read various chapters of this autobiography by going to the Individual Stories menu to the right.

Tuesday, October 11, 1983

From skinny person being bullied to crazy person capable of scaring everybody

Timeline: 1983 to 1988. My age: 22 to 37. Location: New Orleans Louisiana and Little Rock Arkansas.

This story overlaps the very end of my oil rig days [click here to see oil rig story]. Like I told in my story about junior high school [here], as a child and early years of my 20's I was extremely skinny and the target of bullies. When I stopped working on the oil rigs and sort of settled down in New Orleans, I began to experience the meanness that pervades that city.

There is a lot of good things to say about New Orleans, its one of those places like New York City in that it is entirely unique among cities. I'm bringing up one negative angle on the place, keep in mind there are a million great things there also.

I was this tall skinny kid, likely with autism, commuting by bicycle in city not at all bicycle friendly. I was never in car, only on the street, right where the tough mean guys are. When I moved there I was still a lot like in junior high school...a wimpy kid mean people could spot and target.

Then a transformation began. I still recall the first tingling of this new self coming out. I was on a pay phone on a 7-11 parking lot. A bigger more muscled up guy was near me and talking loud, really yelling, across the parking lot to some other guy. I put my hand over my phone, and yelled at him to shut the **** up, looking straight at him.

He shut up.

I began to think about animals. Predator and prey. I thought of bullies and people wanting to fight as predators, and they were looking for prey. I didn't have a formal education dealing with animals, but developed a theory that predators will avoid a prey that acts abnormal. Predators don't like surprises, predators only sync up with a prey that acts within certain boundaries. If the prey has behavior that goes wildly outside those boundaries, the predator will not only drop the chase, if the behavior is bizarre enough the predator will run.

I decided to be that kind of prey.

I don't mean I just became a bizarre looking and acting person. It's not that simple. I developed a sense of how to respond too aggressively, inappropriately aggressive -beyond the bounds of what a bully is wanting.

It worked.

My best example was on a walk home from a convenience store to my apartment. I was eating a cinnamon roll I had just bought. Three guys were standing at the corner on the edge of the sidewalk. As I walked by, the follow facing away from me sticks his leg out like he is blocking my passage, and his other two buddies started laughing. Each one of them weighed more than I did. The guy with his leg stuck out was the biggest. I knew I had to do something, quick.

I turned around to the biggest guy doing the leg block, and kicked him right in his rear as hard as I could. The guys stopped laughing and the big dude spun around and looked like it was stage one of a fight.

That's when I did a little flick of my finger and launched the cinnamon roll in a perfect arc that hit the big guy right in the middle of his face.

He immediately started apologizing, saying he wasn't looking for trouble or a fight.

I never was on the losing end of a confrontation again.

Within months I moved back to Little Rock Arkansas. A lot things transpired -a gained a close group awesome smart artistic hip friends, I became a fixture in the Hillcrest scene (a really cool neighborhood by any standard).

But my Tough-Crazy Self stayed in me, and the Bullied Self was gone, even though I was now safely in a neighborhood that honored brains more than brawn. One could even say I had become a Bully.

One night I was partying, dancing on tables and in general at my wildest at one of the bars near the intersection of Kavanaugh and Markham. I was with roommate Sandy Grayson, and as we were walking out to our place on Pearl Street, I asked her if I could carry her purse. I wanted bait to get a redneck to fight me.

Sure enough at the car wash was a group of high school age kids, they looked between 17 and 20, and some of them looked like high school football player types. One of them said "What's in purse, homo?"

Cut up pieces of your mother's p******, I said. I had already thought up my reply before I had the purse.

The group sprang into action, following me as I walked on to Pearl Street. That's when I did my next surprise, the one that would put me outside the bounds of normal people.

I screamed WHAT ARE DOING THERE ON THAT SIDEWALK. I DIDN'T TELL YOU TO BE THERE!! in the most insane and loud voice anyone has ever done. Everyone in the group trembled and backed up.

That's when the police car came up over the curb and in between us. The police interviewed all of us, but let us go.

After that night I thought about it, and decided I had turned into a bully. I vowed never to start a fight again. And to this day I've stuck to that plan.

Though one day, decades later, when my son North was two years old and my wife, North and I were at the PCC grocery store in Fremont, a very suspicious man tried to lure North over to him. North was with his mother and I was several aisles away. I walked up and saw him smiling and trying to say things to make North come to him. I don't know what I did, but my wife said I looked absolutely terrifying, in some quiet and unsettling way. The man backed away....and I promise you this analogy is spot on...he behaved like a dog that is trying to convey submission, he was literally bending his knees at some point. My wife said later that beyond my scary look, I had walked up in total silence. She said I was the scariest thing she had ever seen, but glad I was her's and North's protector.