I pushed Haresh off the slide.
I say this to you now because I believe the statute of limitations for playground bullying is less than 15 years.
But nobody knows that I pushed Haresh off the slide. The only people who know are the people who were in my classes at the time, well, and the rest of the people in the school. But that was a long time ago and people forget childhood memories easily. Except of course myself.
People who do not know that I pushed Haresh off the slide include my parents, who for the entirety of my life have had no idea that Haresh broke his arm and I was the one responsible for it.
Haresh was new in our school. Some time around the second or third grade, he showed up in our classroom as the new kid. And instantly we realized he had all the attributes required by a person to demand being made fun of.
He had a funny name.
Haresh came from Brooklyn with his parents and his little sister. He was eastern European and I vaguely recall his mother wearing a head covering when she came to the school to pick him up. That made her extremely different than the rest of our relatively white suburban moms. Haresh’s family moved into a huge house that they refurbished a couple blocks away from my family. The house looked out of place and had white columns that went all the way up to the roof.
And as my friend Tom Peters would point out on a regular basis, if your house had columns, it meant you were rich. Never mind the fact that my house had columns. Tom Peters bothered me too.
Harish’s features were a bit of a hodge podge. His eyes made him appear kind of stoned, which at this point in our lives, he just appeared sleepy. As soon as Haresh opened his mouth the ridiculousness spilled out. One of the first things he ever said to me was
In Brooklyn we’re tough.
Be that as it may, we were 9 when he said that to me. Tough meant not crying when you fell down on the playground. Haresh did not carry a bat with nails sticking out of it; he did not have a gun. He did not ride a motorcycle. He readily appeared to be quite the opposite of tough.
In fact, he was pretty goofy.
He had that pale, kind of pasty looking eastern European complexion. He wore baggy clothes and t-shirts and when he ran he looked like a robot with a dump in his pants. Every time he threw a ball it looked like he was doing it for the first time.
He was not coordinated, he said stupid things, and he was different.
Naturally, I couldn’t stand him.
More than anything it was the things he said. He would continue to spout stupidity well into high school.
During our 6th grade maturation class, (a class we had to have a permissions slip signed to attend) where we were sequestered in the library with an uncomfortable male gym teacher from another school to discuss sex and the reproductive process, Haresh would be the origin of many ridiculous questions. Ones like:
Yo Mr. Stephens, I read that like, in 25 years, all men are going to have breasts.
There wasn’t a boy in that room that wasn’t interested in breasts, but Haresh had managed to kill that interest in record time.
Later on in 6th grade he told everyone he changed his middle name to Ferrari, apparently his favorite car. He signed his name “Haresh Ferrari Rezicka” in yearbooks.
But for all the hatred I directed towards Haresh, I never really had any intention of hurting him. I was too paranoid as a child. I thought about the consquences of nearly everything. Plus I didn’t really know how to fight. If somebody pulled down my pants on the playground, I dove at them… and then cried.
I had no intention of pushing Haresh off the slide that day.
It was a tall metal slide that was probably dozens of years old. It leveled out about about a foot and a half above the ground, so you’d get to the bottom and have to hop off the edge. This was the edge that Haresh was standing on.
I wasn’t playing soccer with the rest of the kids or hanging out on the jungle gym, which kind of scared me. I was just running around when I saw him.
I remember my intention had been to run up to him as fast as I could and scare him as though to make him THINK I was going to push him off the slide. It would be hilarious… in my mind.
I started towards him, with every intention of screaming like a lunatic to freak him out, but then something happened.
My brakes failed.
Within feet of approaching Haresh, at the point where I should have stopped… gravity took over and I just didn’t.
Examining the rest of my life the only similar sensation I can think of is being within kissing distance of a beautiful woman. You have to move yourself so far, but at a certain point, you couldn’t stop yourself if you tried. It just happens, automatically and without effort.
It is beyond control.
So I didn’t stop. And with my arms extended, screaming, I pushed him off the slide. I realized as soon as he hit the ground that I had screwed up. He was writhing in pain, screaming and moaning. The teacher’s aide made me take him to the nurse.
I was holding some kind of squishy koosh type things that I handed to him.
Here, rub this on it, it will make it feel better.
He did… it didn’t.
The events after blur together but I do remember getting sent to the Principal and her telling me I was going to have to tell my parents.
Looking back now I find this to have been a massive oversight in the public schooling system that I was a part of that they did not take it upon themselves to call my house and tell my parents that I BROKE A CHILD’S ARM!
Hey Rich you’ll definitely tell your parents that you pushed a kid off the slide so you can get in trouble right?
So I never told them. To this day. They still don’t know.
My Principal pulled me aside the next day and asked me what my parents had said to me.
And what did they say?
No T.V. for a week.
And what else?
Umm… no Nintendo.
Umm… I can’t go outside.
And just like that it was over. I apologized to Haresh. By the time his cast came off and he had a functioning arm again I was relieved.
Granted I still stressed about it every day until I left elementary school, because from time to time, when Haresh were not getting along, he would say something like
Oh yea? Well you won’t be laughing when my parents sue you for breaking my arm!
And my heart would sink and I would stress for the rest of the week.
But the time of that stress has now passed, and I don’t even have to tell my parents.
Because they read my blog.