A Punch to the Face of Midwestern Teenage Summer Boredom

Nothing humbles you like being punched in the face. There have been two times when it’s happened to me and I only fully remember one. It’s also worth noting that this number doesn’t include getting punched in my head, my friends punching me in the face or anything that has to do with head-butting. If they those were included the number would be double-digits, easy.

The time I actually remember my face getting acquainted with someone else’s knuckles happened when I was still in high school. It was a warm and muggy night in Indiana and me and one of my friends were cruising through Anderson in his white 1989 Chevy Corsica with the windows rolled down. We’re from Pendleton, Indiana, which is your stereotypical small Midwestern town with lots of hospitable white people and cornfields. Anderson, on the other hand, was a nearby city that had a movie theater, diversity and a declining economy due to several General Motors plants that had recently relocated to Mexico.

Another thing that Anderson had was a Taco Bell with a drive-through which Eric and I took full advantage of. While rapping along to some Notorious B.I.G. on our way back home we decided to take a detour through a strip mall parking lot across the street so we cruise through what we called “Applewood”. It was a nice night and we were curious to see who else was out.

While making our way into the parking lot there were a group of three white guys around our age whose wardrobes mostly consisted of baggy clothing,wife beaters and patchy facial hair. They yelled something at us and being the tough guys that we were back then we yelled something right back.

“Should we roll over there and see what’s up with these guys?”, Eric asked me.

With my adrenaline already starting to block out the little common sense I had during my teenage years I quickly answered, “Yeah, let’s do it.”

They quickly see we’re heading over there and stop walking while waiting for us. We turn down the music and Eric rolls up with the three guys on my side of the car. My window’s already down and when I get a good look at them for the first time I’m not intimidated. They’re just three kids from Anderson who happen to be just as bored as we are. Unfortunately this boredom creates a need to create your own action.

“Did you guys say something to us?” I asked out the window with a smirk on my face.

I give my attention to one of them who starts to say something back and as I do his friend decides to end the conversation by balling up his fist and throwing it right into my face. I don’t even see it coming. The only thing I remember is hearing the dull sound of his fist catching the outside of the car window right before feeling his punch that landed between my right cheek and nose.

Stunned, I grabbed my face and screamed out cusswords while asking Eric what had just happened. He was just as surprised as I was. By the time I came back to reality the three guys had ran away with not only my pride but a really good story to tell their friends. They had successfully broken through the boredom of yet another Midwestern Summer night and I paid the price.

The next few weeks I told a lot of lies of about my black eye and so did Eric. Stories that led my family, friends and basketball teammates away from the truth that only Eric and I really knew. He never told and neither did I, until now.

photo credit: Road Stories

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