RECORD STORE TALES #956: MY ENEMY
It started in second grade, and for no reason that anyone knows. There was a kid in my class named Steve. My enemy. A born bully, he had his radar locked onto me the very first year we met. Because he was the classic bully, needing to project strength to the other kids, he sensed that I was the only one he could go after and wouldn’t fight back. That’s how bullies operate. Picking on me in class, in the school yard, in gym. He always had someone else nearby, and I was always alone. The teachers did not care. Catholic school was the worst, because the teachers preferred to ignore these things or blame both parties. They thought that teaming me up with Steve in gym was a way to make us get along. Teaming up the abused with abuser. Real smart. We had to do stretches together and support each other as we stretched back and forth. The thought of touching that bastard’s skin made me feel sick. Needless to say, I hated him just as much afterwards as before. Well done, Catholic school teachers!
The torment went on for a couple years until I finally had enough. In grade four he went one step too far and I fought him at recess one day — our first actual fight. I lost it and pummeled him. He later claimed that I broke his tooth, which I doubt, but I took it as bragging rights. I remember a bigger kid lifting me up off of Steve and dragging me away. “He started it!” I screamed. “He started it!” As usual, the victim got in as much shit as the perpetrator. That’s just how bullying works. We both had to go to the library for detention after school, but I don’t think either of us actually went and I don’t think any teachers noticed. I could care less — I knew I was in the right. When you push someone relentlessly eventually they push back. Half of the thrill for the bully is finding out how much they have to push to get to that breaking point. It took him two years. Shithead Steve got what he deserved that time, and there was no way I was accepting a punishment for it.
Steve wasn’t in my class for grade five which was a reprieve. It was not to last. Grade six was bad. He was back at it, but I had an idea. The Catholic and public schools had March break on different weeks, and when Shithead was going at me hard that month, I asked my friend Bob to show up at school to intimidate him. Bob was off for the break, was two years older, and towered over everyone else. He didn’t show up on the Wednesday, and the bullying intensified that afternoon. When he did come on the Thursday, I introduced him to Steve, who fell over backwards in fear. It was awesome. Bob didn’t have to do anything. He did just stood there and smiled. His imposing size did the rest and Shithead left me alone for a while again. But not forever.
Grade eight was the worst year for bullying. It was the year of the Mount Mary retreat. But it was also the year I got Steven off my back, permanently.
In September ’85 he started at me right away, and I wasn’t taking it. Bob was trying to teach me to stand up for myself. So, this was going to end. I was done taking his shit. I challenged him to fight and finish this. After he no-showed the first appointed date, I insisted — absolutely insisted — that we do this on my turf. No unfair advantages for him. So we met at the baseball diamond at Stanley Park School. He brought a bunch of his friends. All I had was Ian Johnson and Kevin Kirby, who weren’t really my friends at all. They sure didn’t seem like they were on my side. They made it clear they just there for the show. I was saddened but not surprised that my “backup” was just there to watch a fight.
We tangled. A lot of me chasing him around. I landed a punch in to the head — I’d never hit someone in the head with my fist before. I dragged him down on the ground and just beat the piss out of him. Then he got up and started running in circles. I nailed a few painful kicks on him, grabbed his shirt and got him on the ground again. I didn’t want to injure him. Just wanted him to cry. I stayed away from the head and face and laid a beating on his upper body. My watch broke, a fragile Transformers watch that I wish I still had. Steve cried and screamed. His scream was ungodly, but the truth is, like a sadist, I savoured every one. I wanted more. Heinous? Then this is my confessional. Over the last seven years, how many times did that bastard make me cry? He had this coming — and far more than I was willing to deliver. I just wanted to hear him scream again.
I let him up and then he started running around again, taunting me. This went on several times. Me getting him on the ground for a beating until he cried, then I’d let him up and he’d start running around again. He grabbed my hair a lot but I don’t remember him landing any hits.
Finally I’d had it with him. He obviously wasn’t going to concede, and I wasn’t going to damage his face. I decided to bring the evening to an close with a final humiliation. One more time, I got the little bastard on the ground and gave him a sound beating. Then I got up and gave my speech. It was a verbal tirade on the Art of Being a Loser. As he lay in the dirt, I declared Steven to be nothing more than a malodorous piece of shit, and the absolute loser of the day. It was pretty epic; I just improvised but it was Shakespearean thunder to me. I ended my little speech by proclaiming that everyone already knew that he was a loser.
“That’s all you are, and that’s all you’ll always be.”
I got on my bike and rode off alone, to the deafening silence behind me.
Home again, I went into the kitchen and told my mom I broke my watch in a fight. I burst into tears because I thought she’d be so disappointed in me.
I was also worried what the reaction would be the next day at school. After all, I declared myself the winner and departed alone on my bike. Would Shithead accept his defeat? Apparently so. He left me alone for the rest of the year. Either Kevin or Ian came up to talk to me later. “I was thinking about what you said about Steve. You were totally right. He IS a loser, and he’s always going to be one.” The validation didn’t matter as much to me as the fact that Shithead Steve was scared off. And he was. He kept his distance from then on.
At the end of the year he made some half-hearted comments about a rematch, but it was not to be. I caught Mono and was home sick for the rest of the school year. And that was the end of my enemy. He tried to make a comeback in grade nine, but his bullying powers were gone.
A loser for life. My predictions were correct. Today he is a pathetic antivaxxer, an angry drunk, and still a total piece of shit. He lived up to the full potential that we all saw that night on the baseball diamond in 1985. Well done.