A great friend.
Back when I was in my freshman year in High School I met Paul Wade. I remember Paul because he was my first true friend. I was a loner in school. I had very little interest in making friends with many students at that times. It was the middle 1970s. I really didn't want to make friends. The High School was predominantly White. I had been exposed to racism in my neoghborhood several times. I was not in school to socialized and friends. My parent wanted me to be a honor student.
I was there for an education. The other
non White students tried to interact with the White students. I initially avoided everybody . I prefered to be alone. I never felt truly mistreated. I kept my focus totally on education. The first 2 months I stayed to myself.
In early November I was eating my lunch in the cafeteria. I was alone. It was very crowded. I am reading when I hear a voice ask "I this seat across from you taken?"
I look up and answer "No. It is not taken."
It was Paul Wade. Paul sat down across from me. Paul is heavy with thick wire frame eye glasses and by the amount of food on his lunch he enjoyed eating. I had seem him in several of my classes. I had observed him being teased and ridiculed by other student because of his size.
Paul said "My name is Paul Wade."
I said "My name is Earl Reese."
We shook hands. I really didn't feel talking."
Paul asked " Aren't you in my Math, History, and Biology class?"
I said "I believe I have seen you in some of my classes."
Paul said "I can see you are studying now."
I said "I am studying Biology."
Paul asked "Isn't Biology interesting?"
I said " No. I don't find the study of the human body interesting at all. It is completely boring to me."
Paul said Biology and Math are my strongest subjects."
I said " Like History. I can remember all the fact. My favorite subject is writing. I like creativity."
Paul said "History is fine to study. Writing fine, but I prefer deal with Science and Math of the many complicated information. It is a challenge to my brain."
I said " I prefer being challenge creativity. I find any science and math to be boring. I try to understand it, but it just bores me. I would rather writer poetry and stories."
Paul said " I have an idea Earl. Since were in some of the same classes. Why don't we help each other. I will help you with science and math and you help me to write more creatively."
I thought for a moment and said "I can sure use some help in understand Biology and the more advanced math. I heard we will be studying algebra."
Paul said "Algebra is a fascinating subject."
I said "It is not fascinating to me. It is extremely complicated. I think we can help each other. Anybody who likes Biology and math must be real smart."
Paul said "I was a straight A in student in the elementary school. My parent demanded I excell academicly."
I said "My parents expect my grade to be high. I have some difficulty with Science and Math."
Paul said "I have problem being creative because I like to test facts and figures."
I said "I would rather write poetry and stories. I enjoy creativity."
Paul asked " Can you give some ideas."
I responded "Being creative is natural.
It is all in what you feel. It is giving a voice and description to what you see, hear, or feel."
Paul said "Wow! That is deep. I never thought of that way."
Paul smiled and said " I know you will be able to help me."
We shook hands as the bell rang to end the lunch period.
I said "It is time to go back to class."
Paul said " Yes. I guess it is time. It was nice meeting and talking to you Earl."
I said "Nice meeting you Paul."
We did indeed help each other with our school work. Paul helped to understand Biology and Algebra and I was able to help be creative. We shared an interest in sports. We were both big football, basketball, and baseball fans. We were both unable to play on the school team in any sports. He could because he admitted to being to heavy and because I was to slow. We spent several weekends bowling. We met each others parents. Paul was the first friend I had for a long time. We were the only friends each of us had. Paul took some abuse about his weight. He ignored it.
It bothered me because Paul was really a nice person. He never bothered anybody.
I asked "Paul how can take all the ignorant foolishness?"
Paul responded "I don't care. Those fools are just being ignorant. They can't hurt me. I feel good about who I am and how I look. Those kids are dumb."
I admired Paul's courage. He has plenty of strength and character.
The spring of the freshman year Paul was in the cafeteria sitting with a female named Debbie Pierce. Paul was helping her with her Math homework. She was constantly asking Paul for help with her homework, but when she was with her friends she would teasing Paul about his weight. Paul was obviously attracted to her. She had blonde hair and blue eyes. I disliked her and tried to tell Paul to stop to helping her.
On this particular day I saw her hug Paul. I sat far away from them.
I never spoke to her. I disliked and all her friends including Ross Perini.
Perini thought he was the big man in the freshman class. He was an average athelete. He thought all the girls in school liked him. I thought he was an arrogant jerk. He was constantly teasing Paul about his size. There were many time I want to hurt him. I could see what I was sitting that Ross Perini saw Debbie Pierce hug Paul. Perini called himself Debbie's boy friend.
Debbie hugs Paul and said "Thank you for helping me. That was the first A I have ever got in Math."
Paul said "You are quite welcome. I am happy to help."
Paul was vry happy. He walks over to where I am sitting and has a big smile on his face.
Paul said "Earl did you see that. The prettiest girl in the class Debbie Pierce hugged me."
I said "I wouldn't get to excited about it. She is dating that jerk Perini and she is always teasing you."
Paul said " I know. It felt nice that a pretty girl being nice to me."
I said " She is not worth talking about.
She associates with that fool Perini."
Paul said " She has been nice to lately."
I said "She just want to help with school work. She doesn't show you any respect."
Paul said " She may change now."
I said " I don't think so. She is a waste of time. She is no different from some these fools who go to this school."
Paul said "You have a point, but I am willing to give Debbie and chance."
I said " People like Debbie think they are better that quality people like you and I. She is a fool who worries about that other people think. Forget about her. To her and others in this school you and I are outcasts."
Paul and I began talking about other things. We are eating out lunch. Paul is sitting across from me. All of sudden Perini walk up behind Paul and pour a container of milk on his head.
Paul got up and screamed "What is this?"
I said "You ass Perini. What the hell are you doing!"
Perini said "This fat slob was hugging
Debbie. She my girl. My your business Reese."
I quickly got up and said in anger the hell you fool. You had no business doing that to Paul."
I pushed Perini on the floor and punched him several times. I punch with all my might. I made him bleed from the nose and mouth. I wanted to hurt him. I refuse to let him fight back.
I said "You stupid ass. You had no right doing that to Paul. You ignorant fool.
Other student attempted to stop me from hitting Perini. I was angry. I was tired of all the ignorant teasing of Paul. The sight of Perini pouring milk on Paul cause me to what to hurt him.
Perini was on the floor bleeding and in pain and said " Stop Reese Stop!"
Debbie screamed " Stop. You are hurting him!"
Member of the student patrol and a teacher named Mr.Hill held back.
I said "Let me go. I want to hurt that fool some more."
Mr.Hill asked "What is this fight about?"
I responded "This fool Perini poured milk on my friend Paul. I am looking out for my friend."
Mr.Hill said "I understand how you feel Mr.Reese, but fighting is not the way.
Go to the Principal's office."
Mr.Hill looked at Perini bleeding on the floor. Debbie went to Perini and said "He really hurt you."
Perini could barely move.
Mr.Hill said "Some of you students help Mr.Perini to the Nurse's office. You are badly hurt. Mr.Reese to the Principal's office. Mr.Wade go and clean yourself up."
I asked "Paul are you OK?
Paul answered Yes. I am just wet. You are real friend Earl. You are we are a pair of outcasts."
I said " I know what happened was wrong."
Paul and I are still friends to this day. After that incident nobody teased Paul about his size. I know at the time I went to far and allowed my anger to get the best of me. I got suspended and detention. My parents punished me. There were other students and teacher who respected me for beating Perini for what he did. Perini ended up with a broken nose and 2 black eyes. Other students respected me. Paul was more respected. Paul avoided Debbie. Perini never said he was sorry to Paul and never would say I was sorry I was sorry to Perini. Perini and is friends avoided Paul and I. I may have been wrong, but I know I did the right thing.
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