Josh became my best friend after I kicked him in the face in 5th grade.

I was being particularly antisocial that day, as I seemed to be every spring. Maybe that was just a bad time of year for me at that age. I remember adoring the foggy days (little budding romantic that I was) and when the fog came, I would walk all the way out to the end of the field at recess. The clouds would envelop the school and I would be completely alone. Cut off from all humanity, I could have been anywhere in the world, out there, alone under gray skies, in the farthest corner of the gravel soccer fields. I thought I was dreadfully depressed and tortured (little budding alternative rocker that I was). Whatever. Anyway, I hated the world, and I wanted to get away. So I laid down inside one of these playground contraptions we called "hamburgers", probably due to their resemblance to the fast food-themed playgrounds at McDonald's.


So I'm lying there, in the hamburger, pretending to be asleep. The bell rings, marking the end of recess. I decide to stay put, seeing if anyone would care, because everybody hates me, the little dorky kid with that same stupid haircut who wears unbuttoned flannel shirts and jeans every day like he forgot that grunge went out of fashion last year but he never knew anything about that because he had no idea what grunge was to begin with. He never knew who Pearl Jam was, never heard of Kurt Cobain while he was alive. (I'm probably embellishing: I don't think that grunge music was too popular with the elementary school demographic. I still feel like I missed out on something, though).


So I'm lying there, and my future best friend Josh walks up. "Hey, recess is over," he said to me. I can't remember the way he said it, but something about his coming up to me made me snap. Maybe there was a sardonic tone in his voice, something that sounded slightly condescending to depressed, tortured ear. I thought I was being patronized, and I was tired of it, of being pigeonholed, of being pointed at and left out and treated like a freak. Something was going to snap. It was inevitable. I took one sly look at my future best friend, full of self-righteous and almost fulfilled indignation, casually lifted my foot (I was wearing my heavy hiking boots that day) and kicked him right in the face.

He started crying, and I got the same feeling like I had broken my mom's best lamp. I got in trouble of some sort and I had to explain the randomness of my actions to the proper authorities, but that really wasn't very important. There was something we learned about each other that we wouldn't have had I not engaged in a random act of violence.

We've been best friends ever since.

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