Due to tv playing such a huge role in raising me, I took longer than most children to learn not everything it tells me is going to be 100% accurate. I’ve backed some pretty ignorant arguments purely because of my faith in tv.
What damaged me most are the physical skills I thought it was teaching me. For example, I believed I could play the drums because all those guys did was hit one of a few circle boxes in whatever beat they wanted. It took Dad letting me embarrass myself at a music shop to convince me I was wrong.
Music was a big thing in my house, Dad can play any instrument by ear. We had a fancy keyboard, guitars, banjos, even some harmonicas. He wanted me to start learning as young as possible. We both thought I was suppose to have his same natural talent.
Spoiler Alert: Turns out I’m tone deaf, but I can play the exorcist theme on the piano.
I’ve been told I should try to stay on topic instead of being carried away by wild tangents. There’s no rush, we have plenty of time. My imaginary friends are a super supportive audience, they aren’t going anywhere. What I had in mind this time, is how Power Rangers got me beaten up.
Power Rangers was my first true fandom. It was brand new when I was 6 years old, so all the really horrible graphics and voice overs were completely lost on me. It was just a new magical world I desperately wanted to be part of.
They didn’t sell season sets back then. There wouldn’t be DVDs for over 5 more years. My parents had to buy VHS tapes that only contained 2-4 episodes each. I watched them over and over, memorizing every move.
I was still a huge fan in 2nd grade when I got that first bully. I was never brave enough to try to fight her back. Probably because she beat me up so often, I didn’t think there was anything to be done about it.
I also think that is the reason I got so obsessed with all forms of fighting. I wanted to learn every kind there was. If I found fighting on tv, I watched it intently. I replayed the moves in my head, I daydreamed about what I would do in every scenario I could think of.
I fully believed I could beat up any adult because I knew every fighting move in the world. I’m not exaggerating, if I had known who the Rock was, no one would have convinced me I couldn’t beat him up. Wouldn’t happen. Another strike against me was having a little cousin I could beat up easily. It made me believe it more because I thought I had proved myself.
My first chance at a real fight came at a football game. An older cousin was suppose to be watching me while she talked to friends. Behind the bleachers where kids went to smoke, one bigger girl was beating up kid after kid. She wasn’t even trying hard, she was just tossing them left and right as they came at her. It looked like a grand time.
I was so excited I had a chance to prove myself. I had a whole fantasy about how everyone would be impressed and my cousin would tell my family how good I was. I ran at the girl. I decided I would just lay her out with one good punch to the face.
Before I had time to pull my fist back she took a handful of my shirt and threw me to the side like I was weightless. That didn’t deter me. I didn’t expect her to move so fast, I would do it right next time.
The second time, she stepped to the side and pushed me to the ground. I hadn’t expected that either. I was sure I had it figured out now. I needed to stand toe to toe with this one. I needed to use the boxing moves, then I would win.
When I tried to pull my fist back for a punch, she stepped in and grabbed my collar in one hand and the side of my shirt in the other. She spun me around a few times and threw me so far I lost my breath when I landed. I stayed down.
I didn’t cry from pain. Physical pain has never been a problem. I cried because I suffer from angry tears and I had never been so furious in my life. And because I couldn’t breathe.
My cousin came to pick me up. I was mad she wouldn’t beat the girl up for what she’d done. She told me no ones going to beat that girl, she did this all the time. That was the wrong thing to say to me. It told me I had simply run into a freakishly skilled fighter. My being a weak, small child had nothing to do with losing.
I watched more fighting to improve my skills. It’s strange how I thought I could copy everything I saw, but never once tried to copy any training or exercises the characters performed to attain the skills I was trying to master.
My next chance for a fight didn’t come until 6th grade. One of the popular girls came up behind me and pulled my hood over my face. My air was cut off, I couldn’t make sound. She did it in the middle of me talking to someone, and the hood pulled so tight I couldn’t close my mouth. The panic was immediate and intense.
I flailed around like a dying fish. That black rage came over me again. Not that it helped. I fell to the ground and she let go. I spun away from her and tried to catch my breath. The whole class was standing in a circle around us, laughing hysterically.
An image of A Christmas Story flashed through my mind. You know the scene where Ralphie loses his shit and beats the crap out of that big kid? I decided that’s what I was going to do to her. Right here in front of everyone. Then they would be laughing at her.
I tried to get her on the ground just like I had seen Ralphie do, but she moved. She wasn’t suppose to do that. Why do they keep doing that?! I tried again, she pushed me into the wall. My head hit the corner of the whiteboard and I would have a nice lump there the next day.
I tried again, remembering not to rush this time. She moved again, but now the teacher was coming back. I was significantly more embarrassed than when the whole thing began. The angry tears were back.
When it was time to walk to the playground, the girl ran up behind me and pushed. I face planted. I got up swinging wildly, full of rage. She dodged like a pro boxer (not that she needed pro skills to beat me). When I started to run out of steam she came in close and shoved me off the sidewalk. I landed in a ditch full of water.
I didn’t know what went wrong. I didn’t think I could have run into a third freakishly strong villain in a row, it just wasn’t possible. I still didn’t believe the fault was with myself or tv, but I had no idea what was at fault. I was genuinely dumbfounded.
The bright side: it made me too afraid to take any more risks. That meant, when I would find myself staring into the face of a 300 pound girl holding me against the lockers (feet off the ground just like tv, ironically) in 8th grade, I would choose comedy over violence.
We found out later the whole thing was over a lie. A boy told her I’d called her fat for some reason. I have quite a record of getting accused of stuff I really didn’t do. I’m sure that will come up often since a few times involved police and some cray drama, but again, this is me staying on topic.
Instead of trying to kick the girl like my initial instinct, I word vomited “I’m Jewish so if you hurt me you’ll be a nazi!”
I don’t know why; it wasn’t planned and I had no knowledge of the Jewish faith whatsoever. I have a theory it’s some kind of Darwin instinct so deeply ingrained in me I can only access it at my most desperate times of need. If I actively try to use it, I end up embarrassing myself, insulting someone, or more often, both.
The girl loosened up and asked “Really?”
Holy shit was this working? “Yes, I’m really Jewish.”
She put me down and we had a lovely conversation that lead to the revelation about the lying boy. She kicked the boy in the nuts next time she saw him. Didn’t say a word, just walked over there and bam! Too bad we didn’t have YouTube yet.
The girl wanted to be friends after that. She thought I was funny so I learned how to spell Hanukkah and whatever easy Jewish facts I could find. It paid off too. Later that week she asked me how to spell Hanukkah so she could use it for hangman. If there had been any doubts in her mind, they were gone now.
We weren’t friends that did stuff outside of school, but she kept me as a pet while we were in school. She would randomly call me over to do something funny for her and her friends. In return, she hurt someone if they tried to hurt me. I was happy with the relationship.
I wonder how she’s doing nowadays. I don’t Facebook anymore and I’m too lazy to figure out my login to check. I hope she’s well.
These days, if I think something on tv is real, I Google it before I use that belief in the real world. It’s something everyone should do. You need to check it against more than one source too. More than one trusted source. Maybe if we all took five minutes to do that kinda stuff, so many people wouldn’t have tried to mutiny because some idiot was screaming election fraud on Twitter. Freaking Twitter! Guys, are you serious right now?