Back in 9th grade, I was in a new school just down the street. They'd shuffled some demographics, looked in a scrying pool and decided to turn the high school three blocks away into a junior high...just in time for my last year before high school, in a district where 7th through 9th grades were junior high and high school started with 10th.
The chance to walk to school was too good to pass up. I suppose it was darn convenient for my parents, too. As a parent who now makes his 9 year old bike to school daily, rain or sleet, I can see it.
The school was big and crowded and full of strangers, one of whom didn't like me much.
I remember this kid only as being mean, dark-haired and stocky. I was afraid of him and I knew he was going to attack me at some point. He'd called me names or something before. I can't remember why I even knew the kid. I know I never knew his name.
Since I was afraid of him, I knew exactly when our paths intersected in the halls and I kept a close watch on him. I must've gotten an intense look on my face when I watched him, because one day we crossed paths, he took a look at my face and said, "Where's the beef?"
This was in the middle of that phrase's currency in the Wendy's commericals of the 80s.
But I didn't hear what he said. I only heard him saying something aggressive. I punched him in the stomach and kept moving.
In the scrum of the halls, no one seemed to notice. I couldn't believe I'd gotten away with it. Then I played back what he'd said, and realized he hadn't actually done anything to me at all.
He might have threatened me again, or he might have completely backed down after that, I can't remember. I know he was never a real problem after that. But the more I think about it now, the more I think that the whole encounter was probably mostly in my head.
But I totally won that fight.