Wow, what a different world this North Bend Middle School was — it seemed so big and ominous. I was both excited and terrified at the same time (excitified??), but I knew that a couple of my old KCS friends were somewhere. I quickly reconnected with them for a time, but I soon began to make new friends, guys like Tom, Mark (aka Mok), Jarrod and of course Shawn (aka “The B.U.S.” — Big Uncle Shawn, as my kids would eventually call him).
Though I was making some great friends, the inherent attention grabbing nature of Tourette Syndrome kicked in full force. Obviously there were the various “grunt”-type of noises, but my “built-in evil twin” — as I like to call TS — soon discovered that it really liked the attention that making a “kiss/smooch” sound garnered, and so I spent Lord knows how long making that God-awful noise.
Bus rides home were especially agonizing as the junior high and high school rode the same bus, and man … them high schoolers were ruthless. Now there was no way in hell they were gonna let some junior high kids sit in the back, so we were always chased to the front seats — at which time I had to endure various things being thrown at the back of my head, the ever popular “ear flick” or if I happened to wear a hat that day it would promptly be snatched and passed around the bus with God only knows what inside of it.
At one point, things got so bad I refused to go to school because I simply couldn’t take the harassment anymore, but thankfully a lady at our church — Jeannie, I think — took some time to pray and go through some choice Bible passages with me. And with God’s help, I eventually went back.
There are apparently a lot of stories and instances that I have completely forgotten about because of a very bad car wreck I was in in 1991 (more on that as the story progresses), so I guess you could call it partial amnesia, but when I started this blog my longtime friend Mike shared a story from our junior high years that was completely lost to me:
I remember the first time I ever laid eyes on you Dib, it was in Mr. Young’s english class at North Bend Junio High. I immediately friended you and never even had seen your Tourette’s. But the first memorable moment was when each and every one of us in that classroom acknowledged how easy it could be for someone to not understand what it means to live with your condition.
It was the morning when Mr. Young wanted all of us to go in front of the classroom and recite a quote from Shakespeare. Well, long story short, Mr. Young did not like the language that was coming out of your mouth standing in front of his entire classroom. After he sent you out, I never had much respect for him.”
Even though it sounds like an extremely humiliating experience, I am so glad it was shared with me. I never realized that even way back then, good ol’ Mike had my back!
My 8th-grade year was a time chock full of ups and downs. I soon discovered that I had the makings of a criminal mastermind, as stealing, lying and cheating came very, VERY easy to me. I began to use my dark talents as a segue of sorts to fit in with people I probably shouldn’t have been hanging with in the first place, but I figured, “Hell, if this is what it takes for people to like me, then so be it.”
I remember one day toward the end of 8th grade saying to my buddy Tom, “I’m fed up with this little Christian boy routine. What has it gotten me?” So I by the time the last day of school came, the principal said to me, “Dibler, never in all my years have I experienced someone like you. You have a list of offenses matched only by your friend Tom, and the only reason I am passing you on to 9th grade is because I’m sick of dealing with your s**t.”
Now at the time I wore that little speech of his like a badge of honor because it was something “I” had accomplished. Looking back, I feel bad for all involved.
Soon enough, the almighty North Bend High School was upon me, and I soon discovered that it was a whole different world yet again. There was an element of freedom I had never experienced before and a whole new group of upperclassmen to impress and try to distract from my tics. I soon found myself involved with something I never imagined: illegal drugs.
More on that next time.