Think Before You Speak
This hub was spurred by a conversation I had with my best friend. We were chatting one day about anger or something, and she asked me was I ever mad enough to want to hit someone, and I replied no, not really. I did share that I was mad enough one time to throw a coffee cup across the room, but that was about it. As far as my actually hitting someone, no, but I did get into a fight with a girl in school once. She was surprised, and asked me what happened. Here's the story.
Growing Up in the Sixties
The town I grew up in was 1.8 miles square. Growing up, I remember that there was a bar on almost every corner. In 1981, in Rand McNally's ‘Places Rated Almanac' it listed 37 bars, the most per capita in the country. That equated to one for every 218 residents. It was also listed in a publication of the Guinness Book of Records as having the most bars. I guess it was quite a thirsty town. Quite a few of the establishments were known locally as family bars, which meant, I guess, that they had a homey feel to them. The town's population was, and still is, comprised mostly of families of Irish and Polish descent, who came to work here at the turn of the century on any of the three railroads that ran through the town.
I loved my town and had a wonderful childhood filled with mostly good memories. The movie ‘It's a Wonderful Life' always reminds me of my hometown. Everyone knew everyone. It was safe to walk the streets, to hang out at night and even leave doors unlocked.
I enjoyed my school years, especially high school. I had a lot of fun going to the dances and basketball games. Every Friday and Saturday night for four years I'd go skating at the roller rink. I used to get $2 a week allowance, and that $2 bought me admission for two nights of skating (I had my own skates, so it was cheaper) with enough left over to buy a soda and a candy bar. Today, $2 won't even get you around the corner.
By freshman year, I had a core group of girls I hung around with. Judy was a petite girl who loved to laugh. Barbara was a pretty, pleasantly plump girl who we looked to for help with our schoolwork when needed. Gloria was from the wrong side of the tracks, but a very pretty, petite girl who was always pushing the envelope, so to speak. By that I mean, she smoked, cursed and stayed out late, which I was envious of, since I had to be a good girl and wasn't allowed out on weeknights. The last girl, Carol, was a tall, willowy blonde, but also a bit rough around the edges. It didn't matter to us because we liked her a lot. Myself, I was a 5'6" brunette with a decent shape and I was a shameless flirt. I remember, from 7th grade on, I always had a romantic crush on someone, as opposed to my grammar school infatuations.
All of us smoked, and I think we all owned leather coats or jackets. We had to look cool. None of us ever lacked for dates. Barbara hooked up with a guy in 8th grade, dated him all through high school and ended up marrying him. Judy and I tended to like the same guys, and sometimes shared them, separately of course!. These guys were generally tall and good-looking. So, if Judy happened to break up with someone, I'd go after him, and would sometimes end up going steady with him. Our tastes in guys varied. Judy, Gloria and I liked the ‘cool' guys, the ones with the slicked back hair, who wore leather jackets and smoked. Carol dated older guys that didn't go to our school. Barbara didn't have a ‘type' that she gravitated toward .
I had a major crush on one of our guy friends. His name was Leo. He used to attend our school dances with his friends, who were all pretty cool. He had a steady girlfriend, but they fought like cats and dogs. Every time they had a fight, he'd come ask me to dance, or to go out on a date. Of course, I'd go because I thought he was the best looking guy in school, not to mention he was as big a flirt as I was. Really, it was innocent. We just enjoyed each other's company and shared a few smooches, nothing more. Nothing ever became of him and I, and he went on to marry the girl he dated.
Academically, my friends and I all did well, and almost always stayed out of trouble, with one exception.
Carol wasn't too popular with some of the girls in our school. One girl in particular, a grade behind us, was Carol's archenemy. All I know is that they tended to get into fights a lot. I recall many days when she'd say to me, I'm meeting Peggy today after school in the playground and I'm gonna beat the shit out of her. Wanna come? I never did find out what the beef was between her and Peggy, but those two got into hair-pulling, fingernail scratching catfights a lot. .
Carol would often ask me if I wanted to come watch, and my answer was almost always no. See, my father was very strict with me once I hit high school. There was a bar cater-cornered to the high school (what a surprise), and he'd go there at lunchtime and watch out the window to make sure my car was at school. My mom, on the other hand, was my ally. Since my dad worked shift work, the weeks he worked the 8 to 4 shift I loved, because it meant I didn't have to be home straight from school. As long as I was home by 4 pm I was safe.
One day, Carol said she was going to be in a fight after school with one of the seniors. We were juniors at the time. I asked her where was it taking place, and she said at Bill's Sweet Shop, which was a block away from the school. This sweet shop catered to the public school kids as well as parochial school kids. My dad was working his 8 to 4 shift, so I said I'd come along if she wanted moral support. She said sure. Nancy, the senior Carol was going to fight, was as tall as Carol.
So, school ends and off we go to the sweet shop. Nancy decided to bring along her best friend, a skinny shorter Italian girl named Maria. We went inside the shop and ordered some sodas. In walks Nancy and Maria. They walked over by us, and Carol and Nancy started shouting at each other. I just sat there sipping my soda, watching. I could tell Carol was getting pretty angry. Nancy's friend, Maria, was just standing there next to Nancy as the argument was heating up. Now, mind you, to this point, I had never been in a fight in my life, not even a shouting match with another girl. So, what did quiet, non-aggressive Patty do? I turned around and said to Maria, hey, you're the 3rd party here, why don't you stick up for your friend, to which she replied shut up. I then said (pardon the slur), why don't you just shut your damn mouth, you damn ‘wop'. That's all I had to say, and the last I remember of being in the sweet shop. The next thing I knew I was outside the front of the sweet shop lying in the snow with Maria sitting on top of me, wailing the shit out of me. Of course, there was a huge audience, all the kids shouting, catfight, catfight. I remember I had on a black fitted dress and a fake suede coat. My coat was unbuttoned and my dress was hiked up to my thighs. I could hear the kids shouting, look at her eye, look at her eye. I guess I was in shock, because she had my arms pinned down above my head with one hand and was hitting me with the other. All I could do was kick my legs (which I'm sure the boys loved). At some point it ended. Carol and Nancy never did get into their fistfight.
Now, as I got up I could see my pocketbook was lying in the snow, and as I bent to pick it up, I could see that my stockings were ripped to shreds, my legs were bloody, and my face was bleeding.
I knew immediately that I was definitely going to be late getting home. I started to worry about the trouble I was facing when I walked in because my Dad was home from work by then. When I walked in the house, of course, I didn't have to say a word, my appearance said it all. But, I had to tell my parents how and why it happened. My Dad was surprisingly not mad at me, but mad at the fact that I didn't get one punch in. I tried to explain how I was pinned down, but it didn't matter. Go figure! All my Mom did was cry.
Come Monday, off to school I went. I didn't know what to expect as far as a reaction from the kids. All I knew was that I was feeling very embarrassed. Not only were the kids from my school observing that fight, but so were kids from the parochial schools. As I walked down the hall, I heard a guy call my name. I turned to look, and it was a senior, one of our star basketball players (and very good looking). He said, check this out, and he held out a hunk of hair. It was mine.
I didn't even realize that Maria managed to get a piece of my hair. All I managed to do was say, haha, very funny. Looking back, I'm surprised they didn't hang it on a bulletin board or something. Boys!
Well, let's see. Barbara and I are now both widows. Judy is divorced and living out west somewhere. I was told Gloria lives somewhere in Florida. Carol has since passed on from alcoholism. My friend Leo, who sometimes got into some mischief in high school, grew up to be the Chief of Police. I never would have believed it, but I always knew he was special.
Moral of the Story
Walk away from trouble and keep your mouth shut,