I'm in a story mood tonight. I'm not sure why, but lucky you; you get to hear another story from my youth. When I am done, I have to go work on my obesity sensitivity deck. For now though, I bring you the story of The Frito Kid.
When I was in 9th grade, I was a pretty miserable kid. I was overweight, out of fashion, too articulate for my classmates tastes and very shy. The shyness was not in my nature; it was defense against all the people who teased me and made my life hell. My friends knew me as a vivacious, original thinker but to everyone else, I was a mouse; a fly on the wall. Only in class did my communicator nature come out and give me away; my need to answer the teacher's questions and excel in class further ostracized me as "a brain" - but one with no personality.
With this gregarious nature hidden away inside of a self-imposed shell of protection, I became an avid people watcher. I would imagine myself in many conversations with them; being a part of the fun instead of watching, all the while hidden behind a book.
One day on the bus going home, I was doing my normal quiet observation of the other kids while I pretended to read my book. There was another kid on the bus who I was watching, amazed at him. He was at least 85 pounds heavier than I was and was sitting across from me eating Fritos. Because I was sensitive to anyone teasing me about my weight, I couldn't imagine eating fattening foods in front of anyone; to do so would give them ammunition against me. Yet here was Warren, eating a big bag of Fritos in full sight of everyone. I made my first mistake; I forgot to conceal myself behind my book.
He caught me looking at him and my face must have conveyed my thoughts, because he snarled, "what are you looking at, BG?" Then I made my second mistake. I said, "I'm not looking at anything at all, Warren". He HATED to be called Warren. He was in the midst of a name change to Jay, but having gone to school together since elementary, Warren was the first name to come to mind. I didn't mean any malice by my response; perhaps I just wanted to convey my amusement at his bravado, eating Fritos out there on the killing fields.
I made my third misktake; I resumed reading my book, ignoring him. Next thing I knew, I felt my face being pelted with warm, wet flecks. I looked up just in time to be splattered with a second mouthful of chewed up Fritos. Warren had spit them all over me. I was in shock. Before I could help it, the tears began to quietly seep out, but I refused to show any reaction other than what I couldn't control. I simply sat back, brushed my face off and ignored him the rest of the ride home (Oh, and those who really know me already know how royally pissed off I was at this point; I only get deadly silent when I am deadly angry).
When I stepped off the bus, I lost my composure. By the time I walked in the door, I was openly sobbing and near vomiting. My mom and brothers (they would have been about 22 and 23 at the time) were in the kitchen and immediately demanded to know what was wrong. It took me a few minutes to get the story out. The whole time my brothers just sat listening. When I was done, they asked only one question: Where does he live? I told them, they said, "let's go" and walked out. I went to take a shower and wash the entire experience off of me.
It wasn't until after dinner that I heard the rest of the story. Paddy and Guitar Man walked over to Warren's house and knocked on the door. They saw a curtain flutter but no one answered. They pounded again and waited. Finally, a man opened the door and asked what they wanted. Guitar Man did all the talking and Paddy just stood next to him looking very mad and very mean (he's good at that). "Yeah", he said, "We want to talk to the Frito Kid". His dad asked what this was about and after they told my story, he called Warren out. Again they related the events of the bus ride and Warren said, "I didn't do nuthin." My brother asked, "then why is my sister covered in Fritos and crying?"
Warren's father demanded the truth and Warren mumbled, "I didn't mean anything by it." At about that point, Warren's dad apologized to my brothers and told them to tell me that I would never be bothered by him again. The door shut and the shouting began. My brothers walked away.
I don't know what happened to Warren. I understand abusive families, so I can imagine. I hope it wasn't too bad. I hope it was only yelling. All I know is, I never saw Warren eating Fritos again and he never so much as said another word to me.
Though to my family he is and will ever be... The Frito Kid.
Here are a few comments from this post:
Oh BG, my heart broke as I read your story. I'm the eldest of three, and would have done exactly as your brothers did. I took on any and all the over stepped their boundaries with my sister and brother...many, many times. Ughh...that is so like me with my family and friends, and sometimes to my detriment.(sp?)
Was it Oprah that I heard say something about how we all have 5 or 10 life defining moments that we will never forget? I wonder if that was one of yours?
I think I remember you telling this story before, but the only part I really remembered was your brothers talking to the kids dad. Kind of makes me wish I'd had a sibling or two to take care of the bullies in my life. Oh well. It seems that I survived anyway. I'm glad they were there to stand up for you.