There I was, in third grade, using the urinal in the school bathroom, wearing a brand-new t-shirt emblazoned with mutant-monster football players growling and slobbering on the field (I’m not sure why; I didn’t even like football), and a kid named Tom Rainbolt stood directly behind me, yanked down his pants, and soaked my backside with a hot stream of pee.
It was as disgusting and logic-defying (and, years later, funny) as it sounds, especially since Tom and I were cordial, practically friends. In shock, and suddenly wet and warm, I bawled and ran to the playground and flagged down a so-called yard duty — a volunteer adult supervisor with a whistle around her neck — and spewed between tears, “Tom pissed on me!” Yard duty: “He spit on you?” Me: “No, he pissed on me!”
Chaos. Kids circling around, the shaken yard duty escorting me to the principal’s office while seeking Rainbolt in the scrum of gasping, giggling children. He was easily detained, like he didn’t even try to slip out. Was I embarrassed? No. Traumatized.
I was cleaned up and given a used, undersized kindergartener’s t-shirt to wear, which I concealed with a windbreaker zipped to the neckline. Rainbolt was busted, sent home, though I can’t recall what his full punishment was. I wish I did, that sonofabitch.
What was he thinking? He wasn’t thinking. Kids do exceedingly stupid things, and I did my share. Frog torture, doorbell ditch, dog poop dumped on front porches, tossing shotgun shells into fires, trying to lure a friend into a subterranean booby trap and bury her alive (a very poorly thought-out ruse) — all of this was done in grade-school, and that’s only part of it.
And yet I’ve never gotten into a physical fight with someone, ever — though I should have clocked Rainbolt. And, except for that doomed frog, I’ve never engaged in animal abuse (unless you count me boiling some Sea-Monkeys).
“Boys will be boys,” they say with a smirk and a shrug. I call bullshit. Boys will be monsters — I’m sure girls will too — peeing on each other, picking on each other, normalizing violence, torturing kittens, setting fires, stealing, vandalizing. I’m generalizing — not all kids are little bastards, and most might even be angels — but empirical evidence tells me boys are drawn to trouble, only reeled in by good breeding and good sense, and maybe a slap on the wrist by Pops or the cops.
And so my little fable ends here — all of it true — with this moral: Boys, always check behind you when you plant yourself at the urinal. You never know who’s going to hose you. I can laugh about it, and I almost forgive Tom Rainbolt his puerile shenanigan, his repellent stunt, which was probably just an experiment to see how far he could spray. The more I think about it, I almost empathize with the little jerk. Boys, after all, will be boys. Those monsters.