“You’re one of those Laceyville punks, aren’tcha?” The catechism angled me off guard. I was, in fact, a Laceyville resident, but I had never anticipation of myself as a punk. Punks were the boxy guy wannabes, the big kids with atramentous boots, atramentous jeans, atramentous T-shirts as alien abrasion with a backpack of Marlboros formed up in one abbreviate sleeve. Punks wore their massive mop of beard slicked bottomward with a tube of Brylcreem, and combed aback on both abandon to accommodated in the aback in a appearance alleged D-A, which had article to do with the south end of a avoid that was headed north. That wasn’t me. I was a angular 12 year old kid with a bedraggled albino aggregation cut, angular little accoutrements that resembled annihilation so abundant as adapted spaghetti, a alveolate , craven legs and accouterment from the Nerd Collection in the Sears Catalogue. All of that was formed into a personality about as advancing as a babyish rabbit.
The catechism had been flung at me with a accent of absolute antipathy by one of those beggarly Wyalusing kids, as we shucked ourselves out of our seventh-and-eighth-grade football convenance uniforms in the boys’ locker allowance afterwards a affair in which I had no agnosticism put my abounding but bare ambit of able-bodied abilities on display. The apostle was absolutely a Freshman on the JV band who had been beatific bottomward to the little kid convenance to appearance us how it was to be done. He was anon aing in the claimed advance by a deeply coiled array of acerbity from that boondocks who was in the 8th grade, and who capital added than anything, it seemed, to exhausted the active tar out of the Laceyville Punk. To this day I accept no abstraction what I had done on that day to acquire their ire, as I stood, bisected naked and able-bodied overmatched, aggravating to devise a clever, abrupt improvement which never came.
I apperceive alone that as I casting about for adolescent punks as aback up, I accomplished I was absolutely on my own, staring bottomward the of afterlife and anatomization with nary a weapon above a glib tongue. A attending into the eyes of “bundle of fury” however, prompted a anamnesis to Little League all brilliant tryouts from several months prior, and I had my acknowledgment — actuality afore me was the barbarian of a kid who I had been warned about aback then. He was the Wyalusing team’s catcher who had apparent up with a acceptability for throwing bottomward to additional abject with all the activity of a rocket launcher, and I was Laceyville’s 2nd baseman. During the aboriginal practice, he rifled a attempt bottomward to me with every ounce of backbone he had in him. In my aboriginal 12 years of life, annihilation had anytime aching like the bang of that baseball disturbing into my agilely bedlam cuff and crushing every claret barge in my palm. I affected a smile and shouted for all to hear, “Is that all you’ve got?” My articulation may accept absurd anytime so slightly, I’m not absolutely sure. The affliction in my duke was so abhorrent I couldn’t alike apprehend myself, but I knew what I had shouted. So did every added actuality on the field. The complete of their aggregate animation actuality sucked in and the amethyst acerbity in his eyes as he tore his catcher’s affectation off to beam acrimony at me, were my aboriginal clues that cipher but I anticipation I had fabricated a funny.
So actuality in the autumn of my seventh brand football division I begin myself about jaw to jaw with the agent of death. I would accept blinked aboriginal in the staredown, and been promptly pummeled into a accumulation of adulteration had it not been for yet addition Wyalusing kid, whose calm command of the bearings disarmed my nemesis with a affable admonishing of avengement if he were to bandy a punch.
Thus, the afire acerbity and the acute animosity festered for several aerial academy years. The coiled array of acerbity accomplished into a three action aboriginal aggregation Northern Tier League all star, animated through his celebrity years in football, angry and baseball, while I begin a adequate atom at the end of the bank in football, skipped winter sports and accepted in the bounce to be a bigger than boilerplate hurdler on the cinder advance of ’60’s NTL sports arenas. It was during my antagonist’s chief year that he assuredly drew alike and exacted his batter of beef on the fields of play.
He was a linebacker in the cast of Dick Butkus; I was a active aback in the cast of Peewee Herman. Fifty-five Augusts accept anesthetized since, during summer practice, the aboriginal aggregation arresting berserkers lined up adjoin we apologetic lot of scrubs arena at actuality an abhorrent unit, and my cardinal was alleged to tote the pigskin appropriate up the gut adjoin the slavering behemoths angled on disturbing me asunder. One hundred-twenty pounds of pudding in football pads stumbled into an aperture that looked like the departing of the Red Sea. I accept believed for over bisected a aeon that it was a set up apish amid his accident aggregation pals to accord “bundle of fury” a attempt at his animus on the Laceyville Jailbait … he was at the burke of a Sherman Tank that day, as he collection his helmet into my back with all the force he could muster, abrogation my bending anatomy arising into the mud and crud of the chewed up convenance field, helmet askance sideways, my adenoids dabbling out through the appropriate ear hole. I lay there, burst and arena to putty, asthmatic for air through mud-filled nostrils. I focused on the all-overs and earthworms that I was among, and accomplished I had acquired one backyard on the play. I heard a abrasion complete artifice my mouth: “Is that all you’ve got?”
I acquainted myself re-entering my anatomy as asperous easily hauled me to my feet. The “bundle of fury” had a anchor on my amateur and was attractive me asleep in the eye with article I had never apparent there. It wasn’t account so abundant as it was “what the devil are you accomplishing here?” We smiled at anniversary added and alternate wordlessly to our own abandon of the new band of scrimmage.
That was 1963 and my ancestors confused from Laceyville to Wyalusing two months later. I haven’t apparent him back 1965. Meanwhile, the guy who aboriginal labeled me a Laceyville Jailbait and I accept been accompany for decades, and that’s how we both acceptable naturedly characterization me to this day.
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