I wasn’t a fast kid – or a fast talking one. Which is too bad. From what I have seen at the cinema these are both good qualities to have when someone wants to kick your ass. You don’t say it like that as a kid, though – you say, when someone wants to beat you up.

I was only involved in three fights during my youth. I mean, real, someone is going to hurt someone else type fight. Not the countless no-holds-barred wrestling matches or full contact broom-stick sword fights held in my best friend’s yard at twilight every Saturday night while the grown-ups cooked hamburgers for all of us.

The first fight I was ever in might not even be definable as a fight. It happened in less than ten seconds – after I stepped off the bus, but before I had time to take a step toward home one afternoon in fourth grade.

I remember stepping off the bus and turning left, toward home, which left my back exposed to a crowd of kids that had left the bus before me. The next thing I remember is a deafening silence, a ringing and just a glimpse out of the side of my eye of the bright orange book-filled backpack that had just been swung up against the back of my head.

That’s all. That was the whole incident. All the kids laughed for a moment and then started walking home. There wasn’t much to be done, as the house in front of which the bus stopped was the home of the owner of the orange backpack – he was inside before everyone stopped laughing.

So the question left is, why did he whack you in the back of the head with a book-filled backpack? I don’t know. I wondered this same thing, and tried to find out the next day at school – but no one knew. Not even the whacker.

We weren’t ever really close friends, but we bad a friendly relationship. So to this day I don’t know why he committed such strange attack. I like to think, however, that he was just jealous of how obviously smarter I was than him and all of my classmates, and he figured he better get a good whack in while he still could.

If you are wondering what happened to the kid… My family moved across town a few years later, to a different school district. My junior year in high school this same kid showed back up as a football star. My only real experience with him came one day soon after the Columbine shootings, with our school swimming with cops. This kid, sitting on the steps with his rapper friends, decided to stand up and serenade the cafeteria with an improvised rap, in which he expressed his desire to ‘pop a cap’ in all of our ‘asses.’ Of course, he found himself face down on the dirty linoleum floor with his hands behind his back being read his rights before he could finish pluralizing the word ass.

I hear he was a really good running back.

The second fight I was ever in – well, honestly, this can’t really be classified as a fight either. But you promised us a good fight story! you might be screaming at the moment. I know and I am sorry. But the good part about this non-fight is that I wasn’t hurt when it was over. Petrified – sure – but not physically hurt.

So here is how this conflict of arms went down…

Remember earlier how I told you that I moved across town a couple of years after the last fight? Well, this was right before that. It was the middle of sixth grade – February, to be exact - and it was a few weeks before we would officially move. Though, if I remember correctly, my sister and I had already changed schools.

So it was the weekend, I guess. My friend, Rodney, and I were walking back to his house from the neighborhood park. A park, by the way, where I witnessed many ‘meet me at the park at four’ fights throughout my elementary years. So we came to a bridge, across the creek that we went crawdad hunting in the summer, and up walks a kid I used to be friends with.

Now, I was always tall and big for my age, but compared to me this lad was a giant, eclipsing me with his shadow as he walked up. This kid walked up and stood directly in front of us bringing a stop to our walk home, with what I guess was a shovel handle in his hands. Standing wide in front of me and tightly gripping one end of the stick, he might as well have growled, “Thou shalt not pass.” Standing on a bridge – how utterly cliché.

Okay, sure, the bridge was huge and there were plenty of places to go, but I remember feeling completely surrounded, trapped. As I have said, I was never very fast as a kid.

This giant looks down at me, slamming the beating-end of the stick in his other palm over and over and over – to reinforce the idea, I am sure, that he was indeed a threat to us. He looks down at me and says, “Remember that time a couple years ago when you hit me with a stick?”

Um – honestly? No. I don’t! “No.”

“Yeah you do,” he says, taking a step closer to me – increasing in size and threat. “That time we were playing sword fighting in your front yard.”

Sword fighting?!? Are you kidding me? Who didn’t get whacked a few hundred times while we were sword fighting – hands, shoulders, in the back of the head.

“Well now I’m here to pay you back for that.” This is his story. This is his wrong inflicted. This is his threat. This is his revenge.

I don’t remember thinking a lot at the time, except how the hell I was going to get out of getting the shit beat out of me. Of course, the thought doesn’t sound like this in your head at the time, it sounds like this: EEEEEEEEEE!!!!

Lucky for me, and especially lucky for Rodney, this boys interest was only in me, and in concentrating his threats only on me, he had boxed Rodney out, freeing him.

So as I stood, heart beating faster than I had ever known as a kid, and thinking far too slowly – like I said, I was never a fast talker as a kid – I did the only thing that I could think to do. I told Rodney to run.

Run Rodney. Get help!”

Now Rodney, he was a fast kid, and we weren’t two hundred yards from his house, where his mom was no doubt busy cooking a delicious dinner that would satisfy her family for an evening while slowly killing them over the years. This was a lady that you don’t want mad at you no matter what your age, or how strong you find yourself. You just know that she has more creative ways of inflicting pain than you can imagine or defend yourself against.

So I told Rodney to run, to get out of there and bring help. And this is where it gets interesting…

I remember nothing else. I am almost completely sure that I didn’t take a beating that day. I don’t think this kid even took another step toward me. But I cannot tell you how, why or when I walked away from this bridge-crossing test of wits. I do know this, though – I did walk away, with not a scratch or a bruise, only the trauma of a racing heart.

I don’t know what ever happened to that kid, but he obviously had serious rage problems. I remember visiting his house once, a year or so before any of this happened. I remember his room being an utter mess – no surprise for a ten year old boy – and filled with a few pellet guns and carton upon carton of pellets scattered around his room. Every time I see the Simpsons episode where Lisa falls in love with Nelson and she goes to his house one day after school – I think of this kid.

The third fight I was ever in, well - Okay, you got me, I have never been in a fight. There! Are you happy now? I thought about making up a third story about almost getting into a fight – three just feeling like a far more round number than two – but those are my only two real stories.

Sure, there are a couple of times from playing football as a kid when something ridiculous happened – like the first day of practice one year, with no pads, walking through form tackling drills, when the kid in line to tackle me decided to prove to the coach what a bad-ass he was and full speed, full contact tackled me, which left me with a broken arm and him being praised by the coach (I quit football) – but those stories really don’t fit with the subject.

So that is it. All of it. As a child I was almost involved in one fight and was once whacked in the back of the head with a backpack. I guess my childhood was an abnormally violentless one.