It was the forth grade. I was bigger than most of the kids in my class, and I enjoyed it! I could enforce my will, and I often did. If an arguement over a call at first base lasted too long, I would settle it myself, usually by calling it as I saw it, knocking the kid down who was holding the ball,and tossing it back to the pitcher. I wasn't always fair. I enjoyed picking on the smartest and the cutist girls who often made me feel stupid and clumsey with thier perfect handwriting and spelling. I was a bully.
One day a bunch of kids were standing around the teacher's desk. We had to wait for her to check the first few problems of an exercise she had assigned, before moving on to the rest. A moment after I stepped up to await my turn, Randy Horton pipes up, "Hey Vincent, why don't you take your coat off and stay a while?" I thought that was funny. My Dad wasn't much of a joker, but my Uncle Walker had used the same line on me at a family gathering just weeks before. I liked the attention. So I echoed the line,"Yeah Vincent, take your coat off, stay awhile." But as the words left my mouth I looked up at Vincent. He wasn't smiling. He was always quiet, but now he stared straight ahead. Randy continued to dig. "What's wrong Vincent, why don't you take your coat off?" That was when I realized it. Randy had noticed something I hadn't noticed all day. Vincent' light jacket was zipped up all the way, and there was no sign of a shirt collar above it. Vincent had come to school wearing a jacket with no shirt underneath.
I was startled. I knew this was serious. I could see the hurt in Vincent' eyes. I shoke my head at Randy like a pitcher shaking off a pitch called by a catcher, but Randy kept it up. " He doesn't have a shirt on!" I gave him my hardest look and hissed, "Shut up." He got the message and did.
As we waited for the bus that afternoon, I saw Vincent standing next to his two little brothers. They had no coats, but were each wearing a couple of long sleeve shirts, much too big for them.
One Christmas a few years ago my twelve year old nephew was playing with a remote control electric car. It went about 40 mph and must have cost his parents a couple of hundred dollars, at least. I asked my Mom, "If there had been toys like that when I was a kid, would you have gotten me one" She just looked at me and said, "Bobby, you would have never asked for one."