The early Years:
The earliest childhood "friend" that I can remember was a girl named Lisa (at around age 5-6). I called them my friends, because in each case, we were neighbors and played outside at one time or another. Our yards backed up to one another, and neither of us had another child our own age within one or two houses up or down at that time.
But when other kids would come around, Lisa made it clear that I "was not" her friend. She would act as if she didn't know me, and would tell the other kids that I had just tagged along. Once, I was playing in her yard, and we got invited by a large group of kids form the next street over to come play a game. They were really just asking Lisa, but said I could tag along if I wanted to.
when we started playing up at the top of her street, Lisa made the comment that she hated that she had to play with me, but that no one else was ever around. The older kids started telling me that I had to leave and go home, but I just wanted to play with kids my own age so very much that I tried to hang around just to see what they were doing.
Instead of sticking up for me, the one person that I thought was supposed to be my friend talked a bunch of the boys, and even one girl, into tackling me and beating me up. I fought back to try to defend myself, but they just kept hitting and kicking. When they were done, Lisa told me that she never wanted me to ever play with her again.
I was never asked to play with any of the kids from that side of our neighborhood again. Anytime they would see me, they would turn and go the other way, or just ignore me. I never did find out what I could have possibly have done to have them all treat me that way.
Sherri & Johnny:
Sherri and Johnny were two kids that lived tow houses down the hill from our house on St. Henry Ln. They lived with their single mom, who had a long string of different boyfriends over a number of years. They spent most of their weekends with their Dad, but lived with their mom and attended private school at St. Thomas Moore. On the rare occasion that they were with their mom on a weekend, she would send them outside to play; mostly so that she could be alone with whatever man she had brought home that weekend. (In hind sight, I often wondered if some of those men weren't there on a pay to play basis)
Sherri and Johnny always had the latest and coolest toys. Sometimes the "boyfriends" would bring them presents, but most of them were from their Mom and "real" dad, who were always trying to out do each other to win the kids' affection. We (my brothers an I) would always be invited over to see the new toys, but were never allowed to play with them. Johnny was closer to the age of my brothers, and they played more often with him than I did. He would invite them over to play, but say that I was too big and couldn't come over.
Sherri was my same age if not a year older. I was never sure. She would often try to "show" me things that she had seen her mom doing with a boyfriend. My first kiss, and first french kiss was with Sherri. The first girl to ever reach down my pants was Sherri. And the first girl (not an adult) that I ever saw smoke a cigarette (she was 12 at that time) was Sherri. But when I would try to be just friends with her, she didn't want anything to do with me. She had other friends that would come over, and she would tell me that she was done playing with me since they were there now. I never knew when I was welcome or not; and if I was, it was because she was either bored or had been dared by one of her girl friends to do something with a boy.
SCHOOL AGE FRIENDS: (Grades K-6)
Never once, during all seven years of elementary school, did I ever have anyone that I could call a Best Friend. Most wouldn't even say we were friends. I had classmates that I got along with, but in any situation other than GYM (because I could kick and catch) I was usually picked last for anything involving teams or needing partners. And it wasn't because I was shy. I was not a reclusive or awkward kid; at least not until the middle of 3rd grade (more on that later).
I remember other kids that would bond and play every single day. I always had to go looking for a group of kids that wouldn't tell me to go away.The only time that another kid actively sought me out to be a "friend" was when they were being picked on by another kid form another class. I had a reputation for not tolerating bullies, and would fight for the under dog. But those same kids didn't want to be my friend once things were smoothed out, or I had taken the heat for an altercation on the playground. They went back to their friends, and left me on the outskirts of the group. A place in the "friend one" that I have inhabited for most of my life.
Never once was I ever invited to another kid's birthday party. My mom and dad never threw us birthday parties either. I guess we were too poor. Although I do recall a few times when other kids came over to our house to have cake and ice cream for my brothers' birthdays. But they weren't the kind of parties where other kids bring cards or presents. I remember other kids handing out invitations at school, but I never received one.
I can remember kids coming to school on a Monday, and talking about the birthday party they had been to for ________. I always wondered if I would ever get an invitation to one someday.
3rd GRADE: things got even harder by the time I hit the third grade. That was the year that Neal Crase began molesting and grooming me for his sexual perversions. Of all of the years from my childhood, the year that I was 8 years old, is the only one that I have no memories of.
Trying to make friends during and after that year became an even greater challenge. I was terrified by the thought that any of the other kids might find out what was happening to me. About the things I was being forced to do, or have done to me. I especially began to avoid any unnecessary play or contact with the other boys in my class.I just knew that somehow, they would be able to tell and know; and if they ever found out, I would be the joke of the school.
Guys that I had at least been playground buddies with (Charles, Randy, Gary) now had to be kept at an extra arms length, so to speak. So, I tried forming closer friendships with the girls in my classes after that year. But it was always the same thing, I could hang around them until they started talking about "secret stuff" (I guess they meant boys, or girl things), and I was always on the outside of the group looking in. Again.
Tim O'Donnel was the first person that I ever called a best friend. He and I met while riding bikes on the parking lot of St. Thomas Moore at the beginning of the Summer after my 4th grade year. Like me, his birthday was at the beginning of the year, and we were both 10 years old. Tim lived with his mom, at the bottom of our street and two houses to the right. All I had to do was hop on my bike and I could coast all the away to his front door in less than 60 seconds.
Tim and I rode bikes together. We went fishing at Drehmanns' Lake; most of the time getting up way earlier than I ever wanted to. We mowed lawns together, and split the money 50/50. We played in the creek, and walked the "square tunnel" carrying flashlights and torches that we had made from deck posts and old rags. And by 1982, a year later, we spent many long hours at his house, playing Pac Man and Donkey Kong on the Atari 2600.
At the end of that Summer of 1982, Tim had come back from a week at some sort of Summer Camp or trip with his father. He had made several new friends, and seemed less interested in coming up to ask me to hang out, or having me over to his house to play. There was a group of kids further down his street that he hung out with quite a bit, and they never invited me to come out to play.
One day that Fall, I had met up with Tim while out riding bikes, and we had spent most of the day hanging out and talking. It was almost like "old times" and I actually thought that maybe we might hit it off again. We were hanging out in my front yard, throwing the prickle balls that were falling off of the maple trees, when Tim brought up the topic of masturbation. Something he had heard the other guys talking about, and was saying was something he just didn't quite understand. this line of talking made me very uncomfortable. I knew very well what masturbation was at the age of 11. Neal had been forcing himself on me for nearly 3 full years by that point, and that was something that he had forced onto me, and forced me to do to him, on more occasions than I could recall. It was more than I could deal with. I couldn't have that discussion with another guy. Not even one that I had considered a best friend, and with whom I had shared many secrets.
I don't recall exactly what specifically was said, but Tim and I ended up in a fight and wrestling match. No punches were thrown, as best as I can remember. But we fought. He left, riding his bike down the hill and turning the corner. That was the last time I ever saw Tim O'Donnel. I went to his house a few times after that day, but his mom always told me that he wasn't home, or couldn't come out to play. I had lost the first person that had ever truly treated me like a friend.
Matt Harrison was a neighbor kid, who was right in between the ages of my two brothers. He was also the cousin of Lisa (see first entry above). i got to play with Matt, but usually only because he was playing with my brothers. Again, I was the tag-along.
Along those years, until the age of 12, there were other kids that I encountered in my neighborhood and school. But none that were ever anything more than a passing casual acquaintance. I'd had one person that I could possibly call a true friend in all of that time, and they were gone.
We moved in the middle of my 7th Grade year; but that begins the next chapter of No Friends.
To Be Continued...