Once Upon a Time In 1976 – By Guest Blogger ElGringo

The First Essential Scary Truth

This is from frequent reader and now guest blogger elgringo.  He read my last post on the Hell’s Angel’s beating an unfortunate Easter Bunny wanna be and was stuck by easy violence demonstrated in the piece.  It got him thinking about his first fight in 1976.  Having gone through a similar experience, his last paragraph really got me thinking: is violence inherent in young boys or is it a learned behavior, a matter of aculturation.


I recall I was ten at the time. Tight T shirt, first dance, I was just starting to feel and act on that pre adolescent urge of kissing girls, and groping around clumsily in the dark for a breast through a shirt. Anyhow, there I was. All dressed up, looking good. I had checked myself out in the mirror several times before getting a ride to that dance at the YMCA. North Adams.  I was one of a group of young pretty girls and boys going through the awkward age of pre puberty in small town rural America at the dance at the Y.


My chest and shoulders were starting to develop and I would spend time looking in the mirror, sucking in my stomach and sticking out my chest as I imagined myself kissing that girl I had met in Myrtle Beach while accompanying my dad on a business trip down there. I still remember her name: Darlene Mann.


I was moving around the dance (gym) floor, strutting my stuff, naïve to the dangers of adolescent life, when I bumped into him. He was a townie like me, from Williamstown, who hung out on the street, and had quite a reputation, along with his brothers, for being scrappy. Although he was 13, he was very small. In fact, he was my size. That fact is not lost on me today, when I think about what it was like for him, growing up that size in a small town violent culture.  Anyhow, the fight ensued.


I remember my naiveté, thinking it more of a game really, a wrestling match.  This was to be my first real fight… and I did not even know it. We pushed each other around the dance floor. He grinned at me in an evil sort of way, like a cat stalking his prey. I thought I had a chance, but I did not.


After I hit the floor he punched me in the nose many, many times, breaking it and splattering blood all over my too tight T-shirt that I had put on with pride earlier that night in order to display my developing chest. I have a memory of getting up, wailing as I ran through that gym door, before a grown up could get to me. I was carried to the nurse’s office, followed by my brother and several older friends. One of them looked at the scene and thought about getting even, but then thought better of it when he realized that the kid that had beaten me up was there with two of his older brothers. They were not to be trifled with.


So there I was, 10 years old, lying on the table with a broken nose, sobbing, while some chaperone at the dance held ice to my nose and looked at me with panic and sadness. I never got to know that chaperone girl after that, but I know the type; a chubby, very friendly, 16 year old who volunteers to chaperone the 6th grade dance. She was distressed, and kept saying” I knew something like this was going to happen…” over and over again, in a thick Berkshire Massachusetts accent. To this day I still have this really bizarre vivid memory of her face – double chin, light brown hair.


 The boy who had beaten me ended up befriending my older brother within the week. And I met him at my house, not more than two weeks after he had beaten me up. He was a tough kid, small, but tough. I am not sure if he is still alive today.


Once upon a time several years later, I found myself in a fight with several kids from North Adams outside of the roller skating rink when a car came screeching to a halt. I was just about to lose when lo and behold, it was him… the very same kid who had beaten me so badly when I was ten. He flew out of that rusty tan Ford convertible Mustang and saved me. That day, I held my own. I held my own against those who had started it because my townie friend, who had once beaten me up, took the time to stop and keep those kids from taking advantage of their numbers.  


Not for the glam, nor glory, but as a record of how it was at times for some of us. What a pointless exercise we undertook. Why is it, some places in time, and indeed some boys and men, are just plain belligerent?


Do you believe that men and boys are pre-disposed to violence?  Let me know.  To my female readers, I like to ask you this: how many violent realtionships have you had?





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