July 30, 2003


By Tenzin McGrupp © 2003

With an annoying penetrating sweat that burned his right eye, Halibut raced down the street towards his destination, the grocery store. School let out at 2:50 PM daily and if he didn’t get there as quickly as possible, he was caught up in an uncomfortable cluster of incessant teasing. When he was in the fifth grade, his mother Cici had a job as the check out clerk at Meyer’s grocery store a couple of blocks from his grammar school. Cici timed her afternoon breaks perfectly. At 2:45 PM, she strolled out in front of the store with enough time to step outside to smoke a cigarette before she joyfully watched her son sprint down the hill, past the pharmacy and the real estate office. When she caught a glimpse of her son from about forty yards away, she took one last huge drag before she stomped out a Benson and Hedges cigarette with her heavy black studded boot.

A relentless smile formed on Cici’s bony face as she snatched up her tiny Halibut and kissed him three times on each cheek. She straightened out his messy brown hair and made a fuss over the chocolate stains on his mouth. Halibut nervously peered over his left shoulder and didn’t like what he saw. A group of six or seven of his aggressive classmates barreled down the hill. Halibut struggled to break free from his mother’s tight grip. If Halibut’s classmates saw him getting hugged by his mother, then he’d get teased the entire next day at school. Even the special ed kids picked on poor Halibut with no one in his school brave nor compassionate enough to stand up and come to his defense.

But it was not his fault that he was the only one in his school who had a mother with a pierced nose and purple hair with blue-green streaks. The other kid’s mothers always looked nice and normal and rarely found the need to use the word “cockslinger” in every other sentence. The other mothers never wore biker boots in the Spring and they drank coffee and orange juice for breakfast. They definitely didn’t sip tall-boy cans of Budweiser, pathetically covered up in a brown paper bags. Sometimes the kids teased Halibut in front of his mother and disaster always followed. The previous week his classmates followed him inside the grocery store and ridiculed Halibut for ten minutes in the frozen foods section before his mother cornered the malicious posse and spit on all of them. When Socky Green, the biggest bully in the neighborhood, called Cici a slut and a whore, she shot back, “Well if your Momma just took it in the ass once in a while, your Daddy wouldn’t have to pay me $100 every Thursday, would he?”

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

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