My junior high Wrestling coach was a short wiry man with translucent skin and big ears. He was always speculating aloud about how us boys made out with, or fucked, the girls we were seeing. He called me “titty pincher”, for some unfathomable reason, maybe because it was the least offensive thing he could come up with for a kid whose dad taught at the same school.

I tried out for the wrestling team because I was small: 88 lbs after a heavy lunch. I had , and continue to have, nothing in the way of agility or speed, but I’ve got a lot of “heart”. I had to hear this a number of times before I realized it was shorthand for “fucking crazy”. When people picked fights with me at school I’d jump on them like a leech and hang on until they tired of beating me. So I figured I’d be a natural.

Wasn’t.

But I did take something away from a couple of years of trying, something that’s the foundation of what you might call my code. One lesson is that most men don’t even age well, much less grow up, and another one is that sick fucks are really drawn to coaching. The code part comes from the latter. If you get off on people’s suffering, you are lower than shit. If you stand by and watch while people are being mistreated…well…

Once, we lost to a team the coach felt we should have beaten, and on the bus home he told us he was going to “run the fuck out of us”. By that time we knew part of what that meant. He’d herd us into the gym and make us run for a couple of hours. Then we’d do “takedowns”, which involved selecting one unlucky teammate at a time and having four or five wrestlers go at him till he collapsed from exhaustion. It was during one of these that a teammate of mine broke his shoulder and I was whistled in on him while he was writhing on the mat. I stood there looking at him for a minute, and the coach went ballistic

“Get the fuck out there and get on him, you fucking pussy!”

I got on him, and heard his shoulder pop again.

“Hit him, you little shit!” I looked at the coach, and then at the kid I had pinned to the mat with no effort.

The boy just said, “You’d better do it.” So I hit him.

The day of the punishment practice, my father decided to stroll by and watch. He’d been a coach himself, and presided over the death of one of his own players from a ruptured liver during a scrimmage. I guess he wanted to see what I was made of, or just wanted to see how this particular coach employed his system of abuse.

First, we hung from the collapsed bleachers by our arms. Coach said the first one to fall was going to “have the shit beat out of him’. He screamed this, and spit flew out of his mouth. He had chubby little lips, and the lower one folded into a V when he spat.

The first one to fall just walked away, out of the gym, past the door where my father was standing. My dad gave him a nasty look, and let him by. A couple of others followed.

The next trick was crabwalking the gym floor. I don’t know about the other guys, but my hands were blistered raw after the first two circuits. I counted them. We did fourteen. Then we got up and ran for  a couple  of hours. I had a big glob of mucous blocking my throat, and I thought I was going to pass out. Every time I ran by my father, he was just looking through me, with his tough guy face.

After the run, we did takedowns for another hour. About half the team was left. On the way home, my father didn’t say anything to me. He still had his jaw clenched, trying to ape someone he’d seen on TV. When I got home and hunched over the sink, slurping water, he said “At least you didn’t quit this time.”

I would have punched him in the face, but there wasn’t any use for it. He would have just snapped me in half, and besides, he was already dead as far as I was concerned.

To this day I can’t tell you what psychosexual crap lies at the  rotten heart of torture-boys. But I don’t care, really. As soon as you demonstrate a willingness to abuse, or to  endorse or stand by and watch abuse, you have left the human community. You are done. This is what jails should be used for.

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