Geno Smith: I feel your pain……from a fellow member of the “Sucker Punched Club”.

I was in the tenth grade and working in drafting class, my first class after lunch. There were five rows of drafting tables, with four tables in each row. I was in the third row from the front, on the end. Picture a row of four drafting tables separated by an aisle ( two to each side of the aisle )so the instructor could move easily front to back helping the students.

The instructor, Mr. Hickman, would often leave the room after the assignment was given. Where he went we never knew but it left the class pretty loose and casual. We worked on drafting boards which angled upward and usually had to draw foundations or other architectural tasks. On this particular day, after Mr. Hickman stepped out, someone in the back flung an eraser up front. This was a common activity during drafting class. No shortage of erasers and so they were always flying here and there. I never engaged in eraser throwing as I thought it childish, but would occasionally laugh when someone got winged a good one.

I must have had a brain fart that day as an eraser landed on my table, having been thrown forward from the back row. Without looking up I just tossed it lightly forward, over the desk in front of me, toward the front row. This was one of those mistakes you do not understand until it is too late. I did not realize at the very same time I tossed my eraser forward someone behind me sent a very hard eraser zinging forward, clipping the right ear of Jim Wall, who was sitting in the front row, also on the end. Jim Wall was on the varsity football team, went about 6’2″ and 200 lbs…solid muscle. It was painfully obvious to me later on he was not the kind of kid to think things out before jumping into action….in other words a dum-dum.

He was in the first row on the end, I was in the third row on the end. A quick leap of the five yards and he was all over me. I believe he played defensive end or tackle so that kind of jump and attack was second nature to him. As I said I was all about doing my work and was totally focused on my drawing. The next thing I remember was waking up in the Principal’s office. He sucker punched me and knocked me out cold.  He hit me with my head down and I never saw anything. It was a brutal punch and he is lucky it did not kill me…. I was lucky it did not kill me. It was all so very humiliating.

 A cowardly act if ever there was one….I was sent home and suspended for throwing erasers. He was suspended for fighting and defending himself. There apparently was no one in the class willing to challenge the story Jim Wall told Mr. Hickman and the Principal.  He also had going for him his status as a star player on the football team.

Justice? My dad got on me for causing problems in class. Geez…what a nightmare it was for me. I had a black eye and bruised jaw that marked me for at least a month, if not longer. I do not recall when this occurred in the school year but I do remember daily wanting to kick the crap out Jim Wall. I was always looking for just the right opportunity to give him pay back. You know, walk up when he was talking to a girl or eating his sandwich in the cafeteria and sucker punch him a good one. 

My table partner and good friend, Steve Shoemaker, said when Wall was hit in the ear he was out of his seat, back to the third row, and swinging, before anyone knew what happened. Why he thought I threw the eraser that zinged him I do not know. Maybe he saw my arm move out of the corner of his eye when I sent the light toss forward. I was the victim of an unfortunate coincidence and mistaken identity. As a skinny kid who played on the basketball team, I was 6′ and maybe went, maybe 150 lbs. with my winter coat and boots on.

The rest of that year I could never reach down and find the courage to return the favor to Jim Wall. It haunted me all through high school and you know, to this day, it is one of those stupid childhood regrets we seem to never be able to let go. I so wish I would have sucker punched him back….but maybe that would not have ended well for me….High School sucked…

Feel Better Geno…at least the guy got cut from the team. Mk