My boy had his first run in with a school yard bully recently. Which took me back to my days as a “husky” (read: chunky Chicano) kid. Before my first real run in with such a tormentor, I remember my old man showing me how to defend myself. I am not the smartest person, but I can take directions. “Put your fists just in front of your face, Frankie.” Ok? “No, look at me. Hands at temple height with your left leading your right. Get in this stance. Bend your knees and jab. Jab, jab, jab. Fast and hard. Like Ali and Mando Ramos.” So I did and practiced in the garage regularly.
Then the day came at Driffill Elementary when I was in the 4th grade. An even fatter, shorter, and mean (half Mexican-Japanese-American) Jimmy I. started picking on me in the hallway in front of girl classmates. Feebly, I said, “Stop it.” Emboldened by this weak protest, Jimmy I. was getting ready to attack. Without saying another word, I methodically staggered my stance, bent my knees (à la Bruce Lee), and raised my dukes just like dad showed me. Fat Jimmy I. rushed forward. Jab. Jimmy I., stunned, stepped back. Nose reddened and angered, he tried again. Jab. Jab, jab. I struck on target. Jimmy I. retreated looked at me, for a moment, and those around us and ran home crying.
I held my own. But I felt kind of bad since Jimmy I’s. mom was my Little League team mother. Well this is how I remember it.