(Originally posted Thursday, March 7, 2013)
I first encountered Mary on my first day of ninth grade as she was sitting outside the school griping about freshmen and how annoying they were, and how if one of them got assigned a locker next to hers she was going to slam it in their face every chance she got. This turned out to be a recurring theme for Mary—one verging on unnatural obsession in my book—who was ranting about annoying and immature freshmen virtually every time I saw her, which was often since she was three levels above me on the volleyball team; she was a teaching assistant for the instructor who taught my PE class; and because she occupied a locker barely a dozen feet down the hall from mine.
To those who know me and are familiar with my tolerance for asses, twits, and morons, it will come as no surprise that I soon grew weary of Mary’s voice and her constant harping about my fellow classmen. It will be equally easy for you to believe that at one point—on the activity bus on our way to a game in Glencoe, I believe—that I took it upon myself to prove to Mary just how immature freshmen could be by placing my thumb on my nose and waving my fingers in her direction.
I should take a moment to point out that, in addition to being a senior, a skilled volleyball player and a bit of a b*tch, Mary was a body builder. In fact, the same year she was grousing ad nauseam about her least favorite group of underclassmen, she also broke some school record for weight lifting. I don’t recall the specific amount of weight involved, but the woman apparently could bench press something in the neighborhood of 130 pounds—and she was barely five feet tall.
So to say my actions were a tad reckless is akin to calling Warren Buffet comfortable or accusing Charles Manson of being an oddball.
At any rate, and to my surprise, Mary did not rise from her throne near the wheel well and pound me to pieces. Nor did she grab me by the hair, shove me to the floor and kick me to death. Instead, she stopped talking—which alone made my actions worth taking even if the effect was short lived—cast her eyes meaningfully in my direction, and informed her fellow upperclassmen that a certain blonde freshman was asking to get her fingers broken.
You know what they say about honor among thieves? Well it doesn’t apply to immature freshmen volleyball players. I know this because instead of nodding in solidarity and vowing to back me up, my two best friends, Gwyn and Lisa (not the same Lisa who objected to the exuberance with which I play kickball, by the way) immediately informed me that I was both stupid, and entirely on my own.
Knowing what was coming, I decided during the Junior Varsity game to bite the bullet and get it over with. With that in mind, I strode into the locker room where the varsity players were seated on the floor having their pregame powwow, picked up my backpack, and headed back toward the door. I had just grabbed the handle when Mary motioned for the others to be silent, and addressed me.
“You think you’re pretty funny, don’t you?” she asked as her cohorts stared into the periphery like a herd of White Tail deer on high alert.
“Not really,” I replied.
“Then you obviously have a death wish.”
“If you say so.”
With a shrug that belied my terror, I opened the door and went back to the gym where Lisa and Gwyn marveled at the fact that I had all my body parts, and not one of them was bleeding or broken.
“She’s all talk,” I sniffed as the adrenaline coursed through my immature freshmen veins. “She just wanted me to be afraid of her, and I just proved I’m not. I doubt she’ll bother me anymore, and I’m guessing she won’t have as much to say about freshmen, either.”
To my intense surprise—I was right. And I didn’t even have to relocate to avoid a beating this time. In fact, we stayed in Eden Prairie until 1982 when we moved to Rushford where I would meet the Jarhead of my dreams. He wasn’t a Jarhead when I met him, but…well that’s another story.