(*not quite his real name, but it's close enough)
In elementary school, Floyd was a bully I had the misfortune of sharing classes with. He was not particularly bright, but he knew which of his classmates were least likely to fight back. I had few interactions with Floyd in elementary school, but by far the most memorable was the moment in Mrs. Carlton's class when he shoved me out of my seat and onto the floor while Mrs. Carlton was out of the room. I think back to that moment and wish I'd had the fortitude to stand back up and punch out a few of Floyd's teeth so he'd lose the idea of me as a viable target. It's not like we didn't have an audience; there's something about a kid shoving another one out of his chair and deploying the phrase "fucking pussy" in a non-Google-image-search-related capacity that grabs the attention of a room.
|In the back of the classroom, young Cornelius Porno has a life-changing brainstorm.|
Instead, twenty other sixth-graders sat in tomb-like silence and watched me slowly stand back up, stand my chair back up, and sit down on it while Floyd Aaron glowered at me.
You think you know where this story is going? I highly doubt you are correct.
Cut to my freshman year of high school. I'm making my own junior-league Dungeons & Dragons tabletop games; I have a hairstyle best described as Autistic Bart Simpson Impersonator, Plus Rat Tail; I occasionally wear M.C. Hammer-inspired pants to school.
|Like this, only with a blindingly bright seizure-inducing pattern, and without the proven financial success.|
I sit directly behind Floyd Aaron in Science class, he in the front row, me in the second.
Now, at this point in my life Floyd would have had ample reason to shove me off of a chair and accuse me of being a functioning vagina; given the brief description I just gave you of Me Circa 1991, you probably want to build a time machine and do so yourself. I know I do.
And yet the dynamic is far different now. Suddenly Floyd and I are downright friendly. He takes an immediate interest in the D&D games I'm constantly writing and drawing at my desk while not busy with classwork, and it ends up being an in-road to something approaching an actual friendship, albeit one that never once existed outside the walls of that Science classroom. Before I know it, Floyd and I are trading football cards, and trading elbow nudges and knowing nods while surreptitiously ogling the girl in our class who we both desperately wanted to sleep with. Hell, in a box somewhere to this day I have a role-playing game I created which stars people from our school in the various roles, and Floyd is one of the five playable characters you can choose to be when you start.
It was a surprising turn-around, not least for its timing. I was by that point no more than a year from that pivotal and freeing realization that the opinions of high-schoolers, as they pertain to me and the lifestyle choices I made, were utterly meaningless; by the end of my sophomore year I had embraced and run with my image as a weird outsider who didn't give a shit that you were laughing at him for wearing mismatched shoes, and who made sure you knew it if you half-heartedly attempted to tease him for it.
Had Floyd not slipped in under the bar, just before that realization, there's no way I'd have given him a chance. I was just barely still under that "hungry for peer approval" umbrella enough to forgive his being a piece of shit to me at our previous campus.
Which is good, because a more level-headed Me might have thought, Wait, why is Floyd Aaron being nice to me, and what outcome does he possibly expect from it other than for me to tell him to go fuck himself now that he's spotting me eight inches and a hundred pounds? Isn't one apocalyptic kick in the balls enough?
See, that's the part I didn't tell you yet. Floyd Aaron holds the dubious honor of having "wracked" me in the testicles harder than I have ever been kicked before and, I submit, harder than any man (or, hell, any woman) has been kicked in the balls in the course of human history.
The Ingram Dam is one of the few highlights of my hometown. The Guadalupe River flows over it and cascades down the face, and in the spring and summer months it is choked with swimmers and tubers and folks drinking beers and having picnics on the higher parts of the Dam where the water doesn't flow. I have the Ingram Dam to thank for my first glimpse of two people having sex, but that's a crotch-centric story for another day.
|Back where the trees meet and conceal that rock wall in the background; doggy-style, if you must know.|
One of the most exhilarating activities the Ingram Dam offers is dam sliding. At the center portion of the dam, where the water flows the most, one can ride down on an inner tube and splash into the river below. The more daring among us try to "ski" down the dam standing upright; I've never tried this, figuring my chances were good for a cracked skull if I did.
I'm terrible with these estimations, but I'd guess that the slide down the dam is maybe thirty feet. Could be as much as fifty, or up to a few miles. Could be a lot less, as you may already be laughing at my estimation skills after seeing the actual photo of Ingram Dam I just posted. But that's neither here nor there. On one summer day in my youth, my family went to the Ingram Dam and I ran into Floyd Aaron. This wasn't long before his transformation into a bully douchebag, but the change hadn't happened yet, so we were just two kids who knew each other from school and who decided to play together at The Dam for awhile.
Floyd was able to ski down the dam standing upright. He did it several times while I watched and considered trying it myself; I finally decided against it when I noticed how much speed he built up by the time he reached the bottom of the dam and splashed into the river proper. If not a skull fracture, I was convinced I'd at least have half the flesh ripped off of my back if I tried it and fell.
We decided to both go down The Dam at the same time, me sitting on my tube and him standing upright.
|If you have any parting words for mine, now's the time.|
As I slid down the dam, I tried to look back to see Floyd skiing down behind me; my attempt was enough to turn my tube, such that by the time I splashed into the water at the bottom I was completely turned around and facing the top of the dam.
My tube squirted out from under me. My inertia carried me down, bumping my butt on the bottom of the shallow resuming spot of the river at the dam's foot, my legs still splayed toward the sky.
And then both of Floyd Aaron's feet slammed into my testicles at the full speed of his knifing into the water from successfully skiing down The Ingram Dam.
|I am become Floyd, the destroyer of nads.|
Short of hitting it with a dump truck, I don't know how one might go about causing greater pain to the male crotch. Frankly, I'd question the scientific motive and funding of anyone who would try.
The pain was everything. The pain was the world. The cosmos shuddered to keep the impact crater contained within its borders. Summer lasted nine extra days that year, from the Earth shifting on its axis. Every low-water crossing in the county flooded, just from the water displacement of the kick.
White daggers replaced my vision, and my innards reorganized themselves alphabetically in a split-second. Had I any cognitive capabilities in that moment, I would have appreciated the irony of worrying that I might split my head open on the surface of the dam, now that both of my testicles had cracked my skull from the inside while in flight. That, or the further irony that I could never hope to willfully sire children now, though I'd have dozens of kids I didn't know about due to every woman who waded in the river that day inexplicably going home pregnant.
|And having to answer some tough questions at the hospital nine months later, as to why their newborns are so purple and bruised.|
Still underwater, my response was a bit muffled: "GGGMMMBBBPPLLGBLFFFGGG-" was the first part, though it went on for quite a bit longer than you'd think human lungs can exhale.
After what was anywhere from five seconds to a couple of years (my skill at estimation strikes again, though this time I assure you every second felt like a lifetime), I got my feet beneath me and was able to stand and surface, lest I drown in three feet of water and Floyd successfully kill me and any possible descendants in one fell ski. I could barely see, what with the river water, the silt from my bouncing off of the river bed, my stinging tears, and the aforementioned blinding daggers of white agony. My vision cleared enough to see Floyd standing in the water a few feet from me, his eyes wide. I think he asked if I was okay; I'm not sure, though, as everything sounded like my thudding heartbeat. I said "yes," or at least rasped it with what was left of my voice.
I had no idea if I was okay. I wanted very badly to throw up, or just let my shaky legs give out again and just float away down the Guadalupe to whatever new town I might call Home and start over with life. I didn't see any blood in the water, but I couldn't fathom how that was possible; I was terrified to pull open the drawstring on my swim trunks and peer inside, having no idea what I might see.
I tried to take a step and nearly fell over; my legs were not going to support me for long, and for some reason it was vitally important to me that I get up and away from all of the families and students at the dam, so I could vomit and/or burst into tears in relative privacy.
I ended up settling back into the water and letting my natural buoyancy aid me in wading over to the climbable surface of the dam; my testicles felt like someone was continually squeezing them, sending waves of fresh nausea through me. I must have done The Acting Job of the Century in telling Floyd I was okay, because I glanced up the Dam to see him already most of the way to the top, preparing for another slide down on feet that would almost certainly glow under a blacklight for the rest of his life.
The next few minutes are an indistinct blur. I know I didn't throw up, but I think that was just the result of my abdominal muscles prioritizing it beneath aiding me in sobbing loudly for the next half hour in the parking lot across the street from the dam, at a business cannily named The Dam Store.
|If the swelling never goes down, I'll have to put one down each leg of my Hammer pants!|
We'll always have The Ingram Dam.
25 April 2012