Once upon a time in Pratt, America, there was a boy who loved nothing more than to run like a crazed maniac on the playground, greeting his classmates of the opposite sex with kisses.
These kisses were never requested and certainly never returned.
They were NEVER welcomed. Not by any one of my fearful female classmates.
They were, in my mind, the equivalent of a “drive-by-kissing”: this young man would run from one girl to another on the playground, ‘capture’ her in his arms and smooch her hard on the face. Occasionally, he kissed a few of his captive “girlfriends” on the lips, but mostly not since any and every girl he targeted became immediately obsessed with the thought of getting the fuck away from their sudden and creepy suitor.
As far back as I can remember this boy being in my class, I recall him sprinting about the playground, over-eagerly delivering his cooties to every girl who was too slow, or too preoccupied, or too unlucky to avoid him.
Thankfully, I was successful at avoiding him.
That is, until the fifth grade.
It must have been spring or thereabouts. I was wearing my favorite denim jacket (that was absolutely COVERED in ‘buttons’–yes, photos do exist). It was time for recess, and surprisingly I was at school for once. (I had HORRIBLE issues with anxiety when I was in the 5th grade–um. Okay, pretty much ALL of my life–and missed tons of school. Like, a truancy amount of school. At the time, NOBODY in the medical field in Kansas seemed to know about anxiety. At all. Just like nowadays. Huh.)
I was out on the playground with my friend Michelle, I don’t really recall what we were doing or talking about…I DO recall my anxiety seeping in around the edges that day and feeling ‘nervous’/nauseous. We were just minding our own business when WHAM!!!!!
Out of nowhere I was accosted by the serial kisser.
I was mortified. I vaguely remember Michelle laughing at me.
I say I only ‘vaguely’ remember my friend’s laughter because nanoseconds after a kiss had been forced upon my cheek, I found myself running.
I caught his collar with my left index and middle fingers.
That fucker was fast and I was surprised I was actually able to catch him.
Once I got two fingers into the back of his collar, I found it very easy to slip the rest of my hand in, and I jerked back on his corduroy jacket so forcefully that he landed supine on the ground.
I immediately lurched upon him, staining the knees of my hot pink stirrup pants with the cool, green, patchy grass of Kansas springtime. My hands had balled themselves into fists and I began to pummel this kissing bandit in his face, forehead, neck, chest. All of my ‘nervous energy,’ all of my humiliation, all of my anger hit that kid with every satisfying blow.
He began to cry. He was trying to say something to me, but I didn’t really give a shit what he was trying to relay. I was too concerned with delivering my wrath.
(Sooooooo much wrath.)
Somehow, I found myself standing over him, kicking him repeatedly. Attempting to cover his face with his hands and arms, he was crying harder now, the sound he made was somewhere between a howl and a sob. His nose was bleeding. I wanted to kill him. I wanted him to shut up. I wanted him to quit forcing his kisses upon the general female populous of our school.
But mostly? I wanted to kill him for humiliating me.
Suddenly, a realization hit me.
I was beating the shit out of this kid. On a busy playground. Where there were ‘playground monitors’ and other school employees who would certainly have seen what transpired.
HAD they seen?!??!
I stopped abruptly.
I exchanged glances with the now-bruised and bloodied bandit. I glared at him as I began to back away; slowly at first, then I found myself hustling towards the school–half of me hoping that when my punishment was handed down to me it would be swift, and the other half hoping I could maybe hide behind a small shrub near the building and wait out the authorities. I was aware that beheadings had not ever really been embraced within the school district, but I was certain they would make an exception just for me. I didn’t know how much time was left for recess, and I was afraid of being out on the open playground. I decided that if the teachers were going to find me, I wasn’t going to make it easy for them.
As I ran towards the school, the bell rang. Recess was over.
I thought to myself “Oh, God. This is it. They are waiting for me and when we line up to go back into the school, THAT’S when they’re gonna get me. Detention for sure. Fuuuuck.” (Wait. A fifth grade girl, swearing?!! You’d better fucking believe it. I once called a kid in my first grade class an asshole. I can’t remember why, though.)
I saw my friend Michelle. I saw my teacher. I hurried up and got into my class’ line.
We went back to class.
For the remainder of the school day (which, I believe may have been a total of 45 minutes), I agonized over what I was going to tell my parents when I had to call my mother and tell her I was in detention for beating up a classmate.
I worried some more.
No trip to the principle’s office.
The end of day bell rang and school was dismissed.
I remember I could NOT get to my mother’s car fast enough when she came to pick me up from school. As we drove away, I was certain we would be stopped by a wall of teachers, led by the principal himself. He and the rest of the faculty would be carrying pitchforks and lit torches, and he would say: “We’re sorry Mrs. Steinert, but your daughter kicked the crap out of one of her fellow students today. We’re going to need her to move in to the school for mandatory detention. We shall return her to you when her sentence is up. Or when the torture devices have been exhausted.”
I warily eyed the school as we drove away. My mother asked me how my day was. I told her it was fine, but I didn’t feel good. My stomach hurt and I felt short of breath: In short, I didn’t know if I would be able to go to school the next day.
She sighed, and said simply, “Oh, Lissa-Bethy. Let’s decide tomorrow morning.”
I don’t recall if I went to school the next day.
That shithead NEVER kissed another girl on the playground again.