it occurs to me that i learned how to react to pain, that i learned all my social skills, that none of this came easy or naturally.

it was a fight in grade one where five or six boys were beating me up after school for being a sissy, and taking piano lessons. i was wearing my best red-and-white striped shirt, and after they busted open my face, the front was only red.

i remember thinking how stupid it was, as they hit me with rocks, sticks, and pulled my hair, that they were doing this to me. it seemed that they were getting aggravated by the fact that they were beating the hell out of me without me screaming or crying.

i said "ow" when one of them slammed my face into a boulder, shoving my teeth straight through my lip. not because it hurt any more than anything else, but because it was something that they did in archie comics when they got hurt, and i thought maybe it might be appropriate.

the kids seemed satisfied at this, and took off just as my piano teacher was coming out the school door. she was shocked, and took me inside, where she cleaned me up and called my mother.

she kept saying to her that i didn't cry a bit, that i was such a brave boy for not crying.

it didn't seem logical to me to cry, it didn't seem like it'd help anything.

it's only now that i think back, and i think perhaps a six-year-old debating the logic of crying with his tooth through his lip and covered in blood and needing stitches was possibly a sign that things were not quite right.