After writing about religion, I remembered what made me so sensitive to the subject to begin with. To be exact, I remembered the first reason. There are several, but this experience had the greatest impact. Before I begin you will need to know where we stood on religion in my household: Mom has not been to church since she was a child, though she was raised Catholic. She still says she is Catholic and lives a morally Christian lifestyle. Dad and I are Agnostic and do not care about religions one way or another.
In the summer before 6th grade, we moved the trailer to the country, next to Granny’s house. Mom needed somewhere to go during thunderstorms. Also, living next to storage sheds proved dangerous, things were stolen or vandalized regularly.
When school started back, a classmate approached me. She said we lived close together and should be friends. Bestie from 3rd grade moved out of state that summer. My world was ending, so I took the life-line. In my mind, she would be the new Bestie. Let’s call her Joan because of that whole burned at the stake thing.
It is worth pointing out, I don’t mean that in a cute, childish way. I mean I was operating under the assumption Boy Meets World was an All-Purpose Guide to Life. My Shawn was moving away, and I was already behind schedule meeting my Topanga. It looked like a new Shawn was inserting herself into my life, and I thought that must be how this works.
Our parents hit it off, arrangements were made, and before I knew it we were spending next summer together while our parents worked. Neither parents felt comfortable leaving their kid alone, but if there were two, one should be able to call for help. At least, that was the theory.
It started off a smashing success. We played video games, watched R-rated movies, ate weird things from the kitchen, all that kid stuff. Then one day, New Shawn wanted to talk about church. As in, “So, what church does your family go to?”
I said “we don’t” and tried to move on. In my world, some people went, but most preferred to stay home. End of story.
Joan lost her shit, she was terrified. “But, you’ll go to hell! You have to go! Ok, stay calm, don’t worry, you can come with us from now on! I promise, I will save you!” She was tearing up.
“Umm, no thanks, we’re fine.” I tried to focus on Mario Party. Original version on N64 was new and an instant success.
The tears spilled over and she began crying, “But you have to. If… if you don’t… I’ll, I’ll go to hell too because I didn’t save you.” She choked on gulps of air. What kind of asshole tells a child they go to hell if they can’t force someone to church?
I think everyone has moments they associate with if I could time travel. This one is mine. Hands down. I would sell what’s left of my soul to go back and tell myself “Look kid, I know what you’re thinking, but run. Just shut up and run. And never ever take your shoes off on a gym floor.”
That’s all I’d need to say. I didn’t care in the traditional sense. It didn’t matter she was stupid enough to believe that madness. How loud she was, and the fact she wouldn’t take her turn on Mario Party mattered a lot. When she promised going to church on Wednesday would involve roller skating I said I’d try it once.
Every second was torture. It started off with some kind of youth group called Girls in Action. We spent an hour listening to some woman read from the Bible. She tried to make me introduce myself, but couldn’t talk in front of that many people. Joan did it for me, but the woman made it her mission to call me out after that. She finally stopped after I informed her I “wasn’t well in the head.”
After having the Bible read to me in a small room full of girls, we were taken into a larger room that seemed to be where they would sit for Sunday morning church. They brought in the boys group, and a different person preached to us for another hour. He thankfully left me alone.
When that was over we were finally released to a gymnasium. We lined up for roller skates and were off to the races. When I learned I’d paid two hours of my life for 45 minutes of skating, I was annoyed but promised myself I would never be back. I tried to enjoy the moment.
When skating was over, we were all running around on the gym floor playing with a frisbee while we waited on parents to pick us up. We hadn’t put our shoes on yet because it’s more fun to slide in socks. I did a very nice slide to my knees just in time to snatch the frisbee away from another kid. As I was huddled over it pushing myself off the ground, Joan slid into me, smashing my face into the floor. Pain exploded behind my eyes.
I looked up at her with intent to kill. I don’t think I could have controlled myself if she would have reacted in a way I expected. I was full of a rage no child should possess. My temper was one of the hardest things for me to learn to control and I had done zero work on it at that point. I didn’t even know it was going to be a problem yet.
Something about the way she cried and pointed at my shirt threw me off. It snapped me out of the rage and suddenly it seemed weird I had been that mad. I looked down, and my shirt was covered in blood. My nose was broken.
Adults were called. Joan’s parents stopped the preacher guy from letting me call my parents. They were the ones who brought me, they would take me home and explain there. My ass she would explain.
I’m driven home with a Jesus towel pressed over my face. When we got close to my house her mother told me, “You just sit in the car for a second, I want to go talk to your dad first” in the most disgustingly sweet voice you ever heard. I smiled up at her and obediently agreed.
Before the car could roll to a complete stop I dove out of the back seat. Dad was already coming outside. His habit to trap any car in our driveway and talk for hours was finally paying off. Before anyone else had their seatbelts off, I started screaming as loud as I could so Mom would hear too “They broke my nose! Daddy! Mommy! They broke my nose!”
For full effect I pulled the towel away from my face as I ran to them. I wanted them to see all the blood. Mom screamed and went back inside. I dove into Dad’s arms. He scooped me up, and took me to my room. I was so pleased with myself. I would never be going anywhere with those people again. Fuck that Shawn.
My parents didn’t take me to the hospital. All I can say in their defense is, I was adamant I wouldn’t go. Aren’t most kids though? Do people force their kids to a hospital for a broken nose if they don’t want to go?
Anyway, when school started back, I noticed drastic increases in how much kids laughed at me. Turns out my nose healed with a huge bump in the middle. It was now joke size big. I was named Speed Bump before the day ended.
It stayed with me through Senior year. They even learned to say it in Spanish when we had to take 2 years of a foreign language. It didn’t have an exact translation and ended up meaning sleeping policeman, but I have to admit they were dedicated.
Though I would go on to break my nose two more time before I graduated, that is how Speed Bump came to be. It was far from the worst thing I had been called. It’s also pretty original so I can’t complain too much.