My grandpa was a firm believer in words and thoughts. He often said, “If people could think their way out of a paper bag, there would be no wars.”
What paper bags had to do with wars, I never quite knew, but for a very long time I repeated that thought mostly to my classmates who nodded solemnly as if I had spoken great wisdom. Of course, Gar Parker, my nemesis, had to ask: “What’s that mean?”
I hitched myself up to my 4’7” and looked him firmly in his freckled nose and said: “It’s self-evident.”
He laughed. “You don’t know, do you?”
I pushed him. “I do so. It’s about wars and paper bags. I said so, didn’t I?”
He laughed harder and then had the audacity to pull one of my braids. I reared back and hit him with all of my might, which hurt me, probably more than him, although he did go sprawling on his backside and I had the momentary pleasure of seeing the tallest boy in class hunkering down, momentarily, in front of me. I didn’t know what to expect, certainly not the smile that appeared as his hand slid over his cheek.
“You hit hard for a girl,” he said.
Unfortunately for me, Miss Council saw me hit Gar and marched me to the Principal Cartwright’s office.
Later that evening, grandpa said: “Do not conquer your enemies, become one with them.”
The throb in my knuckles made those words sound like very good advice indeed. “He’s not an enemy, grandpa, he’s just a boy.”
Grandpa grinned. “One of those, eh? Now that’s much more work than an enemy.”
“But soon you’ll have him eating out of your hand.”
“He’s a boy, not a dog.”
“Semantics, my dear, semantics.”