As I sat there, looking at the display of manhood I exhibited; I was quite taken with myself. Even as I look back on that trail of events, I find myself becoming a bit ecstatic. There is an undeniable joy that comes from you simply standing up for you. The lesson I learned that day stuck with me my entire life. If you allow someone to punch you five times they will punch you five times, if you let them punch you once they will punch you once; but it you break off their hands they cannot punch you at all.
Within my childhood, I learned the gift of reading. From that gift, I read spectacular stories of mythology, lore, and fables. Fables, where the hero always rose to overcome the evil set before him through cunning and guile, and this was my inspiration. The stories allowed my imagination to soar; and I found myself wanting to be that chivalrous knight that rode across the battlefield and smelled the dust that my horse kicked up as I rode into battle turning the tide from defeat to victory. Although, I was a really skinny little kid at the time and it seemed I would never fully grow into that role.
As I walked home I dredged forward, and I realized how much I loved the warm spring days. I smelled the freshly cut blades of grass. I remember the afternoon sun splashing against the back of my head and my legs, then the sweet embrace of the gentle breeze. I was a second grader and the thing I hated most in the world was the walk home from school. The main reason I hated this was because of the Jacksons.
The Jacksons were an extended family, and they had a gang of kids that all lived in the big white house on the corner. With the amount of people that lived in that house, you would swear they were like a nest of cockroaches waiting to pounce on a morsel of food. As I walked home that house always loomed in the back of my mind because as I walked home it was the house on the corner and I passes it everyday. I could see it throughout my entire stroll home.
The thing that made the Jacksons so bad was that their gang of kids always beat up the other kids because it was so many of them. One day, they beat poor Cornbread nearly until he needed stitches. (Cornbread was a white kid named Mike who lived on our block in a predominately black area and we called him Cornbread as he was always at someone’s house eating cornbread.) After that everyone feared the Jacksons. In all honesty I feared them too. Cornbread once said to me “they beat the hell out of me and took my G. I. Joes. And I am bigger than you Dave so you better not take your toys to school!!!!”
So the best way to survive a beating is to not be involved in that beating. I created that I would not walk past the Jackson’s house. I started walking down the alley before I got to the corner so as to slip in unnoticed and unscathed. This worked for a few days until the Jacksons began to see through my ruse. Now I had to become even more cunning so I began to walk an entire block and a half out of my way to come up the opposite end of the block. The aforementioned tactic worked for all of about a week, until one of the older Jackson’s just happenedto tell his little nappy-headed siblings of my craftiness. From there on forward I was a very fleet of feet young man. I ran home everyday to avoid a beating.
One day they almost caught me and as I barely managed to evade the horde of Jacksons covering all my exits. My father was home early from work that day. My Dad asked “Why are you out of breath?” I responded by saying “I was racing one of the other kids.”My dad shook his head said ok and went upstairs. He had left the v.c.r. running and within it lay my salvation. My dad had rented the movie “Rocky”. Now I must admit I was a little overzealous after watching this movie, but from the beginning to the end something within me stirred like never before. I was truly inspired and by all things a movie no less. I had a newfound sense of invincibility. I believed that I was able to defeat the Jacksons, at their own game. I would do something more cunning and more perilous than had ever been attempted; I would attack them in their lair.
I got off the floor, grabbed my shoes, and sat on the couch as I put them on. “I am not taking this sh– anymore,” I exclaimed. My older sister looked at me and said, “Where are you going?” I told her “I am going to the Jackson’s house and end all this running home.” As I laced up my shoes my sister started calling for my father. I feared what he would say so I ran down the stairs and out of the house. As I stomped down the street I bee lined straight for the Jackson’s house. The fear that had gripped me was no longer in my realm of existence.
I walked up to the leader kid Rick Rick. I did not speak, I cocked back my hand and hit him as hard as I could in the nose. He immediately fell over in pain. His entire family just gasped. Something inside me told me to stop, and I being of glorious purpose refused to listen to it. I pummeled and whaled on Rick Rick for about 15 minutes relentlessly repeating, “Don’t you ever chase me home again you piece of sh– mother fu—-!!” After I began to tire I rose from the righteous indignation I had visited upon his person.
At this point I was crying as well because this was not what I believed I should be doing beating someone up in front of their family. Being the chivalrous knight that I was with tears streaming down my face, I stood clinched fists over him and apologized to his parents for disrespecting them. I said “Mrs. Jackson I am sorry but I just don’t want to be chased home anymore.” His mother looked at me, nodded and thunderously roared, “Rick, I told Y ‘all that you better leave that little Gibson boy alone.” Cornbread observed it all and he ran over to me and patted me on the back. Cornbread handed me his G. I. Joes and said “Yo Joe you’re my hero.”
I had come to understand what it meant to stand up for myself. I walked home invincibly. When I got to the porch my mother was standing in the doorway ready to pounce herself. Alas I was saved, as my father placed his hand on my mother’s shoulder and said, “I will handle this!” My father took me for a walk and I wondered where he was taking me. He began talking to me about being a man and also about being smart enough to know when and when not to fight. I listened intently, and my father’s words washed over me and through me. “David, we must temper ourselves and defend ourselves physically only when there is no other recourse.” He told me that he knew of my problem and was wondering when I was going to ask him for help. Then he said, “I am proud of you. You handled yourself quite well.”
He took me to McDonald’s and got me a hot fudge sundae. As we took the walk home he told me more bits of wisdom; and I soaked them up. The last bit of wisdom he gave me he said was for just tonight, “don’t tell your mother where I took you and what I said!!” We laughed all the way up the stairs until we got in the house. Because of the fabled fight, I learned what it was to stand up for myself as a man.