Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Finest Hour.


Contrary to popular belief, I was not always this cool.

She insisted on being in my lap while I drove my huge ocean boat.
There was, for instance, the time this picture got snapped. 

That camper is bangin.
When you factor in that unfortunate hip placement, the pigeon toes, and the fact that my family couldn't always afford the "brand name" clothes, it all equaled me getting picked on for most of my childhood. Some, especially today, would call it getting bullied. 

When the eighth grade came and went, I hit a growing spell that would eventually leave me around 230 pounds and 5'11". So when I came in my freshman year, I was a good deal bigger than some kids. But I still had no confidence, and still spent a lot of time getting picked on. 

My sophomore year came, and I got a car, a job, a girlfriend, and a new best friend, Kid Funk. The combination of those things sort of brought me around in the confidence department, and that's when I decided I'd had enough of the bullying, and started taking up for myself. 

I can remember a kid who had picked on me for a while hitting me in the arm in the middle of class, and I stood up, wrapped him in a headlock, and wouldn't let go until the teacher eventually threatened to send me to the office. I can remember a kid throwing a doughnut at my car windshield and me putting the car in park, grabbing the kid around the neck, taking a can of pop from someone, and dousing his head with it. In short, I was sick of it, and I liked putting people in headlocks. 

This is not to say I didn't take advantage of my newly found confidence. I can also remember putting a kid in a trash can - repeatedly - and body slamming a kid onto a table in a classroom. So I wasn't completely innocent. 

But I also remember the day my love affair with the underdog began. The day when I stood up to someone, and walked away feeling better about myself. The day when I decided bullying wasn't really right for me. 

The kid I rescued was really kind of scrawny. He's still a good family friend to this day, and I know his younger brother reads this blog, but I don't think he does. 

He was, and still is, very smart. He was a little on the dorky side, and small for his age. A late bloomer, if you will. 

I rounded a corner in the gymnasium, and I saw this kid pushed up against the wall with a bigger guy than me shoving him backwards and asking him if he wanted to fight. The bully may have been bigger than I was, but he was younger than me. You know the type. Hormones in the chicken and being held back several years had made him a 6'3", 250 lb. freshman. 

It's no secret on this blog that I hate confrontations. I always have. But on that day, I made a conscious choice to do something about it. 

I walked up to the bully, shoved him back, got in his face and said, "Hey man, why don't you pick on someone your own size? How about me? I'll fight you. I'll fight you right now." 

Of course there was a smattering of profanity interwoven into those sentences for effect. 

The bully, so eager to fight moments before, lost any courage he previously had and walked off, giving me a not so courteous goodbye. 

That's when the teacher rounded the corner. He'd heard the whole thing. 

The teacher and I locked eyes, and there was a very uncomfortable moment of silence where I was absolutely positive he was making up his mind to send to detention, and then he spoke. 

"Thank you, Travis. Someone has needed to that for a long time." 

And he walked away. 

I was left alone, the justified hero, and to this day, it was one of the finest moments of my life.