A Hot Fire Makes For Strong Steel

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
If they made fun of you for being different, they were right. You are a lot smarter than they are.

Submitted: February 08, 2015

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Submitted: February 08, 2015



I didn’t even know what a Nazi was.  I just knew when the boy called me that, it felt like a punch in the stomach.  If he had punched me, I would have known what to do next.  I didn’t have any trouble making kids cry and run away with a bloody nose if they gave me a reason.  But that caught me off guard.  It took me years to figure out how to deal with that kind of nonsense.

It wasn’t my fault my mother was from Germany.  This was just a few years after World War II ended.  You can’t tell today how Germans, Japanese, and Italians were viewed in America in the late 1950s.  My mother is a German immigrant.  My father’s parents were Italian immigrants.  We lived in the American South, and we didn’t go to the same church as everyone else.  I’m white, but I know at least a little bit about what it feels like to be called a nigger.

People like that taught me how to fight.  If you go that route, you’ll always be fighting someone bigger than you.  Of all the fights I got in, I never fought anyone my size or smaller.  Bullies are the worst cowards of all. 

Never fight when you are outnumbered.  You will always lose.  Be patient.  If you have to, follow them until they split up, then ambush one of them.  The best way to win against a larger opponent is to utilize the element of surprise.  If you kick the crap out of one of them, their pals will leave you alone.

I always got in trouble for fighting.  I broke some bones, I got some bones broken.  I shouldn’t have done any of it.  If I could do it over, I’d use more knees and elbows.  I’ve learned a lot from watching MMA.

Eventually I learned that fighting is futile.  Making people afraid of you will cost you in ways you don’t anticipate.  That’s a hard one to explain.  Sometimes, I’ll just ask you to take my word for it.  You really don’t have to make all the same mistakes I did.  But you can if you want.

Next I learned to fight with words.  That is a step in the right direction.  When someone says something that gets under my skin, I am really good at saying something back that is much worse than what they said.  It is automatic.  All I have to do is open my mouth and the words come out. 

People who try to bully with words find out quickly they better eat lunch first if they want to keep up with me.  I can go all day.  Unlike many of them, I grasp the concept of logic.  It is a powerful tool, and metaphorically, I am capable of leaving a trail of bleeding bodies in my wake.  The fact I spend too much time trolling on the internet is a topic for a different essay.

Fighting with words is better than fighting with your fists.  No one goes to the emergency room.  But it has its drawbacks.  Sometimes I hit someone pretty hard.  Then later I realize they were actually a pretty nice person, they just disagreed with me about something.  When you are face down in a ditch, and the person who picks you up is someone you’ve done that to, it can be a humbling experience.

Someone explained it to me this way, earlier today:  It doesn’t always have to be an absurd metaphorical dick measuring contest.

Not that you shouldn’t stand up for what you believe.  You should always do that.  But the next thing is something I am still trying to learn.  You can make your point and be nice at the same time. 

The world is always changing.  For evidence, see the other article I published today.  And people are always changing, whether they want to or not.  I recommend that you never stop learning.  And don’t worry about being different.  If other people are bullying you because you are different, here’s what I have to say about that:  Own the difference.  Make it part of your brand.  If you are unique, you are already the best in your field.

Some of the bullies I grew up with are gone.  Driving a car at 110 miles an hour while drunk, or waving a gun around in front of a policeman are not traits that lead to passing on the genes.  Most of them just ended up being losers.  A few grew out of it and are now my friends.  We laugh about the scars we gave each other.  If you live long enough, you’ll realize life is funny.  It is also sad, pathetic, and terrible sometimes.

A wise philosopher, Rodney King, once said, “Can’t we all just get along?” 

The answer is, we can, but many will choose not to.  We each have that choice.

You can’t always control what happens to you.  Sometimes, the only thing you can do is curl up in a ball and wait for the punishment to stop.  I can’t undo that with an essay.  But I can show you what you can accomplish in life, if you are lucky enough to survive, and if you have the will to overcome. 

If you study hard, work hard, and play hard, someday you may be as talented at writing as I am.  But probably not.  I’ll cover narcissism and delusions of grandeur in another essay.  The list is getting longer.

For now, remember this.  If you’re going to punch someone in the face, be prepared to keep punching them.  Otherwise they are going to start punching back, and that hurts.

© Copyright 2019 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.

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