Chapter 4 – mini-me
I’ll be honest, I kinda liked mini me growing up despite all that ridiculous machismo I tried to exemplify. I was incredibly raw and wild and free and happy, and the world to me held countless possibilities. There was no can’t in my vocabulary, and I honestly believed I could do anything I wanted to. I even thought I’d end up being President or something one day. Hey, not too late right? I mean if an inmate in West Virginia can get votes…
Anywho, in full representation of all my action hero influences, if it involved risk, dirt, or testing the limits I was all over it (some things haven’t changed much). I never backed down from a challenge, and I did anything anyone said I couldn’t. I admittedly even kicked a girl right in the you know what just because she said (in the most annoying voice possible) that I couldn’t hit her because she was a girl. Well, she was wrong, and well; that may have been something I probably should have made an exception for in retrospect.
I ruled my whole elementary school when I was just in first grade (or so it appeared to be in my gung-ho mind). Although the ‘whole school’ that I was connected to at that point may have only been up to 3rd grade, I do think I ruled it as much as any lowly first grader could. I had no equal.
I commanded a whole army of classmates to do my biding as I pleased; which usually meant attacking the enemy – girls. If I told them to do anything they would. Seriously, anything. It was fantastic to have such power, and I can remember I would just sit on the hillside and watch as my minions ran amuck. It was like pre-World of Warcraft, but instead of trolls I had tiny people with missing teeth. I even got in trouble one time for them doing something because they told the principal that they were afraid of me and that they had to do it because I had told them to. So even though I didn’t actually do anything myself, I got in trouble and they didn’t. It was total bullshit, but I guess my reputation as that All-American badass had already preceded me by then.
In other words, if you don’t already have a clear picture of what I was like by then, I was that kid who had to sit on the floor in class on multiple occasions because I was too dirty after recess. Most of my jeans had patches on top of patches from my reckless abandon nature, and Calamine Lotion pink was a constant skin tone of mine because I refused to let poison ivy slow me down. I had even convinced myself that if I just kept getting it I would eventually become immune to it. Crazy enough, I think that may have even worked.
To really capture this image of me though, you’d have to look at the fact that I took great pride in knowing that no one could ever beat me at seeing who could stare at the sun the longest. To me, that was a true test of will and power. Which once again may have not been such a great idea now that I look back upon it (Thank you, lasik). But that just goes to show you how hardcore I really was back then, and how seriously I took living up to my exemplification of what a real All-American man was.
Whatever the challenge, I took it on full steam ahead. I tried to always finish my tests first, ate the weirdest concoctions at lunch, and basically beat up anyone who dared get in my way. I remember this one instance like it was yesterday. I told some boy during recess to go attack the girls or do something like normal, and out of nowhere he said this word I’m not sure any peer had ever said to me at that time, “No.” Before I could even wrap my head around what he had just said, I had already punched him in the nose and he was bleeding badly. In other words, I had basically reached the point – at around 8 years old – where I was operating on pure, primal instinct. I didn’t even think about hitting him. I just did it. And I think we were both a little stunned at how quickly it all had happened afterward, just blankly starring at each other. Anyways, I guess you could say I was well on my way to becoming about the manliest man ever.
Despite this M.O., though, I wasn’t all wild and crazy then. I had a big heart too that often troubled me at times. But it just so happened that that part of me didn’t get nurtured and developed like all the other parts growing up. There just weren’t any real examples to show me how to in my All-American environment. There was He-Man and Superman, but not Heart-Man or Superfeelingman. And so, I was way more testosteronely inclined than emotionally inclined as a result. But I do recall times when that part of me was wanting to be heard as well. I can remember seeing this kid at some fast food playground growing up that had to wear this protective helmet on his head (I can only assume because of some medical condition that he had), and I can remember thinking when I saw him that it just didn’t seem fair that he wasn’t able to play freely like I could. That in my world there were endless possibilities and no fear; whereas in his, I could see for the first time that that wasn’t necessarily universal in life. And I remember asking myself, and maybe even my mom, why? Why wasn’t he able to play freely like me? How could that be?
It didn’t seem fair, and it didn’t seem right. And I dunno if I should have, but I hurt for him. I may have even been slightly angry at what life had just shown to me, and that there was nothing I could do about it.
To this day I often get very uncomfortable with the fact that there are people out there, lots of people, who don’t have the same abilities or opportunities as I do. It bothered me then, and it bothers me now. I’m not saying that who I am is the way everyone should be or that it is a disadvantage to not be like me. I’m just saying that when I see people having difficulties, it bothers me. It hurts me, and I want to take away those barriers so that everyone can run, and play, and smile, and do whatever they want to freely because I can.
Anyways, that’s just a long way of me saying that I think if I would have had half as much nurturing and mentoring of my emotional self as I had of all the other bits of my manly self, then maybe I wouldn’t have been so imbalanced afterwards. I could have been part Chuck Norris and part; well, I still can’t think of any emotionally in tune and out spoken male role models, but you get the jist. And maybe, just maybe, my emotional intelligence would have been great enough that I could have realized what a real man actually was before I became what I thought one was.
Now, onto the specifics of this emotional, unemotional roller coaster.