I once knew a guy who did not know me. He was a cool guy. His name was Santos.
He was big and tall and round. So very rotund, fat or uh big boned. Ha, ha. Big boned.
Santos had some sort of memory problem. He couldn’t retain any information other than his own name. But he sometimes struggled with that as well.
Me and Santos were in the same 7th grade P.E. class. I absolutely hated that class and so did Santos. The coach was so annoying! But I guess most coaches are.
Coach Nunez was his name. He was part Hispanic and part priest. Well, that’s what the other students used to say about him.
Coach Nunez was known for quoting a lot of different religious figures. Somehow, he always managed to have ten new quotes every day. Most of the students laughed off his quoting but not me. Every once in a while I would write down one quote that seemed to grab my attention.
“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” Coach Nunez said one day after handing out the big red rubber balls for a game of dodge ball. He was quoting Gandhi. I wrote that one down and memorized it.
“Santos, look out!” I shouted.
Santos turned his head to the left just in time to avoid being hit by a ball. It was only an inch away from hitting his nose!
“I’m okay now!” Santos exclaimed.
He picked up a ball then flung it hard at the shortest kid in school. His name was Kenneth and he resembled a frail little mouse.
“Ow! Coach Nunez, Santos hit me way too hard!” Kenneth complained while rubbing his right shoulder.
“Santos! Don’t throw so hard! You hurt Kenneth!”
Coach Nunez scolded Santos.
“Sorry. Sorry. Sorry, Kenny.”
Santos apologized then hung his head low.
“That’s all right, Santos. I appreciate the apology.” Kenneth smiled then sat down on a bench with the other injured kids.
“Ha, ha! Kenny’s gonna’ cry!”
One of the other students, Ignacio, taunted Kenneth. Ignacio was a born taunter.
He wasn’t a bully. He was a taunter. What’s the difference? A bully will usually taunt and physically harm his victim. A taunter will wait for just the right moment to verbally assault his victim. A taunter abhors physical violence but has no problem with using words as weapons.
Ignacio even had the look of a taunter. He was of average height but with a very Mediterranean complexion. I think he was part Greek and part Brazilian. His hair was a dark color, not quite black but not quite brown. He always had it slicked back with the aid of some special kind of hair grease that his uncle shipped to him from Brazil.
Ignacio was also the only 7th grader with a mustache. It was a thin wispy mustache but still a real mustache.
“Kenny’s a cry baby! Cry baby!”
Ignacio laughed and pointed at Kenneth.
“Stop it, Iggy! Leave Kenny alone!”
Janet defended Kenneth.
Janet was quite possibly the prettiest, nicest, and coolest girl in the entire school. I had a bit of a crush on her. Well, just about every 7th grade boy did. Even a few 8th grade boys. Janet had curly red hair, deep blue eyes, glowing fair skin and an awesome smile.
She also had this way of looking at someone, anyone, and instantly connecting with that person’s true self.
“You’re such a bully, Iggy! Stop picking on Kenny!” Janet scrunched up her face and gave Ignacio the stink eye.
“Hey now! I’m no bully! I’m just a taunter.”
Ignacio caught a ball and held onto it for a minute before hurling it at some kid’s stomach.
“Oh whatever! You’re a bully and you know you’re a bully!” Janet picked up a ball and threw it at Ignacio’s face.
“Hey! You can’t do that! You’re not in the game anymore, Janet!” Ignacio was about to retaliate in kind when he was struck so hard in the chest that he immediately fell backwards onto the shiny gymnasium floor.
I turned around and saw Santos standing with a big smile on his face.
“Santos! Look what you’ve done!” Coach Nunez ran over to Ignacio and checked his vital signs.
“A ball for a ball makes you fall!” Santos exclaimed.
Every single student laughed. I wrote down that quote.
All words written by Ryan A. Loera