...and that's how I learned about assholes.

I first discovered assholes when I was five years old.  I can’t prove I hadn’t run across one before then, but this incident clearly traumatized me enough to earn the esteemed recognition.

As I said, I was five. Several other kids and I stayed with my babysitter Margie. Margie was old school. We either took our asses outside to play or we took our asses outside to play. Those were our options. And we played until she unlocked the door and let us back in, which could be hours. Or worse. Once we went thirty-seven days barefoot in a snowstorm. It was the seventies.

Ok. I made that part up. There was no snowstorm, because it was August in Texas. We actually fucking melted to death and then shriveled up into a dehydrated chicharon pile in the middle of the street. Margie would come out, add water and we’d puff right back up. This is how resilient we were. We were free range children before free range presented you with a complimentary CPS case. It was survival of the fittest out there - no place for sissies. We were combating the elements, navigating complicated relationships with neighborhood bullies, and jousting fire ants the size of house cats.

One particular day I was playing in the dirt by myself. This was pretty customary because the other kids were older than me and had many other valid reasons besides age for not wanting to hang out with me. These reasons included, but were not limited to, my bizarre quirks, social awkwardness and sociopathic propensities. I was always keeping my eye out for a kid who didn’t know me yet so I could have a friend for at least a short bit before their instincts to flee kicked in.  

From my dirt pile, I spotted three new kids I’d never seen before approaching a dividing fence just a few feet away. “Hi!” I immediately called out. They ignored me, continuing their conversation and poking at something on the other side of the fence. I determined that they must not have heard me. “Hi!” I yelled louder, this time waving my arms just in case they didn’t see me.

They looked up at me and then exchanged glances, smirking. Happy they’d acknowledged me, I reached out further. “Wanna play?”

They looked at one another again, this time searching the others faces for a silent sign of unanimity. After a moment, the girl let a burst of laughter out and said, “Sure. Come sit down right there.” She pointed to a patch of ground on the other side of the fence. They two boys covered their faces, chuckling as I approached. “Right there”, the girl reiterated, pointing to the ground. “And we’ll sit over here.”

Their side of the fence was a person’s yard, and the grass was green and plush. The spot she pointed to was just a regular patch of dirt, no different than where I’d been playing previously. I sensed no danger and so I consented, taking a seat across from my new friends. I began to chatter to them about my cat’s new litter of kittens when they began to snicker, and then laugh louder. I was a hit! They must have thought I was really funny. This is what I’d been waiting for my entire short little life; someone to come along and finally see how fantastic I was, as they obviously had.

Just when I was getting to the good part of the story, I realized that perhaps that weren’t laughing at my witty delivery. The epiphany came in the form of a sharp pain on my back first, and then one after another in places all over my body. My brain was still processing what was happening when I looked down and noticed I’d been sitting in a fire ant pile. Remember that the fire ants in Texas are the size of house cats, and I was now covered in them. I jumped up and began to flail my body in such a way to fling them off, which set the evil trio into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. Those fucking criminals had set me in that ant pile on purpose just to watch me die.

By now I was screaming actual bloody murder. Grown-ups can tell the difference in a scream that means one is actually about to die or a scream that means one is melting into a recoverable chicharon pile in the street. Margie sensed the urgency and immediately came outside. I don’t remember what she said to those little fucking assholes, but they took off running and didn’t look back. Meanwhile Margie beat the shit out of the ants that still happened to be attached to my body, and then carried me inside to tend to my wounds.

Then she made me a delectable dish christened Margie’s Mess and let me stay inside with her the rest of the week and watch Days of Our Lives. Occasionally I’d look out the window at the poor bastards writhing to death in the Texas heat and hope that they, too, could have a near death experience of their own to award them a little time on the inside.

Looking back, learning about assholes at such a young age properly prepared me for all the ones to come in the future. I was never taken for a fool again like that. I made the Texas heat my bitch, and kicked all the kid’s asses from that day forward.

Not really. Those fucking assholes came back the next week and shot me in the ass with a BB gun. To this day I don’t know who they were, but they taught me who I never wanted to be, and I’ll be forever grateful.