A Tiger by the Tail
As youngsters we enjoyed poking fun at our younger brother Mike which wasn’t the smartest thing, since doing so always produced a tiger by the tail . We shouldn’t have teased him so much since later in life we all regretted it. But kids will be kids and we didn’t think about that at the time. Unfortunately, Mike had been born prematurely and legally blind. His eyes had opened too early and were damaged by oxygen. Although he wore glasses he claimed they didn’t help much. So he was stuck with his handicap.
He was always able to see just barely enough to get around some, but today he is totally blind in one eye and his other one soon will be. But Mike compensated for his physical limitations somewhat with an exceptionally high IQ rating in the genius level.
We weren’t the only ones to pick on Mike either. He was often the butt of pranks and jokes by so called friends. Someone even tagged him with the descriptive nickname of “Hawkeye”. It wasn’t until our teen years that we quit making fun of him and began defending him instead. Although we had quit poking fun at him didn’t mean others had.
Many were the times I interjected myself between him and some bully and got into a scrap. But, to my surprise, I soon discovered Mike could hold his own in a fight. My older brother, Tom and I had earlier taught Mike a few simple self defense moves to protect himself.
The fact Mike was capable of defending himself became evident one day when Mike and I were 7th graders in the same class. We are only 9 months apart in age.
One member of our class, a Johnny Bundy by name, frequently amused himself taunting my brother, me and others in the class. He wasn’t a very popular lad to say the least. The following events made Mike quite popular with our classmates.
A favorite ploy of Johnny’s was to “inadvertently” stumble into somebody and subsequently fall to the floor. At this time he would loudly accuse them of knocking him down, usually when the teacher was present. The accused usually wound up sitting in a corner.
It was on a bright sunny morning when Johnny once again pulled his favorite routine. However, this time it was outside and no teacher supervision present. Evidently, Mike was not having a good day thus far, which Johnny was about to find out. Mike picked himself up off the ground doing a slow burn, brushed his clothes off and looked around trying to see where his assailant was. Johnny’s raucous laughter gave away his position. Mike saw his shadowy shape which he grabbed and applied one of the moves we had shown him. Johnny promptly found himself on the ground with Mike straddled across his chest and getting the tar beat out of him. “How do you like it?” Mike hollered repeatedly.
Johnny yelled for help but no one stepped in to assist him. Instead, loud cheers erupted from the crowd who had gathered around, many of which had also been targets of Johnny’s relentless harassment. The furious pummeling continued until a passing teacher pulled the two apart. Of course, Mike ended up sitting in a corner again, but he didn’t care. He had been victorious. Johnny was stuck with the dubious distinction and embarrassment of being the guy who got beat up by a blind kid.
Although Mike had won that battle, he hadn’t won the war. His popularity soon made him a target of other bullies. He realized he couldn’t fight the entire school so that’s where his genius came to the fore. Mike formulated a scheme to ward off future attacks. Whenever a potential adversary began their preliminary verbal routines, Mike would instantly feign a bout of insanity. This usually sent the perpetrators scurrying away. Nobody likes dealing with a crazy person. Besides it wasn’t cool to be known as someone who picked on a mentally unstable person.
The school administrators however, took my brother’s act seriously and told our mother he needed professional help. So, Mike was yanked from class and sent to get it. Either way, he figured he had won.
But our mom was worried and got a professional opinion from a physcologist. The doctor informed her there was nothing wrong with her son. Only that she had “one extremely clever boy”.