It's 1984. Adryana, a shorter than average 7th grade Mexican girl, makes the... more »
Adryana, a shorter than average 7th grade Mexican girl, makes the transition from private school to public school - and comes face to face with the kids on the other side of the track. After meeting her future best friend and avoiding a near ass whooping by an 8th grade boy, Adryana is confronted by a she-brawler that calls her out to a fight. Will she be victorious...or humiliated by this public school hooligan.
This is the first in a series of (true) short stories entitled "Potty Mouth."
For Adults - Strong Language Used « less
CHAPTER #1: "I Don’t Know Karate…But I Know Crazy"
I’m not exactly a tall person. In fact, at 5 feet 1.5 inches I am - technically speaking - almost a fucking dwarf. It's true. If you're a woman and are less than 5 feet tall, you officially qualify for midget status. I stopped growing at the ripe old age of thirteen and when I started junior high, I was easily among the smallest in the entire school. If people ask me now, I usually round my height up to 5 feet 2 inches. What's half an inch in the spirit of avoiding mass confusion?
was the year that this Catholic schoolgirl became a public schoolgirl. My mom enrolled me into Hollencrest Junior High School in West Covina, California and I didn't know a single soul. I was terrified and making things worse were the constant you're so tiny comments.
Now, in Catholic school you're taught all about the terrifying perils of the public school system. According to my Mother Superior, there were hedonist bullies that steal your lunch money, pull up your skirt, shove your face into toilets, and on occasion indulge in mass killings! Aye, Aye, Aye! Santa Maria! It goes without saying that my early educators scared the living be-Jesus out of me.
As I walked onto my new campus, all that was running through my head was - I'm going to die, that girl wants to mess with me, don't make eye contact, just keep walking, don't look up.
On that first day of public school I had the good fortune of meeting the person who would become my very best friend - Lisa. I can still remember the moment vividly. I was wearing a fluorescent lime green top with matching pants, cream lambskin ballet flats that tied over my foot (they were so cute but PEEE-UUUUU! They stunk like shit!), and a GIANT bow wrapped around my head. The bow was also in fluorescent lime green. I must have looked like a fucking leprechaun! The other kids must have expected me to say stay away from me pot of gold in a Celtic tongue when I spoke.
I had THE haircut of the moment - with one side of my head shaved and the other side long to my shoulder. It was an exaggerated version of the asymmetrical bob that was sooooooo popular in the 80's. I walked into my sixth period physical education class which was being held in the auditorium so that all of the classes could be properly briefed at one-time on gym clothes and showering etiquette. Showering?! YIKES!
I entered the room and decided that I would sit towards the back so that the murderous pagans I had heard so much about couldn't easily spot me. As I walked into my row I stopped dead in my tracks as I noticed a girl with a strikingly fashionable hairdo entering the row from the opposite side. Could it be...no way...my god she is so cool, I thought. We both arrived to the middle of the row in mutual admiration. It was my future best friend, Lisa, and we were sporting the EXACT same hairdo!
That moment was the beginning of a lifelong friendship together. A good haircut can do that you know...
Lisa was already - on the first day of school mind you - VERY popular. Everyone knew who she was, especially all the eighth graders! Now, to a seventh grader, that was mighty impressive. I soon came to learn that Lisa had an older sister, Toni, who graduated the year before. Toni was legendary and extremely, I mean EXTREMELY, feared. The word on the streets was that it wasn't only the girls that she could handle with one swift swing of her fist, but the boys as well. She was exactly the kind of public school kid that I had heard about! I wasn't sure if I should be happy or scared that this notorious Toni person was my new BFF's sister. I feared for the day I'd have to meet the bruiser herself.
About two weeks later, that day arrived. To my surprise Toni was no brute at all. Sweet as apple pie was the best way to describe her. Toni’s soft demeanor behind closed doors was something that few at school witnessed. But DO NOT be mistaken, back in 1984, she'd cut a bitch if provoked.
The one thing that perplexed me most about Toni was that she, like me, was extraordinarily short. One day I asked Toni, from one midget to another, how it was that she became so infamous and skilled in the art of fight. She let me in on a little secret that day - she wasn't rough or tough or any of the things that everyone claimed. She just pretended to be. Yes, she was abnormally strong for her size, but she would go big to project fear into her targets - and perception is indeed reality for most.
About a week after meeting Toni my worst nightmare came to fruition...I'd learned a homicidal maniac was coming for me! The butcher's name was Noreen. I don't know how or what happened but Noreen somehow had it in for little ol' me. Toni's go big advice combined with the fact that I was the daughter of a powerful drug lord - a story for another time - meant I'd have to shed my catholic girl plaid skirt for Dickies immediately, and not back down once confronted by this hooligan!
The day came quickly when I ran into Noreen. It was in the hall on my way to third period when I saw that I was walking straight for her. My inner dialogue was screaming run, run, run for your life! Save yourself! Hurry! Go! Fast! But in that moment, I channeled Toni and my father's DNA, then opened my mouth and said, "Bitch, you do not want to fuck with me mang! My hands are registered as lethal mother-fucking weapons Holmes!" Listen, I'm Mexican so it's either a Chola or Speedy Gonzalez and I just didn't think that ándale! ándale! arriba! arriba! was that scary.
Well Chola worked and I somehow managed to Jedi-mind-trick Noreen and put the fear of god into her. She went running to her boyfriend, Adrien, and must have exhibited complete terror because Adrien decided to come after me himself! He was only a year older than me - but public school years are like dog years - and word had it that he'd punched a girl in the face the year before! I'm telling you - these public school kids were no joke!
I don't know what it was about being in junior high but there always seemed to be an announcement as to when and where someone was going to get their ass kicked - making the build up to the beat down all the more horrifying. It was broadcasted that Adrien would be pummeling me the following day after school.
OH MY GOD, A BOY IS GOING TO BEAT ME UP?! I cried in immense distress to my friends. That's when Lisa decided it was time to bring in the big guns. After school we walked to Lisa's house and when Toni arrived we rushed to the front door to tell her about my impending crisis. “Don't worry. Let him know that I'LL be there and if he wants to fight you, he'll have to fight me first,” Toni declared. Now those were some comforting words!
Sure enough, before second period the next day it had spread like wildfire that Toni would be coming to the school as my back up. Lunchtime rolled around and I was feeling pretty secure when I noticed that Adrien was walking straight toward my table! Oh my fucking god, doesn't he know he's breaking protocol? He's not supposed to beat me up until AFTER school? I thought I should dive under the table, but before I could courageously hide, Adrien was standing beside me.
I closed my eyes, made the sign of the cross (in the name of the father the son, and the holy spirit) then braced myself for his infamous bone-crushing uppercut. But it didn't come. After a few seconds I heard him sheepishly say, “I just wanted to come over and say I'm sorry.” Hmmm, wait a minute...was I going to avoid getting beaten up altogether right now, I thought. “I hope there's no hard feelings,” he continued timidly.
It was then that I was faced with a crossroad. Do I accept his apology and let him know how petrified I'd been? That was probably the right thing to do, but then I heard Toni's voice in my head say “perception is reality” and my big mouth took over...again. “You'd better be sorry,” I warned. “It might be a little too late because Toni will be here after school and she's coming for YOU!” He looked like a kid getting his first rectal exam. I'm telling you, the power that Toni wielded with the threat of possibly coming after you was the kind of childhood indoctrination that leaders of developing countries could only dream of achieving.
At 2:50pm, when the final bell rang to go home, I walked outside and there was Toni. As promised, she had come to save my ass but was proud to learn that I had held my own. Her apprentice had grown that day so she decided it was time for me to start growing my very own myth, like she had done when she was just a young padawan.
Being that it was the era of Karate Kid, she suggested I tell everyone that I was “a black, no a second-degree brown belt in karate.” She coached me meticulously so that no one would ever know the truth. AJ-son, with the help of sensei Toni, performed hours upon hours of wax on wax off, sand the floor, and paint the fence exercises so that I could fool even the most trained of eyes. I didn't learn a lick of karate, but if style counted for anything - I sure looked like a lethal weapon.
When school came the next day, I began working that karate myth like a fat girl eats carbs. I channeled my inner Bruce Lee and told elaborate tales of my brutal and body crushing matches, about how my sensei would work me all hours of the night (which was true if the night before counted) and that I could be imprisoned if I ever used my hands against an untrained civilian. In one class in particular, math with Mr. McKinney, I would talk about my karate skills at length. As chance would have it, there was a girl in math, Emily, who took Judo - so she ALWAYS wanted to talk about it! Someone who got to listen in on my mythical ass kicking exploits was cute and unsuspecting BJ Amacangioli.
BJ sat next to us so she got to hear first-hand about all of our martial arts battles. I use to say - loud enough so everyone in math could hear - that the type of karate I took was tae kwon do, which in fact isn't karate at all. Karate originates from Japan and tae kwon do originates from Korea. Luckily there was no Google at the time, so BJ Amacangioli and the rest never questioned my faux pas. They just stood wide-eyed as I recounted stories of my death-defying encounters. I wasn't ever really sure if people believed me or knew I was completely full of shit. All I could hope for was that the word would get out - and a legend would take hold - that I was lethal so I would never be faced with getting beaten up again.
Just as I thought I would be breezing through the school year unharmed by the vicious public school kids, trouble started brewing again. I don't know why or how but this time a girl by the name of Christy Bolinger - an 8th grader - had it in for me and she challenged me to a fight! She was a tiny, cute little blonde who had seemed so sweet from a distance. Despite the lies I'd been spewing to the masses, this Christy chick was still willing to fight me. I was shocked and quickly thereafter afraid for my life! She clearly must have known how to take someone down otherwise she wouldn't risk her life against a young Jean-Claude Van Damme like me!
Exacerbating my predicament were the rumblings all over school about how my karate skills would soon be on full display! “Fuck, fuck, fuck! Now what am I gonna do,” I said to Toni in a panic! Toni's advice – “Freak her out early. Grab her by the hair, yank her face down to your knee, then knee her in the face.” Nice advice, huh?
After much consideration I decided to call my dad who was actually a black belt in what he called kata karate. Most parents aren't overjoyed to hear that their kid is gearing up for a big fight, but my dad wasn't exactly conventional. “Is she a pinché giant,” he asked with concern. “No, she's only an inch taller and really skinny,” I answered. “Fuck it then, kick her in the pinché ass!” He then proceeded to explain the difference between all the various forms of martial arts. Aside from his seemingly irresponsible advice, it was actually a pretty enlightening conversation. You see, I always thought that when my dad said he took “kata karate” he meant to say just the word “karate” but his accent somehow prevented him from saying it correctly. But kata was an actual term that explained karate moves. He was always running around the house demonstrating his various karate kicks and punches while singing “FATMAN” to the Batman tune, so I logically thought he was just being funny. Every time he showcased a karate move he would pair it with a loud “HI-YAH motherfucka!” I hung up the phone with my dad feeling a bit more prepared but no less petrified.
On the morning of the scheduled fight I exaggeratedly fake vomited in my mom’s bathroom in a desperate attempt to get her to let me stay home sick from school. It didn't work. I then contemplated writing a letter of confession and reading it over the loudspeaker during homeroom. Once people found out I didn’t really know karate, they’d lose interest in watching me showcase my ancient Japanese art form. But the bullshit that I’d been spewing was SO good that it seemed like the entire school was planning to attend the main event! The build up to my fight was monumental - second only to Muhammad Ali’s Thrilla in Manila. I got dressed - in all fluorescent pink - and went to school knowing I’d soon be facing certain humiliation.
Ironically, that day at school was the dichotomy of terrifying and exhilarating. All of a sudden I was like a mega celebrity! Kids I’d never spoken to gave me the thumbs up or walked by saying things like, “go easy on her kid!” That kind of celebrity is addicting and I sort of started to believe my own hype...a trait I’ve retained to this day. I’d smile and nod all the while desperately trying to hide my debilitating fear. By the time 6th period came around I was on the verge of shitting my oversized parachute pants.
As the final school bell arrived, I walked out of P.E. with my trusty companion Lisa by my side. She was pep talking me the whole way to the courtyard. We turned the corner to the main patio and there was a large group of kids, with Christy Bolinger standing in the middle waiting for me.
I could hear myself breathing and, despite the 80-degree weather, felt a cold chill. Things got a little blurry but I remember clearly that Lisa took the books out of my hands, which was my cue to get into the Karate Kid stance. At that point I had no choice but to fully commit to my bullshit. I heard rumblings in the crowd as I struggled to stand on one leg to display my awesome crane technique. The next thing I remember is a loud “HI-YAH” coming out of my mouth as I put Toni’s move into action. I grabbed Christy’s hair, pulled her face to my knee, and attempted to knee her in the face! What the fuck was I thinking? That move is barely legal in the UFC today!
Luckily I had no idea what I was doing and missed. The scuffle continued briefly, but poor little Christy Bolinger must have gotten really spooked by my Karate Kid pose because she froze! Before I knew it, it was over and all I could hear were the oooh’s and ahhh’s from the crowd. I was dazed and confused but apparently, through style alone, I had won the fight!
The next day at school I was a bona fide A-list celebrity. Only the likes of Madonna could compare in public adulation. Stories of my supreme martial arts skills were being told all over campus. I heard one kid, who I'd never seen before, telling the epic story of my ninja style. “She jumped into the air and kicked her right in the face,” was how the story morphed...an exaggerated version to say the least.
As time went on the story of my Jackie Chan prowess subsided, and by the time I got into high school it was a distant memory. I never talked again about training with my Sensei because I dreaded ever being put to the test again - and undoubtedly being found out for the fraud I was. My close friends and I would occasionally mention the time that I “kicked Christy Bolinger’s ass,” but it would quickly be laughed off because of the absurdity of the event.
Luckily, kids have a really vivid imagination, and with the help of Toni and my dad’s coaching, I made it through those scary public school years relatively unscathed. I still, after all these years, find it hard to fathom that anyone actually believed that I was a second-degree brown belt. But about two months ago, 22 years later, I logged onto Facebook and noticed a friend request with a message from BJ Amicangioli - my sweet and unsuspecting math classmate that was there when I first planted the seed of my fighting skills. Her message read, “Hey AJ, how are you? Hope all is good! Are you still taking Karate?”