Friends

Are any of you lacking a social life?  Have no friends?  Are you miserable?  Read this.
Today I’d like to talk to you all about my past, a past of delinquency. That’s right.  You might be thinking how an educated individual like me could’ve had any history of wrongdoing. Well be prepared, folks, I’m about to take you on an interestingly entertaining ride—a ride back to middle school.
This long adventure contains graphic violence, obscene anger, and much much more. When you’re done reading this you will feel empowered yet may have the wrong ideas.  Please, don’t replicate any of the things I did in any of these events.
I attended a K-8, or Kindergarten through 8th grade school.  Extremely unique and quite small, this school is steps away from my house.  I really enjoyed my first few years here as I had many friends and wonderful teachers.  Then came 6th grade, when most everyone left for the bigger middle school and only 26 stayed for the rest of what my school had to offer. All of my friends left, everyone I knew and felt comfortable with, and I was forced to improvise.
I got involved with the “cool’ group of my 6th grade class.  They took me in, and for a while I had a lot of fun.  We went out to eat together, played video games after school, biked and skated around, and more. I could talk to them about anything and we all knew everything about each other. When we weren’t all together, we were online, playing violent video games.  Things couldn’t have been any better.  I had finally gained a spot in the popular group and was enjoying everything it had to offer.
It didn’t take me long to realize this was the worst mistake I’d ever made in my life.
The Ryan that went into 6th grade was a sweet kid who had a 4.0 GPA, was respectful toward teachers and others, and didn’t dress like a thug. The Ryan that came out of 6th grade was far different.  Among the influence of these “cool” individuals, I became an extremely bigoted average student who disrespected authority and had a cuss word coming out of my mouth every sentence.  I spent all of my time playing video games, didn’t care about school, didn’t listen to my parents or teachers, and focused my life on my friends.  My social image became my number one priority and school was my last. My friends were life and death and every waking minute was spent doing something with them.
Man did I enjoy this sweet beginning!  Not only were these people my confidants, but they were also my protectors, bros, and the people I chilled with.  Then came the subtle day when we all went bike riding to get Pizza.  One “friend” of mine, James, decided to act like an idiot and spit into everyone’s drinks.  I just laughed it off the first time and went to get a refill.  He did it again.  I was agitated.  He repeated and I’d had enough, so I spilled the cup on the ground.  This angered James, and this buff twelve-year-old sucker punched me–right in the face.  Soft sixth-grade me had never endured such a pain, so I quickly grabbed my bike and sped away.  Turning a corner, I began to cry and ask myself, “What did I do?”  My best friend had just punched me in the face.  Some friend.
The next day at school, I naturally forgave him.  Boys will be boys.  Us males get over things a lot easier than one might think.  This little punch was NOTHING compared to what would happen in the future.
Fast forward to 7th grade.  The first day of school came and naturally I just blazed through it waiting to go over to my buddies’ houses and hang out.  Upon my arrival I saw something very odd.  Everyone was on the front lawn, beating up the local neighborhood transient, Chad, who was a year younger than us.  I was confused, but since they hated Chad, I did to and I joined in on the fight.  When it was all over he ran away crying, and we were feeling victorious.
This was the first fight I’d ever participated in.  It had to be the weirdest feeling yet most satisfying experience ever.  My friends were becoming more and more violent every day.
Back at school, we were being called to the principal’s office on a weekly basis over a myriad of things. Fighting, defiance, vandalism, failing grades, detentions, lying, and in the future, even weapons.  We’d been banned from using technology because we’d hacked and messed with a teacher’s grade system. Our teachers held us after school almost daily to address our behavioral problems, our parents were called often, and we were frequently separated from the rest of our class.
On several occasions, the police even showed up to deal with James, the kid who punched me.  We were almost like a gang, and James was the gang leader.  He was a true sociopath, an angel to our parents and a demon to us. Mixed martial arts were his thing and he wasn’t afraid to get into a brawl. At 12 years old, he had already been arrested for vandalism.  He could act like the world’s golden child, yet in reality he was an evil and crazy sociopath who terrorized anyone who got in his way.
To me, all of the deterrents by the school administration were the most annoying things I’d ever encountered.  “When will they just let us have fun?  Why do they care??”  I was in deep.  This “gang” had me by the neck and I didn’t even know, until it was too late.
Among all this delinquency, there was only one way out.  After an issue that warranted a reprimand, a teacher of mine pulled me aside.  “You don’t belong with these people, Ryan,” she said. I just shrugged it off, didn’t care, and walked right back to my gang and cruised along.
The summer before 8th grade was pretty eventful.  We were pubescant, testosterone laden, violence hungry boys who didn’t have an ounce of innocence left in us.  Violence was the center of everything we did.  Shooting BB guns, playing war video games, cussing, fighting for fun, and more. Occasionally, there was the real fight that had everyone cheering and inciting the madness.  This is when I had my first one-on-one.
Chad.
That’s right.  Chad was a kid who lived in the neighborhood and annoyed everyone. James wanted to break me in, so he “organized” a fight between us.  Honestly, I didn’t know why I was going to fight him but since my buddies wanted me to do it, I did.
The backyard was open.  Everyone was watching, eyes drawn and wide, as we approached each other fists clenched.  We both had no idea why we were fighting, but I knew one thing.  They hated Chad, and so did I.  For a half an hour, we brawled back and forth and eventually I came out victorious. Chad ran away crying once again and everyone was shouting profane insults at him.  This was a beginning of insane violence.
Every day at lunch, my “friends” started fighting each other.  Then, they started fighting me, since I didn’t resist.  Every day I was scared for my safety.  Being such a small school, no matter how far hidden I was I couldn’t get away from them.  I remember one day when I had hidden in the bathroom and they all came in with an individual named Dylan.  Dylan was a very large, very hairy, and very dirty dude.  I’m not going to describe what happened to me in that bathroom, as it is too obscene.  I’ll leave that to your imaginations.
The person who progressed the violence was James.  I tried to hang with my friends and not him, but this didn’t work for too long.  Whenever he showed up, problems ensued.  I always ended up getting hurt in some ways.
To my parents, James was a sweet kid and I was “lucky to be friends with such a respectful boy.” Whenever he showed up at my house so we could “hang,” I felt quite obligated to go with him.  Not even my parents could protect me.
Late nights, arguments, drama, and more.  The police began to get involved in our situations. Afraid for my life, I obtained a weapon.  It was a very powerful and large caliber pellet gun that looked very real and could stop anyone from attacking me.  This weapon was the perfect solution; if anyone hurt me I’d just shoot them!
Now obviously, I never carried this weapon with me at school, but whenever I was with them hanging at their houses, I was packing.  I never had to use it until one day.
I was enjoying my day with a few friends, and the gang leader James was nowhere to be found. Later, he showed up.  “What up fata**?” he said to me.  I just ignored him.  I stood up to leave, and he asked me where I’m going.  “I’m leaving,” I said.  “No you aren’t, get back here Buddha!”
He called me Buddha because I’m overweight and Asian.  After I tried to leave, he had me in a chokehold.  No one helped me and just watched with awe.  I tried to run, but couldn’t.  I knew what I had to do.  Once I broke free of the chokehold, I drew the BB gun that was concealed in my pants.  I fired past his ear and ran.  I’d escaped, safely.
The next day at school, I went to see the teacher that had told me earlier that I didn’t belong with the group of these people.  For the next several months of 8th grade, she was my confidant.  I came to see her whenever I had a problem, I stayed in her room when the group was after me, and told her whenever they were up to something harmful or illegal.
I was all getting better.  I’d separated myself from the gang.  I ceased contact with them and didn’t associate with them anymore.  I’d started to get my grades back on track and was spending a lot of my time catching up on studies at the library.  I started to smile again.
The only problem was that I was in a grade with 26 people in it.  That means we were together, all day, in the same classes.  I dealt with their insults in class, constant badgering, and a lot more. Walking in-between classes, I made sure I was the first one out so I could avoid them.  I took other routes to class to steer clear.  They always tried to attack me at that one point in time.
One day, our principal decided to ban us from walking an opposite direction to class—we all had to walk together.  Yep, that’s how small our school was.  This led to the climax of all events.
Now that I was forced to walk with everyone else to class, I literally had to run to get away from them.  I walked into the rooms panting.  Sometimes I’d be lucky if they’d just messed with my books.  One day when they were particularly fired up, I decided to walk the opposite direction, away from them.  My principal caught me, and gave me a detention.
The administration didn’t make us safer by banning us from walking a different route to class, they actually made it worse.  I was punished for trying to avoid getting beaten up.
One day, one of the gang members had brought a dangerous weapon to school.  He decided to reveal it while threatening to shoot people and was caught.  Everyone was angry with me—because they knew I was the one who turned him in.  A few weeks later, the biggest event happened, one I will never forget for the rest of my life.
After weeks of them vandalizing my house, trying to bully me at school, sending me threatening text messages, and more, they showed up at my house when I was home alone and climbed the gate into my property.  I noticed this from my bedroom window and grabbed my pellet gun that I had purchased to protect myself from them.  My pet rabbit, Mr. Peaches, was playing outside and I was afraid of what they might do to him.
I opened my front door and confronted them.  If Mr. Peaches wasn’t outside, I would’ve just called the police.  Four of them, most notably James, were in my gated-off front yard, officially trespassing.  “Leave my house now,” I told them sternly.  “Shut up Buddha!” James responded.  He noticed my rabbit hiding behind a tree.  “Ah how cute,” he says, picking him up.  This is when I was scared.  James was a crazed sociopath, and I could tell he’d have no trouble hurting or killing my beloved pet.
“Put him down!!”  I ordered.  He refused and started pulling his ears, hard.  Everyone else just laughed.  This was it.  No one hurts my rabbit and gets away with it.  I quickly revealed my gun and fired four rounds into James’s legs.  He immediately dropped Mr. Peaches and screamed in pain, trying to clench his knees in agony. Everyone else was already climbing the gate running away, and James was right behind them, bleeding and yelling.
Problem solved?  No.
The next day, I stayed home from school and went to my principal.  I asked her if I could transfer to another middle school, but I was quickly shot down.  I had to go back and deal with this gang for another three months before the summer and most notably, before high school.
I returned to school.  Everyone was waiting for me.  The whole day they shouted insults and obscenities.  I shrugged them off.  Then at the end of the day, they seized a window of opportunity when class ended.  One of them walked over and banged my face into a desk, knocking one of my teeth out and leaving me badly injured.
I immediately went to get treatment and stayed away for the rest of the week.  The principal, you can guess, did nothing.  She didn’t even give a detention to the kid that banged my head against a desk.  I’d had enough of this poor administration.
Following this incident, the gang was scared.  They didn’t intend on knocking my tooth out and were scared of the repercussions that SHOULD HAVE occurred when it did.   Daily, I still dealt with their insults but didn’t have to worry as much about physical violence.  I just mustered out the few weeks until graduation, when the summer finally came and I got away from them.
I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the teacher that had helped me through this situation. She gave me advice, protected me, and got me past everything that was happening.  She is the best teacher I’ve ever had.
Following everything that had happened to me in these three long years, I have become a much different person.  My life was turned upside down by these people.  Thanks to them, I still struggle with school every day.  I had to work hard and take extra classes to get back ahead in high school, and I still have trouble with material because I didn’t listen in 6th-8th grades.  During those years, I gained forty pounds and developed social problems.  I’d continued to have problems using foul language and struggled to make new friends moving forward.
Where is the gang now?  They are at the bottom of the barrel.  Every one of them thinks that they are “so successful” and will be “millionaires,” but in reality they have nothing.  The reason they are still the same old gang in high school is because nobody likes or wants to be around them.  They have all gotten deep into drugs and even smoke in class.  Not one of them will graduate.
I still see them around and they shout the occasional insult at me, but who cares.  I’ve found real friends, ones who would never dream of hurting me and who really care.
What is the moral of this story?  Don’t get involved with the wrong people.  Look at what happened to me; I was lucky I got out alive.  It was the worst struggle of my life getting away from these folks, and it took a lot of courage and support to do it.  Even though it’s all over, I still struggle with things in life because of that one decision to associate myself with this bad group.  They were never my friends.  Don’t let this happen to you.
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One thought on “Friends

  1. I think that choosing the right people in your life is really important. It sounds like things were really rough, but I’m glad to know that things aren’t so bad anymore! Congrats on making it through, dude.

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