – quite out of character – hitting him on the nose again. He cried. It made me feel sad. I think.
Anyway. At high school Brett was in a different form from me. He must have got talking to some lads. He could be quite a character; not shy. Pretty good with people (He’s in a mental secure unit now on medication). They must have got onto talking about fights or who is tough and all that sort of thing. He deflected away from himself, perhaps remembering junior school, and pushed it on to me.
That was it. From rumor, to my inability to speak up and say differently, resulted in securing my position as the toughest boy in school.
It is a situation that says much about how society works, don’t you think. Our lives built on rumor and falsehoods, reputation out of inaction, respect out of shyness, an intently listening ear to few words softly spoken. And maybe vice-versa! I think.
Until I write again.
Love, as always. Your son.