Monday, July 18, 2011

The Day My Dad Saved a Bully's Life

Listening to Queen's "Radio Ga Ga" recently got me to remembering a long ago event that I thought I'd share. Every time I hear this song I think of this memory--which has nothing to do with the song besides the fact that it was from the time that "Radio Ga Ga" was a hit song. This fact also helps me to date the memory to approximately spring of 1984 (the song was released in January of 1984 and would have been in heavy rotation by spring). It's interesting how something like a song or a particular scent can bring back a memory from long ago...

I would have been a freshman in high school in the spring of 1984. My father and I didn't do a lot of things together as father and son. He and my mother were big fans of flea markets and yard sales. They used to set up regularly at flea markets as a hobby and a way to make some extra cash on the weekend. When they weren't at flea markets selling their stuff, they would visit the various flea markets in the area. This one particular Sunday my mom must have been feeling under the weather. Dad took me to a flea market that day while she stayed home. I enjoyed it, though I don't recall finding or purchasing anything too memorable. It's just fun going and seeing what kind of stuff people will put out for sale--searching for that little gem mixed in with all the stones. After more than 25 years it seems understandable that I don't recall much specific about the wares for sale that day. One thing I do recall was that this trip took place during the time that Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album was still a huge hit (and that was a long stretch of time indeed). There were various cheap Michael Jackson knockoff products for sale along with the usual assortment of used items from people's houses and stuff like that.

So what does all this have to do with "Radio Ga Ga" and my Dad saving a bully's life? Well, nothing--but that part is coming up. After our visit to the flea market Dad and I got back in the car and headed back home. We were coming up to the top of the hill that our street was on and nearly home. There on the side of the road was a prone body lying on the ground with a female standing over it. The seemingly-lifeless body belonged to a member of my class who had taken a life-track that led to him becoming a bully and general trouble-maker. I actually remember being friends with this individual when we were very little, before our lives started to diverge into very different directions. Dad stopped to ask if everything was okay. The girl responded that everything was fine, but obviously it wasn't. Dad drove me the rest of the way up to the end of the street and dropped me off at home, then went back down the street. I went inside with a feeling of unease, not knowing if this person I knew was even alive or not. I went inside, turned on the TV and tried to pretend that everything was normal. I'm pretty sure that I either saw the video for "Radio Ga Ga" or heard it on the radio at this time (and thus the reason the song and this event are eternally connected in my mind).

Dad came home much later to report that he brought the bully (against his girlfriend's wishes) to the hospital. I'm not sure if it was drugs or alcohol, but he had overdosed on something, and he had to have his stomach pumped. Apparently he was going to pull through and be "okay". He did indeed return to school--at least long enough to drop out and go onto whatever he's doing today. I've always wondered if he had any idea that my Dad may very well have saved his life that day. Probably not. It's a shame he couldn't have taken advantage of that second chance to straighten himself out or something (or who knows, maybe he eventually did). It all just goes to show how much different the lives of two people can be. We had grown up in the same town, but because of various personal circumstances and choices we had become very different people. While I was being taken to a flea market by my father he was out drinking or shooting up on a Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Bully, if by some incredible coincidence you ever happen to read this blog and recognize yourself, I'd like to make you aware of something. Do you remember waking up in a hospital after being unconscious and having your stomach pumped? Do you know how it is that you ended up at the hospital? I just wanted to let you know that my Dad took it upon himself to bring you there that day. I don't know for sure that he saved your life. Perhaps you could have just slept it off on the side of the road. Perhaps someone else would have come along and brought you to the hospital or called an ambulance (though this did happen on a dead end street which didn't get much traffic). Perhaps your female companion would have finally decided that the situation was serious and taken the initiative to do something herself. I really can't say--but I can say that my Dad did take action that day which may very well have saved your life. Dad died three months ago and I can't help but think that your life and everything you've done since that day in 1984 is in some small way a part of my father's legacy. While a lot of time has passed and I have no idea where you are today or what you are doing, I just thought you should know what happened that day so long ago while "Radio Ga Ga" was playing...

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