i was riding the bus home this evening and i was thinking about the old days. in middle school i was an exceptional smart-ass. i should have got my ass kicked a lot, but i escaped with only a few scuffles. troy burnham totally kicked my ass in 6th grade. i remember royally kicking john bicher's ass after the powder-puff football game, but he remembers differently. i fought james quincy in 7th grade. that was pretty much a tie. then there was 8th grade. that was the year that i got a lot of hair under my arms and learned about the first and final rule of every social hierarchy: football player get to do whatever they want. they used to hang out during our 8th grade gym class because the middle school was on the same campus as the high school. we shared the gym, but the high-schoolers were forbidden to mingle with the middle-schoolers. this didn't apply to football players. the football players sat in the gym during their ''stufy-hall" and ogled and flirted with the 8th grade girls. they ogled and flirted with OUR women. wasn't it enough that they had all the high school girls? no, it wasn't enough. they had to have our women too. all of this was condoned by coach dunn who's idea of physical education was to let us randomly shoot basketballs unsupervised for the entire year. my friend tahir (ty) and i always shot basketball and played 21 on one of the side goals in the gym. we'd flail around and goof off until it was time to NOT take a shower and run over to Life Management Skills class. we avoided the football players most of the year, but they had it out for us. i knew it and one day they sat on the bleachers in front of our goal and told us to go shoot 'somewheres' else. apparently we were blocking their view of the girls. OUR WOMEN! damn them. i was so mad. i was sick of the inequity. i kept on shooting baskets and so did ty. there were some threats, some giggles from coach dunn, but we held steady. the ball was taken away from us. we went to the supply room and got another. that ball was taken away and we went back to the supply room. that one was taken away. then we used volleyballs. then we used kick balls. then they were all gone. the football players sat smugly on the bleachers with every ball in the gym. i realize at this point i'm writing an episode of the wonder years, but this really, really happened. we started shooting imaginary basketballs. we made every shot and got really excited yelling "YES! 14 IN ROW! WOOOO!" then i threw ty the imaginary rebound and it was his turn. the football players were beat and they knew it. we knew it. coach dunn knew it. if the supreme court was there they would declared us the winner and given us a medal. we didn't get a medal though. we got basketballs thrown at our heads. i looked at coach dunn for intervention, but he shot me a look that said, "son, you're a smart-ass and this is what smart-asses get." never has it been more clear to me that this world is unjust. i was a pissed off, scrawny late-bloomer who was alone in his fury and anger. my vision tunneled and i caught a ball meant for my head stunning everyone and me. then i chucked it with slobbering vengeance in the general direction of the football players. i hit the 2nd most popular football player square in the nose with the most satisfying popping noise you'll ever hear. much mayhem followed, but i had beaten them on their terms. we actually got detention. up yours, coach. and up yours, fred savage.