One Pazuzu Two Pazuzu Three Pazuzu Four
I learned my first real survival skill as a sophmore in highschool. I learned that sometimes you're just better off dying than surviving something;sometimes there's just not enough fight left in you to go around a second time, especially since the worst part about surviving something is having to go on. Less of you remains when you survive and the part of you that had been used as a shield or a punching bag gets reduced to nothing or worse next to nothing, then you're left with the illusion that you can go on.
But survive I did, along with the three other outsiders who would eventually become my closest friends during highschool:Sean Neally, Yuri Sokolov, and Robert Boski. Together the four of us looked like the living embodiment to the opening line of some racist joke the starts off: "A spic, a mic, a commie, and a polak walk into a bar." Only in 1982 the four of us weren't walking into a bar that second week of September;we were walking into highschool on what was officially the first day of our sophomore year, which was no big deal to begin with since our freshman year had practically been a sanctioned hazing thanks to all the abuse we took for simply having been new students.
In 1981, when my friends and I arrived as freshmen, we were like the latest additions to the herd:weak and wobbly, never on solid footing. And because of that, we were easy prey for every bastard who thought it was fun to torture new students.
As sophmores, we would once again stand outside the herd, only now we were the lame, four nerds hamstrung by a lack of popularity that kept us targeted as easy prey. The only prey weaker than us was the new batch of freshmen who arrived that year. All four of us had seen them that day, each one bright and shiny with an eagerness to find out what high-school had in store for them. Everything they had on was new and begging to either be stolen or used in an ugly game of keep away by the upperclassmen.
Because they were new to high-school and unfamiliar with where their classes were, they all went around with schedules in their hands, holding it out like a map to help gauge the distance they had to travel. To me, they moved through the halls like salmon swimming upstream on a perilous journey to spawn.
Being picked off in the halls on their way to class by a group of seniors or juniors, or even a group sophomores who thought it was their turn to inflict some pain on new students, was nothing compared to what could happen in the cafeteria during lunch time. The cafeteria was a lot like one of those watering holes in Africa during the dry season:with the heat and scarcity of rain making water hard to find, both predator and prey are forced to drink from the same spot.
Freshman were always on the menu in the cafeteria and they were fed a steady diet of humiliation thanks to the upperclassmen. Walk by the wrong table with a tray of food and chances were you'd be wearing that fucking meal home thanks to some junior or senior sticking their leg out when you went by. On more than one occasion my friends and I would get home from school with that days lunch caked on to whatever brand new clothes our parents had brought for us. Back then whenever our parents asked us what happened, we would give them the same answer we were given when we rolled over to see who had sent us tumbling onto the cafeteria floor.
By the time the four of us had gotten our lunch that day, three freshman had taken the school trip, the last victim being some rail thin kid with highwater pants who slipped on his tray while he was trying to get up; that sent him crashing onto the cafeteria floor for a second time. With the exception of my friends and I, The whole cafeteria erupted in laughter when he went down again.
"God, I feel so fucking bad for him," I said.
My friend Yuri, who had spent all of freshman year being slapped around by an assortment of fuckheads who thought he was a communist simply because he was Russian, turned to me and said, "Fuck em'. Who felt sorry for us?"