In second grade, Adolph and me and our other friend, Benito, who was deaf in one ear so he talked funny, decided to form a gang. At P.S. 84, we were always in the big schoolyard at lunch, not playing baseball cards or punchball like the other kids, but talking about comic books and TV shows. Benito and I liked Flip Wilson and The Odd Couple, but Adolph liked M*A*S*H and Mannix, which I didn’t understand at all.
“What do we call us?” Benito said. He had a haircut like Moe from the Three Stooges, and he was very white. But Adolph, who was German and Irish, so he was whiter. He wore turtlenecks.
We tossed around ideas, while handballs and basketballs were getting tossed over our heads. The only thing we could agree on was that we wanted to be “Blue” something, since we all had blue shirts we could wear when we were being a gang. Benito wanted us to be called “The Blue Avengers.” I wanted “The Blue Sharks.” Adolph wanted “Blue Death Ray Cult.”
I don’t think we ever decided on one name, for sure.
We wanted to form a gang because another bunch of boys had made their own gang, although they weren’t smart enough to even try having a name. Their leader was the other Edgar in Mrs. Emshwiller’s class. I hated that he had my name, too! He was my enemy!
Our two gangs used to say mean things and look mean at each other every chance we got. But one time, when Adolph and Benito were both out sick, the other gang cornered me at the end of the lunch period.
There was the Other Edgar, my enemy; Tony, who smelled like pee; Charlie, the fat kid who looked like Pugsley; and Charlie’s brother, Phillip, who laughed like a girl. I was in the basketball court, because that was one of the places you could sit by the fence and no one would bother you. It was nice there, except people must come there at night and break a lot of beer bottles.
Suddenly, the bell rang. There were only two exits out of the court. I saw Tony and Charlie on one side, and Other Edgar and Phillip on the other. Uh oh.
I ran for Other Edgar and Phillip, because I figured I could push past Phillip pretty easily — but Tony and Charlie were already there! The bell to go back to class was being rung. We all had to leave. I stood my ground, waiting for them to back off.
But then Other Edgar made a move at me. I ducked — and slipped! My face hit some glass that was on the ground. I started bleeding. Other Edgar looked really sorry. He helped me stand up. I said I was fine, even though I could feel the blood. He walked with me to the nurse’s office, and the nurse gave me a band-aid, which made me feel like a real life tough guy. When she asked what happened, we just said that I fell. We didn’t want the adults to know we were in gangs and having gang fights.