Chapter 18:     Junior High School Hell

ART writes---

At thirteen years of age, life began to go sour for Adam. 
Melly's leaving hit him hard and he was not interested in 
discussing it with us except superficially. He would say, "Sure 
I miss her, she was my best friend," and change the subject.

This was in junior high school.  Up until then he had never 
really suffered the pangs of being different: that is to say, 
he had simply accepted that he was different without brooding 
about it because Melly had made it all right, but now he was 

He had also grown beyond normal human size by then, maintaining 
his steady average of 3 inches a year, to 7'2" and 403 pounds, 
becoming a real monster compared to everyone else in the 8th
grade.  There were also physical changes typical to adolescence, 
he began to grow a beard, although no mustache.  

He tried shaving the beard and his low hairline to expose more 
forehead and the backs of his hands.  He was trying to look more 
like your average teenager, but it only looked funny.  He took to 
slouching to offset his height, no longer just the tallest in his 
age group, but now tallest person in the entire town of Monroe.  
He was once again embarrassed about being a Bigfoot. So he began 
to eat too much and started getting fat.

The social pressure in junior high was to conform and he simply
couldn't do that.  Peter Sinsley, two years ahead of him, had 
also spread a smear campaign that was already waiting for him when
Adam had arrived to Monroe Junior High School.  But there were no
more bullies who might have thought it would be great sport to 
pick on a sasquatch, Adam was far too big to consider offending.  
There were others who had evolved a spirit of brotherhood and 
equality...but had not yet learned how to apply it without pity, 
which was almost worse than insults.  

Most of Adam's own friends were usually from the Misfit Crowd, 
who were also taunted for being his friends.  This did not hold 
true always, but that is how it seemed to Adam at the time.

His most constant friend in junior high was Pokey Snowchild, a 
Salish Indian, who wore his hair long but was undecided if he was
an Indian Brave or a Hippie.  He was a terrible student and often 
came to school stoned on marijuana.  But when he came over to the 
Hacienda he loved riding the horses and often helped us do physically 
demanding work.  He considered himself a drummer and often 
played tom-toms to Adam's guitar.  Pokey kept telling Adam, "Ya 
gotta be proud of your heritage, man, your people are the only 
noble savages left!"  But then he would berate his own Indian 
people for being drunks and primitive and get stoned himself.  
He was not the very best friend we would have chosen for Adam.

Another main friend back then was from yet another minority race, 
Juan Martino, a Chicano.  They often spoke Spanish together, since
Adam had learned it in Mexico.  Juan had trouble with English, but
he wanted to learn it, so sometimes he and Adam worked together as
a study team.  Juan would read the text aloud since Adam could not 
and Adam would explain the meaning in Spanish as best he could. 
One amusing aspect of this collaboration was that sometimes Adam 
would recite the lessons in class with a very Mexican accent.  Juan 
was a better influence than Pokey, but he moved to California 
with his parents after the 9th grade.

He had other friends at school, even some normal WASP kids, like 
Stan Garrett and Willy Mason, but kids are generally into hanging 
out with a "best friend" at that age and that was Pokey.  No girls, 
however.  Adam was very shy around them and it seemed to him that 
they avoided him.  So of course, they did.

He tried to pretend that he wasn't interested in girls, but he 
didn't fool anybody.  For one thing, he really liked girls, his 
lifelong best friend had been one.  And he loved they way they 
smelled.  The sense of smell must be a major factor in the 
sasquatch mating procedure, because Adam was definitely affected
by odors no one else was registering, probably female pheromones.
He had often remarked how good Melly smelled to him and Elaine 
too.  So it didn't help that Adam could smell the sex of girls all
around him at school.  I'm not sure just what a crowd of young 
teenage girls coming into puberty smelled like, but I'm sure it 
must have been a heady thing to deal with when one is young and 

Adam suffered the usual sexual and romantic frustrations that teen
age angst brings on and he knew--just KNEW--that no girl would
ever want to be friends with him or date him, much less kiss or 
touch him (or whatever else), because he would always be just a 
big ugly monster in their eyes.  Some of the girls confirmed that
for him in their bitchiest manner.

One girl in particular was the bitchiest of all, teasing and persecuting 
Adam whenever the opportunity arose, also willfully poisoning his 
chances of being accepted by any of the other girls.  Lissandra 
Cunnings, whom Adam perversely admired, seemed to be his worst 
enemy.  Her motives were obscure, but she insulted him at every 
opportunity, unless she chose to ignore him utterly, whichever 
could hurt his feelings most.  

Yes, that same pretty caramel-skinned Lissandra who had complained 
about him in the second grade.  Now she was even more beautiful, 
with her dramatically sculptured latina face and a nicely 
developing figure.  Of course she had to be a school cheerleader 
and one of the "most popular" girls.  Lissandra was arrogant and 
vain, her mother was in a lesbian relationship and she had never 
known her Brazilian father, so she was planning on becoming 
promiscuous anytime soon in protest of "whatever".  She seemed 
especially impressed by her own beauty and the power it gave her 
over boys and men (including some male teachers), so she misused 
that power as often as possible.  She seemed to enjoy being mean,
to Adam at least.

Her abuse of Adam did not lessen as she grew more mature, but became 
more calculated. Adam tolerated it without complaint because he was 
masochistically bound to this cruel beauty, who was at least the 
one girl who paid him any personal attention.

Lissandra still called him "Freakfoot" and encouraged her friends
to laugh at Adam for being big and slow and hairy.  The boys were 
not so eager to laugh at him, however, as Adam grew on over seven
feet in height.  Even Peter Sinsley had long since become cautious
and simply avoided Adam.

Lissandra had made several disparaging and insulting remarks about
"the Freakfoot Ape in the back of the room" during a discussion of
racial equality in an almost (except for her) all-white class.  The 
teacher, Mr. Haugh, called her on it, having had enough of her 
negative behavior.  He took both Lissandra and Adam in for a 
conference after class, which was also during their lunch break.  
Mr. Haugh berated both Lissandra for her racist attitude and Adam 
for his spinelessness in dealing with her insults.

"Why don't you stand up to this bitchiness, Adam?" Mr. Hough 
asked, "God knows you're big enough to defend yourself."

Adam, eternally embarrassed about his bigness and neither wishing
to cause anyone trouble nor to be the center of attention, mumbled
something meaningless.  Mr. Hough left the two of them alone with 
instructions to talk the matter over and get it straightened out 
between themselves.

They sat in silence for about five minutes, Adam rubbed patterns
in the desk top, Lissandra sighed heavily.  It was their lunch 
break, so she was especially peeved.

Adam finally shrugged and said, "Sorry about this."

She refused to look at him.  He shrugged again and slouched lower 
into his seat.

Finally after drumming her fingers on the desktop, she said, "Yuk, 
what a drag."  She finally looked at Adam.  "They can't make me 
stay in here with a thing like you, Freakfoot, I'm splitting!"
She got up.

"Mr. Hough is gonna get mad."

"Screw Hough!  Screw you too!  They all rhyme, ha ha.  Yuk, I
wanna go eat lunch, not look at your ugly face. This is really 

"Yeah.  Sorry."

"Yeah, I'll bet-- you're probably glad to see me in trouble."

"Unh-unh.  I didn't make us come here."

"Oh, crap, the Wookie martyr."

Adam never really looked at her, just kept rubbing the desktop,
but he finally asked, "Why do you always pick on me?"

"Well, gee, why not?  You're a walking freak show!  And you're 
easy pickings, you don't hit back."  She was standing now, he was 
sitting bowed over, so she could look down on him.  "And most of 
all because I just don't like you! Got that?  I think you're 

He looked up at last, eyes sad.  "But why?  I've never done
anything to you." 

"You don't need to do anything.  It's just what you are: a Wookie,
a 'squatch, a BigFruit.  What do you think about that?"

He shrugged.  "It's your opinion, I guess."

"Why don't you ever get mad back at me?" she asked, tone almost
civil, but gnashing away at her bubble gum.

"I dunno.  I just...don't."

"Well, I wish you would.  It makes me nervous."

Shrug.  "Sorry."

"Yuk, you sicken me, Freakfoot!  I think that's what I don't like
about you, really--too gutless.  Besides being fat and hairy and 
ugly, I think that you're psycho.  Ready to pop loose at any 
minute.  A dangerous animal. You shouldn't be with people at all."

"I wouldn't hurt anybody..."

"That's what psychos always you ever get horny, Freakfoot?"

"My name is Adam."

"I asked if you ever got horny...Freakfoot?"

"I heard."

They glared at each other.  Then Adam's nerve broke and he 
dropped his eyes.

"Well, you'll never get laid, you know, cause no girl's ever gonna
want to be with a...a thing like you.  Never!  And that makes you 
scary.  When will you snap?"

"Cut it out, Lissandra," he muttered.

"Come on, tell me Freak: who would you like to have, huh?  Who? 
Susie Lipsinger?  Maybe Joannie Swift?"

Adam looked at her hard now and his eyes said too much.

Lissandra curled her lip in a sneer.  "Yeah, or maybe ME, huh?  I 
knew it, maybe that's why I don't like you, Freakfoot.  And if you
ever do touch me, I'll have you shot.  Maybe I should go ahead and 
cry Rape, right now."

"I wouldn't rape anyone, Lissandra, not even you!"

"No?  No?  Well, look at what you can't ever have, then."

Lissandra pulled up the tight sweater she was wearing.  It was
actually a (literally) pointless demonstration because she was 
wearing a bra, but even though Adam was used to nudity at the 
lake, this shocked and embarrassed him.  Her bra was a push-up 
model that made it clear that Lissandra was developing breasts to 
be proud of.  He blushed and looked away.  She pulled the sweater 
back down and smiled smugly, chewing on her gum, a classic 
teenage bitch.  Then Mr. Hough came back and she rushed off 
to lunch.

That only dramatized for Adam his awful conviction: that there 
was no mate for him.  He had lost Melly and no other human 
woman could or ever would like him.  Would he have to find a 
girl sasquatch?  And even if he did, wouldn't she be an--an 
animal, without the rudiments of education or civilization?  
(Although therein might be the basis for a usable sexual fantasy.)

Adam had not forgotten Melly, she was just so far away that she had to be gone forever. And the one year overseas Doug had planned became one more, then yet another. Melly had wanted to visit us on her summer vacations, but that never happened either, for one reason or another. She and Doug were still living in Jakarta, Indonesia, which seemed to be a hell-hole from her descriptions. But they were also often in a much nicer town called Jokjakarta, also on the island of Java. Melly sent us e-mails regularly at first, but they were always to "all you guys", no private correspondence to Adam. Which was understandable; he could not read an e-mail anyway and if we translated it for him there wouldn't be much "private" left to himself. So before she had left us Melly had set up Skype accounts for both herself and Adam so that they could video-chat over Internet (Adam had no problem using computers as long as he could navigate with picture-icons instead of text), but they never connected. We goaded Adam to contact her but he always had an excuse not to, such as wrong time over there or "not right now." Melly called on the telephone one evening, half a year after she had left us. She talked with Elaine and me for a few minutes but it was Adam she was calling. He took the call up in his room. We tried to respect his privacy but couldn't help hearing that he was sobbing without restraint as he talked to her, evidently heartbroken about something. He never offered to tell us about it, so we didn't ask. After that, there went most of a year before Adam and Melly began to correspond again, sending audio-mails to each other once in a while, since Adam preferred to record a "letter" rather than get into an emotional real-time discussion about whatever it was. Hers were more frequent and probably more interesting than his; she told about being in the International School for rich kids, their trip to Bali, climbing the volcano at Mt Solo, exploring the ancient Buddhist temple at Borobudur, shopping in Singapore. Adam told of going to school and walking in the woods with Potatochip--he didn't know what else to say to her. Adam was sometimes depressed after Melly's messages, or when he thought about her at all. We knew that there were things he was not telling us about their relationship, which was his business, of course. There seemed to be some tragic problem between them and he seemed to have written off any chance of them being a couple someday, even though they both still seemed to feel as much as they ever had for each other. Doug finally also sent an e-mail, telling how they lived in luxury and inviting us to come and visit them, obviously quite satisfied with the lifestyle and the high-powered job he had over there. We talked about it wistfully, but it was really out of our budget to fly all three of us to the other side of the world at that time. We were also living on less money after Elaine had quit working.
It was bad enough that Adam got depressed and overate and got fat, but the worst was when he overdosed on sugar, his metabolism reacted badly to it. It was toxic. One candy bar was okay, but he'd eat six, seven, get sick, headaches, personality changes. We tried to ration his pocket money so that he couldn't buy candy and cokes, which had worked when he was younger, but now we had a revolution on our hands. That was a tough period for us all. He was bigger than a rather large adult and we were treating him like a little kid--which is what he really was inside. He started to get belligerent: nobody could push HIM around and he knew it. Candy would make him irritable, but so would not getting any, the evil circle of sugar addiction. Finally, having no money on him at the time, he was caught stealing a candy bar in Safeway. Fortunately, he didn't get belligerent about that in the store, just extremely embarrassed and ashamed. A sugar junkie hitting bottom. But the store manager called me, rather than the police and I agreed to have a serious talk with Adam when he got home. That ended up with Adam and me shouting at each other, both losing our tempers. So I said, "All that sugar you're eating is poisoning your brains --I insist that you PROMISE to stop..." Adam's already angry face became suddenly even more absolutely enraged, a ferocious mask, "PROMISE?? Aw shit, not you too!" he screamed. In a rage, he pulled back his fist as if he was going to hit me. That's right, hit me. I must have gone white, I fell back on my ass and was franticly scrabbling away backwards, suddenly afraid of my sasquatch son. Adam saw that fear in my eyes and froze in place. Then he became aware of his stance, looking up at his own clenched fist as if surprised to see it there. His hand opened as if exploding and he ran up to his room and cried and cried. I waited a while, to let myself stop shaking, then finally went upstairs. He was still sobbing in his room. I knocked very lightly and very carefully on his door. He kept sobbing, so I went in. He was sitting on his bed, face buried in his hands. I sat next to him, but couldn't touch him. He was too emotional just then, and I...well, I was still afraid. "I hate myself," he bawled. "Come on, Addy, nobody else hates you, it'll be all right." "I'm sorry, Art, I didn't mean to do that," he said. "Yeah, I know," I said, but my hands were still shaking. "Now even you are afraid of me!" "Addy, you raised your fist to me: excuse me, but that's scary. You could... kill any man with one blow." "I know! I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I didn't mean it! You know I wouldn't really do it--I've never hit anyone!" "Well, you did hit Sinsley once." "That's no fair, I hit him to save your life!" "I know and I still thank you for it. Wish I could have hit him like that." "I wish someone would hit ME like that," Adam bawled in his guilty shame. I embraced him, no longer afraid. "Well, I can't. No one can-- maybe another sasquatch somewhere." "I should go live with them," he said. "No, you're supposed to be here, Addy, with us. You're one of us." "No I'm not!" I noticed his stack of X-Men comics beside the bed. Literary inspiration. "Come on, guy, you know how the X-Men are always having trouble with people too, because they're just too super." "Yeah, but they've got other X-Men to be with." "Yeah, okay---but they never get along anyway." Adam managed a weak laugh through his tears. Then said, "Art, I can't stand that you--and sometimes even Elaine--are scared of me. You're the ones who know me best." "Well, you know our constant litany..." "Yeah, yeah: Addy, if you don't want people to be afraid of you, you've got to behave better than they do. But, I DO behave and they're afraid anyway!" "Well, to tell the truth, you haven't been behaving very well these days." "No, I haven't," he admitted. "What can we do about that?" I asked him. He sat in silence, waiting for me to answer my own question. But I had another question: "What did you mean by Promise? not you too?" "Everybody wants me to promise them another piece of my life away." "Meaning...what? Who wants you to promise what?" I asked, although assuming he meant Melly. "Never mind, I don't want to talk about it. So what do YOU want me to promise you?" He sounded like someone surrendering. "Well, ME nothing. But why don't you promise YOURSELF something to make you feel better about being you? Like, oh, that you'll stay away from sugar, or..." "No," he said unequivocally, "I won't promise that. Not for the rest of my life. No more bad promises." I nodded, still not sure what he was talking about. "Oh, that's right, promises are that binding to you, better be careful of what you promise." "No shit," he said. We both sat in silence. "I'll promise not to steal," he announced. "Forever? For the rest of your life? Is that a wise promise? You might have to steal to survive some day," I reminded him. " about not stealing what I can pay for?" "Great, but you actually had no cash on you for the candy you stole, so that particular promise wouldn't have stopped you." We wrestled with the formulation of a perfect promise. Some of the suggestions were pretty goofy and we even had some fun with it. But we both worked toward a serious outcome and that was Adam saying: "I promise that I will not steal if I do not have to." It helped, things went better for him after that little therapeutic drama resulting in a little rule to go by, not a hard dogma but an ethical deliberation. Just enough to make him feel that he was a good guy after all.
Chapter 19

Adam out of Eden