Wednesday, February 09, 2011

I Am Not Afraid Of Your Memories

'07 Redneck OlympicsImage by Jason Drakeford via Flickr

by James Jarvis
by James Jarvis

An old girlfriend recently asked me if I was afraid of her good memory. No. I am not. I remember me too and I like who I was and most of what I did back then, those halcyon days of my youth.

When I moved down here to the south, I remember bullies. Lots of bullies. I remember fighting them. Sometimes on my own behalf because they didn't like my western accent and sometimes on behalf of others because nobody else was standing up for the weak here. So I got the job by default. And after a while, I got good at fighting.

Jerry was a big fat ugly kid in my junior high choir class who I judged to be borderline retarded and I had to fight three different bullies to get them to stop their merciless teasing of the poor guy. One of them I had to fight twice. But they finally got the message: mess with Jerry; James will come looking for you at recess.

A Chinese kid named Yohan Yang moved to Marshall his junior high year and the bullies saw that he was different (bullies hate anybody different) and started working on him. And I started working on them. One time me and Yohan fought together against the gang of haters.

I had to fight for myself, too. I had to fight in school buses and at school bus stops and walking home and in cow pastures and railroad crossings. I was hospitalized from one beating I took from some bully's older brother when I was 16. Fighting was just a regular part of living in Marshall, Texas, I figured, and Lord help you if you were different around here.

But I also remember visiting old people in the nursing homes. They were always happy to see me coming up the walk and called out to me from their rooms. And I visited with the old folks along my paper route, too. And I went to Central Baptist church every Wednesday evening and tried to do good in all my activities. I remember who I was when I was young and I like that kid to this very day, so I am not afraid of anyone's memory of me.
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