Several kids in my advisory class were discussing the possibility of a fight breaking out between students later in the day. One of the gossipers turned to me and said, "Yo Mista, you seem like the type of guy who has never gotten into a fight." Unfortunately, he was wrong.
In the first grade, my mom worked at McDonald's part-time. She didn't have to because my dad was making plenty of dough as an electrical engineer, but she wanted to get out of the house as my father generally preferred she stay inside. My father wasn't all bad though, he allowed her to clean the house 24/7 and cook him three hearty meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and a packed dinner for work (he worked a later shift - 2 PM - 12 AM). Pretty nice guy, my dad.
Before becoming corrupted by her own rise to power in our household, my mom felt pretty bad about the conditions I grew up in. My dad was drinking all the time, beating the shit out of her and ruining our weekends. To compensate, my mom did super nice things for me sometimes. One of the things she used to do was drop off a McDonald's lunch for me every Friday. That sounds disgusting now, but as a six-year old obsessed with fast food, this was amazing. She would literally get to work early, buy me a Happy Meal, drive back to school and drop it off at the main office. Imagine receiving a Happy Meal for lunch in school personally delivered by your mother. Needless to say, many of my peers forgot how dorky and nerdy I was on Fridays: Oh hello ladies. Sure, go on ahead and take some french fries. By the way, did I mention I turn seven soon? No? Oh, and I'm also single. Wait, why are you leaving? Oh right, no more fries.
I wasn't exactly big for my age when I was six. And I was getting yummy food for lunch. If it wasn't McDonald's on Fridays, it was a delicious brownie for dessert in my packed lunches the other days. A classmate of mine, Conner Wheelman, began to take a special interest in what I had to eat for lunch everyday. I knew him very well, pretty much everyone knew Conner: the bully of our grade. He was the first grader who was clearly supposed to be in third grade. And by physical standards, probably fourth grade.
"Hey, let me get your brownie." Conner asked and/or demanded. I admit, it was kind of hard to tell if it was a question or a command. At this point, I thought, I could either say 'no' and get my ass kicked, or maybe if I give in, we'll be friends. Remember: I'm in the first grade at this point, so I really couldn't think two or three steps ahead.
Fast forward a few weeks. Conner Wheelman comes and sits next to me everyday during lunch. Why? Because everyday he took it from me. Sometimes, he left me an apple or maybe half a turkey sandwich my mom had made for me. But he always ate the fucking brownie. At the same time, he'd try to make me feel like we're buddies. "Hey man, thanks for that brownie. You and me are good friends," he said. Yeah, this is really working out, I thought. I eventually asked my mom to stop bringing me McDonald's for lunch on Fridays. She thought I was just hating the spotlight I got in the lunch room. Such a modest and thoughtful son.
Conner basically ate most of my lunch for the remainder of the first grade. I grew to become pretty skinny that year. The following summer, I asked my mom if I could take karate lessons. I was the only non-White or non-Hispanic person in the school, so it was only going to get worse. I knew that at some point I wouldn't be able to talk my way out of a fist in my mouth. Plus, I was smart enough to know that girls weren't really into kids who got their asses kicked.
By the time the second grade started, I was already up three belts, from white to yellow to orange. Unfortunately, Conner Wheelman was expelled my school at the end of the first grade when he decided it was okay to push the principal and spit in his face. It didn't matter though, because when one bully disappears, another quickly steps up to fill the gap and Keith Alvarez was on deck.
Keith was similar to Conner in many ways, but he wasn't as tall. Maybe it's because he hadn't failed two years in a row like Conner. I received the occasional "dork", "nerd", "Indian" (even though I'm Pakistani...) and "brownie" insult, but overall, second grade began pretty smooth. And, I got to enjoy my packed lunches and even a few McDonald's Happy Meals on Fridays before Keith decided he would bother me.
It must've been October, as we still got to go outside in the playground for recess, but it was a bit chilly. I had eaten my sandwich and apple in the cafeteria, but had decided to take my brownie outside to eat. I walked by the track where the bigger kids were playing two-hand touch football. Quite an entertaining game, I thought. Perhaps I could enjoy this game even more if I ate my brownie and watched simultaneously. What a great idea. As I took the brownie out of my Superman lunch box, a hand reached out, almost out of nowhere, and snagged my brownie away from me.
If you've ever seen a movie about jail, or talked to someone who has been to jail, then you know first impressions are everything. It was at this moment where I decided to make mine. "Give my brownie back, Keith." I demanded.
"Awwww! The brownie wants his brownie back. This is going to be so-"
He never got to finish that sentence because my roundhouse kick connected perfectly with his cheekbone. With his face and body twisted to one side, I began delivering swift side kicks to his exposed rib cage. I'm not sure how many times I kicked him, because the side kicks eventually transformed into simply kicking him while he was down. I must've gone deaf when I attacked, because when I finally stopped, there was a huge crowd of students around me yelling, "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!"
I had just kicked someone's ass.
A rather large lunch supervisor barreled through the circle of students and grabbed me by the shoulder. Another one appeared and literally lifted Keith off the ground and we were escorted to the main office. We each told our story. Our parents were called in. We were both suspended for the day, which surprised me because I thought I would've gotten suspended for at least two or three days. I later found out my mom had gone off on the principal about how amazing my grades were and how the school could let a straight-A student sacrifice his lunch to bullies and not expect retaliation. I guess in the end, if you look good on paper, people tend to give you an advantage.
Keith never spoke to me again after that fight. In fact, I never saw him after the second grade. I have no idea where he is today or what he's doing.
As for me: I enjoyed my lunch with confidence for the rest of my time in school.