Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • From age 11 until age 15, I spent most of my free time hanging around with my then best friend, Chuck. Chuck was a very intense kid. I was drawn to him by his seeming personal strength. I was drawn to stronger people, as I did not see myself as very strong at all. Chuck was very opinionated, and he was a tough little guy. I would help him deliver his afternoon paper route (I had a morning route, myself), and then we would go to his place and play some football. We were both younger brothers – he had two older brothers, and I had 4.

    We spent a lot of time at the basketball court and the football field at St. Pius X school. Chuck was very athletic. I wanted to be, but was not. I was bound and determined to turn myself into an athlete, if it killed me. It came close to doing just that a couple of times, but I did survive this quest. I even eventually became a fairly decent athlete, but not until much later. Then, I was just what everyone called a “clod”. My feet grew before the rest of me, so I was always tripping over them, and was just not very coordinated.

    The athletic crowd that we hung around with were a very unforgiving lot. For most of the 4 years that I hung with them, I was their favorite scapegoat. I took it without complaint most of the time, as I just wanted people to like me, and since I wasn’t as tough as them, I dared not fight back. This turns into a vicious cycle, and I was always on the short end of abuse in all forms by this crowd. They kept piling it on, and I just kept taking it. Chuck, my supposed best friend, was usually the ring-leader, the master-mind of the abuse that got heaped upon me.

    I endured it for 4 long years, as I had been a very lonely kid before they “accepted” me as part of their crowd, and I did not want to go back to being a loner. I didn’t want to be a “loser” either, which was what anyone who wasn’t part of their group was considered. Plus, I was really driven by my desire to turn myself into an athlete, and after 3 years, I was beginning to show some signs of athletic ability. It helped that the rest of my body was slowly beginning to catch up to my size 13 feet!

    But, the price I was paying was a steep one. Many people, outside of that crowd, would come up to me when I was by myself, and ask me why I put up with it. Why didn’t I just walk away? But, they didn’t understand. They were, after all, just losers. What a warped logic and life-view I had.

    The summer that I started working in the restaurant, the year that I had turned 15, was when I began to realize that there was life outside of Chuck and his crowd. That entire year, I lived a very interesting double-life. At the restaurant were older women, waitresses, in their 20’s and 30’s, who liked me for who I was. Their was an older crowd of busboys who would play poker and blackjack on Saturday nights, and they invited me to join them. There was always cold beer, and everyone smoked.

    I began to smoke, as well. It was not so much to be cool – it was just what everyone did, and it just seemed like the natural thing to do. So, when I was with the restaurant crowd, I smoked and drank beer. When I was with Chuck and the athletic crowd, I didn’t. This went on for 8 months. One time, one of Chuck’s older brothers drove by me as I was walking home from the restaurant, smoking a cigarette, and he stopped and asked me if I was smoking. I ditched it as soon as I saw him, and denied it. I didn’t want Chuck to think I smoked. I knew that he would go ballistic. He was really militant when it came to cigarettes and alcohol.

    Finally, things came to a head. That Fall, there was a big game of football planned one weekend. For weeks, Chuck and some of the other guys were talking it up, and they all promised that they were going to beat the living crap out of me during the game. It was crazy, since I always endured a lot of abuse on the football field, anyway, but they really sounded like they were out for blood – mine, in particular. I had just reached the point where I decided I no longer needed their abuse. I still loved the sports - I just no longer could tolerate all of the other crap that came with it. I was done.

    I just didn’t show up for the game. This was a first. I began to avoid them at school. I even cut classes to avoid them, if I had to. It became clear that I was done with them. I had another crowd now, and I no longer needed them. I began to hang out with the “heads” who smoked and joked, on the other side of the school grounds.

    One night, Chuck and about 5 others from the jock crowd, tracked me down on Pioneer Avenue. Chuck confronted me – “Hey, Peter – I hear you’re smoking and drinking, now!” “Yeah, so what? You should try it – it’s actually a lof of fun, you know!” He just hauled off and sucker punched me, then proceeded to give me a round thrashing, just unleashing all of his fury at my betrayal on me, fists flying and mostly landing all about my head and face. My glasses were broken, and blood was everywhere.

    I didn’t fight back. I just took it. I was not a fighter, not that way. I fought hard on a football field, but that was a game. I had no ill will towards Chuck, and I just couldn't bring myself to fight back. I just felt sorry for him. I could take this, and more. I just no longer chose to take it. When he’d had enough, I asked him if he was done. I put my broken glasses back on my face as best I could, and I told him I felt sorry that violence was the only way he knew how to deal with things. I never said another word to him again, after that.

    At the wedding this past weekend, I asked Dick, who keeps up with foks from back in the old neighborhood, if he ever hears from any of Chuck’s brothers or Chuck. He indicated that Chuck never moved out of his parents’ house, and has had serious drinking problems for years. Never amounted to much of anything, apparently.

    I just don’t know what to make of that information. I’ve often wandered through the years whatever happened to my best friend/tormentor from those formative years. Now, I know.

    What a shame. The funny thing is, if there was anything I could do for him, I probably would. Problem is, I’m probably still on his list of “losers”. Who knows? Too bad.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.