I will never forget the day I got into my first fight. It was a brisk day, with streaks of white painting the otherwise bright blue sky. The summer, sandwiched between my fourth and fifth grade years, had been pretty uneventful thus far. Little did I know this day would set off a chain reaction of events that would send the rest of my summer into a whirlwind of chaos. Actually, I just made all of that up! I find the memory of my younger years is pretty hit and miss. I have bits and pieces here and there; not enough to really put the entire puzzle together.
I'm not sure how old I was. Which season the day actually fell on is still a mystery to me. I can't even tell you if this was my first fight. Honestly, none of that really matters. But I am certain this was one of many fights I took part in until I reached high school. Growing up, I'm 99% certain I had what some people would call "Little Man Syndrome." Perhaps you have heard it referred to as "Napoleon Complex." Not that it makes much difference what the technical terminology is. There are only two things you really need to know in reference to this psychological phenomenon. First, I was short. How short exactly, I don't recollect. But considering the average height of a male is just a hair over 5'9" and I'm only 5'4", it is safe to assume most guys had about 6 inches on me. The second thing you should know, I was overly aggressive. That was my way of compensating for my lack of height. Let me put it another way for you. If someone looked at me funny, I was ready to rumble.
Now that I've set the scene, let's pick up with the action. For the sake of the story we will say it occurred one weekend while school was in session. This is pretty plausible since I vaguely recall an altercation leading up to this fight a day or two prior. The contender, who happened to be my arch nemesis throughout Elementary School, was named Kenneth Leathers. There was something about this guy that just rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps it was the incessant harassment. After a while, it really began to wear on me. Come on, a kid can only take so much!
Kenneth was tall and lanky. But then again, from my perspective, everyone was tall. He was the cowboy type; always strutting around in Wranglers and cowboy boots. We were roughly the same age. And it just so happened that we lived in the same trailer park. (If you don't believe any of this, feel free to look him up on Facebook. You will see we were both from Rapid City, graduated high school the same year and he is even wearing a cowboy hat, leaning against a tree, holding an acoustic guitar. And by the way, he still looks taller than me.)
As I mentioned, there were regular altercations between the two of us. Apparently I had enough! And I decided we were going to settle this once and for all. After some discussion, the two of us agreed to meet by the old barn, the following day at dusk. Actually, it wasn't a barn at all. The meeting place was a playground near the trailer park. And I'm pretty sure it was broad daylight when the fight went down. (It sounded a bit more cinematic meeting by the old barn at dusk.)
The day finally arrived and my older brother and I made preparations for the throw down that was about to ensue. I put on my tightest fitting clothes so he wouldn't really have anything to latch onto. And I certainly wasn't going to wear a shirt he could easily pull over my head in order to beat me to a pulp. Then I grabbed my only pair of cowboy boots from the closet and slipped them on. (Don't judge me! I was a little kid and didn't know any better.) I should probably leave out the fact that we came across some brass-knuckles to take to the fight as well...but I guess it's too late now. I'm not sure where they came from, but I can guarantee you, they were never put to use that day.
While my brother and I made the journey to the playground he proceeded to give me a pep talk. Picture Mickey telling Rocky Balboa "You'll be able to spit nails, kid. Like the guy says, you're gonna eat lightning and you're gonna crap thunder. You're gonna become a very dangerous person." and you get the idea. Knowing my brother, it was likely eloquent and pretty inspiring (take note of the sarcasm). It was probably something more like "Beat him up!"
In the distance I saw Kenneth standing in the middle of the playground. He had a small crew of guys with him; which was why my brother came along. To ensure it was a fair fight and there wasn't any tag team stuff going down. When I got to the playground, I walked toward Kenneth, likely spouted off a few smart remarks and came out swinging. I landed a few punches before he grabbed ahold of me and threw me to the ground. I got back up, charged in swinging and took a few hits from him in the process. It was then I decided to make use of my cowboy boots and kick him...anywhere really. We continued to tussle for a few minutes as the fight made its way to the merry go round. For some idiotic reason he decided to stand on it. I guess he thought taking the high ground was a wise decision. I used my quick wit, grabbed one of the bars and started spinning the merry go round as fast as pssible. He held on as long as he could; but eventually gravity won and threw him to the ground. At this point I found it prudent to jump on his chest and throw a few punches.
And that's where it ended. I don't recall why the fight stopped. I know we both had a few bumps and bruises. It was interesting trying to explain that to my parents when I got home. But, I was able to hold my head a little higher that day. I finally had the courage to defend myself. And according to Fight Club, I now knew myself. Oh yeah, Kenneth never messed with me again.
I'm not sure why I shared this with you. Maybe it's because my buddy John Samuel said I should share some of my stories. I guess perhaps it has to do with the fact that I just needed to write and this happened to be on my mind. In addition to that, I have been wrestling with my other posts a little too much lately and needed a break from them. Hopefully this will help the words to start flowing on the 4 or 5 posts I have in progress right now. In the meantime, you have something to read and you know a little more about me.