Perhaps the insanity began as I picked myself up off the slimy, gray locker room floor all those years ago; smelling my own acrid fear. I huddled next to my locker; my ears flushed hot from the blows to my head, avoiding the laughing eyes of the accepted. My own pathetic insecurities embraced me; wrapping their clammy arms around my nervous, frail body just as fiercely as any other teenagers. Wasn’t that what being an adolescent was all about? Pubic hair, questioning authority, waiting for the phone to ring, and the unending greasy skin?
The incurable disease of ‘being accepted’, rode with me , in a monotonous parade of long nights at home, & endless walks to the bookshelf. I didn’t have friends, and I didn’t know why. According to my own narrow 13 year old standards, I was cursed by a pee-wee body, freckles, and big ears. I looked like Alfred E. Newman….without the smile. I was picked on & picked last. Gym class intramurals proved to be the death of me. Fat Wendy was chosen before me…humiliation was my constant companion. However, Kenny P. proved to be the bane of my existence.
A Nazi Stormtrooper in appearance & attitude, he was brutality personified. Daunting, dangerous; he pushed & prodded at my feeble attempts to prove my athletic prowess. He knocked me around the locker room after class….regularly. Like I said, I think my insanity began there. Amid the looming, metal lockers that stood row-on-row, like Confederate soldiers, I also turned on that which he tried to destroy; myself.
I couldn’t catch a ball…but when I stood on a skateboard, everything changed for me. I could ride it. Skateboarding is the first thing in my life that I could-naturally-do. The image of Tony Alva at Gonzales pool & ones like it, helped me make it through those terrible times. Years later, I ended up having one of my birthday sessions at Gonzales…who would’ve thought?! By the way—Kenny P. died in a house fire years ago…I heard that he was running down the street on fire, shrieking & slapping himself in the head; trying to put his hair out. Firemen stated that, “He looked like a wooden match…” I actually felt sorry for him. Thanks to Jim Goodrich & Bryce Kanights for the images. Skate Long/Skate Strong-Ozzie