Wizard World LA and Nick

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

For starters, I’ll be at Wizard World LA, working the Hoarse & Buggy booth and selling advance copies of Elk’s Run. I’ll be there on the 19th and the 20th; I’ll also be covering two panels for Comicon. Come by; say “hi” if you get the chance. Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you a story. Now, this is my first con since Ohio and, more importantly, since starting this blog. I get a pretty decent readership, and when I tell people I’ll be in LA I get a lot of, “I can’t wait to meet you. I feel like I know so much about you.” Now this really, really freaks me out; I didn’t think far enough ahead it seems. People will be meeting me that know about my hooker hand, bucket shit and self wedgy. Meanwhile, all I know about them is that they have an email address and enjoy comics. Sure, I can infer they’re antisocial and watch Buffy but beyond that, what do I have? So people, please, if you plan on saying hi to me at WWLA at least do me a favor and email me an embarrassing story about yourself or post it below. Even ground is such a nice place to be.

Ok, not going for the funny as much today, yesterday sucked harder than...well...really hard. So I'm going to use that suckage and instead deliver a good story. I’m going to talk about Nick, as promised. I talked briefly about the kid in my gang fight story, which you can read up on for a refresher, but I’ll give an overview. Nick was a smart kid that made a couple of bad choices. He was sort of like me, except where I made choices that sacrificed my personal safety in exchange for my personal growth; he sacrificed his growth in exchange for his safety.

Nick went to JHS 142 with the lot of us but never really hung out too much. I saw him occasionally and we were always civil to each other but it never really went beyond that. To put this into timeframe, 142 came after the gang fight, so as I said in that story, relations between and my neighborhood friends went sour somewhat.

There was one day that really set the new course for our friendship, which was always a sort of friend by proxy anyway. I went to talk to him in the school yard and he pretty much laid it out for me. Paraphrasing here:

“It’s not like I got anything against you, I just have to do my thing. I’m really smart, you know, like you guys, but at the same time these people don’t respect smart. So, I just gotta do what I gotta do and then I get to high school.”

Basically, his point was that he really can’t be seen with me, he was aware of the decision he made and why he made it and in high school he can go back to being more of a student.

But, you see, that wasn’t a good call. Nick ended up going to John Jay, arguably the worst school in Brooklyn, because he didn’t do good school. From what I last heard, he isn’t doing too good now, either. But I’m getting ahead of the story.

It was a gradual change, I still hung with him occasionally in the neighborhood but never at school. The frequency declined as time went on, his interests shifted. One summer day (and this is at the age of 12, mind you), he showed up with a stolen car, told us all to get in, we were going to the Red Hook pool. I wanted nothing to do with it. The car was hot (it was a piece of shit, but it was still hot), he couldn’t drive, and the Red Hook pool was like a prison pool and frankly, I couldn’t trust Nick or the other neighborhood kids to watch my back. So I turned down the invite and the civility in our friendship went away.

I was tagging “Maze” back then, despite my decision to not be a thug I still loved my graffiti. Nick came at me one day in the Powerhouse’s handball-court and just started shoving. He claimed that he’s always tagged Mazed and if I keep tagging it up he’ll kill me. My friends stood around at first, in complete shock. Finally he got pulled off and told to calm down. He warned me one final time before running off.

One day I was leaving the movies with my girlfriend at the time (whatever girlfriend meant in Junior High). As I was leaving, Nick, B (info on B here), and several other guys mugged me at gunpoint. Nick or B weren’t holding the gun, but they were offering protection. I’ve gotten mugged before this but this one hurt. They couldn’t even look me in the eye. I think the guy taken lead just decided to go for me, they didn’t say no. And it fucking hurt so bad.

It’s moments like that where you question your decisions. If I decided to run with the thug crowd, my school-book crowd wouldn’t have turned around and mugged me. Maybe Nick had it right, maybe Junior High was just a two year phase, you can get your shit back together after it’s all said and done.

I know now that he wasn’t right and he made the wrong decisions. B was part of another one of my muggings; he actually initiated it this time. Nick, on the other hand, after that day I can’t say I ever crossed paths with Nick again. I think he saw it, I think he saw what I believed. That everyone makes a choice that determines where they will end up. I think Nick realized, at that moment, that we both made different choices and there won’t be any turning back for him. He still ran with the particular crew that made my life pretty bad in JHS but he never came close to me again, even when they did.

read a book, fanboy: A Prayer for Owen Meany


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