When you move back to your hometown after an extended period of time away I suppose one should expect to run into familiar faces.
Recently on two separate nights I ran into two of the biggest jerks of my adolescence. But in both accidental reunions the 2011 models were excessively nice. In both instances I had to wonder if they had selective amnesia. They each greeted me like I was a long lost brother. Their joyous expressions at bumping into me made me wonder if I imagined the harassments and beatdowns.
I’ll recount my memories. One of the guys is now a roly poly proud husband, father, and computer technician. But in 1993 he was the craziest guy in the neighborhood. He once got in a wrestling scrum with an opponent in the middle of a basketball game. The skirmish was broken up, but his opponent went to his car and pulled out a two foot metal pipe. “You want to fight me now?”
The crazy guy calmly said, “Yeah, but you better knock me out with that thing or I’m going to take it away from you and stick it up your ass.” The other guy quickly put the pipe in his car and was persuaded to rejoin the game.
Even though I was always an obnoxious shit talker, seeing this and countless other incidents always made me aware to keep my mouth shut around this guy, but once I must have done something to piss him off because as I was leaving the court he called out my name. I waited for him as he hopped the fence and ran up to me. He then coldcocked me right in the face. It didn’t knock me down, but I was seeing stars and cuckoo birds. He was a couple years older and tougher than the skinny 15 year old version of me, so I can use that excuse or the one that I was too shocked by the punch to fight back, but whatever the reason I cowardly turned around and walked away from him.
The next time I saw him a month or so later he said “What’s up?” like he didn’t punch me in the face the last time he saw me.
So I reminded him, “Dude, you punched me.”
“That’s in the past.” he said. There was no arguing that fact and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t in the present or the future so I let bygones be bygones.
But the next time we played basketball was the strongest evidence I’ve seen of the existence of karma. He jumped in the air and landed on my foot. It was completely accidental, but the son of a bitch turned his ankle so bad that he couldn’t walk home under his own power. Not that I hold a grudge against him or anything. I wish him and his family the best.
The other guy I ran into never put his hands on me, but everyone wanted to get their hands on him. He never had a nice thing to say to anyone. Now he’s a sweetheart, but two decades ago he was evil incarnate. I can only remember one specific incident that represented this man’s true nature. It also took place on the basketball court. When something didn’t go his way, he picked up the basketball and in a tantrum punted it as hard as he could. The ball flew fifty feet in the air. The ball’s arc was in slow motion and all our eyes followed it as it landed the only place it could. Square on the head of a three year old toddler stumbling around. The impact of the ball brought the kid down into a pool of tears.
The culprit was pissed all the other players were staring at him. “What? It’s not like I did it on purpose. Go get the ball.”
The ball was brought back into play, time passed, people changed, and hopefully that toddler has not grown into a brain damaged adult.