Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Streaks of Chucky

Growing up, I always thought of myself as well-behaved, at least compared to most kids my age. In public places I conducted myself in the most polite manner: I couldn’t remember throwing a single tantrum, run around the hallways chasing other kids, or shout at the top of my voice like other kids do. In fact, I prayed in Church with both my hands pressed together and pointing towards heaven. I listened attentively during sermons (Father Moggi’s Italian-accented Cebuano was a stretch to listen to, although his was better than Father Bittner’s heavily Midwestern style, “mo-adtow kamowh sa lawngit…” which would send one into an instant coma), sat up to listen to my teachers in school, and didn’t make a fuss when Loren Legarda anchored the evening news on RPN 9.

I hated squalling babies. I had visions of taping and gagging the mouth of Nang Berta’s youngest, Leah, who’s really loud wailing and caterwauling would probably make her a good opera singer someday.

I also avoided fist fights, at least not frequently as Re-re and Bam-bam. At a young age, I wanted quiet, order and harmony. I was a good kid. At least that’s what I thought I was.

Now that I think about it, I think I might not have been such an angel after all.

The earliest recollection of a really bad deed I did was in first grade. The girl sitting in front of me in Mrs. Piloton’s class wasn’t successfully toilet-trained yet (I won’t mention her name, Stella and Zarah know her). On several occasions, she’d pee in her seat, creating a stream of piss-puddle on the Johnson-wax shiny floor in front of me. It was nasty and it annoyed me no end. And so I devised a plan to teach her a lesson.

The minute she walked on the aisle, I casually extended my right foot as she passed by, whereupon she’d fall face flat into the floor, squalling like a cry-baby. Feigning innocence, I’d say “Ooops, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you pass by…” and I got away with it.

There was also this girl who was so talkative I actually entertained visions of stuffing her mouth with firecrackers (I know I’m baaad). One time after school, we were assigned to clean the classroom. So I placed a coconut husk carefully on top of a slightly open door, which, without fail fell and hit her squarely in the head when she pushed the door open and came in.

Oh yes, she cried.

I fled home.

At home, my uncle Rustom would sleep in the couch, snoring softly after a hard day at work. My brother once contrived a plan that required me to pour salt into his open mouth, while he snored! Of course I got caught in the act. As my poor Uncle gasped for air and wondered what hit him, my brother fled the scene and was nowhere to be found, leaving me to face my Uncle who was red-faced with anger! *gasp*

Grade school can be a tough environment, especially if you look different. There was this kid who looked so alien to us-- he looked geeky and his Chinese features stood out-- that the me and the other boys took turns hiding his things, putting his shoes in the girls’ shoe rack, and generally poked fun at him. We were admittedly bad. It came to a dramatic end when his mom barged into the classroom, poured her heart out, cried unashamedly because of her son’s ill-treatment, and rightfully transferred him in public school. We were all stunned and felt guilty about the whole scenario. We certainly learned our lesson the hard way.

Fist fights at the back of the school were a normal occurrence, usually attracting a crowd of school children eager to watch a slugging match. My first was with Dwight—he was actually a very good friend of mine, and I hang out with him, along with Ambrose.

One time, Santos (his name is really ironic, isn’t it?) bullied us into fighting each other. The accepted logic was that we were both candidates for sissy-hood because we hadn’t punched somebody else’s nose yet.

And so Dwight and I—although we were school chums-- traded punches, kicked each other in the groin and wrestled on the ground before some upper grader stopped the fight. (Although the following morning, we were back playing “takyang”).

Surprisingly, when I got home, my mom already knew about the whole thing. Apparently, some pony-tailed goody-two-shoes neighbor, who went to the same school, promptly went to my house and incredibly laid out the details of the fight to her.

To my credit, my mom didn’t over-react, like most parents do when their kids get involved in fights. She cleaned the cuts and bruises without fuss. A short lecture ensued, of course. And then, she simply cut a piece of cake and prepared some warm milk for me. She seemed to expect it. She understood perfectly that what happened was only a part of growing up.