I think about kicking someone’s ass at least twice a day. I thought about it today. And in a most random train of thought, my last stop was a memory of my first playground fight. My first fight ever in my life and I got my ass kicked. Specifically, I got kicked in my vagina. I was nine.
Because I didn’t win my first playground fight, I only know what it’s like to have lost it. I lost it in a bad way. My opponent, who had pushed my then two-year-old brother to the floor, was a black girl around my size though she outnumbered me in siblings. I had to prove myself a good big sister to my brother Danny, and avenge his toddler tears.
I didn’t even know people were allowed to kick vaginas at the time. I was so sheltered. A disaster was what it was and the worst part was that I got laughed at while on the ground blinded by stinging tears. But I could hear them. “She got kicked in her pussy, yo!”
My bruise and self-esteem healed eventually and I learned a lot from that kick to my vagina.
A year later when I was about to get into my next fight I threw out my best curse words and threatened, “I’ll kick you in your fucking pussy, yo!”
It worked, and I scared the shit out of the girl bully I was supposed to fight. So there was no fight that day. But growing up on the colorful Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 80s meant having to stand up to bullies calling me “Chinky Chinese” while pinching me or taking my Fruit Roll-Ups or pretzel sticks away. It didn’t matter in grade school that we were all immigrants.
So I decided I would always be louder and more dramatic than any bully coming my way. I told this to my mother and she said yes I had to hit back harder if someone hit me. She’d said Korean people were not fools and sometimes we had to show them. I just never wanted to get kicked in my vagina again, but we were both in agreement.
And then just before 6th grade graduation after lunch one warm spring day I found myself about to fight with Lavanda, a black girl in my class who had sisters in other classes. It was childhood déjà vu. I was shaking I was so scared, but as planned I was louder and more dramatic and I hit back harder. I remember my ears were blazing so hot I couldn’t hear any of the screaming around us. I’d like to say it was from my blood pumping so hard but really, Lavanda had nearly twisted my ears right off my head for pulling out a chunk of her hair. It was her real hair she’d shrieked at me. Real hair? I’d been so confused.
But I knew I had to do something as crazy as kicking another little girl in the vagina, and I so I reached into Lavanda’s eye and grabbed her eyelid. I yanked it until some eyelashes tore off, I did. My parents were called to school, and they were suitably shocked. But they bought me a big italian ice at the pizzeria on the way home, so I knew I wasn’t in trouble for the fight.
Most of Lavanda’s eyelashes grew back, but not all. We never fought again, but we never became friends. But the Lower East Side street credit I earned was enough to keep most local bullies away from me for years.
I’ll fight if I have to, but I’m no real fighter. But if bullied, I’ll fight dirty.