That sophomore year was pivotal. I was fighting with practically everyone.The only people I remember being nice to me were lower than I was on the social pecking order. Not even they actually liked me. I think they just found me entertaining because I wasn't mean to them like everyone else. I've always had a soft spot for the down trodden. No one liked me. I had one male friend, but he was in the same predicament as I was in many ways. He went the other way in life. He conformed. He ended up being a religious bigot like his parents. I on the other hand was destined to be notorious. I wasn't going to be no factory worker.
I remember there only being two joys in my life, art and wrestling. In my sophomore year I was already taking all the art classes that I was going to be able to take. My art teacher told me once in class that during wrestling season that I was a much better kid. My grades were better, my attitude was better, I was nicer, more calm. Wrestling season gave my life purpose. No one could fuck it up but me. If I lost a wrestling match, it was because of me, and no one else. I hated team sports. That Centralia football team lost every game of the season except one both years I played. I hate losing. Wrestling was the only thing I knew myself to genuinely be good at, and I was legitimately good at it. Everyone agreed. I loved that sport. I've said for most of my life, that if my parents would have supported me at all I would have become an Olympian. I definitely would have wrestled in college.
Somehow I had talked them into buying me a letter jacket. Not sure how I pulled that off, because those are not cheap. One whole side of the jacket was decked out in nothing but wrestling medals. I won a lot. I did the youth wrestling tournaments too, and I participated in freestyle and greco-roman. In the freestyle season I went to state, and got second place. No one in my family came to watch. It was always this other kids parents who would take me to tournaments. Matter of fact they were upset that it was going to cost money to send me to nationals. Fifty bucks. I don't remember Barry ever going to any of my wrestling matches or tournaments. Not once. The town of Centralia was small. Home matches were never far away. He would simply rather just be drunk.
Nearly everyone was picking on me. That Darin kid that I've told you about. Even he knocked me out in a fight my sophomore year. They were making fun of me. I said some shit back, we ended up squared off in the showers of the locker room. Darin had a life of being beat up by his older brother, so I wasn't shit to him. It wasn't even a fight. Without hesitation he hit me right in the temple, and down I went. I learned a valuable lesson that day; tall skinny guys with long arms can punch really hard. I never let that happen again.
The only reason that girl wanted to take me to prom was because no one else was stupid enough. She had grown up with everyone else in that town. Everyone knew everyone. Everyone but me, knew the social parameters. I was just the new kid, and naive as fuck at that. I didn't know any of those kids, or their back grounds, or their social status, and I didn't have any friends to fill me in. I was just the son of a factory worker, who was nothing but a drunk. My parents didn't teach me shit about life.
I was friends for awhile with this kid in the neighborhood, who was slightly crippled. Even we got into a fight. Same deal. Talking shit escalated into a fight. There was a neighbor girl who would be nice to me, we hung out for a summer once, but I never saw her at school. She got jealous about other girls and turned mean.
To Barry I was a burden, same as with JoAnn. I was made fun of a lot for not having cool clothes. For not having the good shoes. For not understanding what was going on. Going shopping for school clothes as a major guilt trip. I had to throw straight up fits to keep them from going to Walmart. I had moved to Centralia because I was finally old enough that JoAnn couldn't exactly tell me where to live. Something about being thirteen. It took a lot of bitching, but we all know in her heart she was happy to be free of me even though it probably did hurt her feelings. She had a way about making up shit to have hurt feelings about. She simply could not control me any longer.
I remember being in the seventh grade, going to a huge school in Jefferson City. There was something like seven or eight hundred kids in just the seventh grade. Biggest school I'd ever gone too. The seventh grade was its own three story building which was bigger than any high school I had seen. It was huge in my eyes. Same story. Everyone picking on me. I had gotten into a fight, with a girl of all things. Fucking bitch was making fun of me in front of a huge group of people. That's a fight, don't care if you have a vagina. She literally wanted to fight me. Was shoving me, smacking me, the works. A huge group of kids gathered around for that one. I ended up in the principal's office of course. JoAnn got called into the school. I was sitting in a chair outside the office, but could hear JoAnn talking to the principal. I'll never forget, she told her, "Have you considered spanking him?" to which JoAnn responded, "You go out there and spank him." No one came and spanked me. I'd have fucked around and went to jail. I'd already had enough ass beatings in my life.
I couldn't stand JoAnn. It wasn't exactly a secret. That year we were living in probably what was the worst shit hole ever. It was worse than the trailer parks. I've driven through Tebbetts MO many times now as an adult, and slow rolled that house in dismay. It is so small I don't know how we all lived in there. She was married to her third husband, and he had two kids too. So sometimes there were seven of us in that two bedroom house, in a town so small there wasn't even a gas station, or a grocery store. The bus ride to school was well over an hour long.
Soon as I turned thirteen I let it be known Barry's house seemed like a better option to me. Barry didn't move around all over the place. Matter of fact, before the seventh grade was over she had moved to another farm house, out in the middle of no where, outside Jeff City somewhere. Barry seemed like a much better option. All our lives we had only ever been with him every other weekend. He had only lived in two different houses that whole time. Both way nicer than anything JoAnn had ever lived in. We'd, my brother and I, would get to go to his house during the summer, so we knew it was different living with him. That seemed way better than always being manipulated and controlled by JoAnn, when all she was ever really doing was picking other dudes over us. He would just be drunk, and play his music.
Barry and JoAnn played this game about who was the worse parent. Both sides of the family would get in on this game too. I always blamed JoAnn for the abuse I suffered. Barry got outed as the every other weekend dad. He played the victim card on that tip, but it is true the courts do it like that. All the same, they all acted like I wasn't the direct result of the abuse I had suffered. It was just easier to blame me.
By the time I got to Barry's in Centralia it was simply too late, and his drunk ass wasn't going to lift me out of the mire. Barry had a crazy temper, and he was actually capable of whooping my ass, unlike JoAnn. One time he couldn't get the lawn mower to start. He didn't even try, but for a couple of minutes either. For some reason he had an iron claw hammer in his hand. I'm not sure how that tool is used in lawn mower repair, but he had it. He said some expletive with this insane pitch to his voice, and hurled that hammer into the shed on the other side of the yard with such force that it scared the shit out of me. It crossed a forty foot gap with no arch, and sounded like a gun shot when it hit the shed. That did help keep me reigned in a little bit in the sense that I wasn't out right defiant. His drunkenness though allowed me to be sneaky. I could sneak out at will. There were times when I would sneak out the front door, which was in the living room, while he was in the living room. Like literally right behind him. He'd have these head phones on, playing his bass guitar, just drunk as fuck. Every night.
I got wasted drunk for the first time when I was thirteen after moving to his house. Mad Dog 20 20. I was puking of course. Acting a fool at this dudes house who was much older than I was. Nothing was said about it. He never even knew. I even managed to sneak back in wasted drunk. I remember one time coming home so drunk, I couldn't get up the stairs to my bedroom, so I just sat at the kitchen table and passed out. My head kept slipping out of my hands and thunking the table. They had to of noticed, but they never said anything. He was the kind of guy, that one time he found condoms in my room, and he just took them, and never said anything. I made fun of him for this stupidity. What fucking good did it do to take my means of not getting a girl pregnant, if you're not even going to say anything about it? This guy had no business having children.
That winter I was sneaking out and stealing Christmas lights off of people's houses. I literally had decked out my room with all these lights. Nothing. Nothing was ever said. One night I went all over town stealing for sale signs, and political signs, and filled this kids yard with them whom I didn't like. I thought that was just hilarious.
I use this metaphor a lot nowadays when I'm dealing with others. I had good hardware, but bad software. You know what I mean? I was like a modern day fancy computer, up to date technology, but was running Windows 3.1. I was super intelligent, but just had the shittiest of software running. Malware infections. Viruses. 56k dial up with a 256 color monitor. It's crazy how bad life can suck when you don't know shit about life.
I snuck out once, and didn't come home. I didn't call or anything. I just stayed out. I was gone for two days. I had been running around town vandalizing, messing with people. I had also been messing with a girl. I was never not trying to get a girl to love me. When I finally got home Barry was furious. He started whipping me with a fly swatter. It only took a couple of swings and the rubber end came off. He just kept whipping me with the wire. I would turn to the side, so it hit me on the back of my body, and then just turn back to face him. He was too strong. I couldn't whoop him.
When that girl toyed with me, she had no idea she was lighting a fuse on a stick of dynamite. None. I was playing poker, without really knowing the rules, with a shit hand. Like back in the day though, like one of those old school western type movies, I had a loaded gun under the table, and was going to rob some people win or lose.
All of this just further hardened my heart. It really is true. If I would have had even the slightest inclination to be suicidal I would have died that year. Instead I turned my rage outward. Fuck the world kinda shit. I had no one to talk too. My grandfather had died the year before too. He was the only guy who ever was nice to me, or taught me anything. I cried for a long time in my room alone after he died. I cried for weeks. Everyone else just told me that something was wrong with me.
I still to this day cry sometimes, wishing I had a mother to talk to when my life sucks.
Looking back it was all because I never had anyone to talk to. No one ever understood my dilemma. No one ever let me have my feelings. That shit has happened all my life. A lot of people still say the same old dumb shit to me. They don't even understand their own selves, how they going to understand me?
Not even the juvenile detention peeps seemed to understand.