"Run! Maybe you'll catch up with them!"
"Where's the fire?"
"You lost your pants?"
And the standard array of epithets:
They throw things or spit out of cars.
They mimic your actions,
They try to trip you.
Sometimes they even attack.
Rock Island, June 1976
It was the summer after my sophomore year at Rocky High, about a month after my date with King Carl Gustav of Sweden. I had been running for a few months, in preparation for joining the track team in the fall (which never happened).
I know now that you should always vary your route and time of day, to minimize the harassment, but in 1976 I always followed the same route: down 20th Avenue to 38th Street, down to 31st Avenue, over to 24th, up to 18th, and back, about three miles.
At the same time of day.
Past a school.
I know, dumb!
The junior high boy was sort of cute, with thick brown hair, and a tan chest with pinprick nipples, but too young for me (I was 15, and he was probably 13 or 14). So I didn't pay him much attention.
I shrugged, figuring that he was a junior high Mean Boy. I was in high school, beyond that sort of bullying. It wasn't worth changing my route over.
Then one day the Mean Boy and his cronies attacked.
They lay in wait in the bushes behind the school, and when I came past, they jumped out and surrounded me and squirted viciously with squirt guns and a squeeze bottle, looks of sheer malice on their faces.
Soaked, roaring with rage, I grabbed one of the squirt guns from a boy's hands and threw it onto the ground.
They scattered in three different directions.
I chased the Mean Boy, the oldest of the pack. He ran across the street to the house with the kiddie pool, into the back yard, toward a play house, but before he could make it, I tackled him and dragged him to the ground. I used my wrestling training to pin him. I was holding his hands above his head, pressing our chests together, pressing our crotches together, panting.
"Get off me, faggot!" the Mean Boy snarled. And then "Ow! Help!"
What would you do if you had a cute boy pinned to the ground?
"I'll show you who's a faggot, faggot!" I yelled.
"What you going to do about it?" he asked, struggling.
"I'll tell you, tough guy. I'm going to kiss you!"
He laughed. "You wouldn't have the nerve!"
He continued to struggle. "Ok, wise guy, let's see what you got."
The Mean Boy's eyes widened as my mouth clamped down onto his. "Mmph!" he protested.
I shoved my tongue into his mouth.
This was my first "French kiss." I seem to remember the Mean Boy responding, darting his tongue against mine. but it might be my imagination.
After a few minutes, I backed up. The Mean Boy didn't say anything. He just stared.
"Oh, you want another kiss?"
He shook his head. "I guess you're pretty tough."
I jumped to my feet and turned and ran on, trembling with rage and a strange erotic excitement.
I glanced back. The Mean Boy was propped up on one elbow, staring at me.
This story could end in several ways. The boy could become my first boyfriend. I could run into him years later, and discover that he was gay.
But actually I never saw the Mean Boy again. I started running a different route -- several different routes, actually. If he was two years younger than me, he must have been a sophomore at Rocky High during my senior year, but I don't remember him.
But I definitely remember the kiss.
See also: My Date with Carl Gustaf, the King of Sweden; My First Kiss, from a Boy Vampire.