Crime and (Somebody Else’s) Punishment, Pt. 1

Did you ever escape justice? Not for something terrible like murder or robbery. I’m talking about stupid stuff, like when you were a kid.

Better yet–did someone else take the blame? Oh, I know how awful that sounds. But when you’re young, it can feel pretty good. God was on your side even when you didn’t deserve it.

Sure, this is a rotten topic–but aren’t you a little bit curious?

Once I was sitting in a high school history class waiting for the teacher to show up. Just after the tardy bell, one of our hulking football players hurried through the door, glancing toward the front, showing relief at the teacher’s absence. He headed for his assigned desk, right in front of me. I thought it might be funny if, with my foot, I furtively edged the desk away from him as he plopped his bulk into the seat.

The results exceeded my expectations.

The brute was so big that the mere act of catching himself by leaning his weight on the back of the seat sent the whole desk scooting across the aisle and left his descending body airborne. While his desk smashed into the next row, he crashed butt-first on the floor.

If only that had been the end of it.

The embarrassed floor-lander saw no reason for a discussion. He leaped up and threw himself at the guy sitting across from him, another no-neck lineman, and he started swinging. It took only a moment for the wrongfully accused to switch from astonishment to full-bore punches, and just like that a brawl ensued right in the middle of the classroom.

It wasn’t funny anymore.

The reader might justifiably question my poor ethics, at least at that time in my youth. But put yourself in my position. Scrawny would have overstated my physique. I could top 120 pounds only after downing a 64-ounce thin mint milkshake from Brock’s Ice Cream Parlor, one of the town’s few redeeming landmarks.

Given the certainty of your physical annihilation, would you tap the shoulder of the aggrieved party and announce: “Excuse me. I’m the one whose face you should rearrange?”

I think not. Plus, the other guy was defending himself okay, and at the time I didn’t believe it was my place to interrupt a real-life drama between two individuals who were not my friends.

Of course, the teacher walked in while the fight was taking place. I don’t remember how he managed to break it up, but shortly afterward, heads hanging down, the two gladiators were on their way to the principal’s office. I never did confess–until now, 45 years later and hopefully safe from retribution.

I’m not proud of this incident, but for what must be a morally bankrupt reason, the memory of it makes me laugh. Maybe it’s because I survived.

Next week: the flying maraschino cherry.

Please feel welcome to confess your own escape in the Reply section.

One thought on “Crime and (Somebody Else’s) Punishment, Pt. 1

  1. robertmblevins

    I stole a total of 69 motorcycles in the period of a year, working with a friend. We would store them in the woods under cover. Just for kicks, although sometimes we did drive them. I was 14-15 years old. Bored farm kids, you know. They were SO easy to hot wire back then. We finally got caught. Everyone got their bikes back, basically. I got sent to live with another relative for a while, rather than going to juvenile, since it was my first offense. I was home six months later anyway. It was pretty much my LAST offense, too. It’s all in my autobiography, ‘Cooperland’. I should add this happened over forty years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

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