I was on top of the world.
In a few short days, I'd forever be away from Monte Vista Middle School, and I'd be going into high school.
Even better than that, the big graduation trip to Great America was the next day, and this school day couldn't end soon enough.
As it is, I only had a few classes to go. I went to my locker and got my books. Or tried to, anyway. Once I'd opened my locker door, someone slammed it shut. This was fairly common in middle school; at least it was to me.
I didn't know my tormentor; he was a tall kid with a shock of carroty hair and beady Scut Farkas eyes. After the third time he shut my locker, I figured, ah, to hell with it, I'll just get my stuff later since this moron obviously had some kind of problem.
His problem persisted. As I walked away, Carrothead started kicking the backs of my feet, you know, like when you try to trip a guy? You kick his foot while he's walking, hope it locks in the back of his knee joint, causing him to fall, and hilarity ensues.
Alas, he was kicking my foot only when it was firmly on the ground. Taller than me or not, he was pissing me off.
"You know, that works better when my foot is off the ground, ass," I said without looking behind me.
I made it almost around the corner when he shoved me. Hard.
"What the hell?" I asked, trying to keep my Jiminy Cricket voice as deep as it could go.
"What's your problem?" he asked me, shoving me in the chest.
Ever the diplomat, I replied, "I'm just trying to go to class, and some stupid moron asshole is trying to trip me. That's my problem."
"You think you're tough?" he asked, giving me another shove.
In point of fact, no, I didn't, but this hardly seemed the time to bring it up.
"I don't even know who the hell you are!"
Saying that I'm not good with conflict or confrontation is like saying Amy Winehouse is an occasional social drinker. Though I didn't know who this guy was or why he had this problem with me, I did know that I didn't want to get into a fight the day before the Great America trip; I'd already paid for it, and it be in double trouble if I couldn't go because I got caught fighting at school.
I was looking over his shoulder, expecting to see a teacher or school security type show up and break things up before they got to involved; that's how it usually went. You almost never saw an actual full-blown fight.
So the one time in my life I was in the situation, there was no one to be seen. Except for the flocks of kids gathering around to see what was going to happen next.
In this case, it was him repeating himself with various insults, punctuating each one with a shove. I shoved him back.
"Just leave me the hell alone! What the hell is your problem?" I spat.
"Oh, are you gonna cry?" he asked, shoving me yet again. Still there were no authority figures around. Time seemed to stretch. Everything stopped. I had an open shot. His arms were down; he obviously wasn't expecting me to do anything.
But with everyone looking at me, I knew I had to do something in my defense. I watched as my arm shot out reflexively toward his head, at which point I --
-- gave him the Vulcan nerve pinch.
While my instinctive attack did not render my opponent unconscious, it did give me a second to brace myself for the next few seconds while he asked, "What the hell?"
Capitalizing on his size difference, he grabbed my leg to flip me backward. But since I weighed all of 90 pounds with a loaded backpack, I kept my balance, watching as he pretty much lifted me straight up.
For about two seconds, and then we both collapsed. More catcalls from the crowd, mixed with laughter.
I turned around to get up, thinking that I should get up before him just in case he tries something else.
I'd almost gotten to one knee when I saw the word NIKE briefly before the bottom of his shoe connected with my face. The left lens of my glasses fell to the ground, partially from the impact, and partially because the screw had been loose for the last few weeks.
Either way, it looked dramatic as all hell, based on the gasps from the crowd. One of my classmates, Miguel, pushed his way in between us.
"What are you doing, Brian?" he asked. "He's littler than you!"
"But he's older than me," he said. Insult to injury: I got kicked in the face by a seventh-grader. I suck.
"Yeah," Miguel agreed, "but...look at him..."
Blindsided by this tremendous logic, the douche that walked like a boy was distracted long enough to forget why he was bothering with me in the first place. He backed off, and the crowd dispersed.
Fuming with anger that was probably radiating in visible lines from my head, I picked up my backpack, slung it over my shoulder, trying to ignore the stares I felt from all angles.
The bell rang, and I trudged to class, launching my backpack at my seat once I entered the classroom. My teacher looked up to say something, but she apparently saw the look in my eyes and went back to her gradebook.
I waited for the inevitable taunts, but aside from a few questions (Oh, that tall guy? He's an ass. Are you okay?), no one said anything, which made me feel better and worse about it.
At least I got to go to Great America, and that schmuck didn't. Petty? I suppose, but ultimately satisfying.
Vulcan nerve pinch.