In the beginning of third grade, my best friend was this kid on my bus named Matthew Woods. I don't actually remember talking to him about anything other than the most important thing in the world at the time: the Nintendo Entertainment System. I only had a few games, and my mom limited the amount of time I could spend playing to basically nothing, but Matt, man, Matt was the guy who was so completely awesome because he was so enviable. He had every single game for the Nintendo ever (or at least claimed to have all the cool ones I could think of), and his mom let him play whenever he wanted, sometimes eating up entire days numbing his fingers on the sweaty plastic edges of his controller. Matt had my dream life, and thus I considered him my best and most awesome friend.
Until the bus broke down in front of his house.
There was another kid on the bus, Mike, who was a pretty cool guy, but not nearly as cool as Matt. We'd talk to him about Nintendo occasionally, but he didn't seem as interested, and certainly hadn't
played or owned as many of the games as Matt, so he was obviously inferior. Matt was friends with him, but I always assumed that I was Matt's better friend because we were the ones who were always hanging out and talking on the bus and at school. One key difference about the Mike and I surfaced when the bus broke down and we had to wait at Matt's house for a while. It turned out that while I had never seen Matt's house from anywhere but the bus window, Mike had actually been inside before. This fact played a critical role in what turned out to be the downfall of our friendship.
There were only a small handful of kids on the bus when it broke down, so it was decided that we would wait inside Matt's house while the adults involved took care of the bus situation. Matt immediately ran through a door at the end of the living room, into a smaller room where he had his Nintendo. Mike followed, and I tried to follow, but Matt's mom stopped me.
"I know Mike. I don't know you. You have to sit on the couch."
Mike seemed to feel bad for me being in such a predicament, but not Matt. Matt found it absolutely fucking hilarious that his mom was a crazy bitch. His chair was situated near the door to his Nintendo room, and while I sat there, he would periodically turn around, controller in hand, and point and laugh at me for not being allowed to play. I didn't understand how my best friend could be such a dickhead.
At some point I tried to get up and make a move for the Nintendo room, but his mom grabbed me by the arm. I tried to tell her she couldn't tell me what to do, but she raised her other hand like she was going to slap me. I cringed, she didn't slap me, and I spent the rest of the time waiting on the living room couch, enduring Matt's laughter while my rage grew.
By the time we were able to leave, I absolutely despised Matt.
Following this incident, I would harass Matt whenever possible. I learned that while I was friends with him, a crucial fact about his personality had escaped me: the child was prone to angry outbursts and temper tantrums for damn near no reason. I soon began to delight in tormenting him, as the slightest insult would send him into a violent rage. He was bigger than me, but he was never able to hurt me when he'd attack. He fought like a girl, and would scratch me and try to pull my hair.
I had always known that he had a huge crush on this girl at our school who had downs syndrome. Even as a third grader, I found that completely bizarre. I tried to tease him about it on the playground, calling out in a taunting voice, "Yoooooouuu'rreee iiinnn looooovveee wwiiitthh Saaaarrraaahhhh!!"
"Yes, I am!" he proudly confirmed, foiling my plan to provoke a temper tantrum.
So I punched him in the neck.
His face immediately turned bright red and he started screaming that he was going to kill me. He flailed his arms and kicked the air while I ran from him, laughing maniacally. Some teachers saw what was going on and took us both inside to miss the rest of recess.
While I sat at my desk while the rest of my classmates played outside, I fumed. Why should I be in trouble? All I did was make fun of some jerk and then punched him in the neck to make him go crazy. I racked my brain trying to think of the best way to get back at him.
And then it hit me.
The next day I came to school prepared for delivering the ultimate payback. I waited all day for the right moment, and I was excited as hell at the end of the day when I asked my teacher if I could go to the bathroom. She escorted me down the hall, but not before letting me get my coat from it's cubby-hole. I had told her I was cold.
I went into the bathroom stall and reached into my jacket pocket for my weapon of choice: a thick, green magic marker. I went to work and scrawled by revenge in foot-high letters on the wall of the stall.
MATTHEW WOODS IS A FUCKING ASSHOLE!
I pocketed my marker and left the bathroom, satisfied about my job well done. School let out shortly afterwards, and I went home, happy enough that I didn't even have to try to get Matt to throw a screaming fit on the bus.
The next day, when I got to school but before it was time to go to class, I brought my friend Jeremy into the bathroom.
"Check this out," I told him, leading him to the stall where I had left my bulletin to the world.
I was shocked to see that somebody had cleaned my message from the wall, but luckily I was still prepared. I took out my marker and left another one. This was a message that had to be heard.
MATT WOODS EATS FUCKING SHIT!
"Cool," Jeremy told me, and we went to class.
As soon as I sat down in my desk, my teacher came up to me.
"Paul, we have a problem. A message was found in the bathroom."
"How do you know it was me?" I asked, trying to seem incredulous but not realizing that I was admitting I knew what she was talking about.
"Well, we know you and Matt don't get along, and you put your jacket on before going to the bathroom yesterday afternoon."
"It wasn't me."
At that moment, another teacher came in and said that I had done it again.
They made me clean up the bathroom as punishment for my behavior. I maintained my innocence, even as I was scrubbing the walls down with a sponge. I don't even know if Matt ever heard about my attempt to defame his character, rendering the whole thing a failure.