PREACHER'S KID

by Randy Reynolds

The first time my future wife ever noticed me, I was in 6th grade, she in 5th and she was in love with one of the triplets I was fighting. Stephen, Stanley and Sidney McLain attacked me for the simple reason that I was a preacher's kid. It was their rite of passage. And mine. This was my sixth school in six years, so I knew the drill: only if I fought back hard enough would they and others leave me alone in the future. So it was no-holds-barred. We fought with fists, feet, elbows, teeth, fingernails--everything we had. Almost everyone on the playground, including my future wife, yelled encouragement to the triplets. My little brother, who could have been a big help, stayed neutral.

(Dad: “Ricky, why didn’t you help Randy when it was three against one?”
......
(Ricky: “W-w-w-well, it looked like a fair fight to me.”)

As a preacher’s kid, I was used to getting picked on: in third grade, I’d whipped two boys who jumped me from behind, and the teacher said I jumped on her when she broke it up (though I don’t remember that.) In fourth grade, a kid stabbed me with a pencil. On my first day in Covington, church members’ kids forced me into a fight. That was in late summer. Now the new school semester was underway, and I was having to prove myself again.

After the fight with the triplets and a few skirmishes with bigger boys who had been held back several grades and already had mustaches and driver’s licenses by sixth grade, I became an accepted, even popular, kid at school. And that popularity led to my last fight.

I was elected Mardi Gras King in 8th grade, but was forced to resign my throne because the King was required to dance with the Queen and Daddy wouldn’t let me dance because dancing was a sin. The teacher in charge of the Mardi Gras pageant was extremely insulted that I had rejected the greatest honor that could befall a Louisiana boy, and when he saw a chance for revenge a few days later, he took it. In the lunch line, an older boy named Eddie grabbed a pen from my shirt pocket and I grabbed it back. “Okay boys,” said Mr. Stewart. “You want to fight? Let’s do it outside.”

Both of us protested that we didn’t want to fight, but he took us out, followed by the entire lunch line, formed the spectators into a circle and said, "Come on, boys, let's see you fight. What's wrong, Mr. Reynolds? You wanted to fight, didn't you?" "No." "You'll fight or I'll use the paddle. Your choice. Hit him, Mr. Sharp." Eddie started hitting me, reluctantly at first, then harder, determined to end it. I rushed him, got my arms around his neck and my legs around his stomach and squeezed until his face turned blue.

Mr. Stewart tapped me on the shoulder and mumbled, "Let him go." He also said, "Nice fight, Randy. Back to the lunchroom, everybody!".................................................
Eddie came to school the next day wearing a neck brace but refused to give me credit: he said his neck was already sprained before the fight.

That was my last fistfight and I memorialized it in my second published story, “Fight, Fight!”

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PREACHER'S KID
by Randy Reynolds

(first published in The Clergy Journal)

Preachers' kids were examples,
Conscious of how things would look.
We had to let bullies trample us,
Because they never read The Book.
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Preachers' kids couldn't fight.
We were taught to be mild and meek,
For The Book said the thing that was right
Was to turn the other cheek.
...............................
Then I felt the call to teach
The joy and the truth of this.
So I turned many other boys' cheeks
With the sting of my righteous fists.
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Though now it seems odd to tell,
I'm proud of what I did:
In my childhood I beat the hell
Out of many a member's kid!
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