I’m sensitive. I realize this now. I am also naïve and gullible, believing most anything people tell me. So when the kids at school started saying so-and-so was talking bad about me behind my back, I believed them.
I was spending more and more time with the preppies. And according to some asshole punk named David who just wanted to start trouble, Palma Bergeron was now spending most of her lunch hour going on and on about what a trader/slut/wimp I was. I didn’t know how much of what David said she said was true but when I passed Palma in the halls sure enough she would ignore me or glare, and then a moment later she would make some gesture behind my back that would cause a couple of her no-good friends to laugh.
We had algebra together and so I decided to write Palma a note basically asking what her deal/problem was. In case she hadn’t heard me in the hall ask her “what’s your fucking problem?”
I passed the note to John Larson, a Mormon boy who sat behind me. John opened up the note (even though it clearly read “Palma” on the front), read it, and then passed it back to Palma. Palma wrote something, passed it to John, John read it, then passed it to me.
The note read, in Palma’s idiotic scrawl, that I was a “dug out slut”. Palma Bergeron was no angel herself let me tell you what. Okay, so there was the dug out, but I was pretty sure that being a slut required sleeping with multiple people and nobody at VU knew anything about David. Which would have only brought my count up to two anyway. I was so done with this dug out business. I missed Crescent City where a girl could sleep with someone in peace. It was almost Christmas break and people were still going on and on about Dug Out. I’d show them.
John Larson says my ears turned red and quote “steam was coming out of them.” I remember seeing red. Usually, I liked to stare at Mr. Brazeal’s “aka Vern’s” crotch and have the good ol’ student/teacher fantasy. Vern was all of twenty-six years old, had gone to VU himself. But I just couldn’t focus. John said I started shaking. I knew what I had to do to a girl who thought she was tough shit: show her she wasn’t.
Within thirty seconds of getting that note I was up out of my seat. I wound up my right arm, made a fist and socked Palma as hard as I could in the side of the face. In my peripheral, I saw the other kid’s eyes widen and their jaws drop. Fighting didn’t happen at VU like it did back in California. Just a bunch of shit-talking. I found fighting to be much more productive. Much, much more productive.
I socked her on the other side of her face with my left fist and she was up out of her seat, face red, tears coming down. It was great. We did the whole hair grabbing thing (it really does just come naturally for women) and finally Vern broke it up. Vern escorted me to the office and told me he was proud of me for standing up for myself. See, Vern understood. I think he knew that I wasn’t the type to go around and talk and talk and talk bad about people. I hadn’t been stirring the pot, I really hadn’t. I was suspended for a couple of days and was even more surprised when Peggy too said she was proud of me, despite my being suspended. I think someone had told Peggy that Palma was one of those up-to-no-good kids. She knew Palma would no longer be my confidant, and that pleased her. She told me she never wanted to see Palma at our house again.
From then on the kids called me Tyson instead of Dug Out.