Junior High

Ermahgerd! There’s at least one book here.

At one point my inner child was a child. Brown, very male, and 13.

I didn’t like the clique thing. Rejected it totally. My band of merry dudeness was an eclectic bunch.

Pete Espinoza: long haired, skinny, tallish, budding guitarist. Uniform: t-shirt, jeans, fatigue jacket, tennis shoes.

Bobby Kurtz: mop head, skinny, medium height, braces. Uniform: t-shirt, shorts, down jacket, high tops.

Ray Trujillo: Jesus hair, skinny, tallish, million dollar smile. Uniform: dressed like a cholo.

David Oakley: shoulder-length straight hair, build like a brick house, medium height, constant poker face. Uniform: t-shirt, jeans, riding boots, denim jacket.

Jeff Saronian: short, short hair, string bean skinny, freaky tall, rubber face. Uniform: Clearance rack

George Fergoso: short hair, skinny, short, nonstop chatter. Uniform: Clearance rack.

Chuck (late transfer, from Nebraska) regular hair, built like a brick barn, looked like a varsity football player. Uniform: Red t-shirts, jeans, tennis shoes.

I never had identity issues. Was always very grounded in who I was, and what I was about.

Almost brawled one day with the local wanna-be gang during one lunch.

Chuck, Jeff, and George were kicking a ball around one lunch. It accidentally went towards this bunch of cholos under a tree. Like a-holes, they started playing keep away from our buddies.

We got up from under our tree, went over to the a-holes and we basically said, stop being a-holes and give them back the ball.

Very quickly we were toe to toe with the a-holes. I was very excited about the idea that I was going to beat the crap out of one of these guys.

I must digress.

Wanting security in knowing I could defend myself, between 6th grade and Junior High, my parents enrolled me in a martial arts class for the entire summer. But that wasn’t enough. They took me to the most barrio-est part of east LA for this class. Great.

It was a great challenge, and I took it that way. I was a total outsider; I think they kind of took it easy on my, because when they sparred each other, they knocked the snot out of each other. The instructors, not so much taking it easy on the kids.

Yes, the instructors would spar against us also. It was like being a mouse in a barrel with a cat. They would toy with you, let you try your moves, and then slam you down.

All except Mr. Soo. He was the oldest of the teachers. Easily in his 50’s. That old s.o.b. seemed to take great pleasure in taking you out as quickly as possible. I learned a lot from that guy. By the end I was able to get two or three good licks on him before he slammed me down.

Sparring with kids that knew how to fight, and probably did on a regular basis, and having adults that treated you with no mercy, physically, had me more than psychologically ready to kick the crap outta a kid no different than me.

Damn lunch supervisors. Of course things got broke up before anything happened. Not a bunch to let something like that go, we quickly made a plan.

Between classes, these cholos liked to nest along a wall, kind of middle of the school in the main hallway. Before the lunch bell rang, we made our way to the fence nearest this spot.

Bell rang, we “took” their wall. (How stupid does this sound? Not because we trying to pick a fight, just the thought we needed to make this a fight at all) One of the lower ranking cholos showed up, turn ran, quickly came back with their big guys.

Damn teachers monitoring the hall ways. Foiled again.

It ended there. Never had a problem before that day. None since.

Oh crap. I just remembered something.

Talent show.

Me and Pete put a band together, auditioned made the show (I’ll detail tomorrow)

Long story short, at the end of the 8th grade performance, as the curtain was closing; the a-holes were lined up in the back of the auditorium and started booing. I walked through the curtains, walked to the edge of the stage, gave them the one-fingered salute.

I failed to consider the entire 8th grade student body and faculty was between me and them.

Few minutes later, principal’s office.

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