When I was about twelve, I played on an amazing basketball team. I’m talking fiercely competitive, yet good-natured gals who loved to hoop. (Shout-out to Arlington Swoosh)
We were in San Antonio one weekend, playing in one of our many state tournaments, and were engaged in a heated battle against another high-performing team.
Even though I was only around 5’6″, I had the vertical jump to compete with the taller post players. And I was up against a pretty-good girl who had the attitude to match. (aka: She was an entitled girl-prick.)
This girl thought she was all that + a bag of potato chips, and walked around like we should all think the same. Like we all WOULD think the same.
Ha! “You obviously don’t know me…”
She was painfully uninformed that she was gonna have to EARN her swag with me.
She was also, unfortunately, unaware and unprepared for the unbelievable amount of rage I had bubbling inside me.
There’s no way to prepare for a rage/volcano filled with repressed anger and unspoken misdeeds of an abusive home. I didn’t talk about any of it, rather, I stuffed everything down and tried to pretend all was well. Needless to say, I was filled to the brin with liquid-hot anger…
But, unfortunately for all of us, she was going to find out.
We went at it from tip-off, jostling in the paint, going up for rebounds with extra elbow-y flair…
She hadn’t had as tough a time as I was giving her. She was unaccustomed to earning rebounds, points, possession – most of their prior opponents, our assistant Steve had told me, couldn’t hang much less out-play her. And, as our game progressed, she grew frustrated. It’s natural.
Her elbows started flying a bit more freely. That’s fine – Ludacris would be impressed with my capacity to THROW DEM ‘BOWS.
But, then she started to dig her nails into my sides as we tussled for position under the basket.
When the refs’ backs were turned, she’d push me in mine.
I told her that she was being a… well, a bitch in at least two contexts of the word: (1) to describe a vile female, (2) the way guys use it to say that someone’s being a whiny baby. That’s not playing basketball. That’s not sporting. She was just being a bitch.
And I can horse around, be a smartass, and engage in some crafty gamesmanship with the best (like, I had started stepping on her feet when she’d jump for rebounds – two can play this game, sister…), but there’s a certain decorum, a line between playing offense and taking offense.
I told the ref during one round of foul shots what was going on. He said that he hadn’t seen anything. Uhh, duh, that’s why I’m bringing it to your attention.
He didn’t seem to be listening. Or he didn’t care. Either way, he was as useless to me as headphone to someone with no ears.
Again, lined up for foul shots, I looked down to the white trim on the sides of my jersey and saw red dots of blood from when this girl had dug her fingernails into my sides.
I tried to show the ref. Surely, he, the person who.’s supposed to be in charge, who’s supposed to keep things right, would see and understand that there was an issue and I wasn’t blowing smoke… nah… he LITERALLY ignored me.
A familiar feeling crept over me. This is not right. This is bad. I’m actually being hurt. And nothing is being done about it.
Call me crazy, but I hate dishonesty and treachery and deception and, basically, everything the Hawks on Mighty Ducks represented.
I looked to see a smug smirk on the girl’s face. She was getting away with it, and loved it. But my Papaw didn’t call me The Enforcer for no reason – I stood up for kids on the playground, and I wouldn’t abide them on the court. I told the ref that, if he didn’t do something, I was going to.
And, right then, I got my chance.
The ball bounced off the rim, I jumped to grab it over the girl (who was, at least, three inches taller), and quickly threw it to our point guard to start our offensive push.
Running down the floor, behind the play, I was suddenly off-balance…
…my feet couldn’t find the floor…
That rat-fink girl had not only tripped me, but – as I felt her fingertips on my back – pushed me from behind.
I stumbled, but didn’t fall. And then…
It had become enough. I never consider myself being “picked on” or bullied – I’ve never considered myself weaker than anyone (and that attitude is where my storyline diverges from many). But I had had enough of people getting away with their BS, of their bad and hurtful and selfish intentions, of being ignored, of… ALL OF IT.
She was going to get a taste of the anger I had built up. My dad’s head was on her shoulders, cut-and-pasted like in trippy drug sequences in movies.
I balled up my fist, and spun around…
I socked that girl square in the jaw. A killer right hook, according to Steve. Crumbled her.
Everyone felt negatively towards me. That’s not a way to win friends & influence people. My mom was disappointed. My grandma looked sad. The girl’s dad came raging out after the game, completely unaware of the truth or what a dual-bitch he had raised.
Nobody knew the full story at the time, of the game or in my life. Nobody saw what got me to that point.
So, I had to meet and exceed her force (shout-out to Elizabeth Cady Stanton)… it was the only thing I could think of in that moment of anger and frustration and…
…and then I was the bad guy… for fighting my own bad guy. [There’s another story about that, but I need to relate to it better within myself first.]
There are plenty of parallels to draw here between politics, gun violence, domestic abuse, the rash of “sexual misconduct” revelations, how to squash our current social mindset, Wonder Woman… but I’ve already told you one good story, it’s a rainy Saturday morning & I’ve got a coffee that needs sippin’…