Monday, October 13, 2014

Back when i was the "Tea Fag"

            Nine years was an interesting time in a young boy’ life. It was the point before we learned to take ourselves too seriously. It was the age of innocence. It was the age of spontaneous erections and awkward discoveries. It was the time when we truly understood the power of a good fart joke. This lightheartedness faded with time for some people. It was also the age where someone could do something that would stick with them for life. Trust me.

For years people would call me the “Tea Faggot.” I wish I would have had a good comeback and self-esteem to corrected them then.  I would have said, “I like coffee too!” I never did though. I was nine. The world was a different place then. The internet was still a big wilderness and a twinkle in most of regular people’s eyes. “Beverly Hills 90210” was on TV. It was the first time around, when Donna was STILL a virgin. Kirstie Alley was known less for her size and more for her incessant whining on “Cheers” then. It was just a different time.

I was in the fourth grade. I had three real friends. I was related to two of them and one of them gave birth to me. The point is that there were slim pickin’s and that was okay with me. My cousin Nicole was one of my best friends not completely by choice but mostly by situation. We were latchkey kids two months apart with mothers who were sisters. We looked like twin boys until puberty completely hit. I was nine so that tide hadn’t hit yet. We were also in the same class Nicole and I. We also had the same friend.

After school Nicole and I would walk to her house. This was where I lived as far as the school district was concerned because it was a better neighborhood than my own. Our mothers both worked long hours because they had to which left us with lots of down time. This was where we learned to be creative. This was also where we realized that we loved television more than some of our relatives.

The second we got home the TV went on and we went on search for a snack. After dealing with the drudgery of being little fat 9 year olds who were teased often, we needed some caloric love. I would go through the cupboards and fridge and create amazing snacks. There were quesadillas, bologna and tortilla sandwiches and sometimes my aunt would leave us quiche. Yes quiche. If that didn’t sound cute enough, I would also have tea every day. What 9 year olds drink tea? Me. With quiche and tea I’m surprised I ever had the need to formally come out to anyone.

It was one fourth grade afternoon that was just like many others before it. Nicole and I were just finishing watching an episode of “Tale Spin” and about to put on our favorite movie, “Hook.” It was at that moment we both were startled by the sound of the teakettle. My other cousin who was 20 at the time was in her room so we weren’t exactly alone. Since the whistle meant it was tea time, I went to pour Nicole and I a Styrofoam cup. I know, who uses Styrofoam? It was a different time. Anyway, there was a commercial that came on the TV as I was pouring the hot water into the little cups that has a loud bell noise in it. I got startled, tapped the table with the cups and spilled the boiling hot water all over my shorts. It took me a second to realize what has happened. I then started to scream. It felt as though my shorts were literally stuck to my skin and burning through it. I wanted to rip the shorts off but I was in front of 2 girl cousins. Not knowing what to do my older cousin makes me hop into a bath running cold water with the shorts still on. I would eventually get the shorts off, pulling some of my skin with it. It was horrible. My normally pale-bordering clear skinned leg was now lobster red. My poor 20 year old cousin looked horrified running cold water on me. She quickly called for an ambulance.

When the ambulance arrived at the house so had my mother. This was odd because in those days my mom was late to everything. We would often tell her to come to events an hour earlier than the actual time for this reason. When my mom arrived I was being transferred from the bath to the weird bed they carry you on when you are being helped by an ambulance. Hot, muscled EMT guys carrying me on a cot. An image wasted on 9 year old me. As the two men carried me to the ambulance my mom followed less than a foot away in tears. My mom went from tears to bustin’ balls inside the ambulance van. I was screaming due to the pain in my leg. This was before I knew the appropriate obscenities. It was just yelling. We are speeding through intersections and the female EMT say, “We don’t allow screaming.” I wanted to tell her we didn’t allow her Millers Outpost look but would make due. I didn’t say that. My mom though made eye contact with the woman and shut her down. She then said, “if he wants to scream, he is in pain. Let him scream.”

Once at the hospital it took at least 2 hours for a doctor to help me. Bureaucracy at it’s best. They didn’t even give me a pain reliever. My mom spent the whole time pacing and losing sanity. After a long wait and waiting again they gave me a pain reliever and proceeded to remove some of the layers of shin that were burned off. Then my leg was wrapped with all sorts of bandages. From the waist up I was a pudgy little boy. From the waist down, I was all mummy.  I had second and third degree burns all over my left thigh. On the upside, I missed 4 days of school, which to me was bliss. This was 4 days of watching “I Love Lucy,” “Sally Jesse,” and some other crap. I was in heaven.  This was until I returned back to school. It was there I learned my new name “Tea Faggot.” It would be years until that name went away, then they would call me simply “faggot.” I would become a better person for all this.

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