Pay the Pickle Man

5th and 9th grade were both difficult years for me.  I was entering middle school and high school respectively, and I was the smallest person the kids in higher grades had ever seen.  A lot of times you hear stories of people going from school to school, going from oldest to youngest, and lamenting the fact that they were "no longer cool."  That wasn't even the case for me.  Being an older kid in 4th and 8th grade just made things more manageable.  It went from "below average" to "hell on Earth."  


5th grade was tough, but 9th grade fucking sucked, because all the raging hormones were now circulating throughout the boys.  Older guys who I previously knew as "Okay" were now vicious monsters.  On my first day, this boy who I used to sit next to and talk with on the bus shoved me and called me a faggot as he charged like a bull through the cafeteria.  I was already emotionally exhausted by my middle school years, and now it was becoming plainly obvious that I had leapt out of the frying pan into the fire.  Meanwhile, my parents were wondering why I just couldn't perform better in school, because I was such a smart boy.




One 9th grade afternoon while waiting in the foyer for the school bus, this older boy (oh, let's call him "Gertrude,") squeezed my neck in a faux-massage, but did it with such force as to obviously hurt me, and I swung back with my hand and hit his face.  He then grabbed my neck and drove me to the ground, and slammed my head into the wall.  Moments later, he seemed to calm down and he apologized, much to my bewilderment.  After getting on the bus, a helpful friend remarked that my neck had two huge red marks on it.


Later that year in the lunchroom, a boy I knew asked me to get him a plate of pickle slices to eat while I was up walking around.  As I gathered up and plated a big pile of pickles, a lunchroom attendant remarked to me, "Those pickles better not end up on the floor."  I then dropped the plate in front of the boy, and some of the pickle juice splashed up and hit Gertrude, who was sitting next to him, in the face.   Gertrude then stood up and grabbed the plate, told me "come here for a second," approached me and then proceeded to dump the pickles over my head in front of the entire lunchroom.  The attendant witnessed it all and  ordered him to pick up the pickles, and Gertrude readily complied, as if it was most certainly worth the effort.  


So who were my friends?  Shitty 9th grade boys.  They weren't going to jump to my defense.  They were going to smirk and make jokes later.  I remember one of them immediately suggesting they nickname me "pickle juice."  The other helpful friend from the bus noted to me that it would have been much worse, had I not partially blocked the plate of pickles in self-defense.  


After lunch, I went upstairs and saw Gertrude getting a half-lecture from a bewildered contemporary.  "He just dumped pickles on a kid half his size!" he remarked to someone nearby, as Gertrude proceeded to (inaudibly to me) defend himself.  I realize in retrospect that Gertrude was a total loser, and dumping pickles on a little kid's head is something that any girls watching probably wouldn't dig.  I did my best to avoid Gertrude from then on, but he was just one example of the type of person I would endure throughout my freshman year.  By my sophomore year I started to grow, so then I grew my hair, and became a Kurt Cobain clone.  I failed my sophomore year, and dropped out of school at 17.  These things happen.


I suppose in Trump's America, I'd be equally to blame for Picklegate, what with the splashing pickle juice and all.  That makes me sad for the kids.   Hope you parents look out for them.  They must have it really fucking tough nowadays.   And Christ, we didn't have guns back then.  Lucky for Gertrude.  


Juuuust kidding.