James Blair was a great place to go to school. I really loved it there, but there were always the crazy rumors that someone was going to get beaten up or that there was going to be a food fight. The only food fight I saw was more like a competition to see who could eat a double decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the fewest number of bites. I believe three was the magic number put in by a friend of mine with a small crowd of disbelieving observers wondering how it was possible that he was not choking on the white bread and crunchy peanut butter.
The rumors, though, they seem to be universal to all schools. The big one was that in the spring the eighth graders were going to beat up the seventh graders. I don’t think many of us young-ins cared too much about the rumor. I mean, who would be afraid of a kid whose nickname was Poodle? The day before the big throw down, I was riding my bike across town to go play racquetball at William and Mary when I learned a valuable lesson about carrying stuff over the shoulder on a ten-speed. As I hit the little bridge over by Bruton Heights, my bag of rackets slipped off my shoulder and into the spokes of the front wheel. Down I went, my face breaking the fall.
Fortunately, I only needed a few stitches, but missing the Friday scrap meant that I was some sort of chicken. The best part, though, was Monday back at school and walking down the halls with a puss oozing face and the looks my horrified grade mates when they asked me, “What happened?”
Never failing to make a stupid joke, I just said, “Poodle got me.”