Of Course You Realize…This Means War!

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Four times in my life I have had “Of Course You Realize…This Means War!” moments. Kind of like those old Looney Tunes cartoons where Bugs Bunny is chilling happily in his rabbit hole, which is decked out with all of the most modern trappings of comfort, style and convenience. Who didn’t watch these cartoons and want to hang out with Bugs in his awesome rabbit holes? And then? Bam! Someone tries to f — with him. Maybe it’s Elmer Fudd out hunting wabbits, or maybe someone is trying to build an interstate right outside his bunny hole. Or maybe he just didn’t take the left turn at Albuquerque, like he should have. My husband Mike has told me many times that I remind him of Bugs Bunny, and not just because I can do a pretty decent Brooklyn/Bronx accent! It’s my personality. Like Bugs Bunny, I like to chill. I don’t like picking fights with people, I’m very non-confrontational, and try to get along with pretty much everyone. But like Bugs, I also have a playful side, and like to push people’s buttons.  And also like Bugs, I have my breaking point, when all of my politeness, my sense of right/wrong, turning the other cheek, taking the high road simply do not exist, essentially laying my inner “bitch” self utterly bare. Without further ado, here are the four times in my life when someone pushed me too far:

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Where I spent grades K-4…
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If this baby’s going into a corner? Don’t make fun of her for being there! Me in grade 1.
  1. First grade, circa 1978, Lacure Elementary School, Clio, MI: I was sitting next to a friend named Shawnette in the multi-purpose room, which had those tables/benches that folded down from the walls during lunchtime, and were folded back in so the room could be used for a gym. We were goofing off, and slapping each other, like Bugs Bunny slapped the bull in “Bully For Bugs,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcL-TTkp-F0. We weren’t trying to hurt each other, we were just mimicking a Saturday morning cartoon. I was very into my Saturday morning cartoons – I gave up ballet because the lessons interfered with my ‘toon time. I was also at odds with “Miss Janet,” my ballet instructor, who disliked that I wore my “Star Wars” T-shirt over my leotard (what can I say, I like layers). And lastly? Pink satin just did NOT suit me at all. My mom showed me a pink baby outfit of mine and said, “Even as a baby, pink just didn’t suit you.” That satin leotard/tutu combo I had to wear in ballet did make me ITCH in all the wrong places…oh boy. No thanks! Anyhoo, back to the lunchtime story –  I’m pretty sure I had a “Peanuts” lunch box – either my red metal one, or my yellow plastic one.  An eagle-eyed lunch lady, however, wasn’t enjoying our rendition of “Bully for Bugs.” She decided she’d had enough, and made both of us stand in the corner as punishment. I went to my corner, which was right by the door to the outside, where kids could go out to the playground, so everyone was walking by. Including Steve, the big, bad, dumb fourth grader, who’d supposedly been held back at least a couple of times. Everyone was afraid of him. As if standing in the stupid corner wasn’t bad enough? He had to laugh at me for it. I was humiliated, so without thinking of consequences? I tripped him, and he fell flat on his face. He was pissed – “I’ll get you for this…you’ll be sorry!” Of course I was terrified. Not only was  he a big, bad (and kind of dumb) kid, but he lived right up the road! He knew where I lived! Apparently the principal caught wind of all this and called both of us into his office, where he had a paddle with holes hanging on the wall. Yes, this was the ’70s, and corporal punishment occasionally was a thing. I was spanked by my kindergarten teacher for throwing a rock. Which happened to hit a kid named Jeff in the head (honest, I didn’t mean to do it, curse my awesome aim!). So of course I thought I was going to get paddled and that I was in huge trouble! Nope, the principal basically took MY side – “You’re not going to do anything to Heather, and if I hear anything about it, I’m calling you back in here,” he said to Steve. And after that, nothing happened. I’m paraphrasing all of this, of course. And on to incident #2…
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    Where I spent grades 5-8…
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    Middle school-age me. Note the resting bitch face, lol…”Not ANOTHER car show, Dad!”

    Sixth grade, circa 1984, Carter Middle School, Clio, MI: The end of my sixth grade year was probably about the darkest time in my school years. There was a group of girls whom I’d, for whatever reason, run afoul of, and they relished any chance to confront me in the bathroom, in the hallways, on the playground, in gym class, wherever they could escape the eyes of anyone remotely authoritarian. I was afraid to go to school, I was bullied by these girls, who’d accused me of calling their “leader,” whose name was Meredith, a “bitch.” I honestly could not recall doing such a thing, even though I did not like the girl. I dealt with this shit for weeks, and finally, one day on the playground, Meredith pushed me too far. Literally.  She came up behind me and gave my shoulder a shove. My memories are pretty blurry at this point about the incident, but I pushed back, kicked, did whatever I had to do, but she wasn’t going to get the best of me! There was hair -pulling, scratching with fingernails (we were girls, after all, forgive us), shoving, slapping, you name it. I don’t think there was really any punching, but again, my memories are fuzzy. We kept at it until a lunch lady (again?) came out and broke it up. From what I heard about it afterward? I earned some “street cred,” apparently. I stood up to a known bully, and told her I was as mad and hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore. OK, I’m just quoting the movie “Network,” now…I guess some of the kids were in awe of me after that. Nobody would have expected me, who liked bowling, shirts with rainbows on them, sticker collecting, being a know-it-all in current events trivia (my dad was a “World News Tonight-aholic and avid newspaper subscriber) and being a dork in band class? To hold my own in a middle school girl “fight club.” After that? No more problems! Until college…

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    There was nothing better than grunge “fashion.” Nothing…, me in 1994.
  2. Senior year of college, 1994, Mount Pleasant, MI: I was in a bar called “The Bird” with my boyfriend, Mike, getting ready to chill out on a Thursday night, which was “the” party night in Mount Pleasant. Lots of students went home for the weekend on Fridays, or didn’t have Friday classes. I was never so lucky to get away with no Friday classes, but that didn’t stop me from partying on a Thursday anyway. So here we are in the “The Bird,” and a big guy in overalls, obviously a townie, not a student, says to me, “Now you’re a tall drink of water, aren’t ya?” Being no stranger to all manner of height jokes, I was still in no mood for it… I said, “Don’t you think I’ve been hearing this shit since I was 14?” Then I just back-handed the guy in the face. Was that a dumb thing to do? Yep! Was I thinking about consequences? Nope! Had I been drinking? Maybe…we’d just walked into the bar, so I very likely could have been sober, I honestly don’t remember. The fallout was rather unexpected, however…the guy APOLOGIZED to me! I guess the slap was a wake-up call. He offered to buy me a drink . His buddy asked my boyfriend,”He’s buying your girl a drink. Does that bother you?” Mike answered, “No, it’s one less drink I have to buy, and she knows who she’s going home with tonight.” And all was well, until 2010…
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    Corner Brewery, aka Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery.

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    Me in 2010. Tearing up the carpet. Heh…
  3. December, 2010, “Corner Brewery,” Ypsilanti, MI: My husband Mike and I were having some drinks on a Friday night, when a “family” decided to linger around our table, consisting of a 30-something-looking dad, mother, and a baby, which the dad was holding. They were kind of crowding us a bit and this made Mike a bit cranky, him being a fan of personal space and all. He made a comment about it being time to take the kid home, or something to that effect (I honestly was not paying that much attention, I was enjoying my beer, trying to stay out of whatever fracas Mike was apparently trying to stir up). I guess some words between him and the man/woman were exchanged back and forth a bit, and at some point, I think I probably asked Mike to back off, and maybe just switch tables. Suddenly, out of freaking nowhere? The guy (holding his baby in one arm) grabs my full, freshly poured beer – and slid it right at me! It spilled EVERYWHERE. I had to wash everything I had been wearing when I got home – coat, shirt, pants, everything, even my socks…but before any laundering of beer-soaked clothing occurred? THIS happened…I picked up his full beer, and dumped it right over his head. As the mother was leaving? She had the audacity to call me a “fucking giant,” which the bar staff overheard, and did not take kindly to. So both parties had to talk out this incident with the bar staff, and though I can’t speak for the other party? I had to promise nothing like this would happen again. And it appears my track record is pretty good. I’ve only averaged one “incident” on average roughly every 10 years. Let’s hope nobody else makes me say, “Of course you realize…this means war!”
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