Nasty Neighbor

When I was about 9 and until I was about 13, I had a neighbor who for some reason, did not like me.

Although he was two years older, he was no taller. He had been born with a deformity on his foot but I believed it accompanied a twisted mind. This guy just could not let me be me.

He insulted me loudly for not knowing the rules of football. He liked to taunt me for the way I looked as I ran. He had a great imagination that allowed him to conjure up a fresh insult no matter what clothes I wore. Once he tossed a stone into a pond. The stone skipped across to the other side and hit me painfully on my temple. That would have been OK had he not instantly deflected blame to me claiming that “the stone finds ‘stupid’ and it found you.” Not exactly an apology. That injury hurt for the better part of a week. The impact of the insult lasted longer.

His insults never got any laughs but they hurt just the same. I was not a violent kid, but I really wanted to give this guy a bashing. However there was something about him. He had been born with a disadvantage. He had lost his dad at a young age. Better to just swallow hard and carry on. The day his mother packed his bags and sent him off to military school was a banner day for me. I never saw him again.

I googled his name recently and learned that he was involved in some significant breakthrough medical research. I can’t find it in my heart to be congratulatory. In my own mind it is simply atonement.