It was lunchtime at Mark Twain Junior High School. I had a bench with Rex and Sander and James. I watched as the cliques formed, the college bound (which I found out surprisingly was half Jewish), the auto mechanics and plumbers, and the third group, with those that might drop out before this year was up. At the bell I had hurried to the food court to buy my lunch before I got hassled for my money by some of the third group. A percentage, somewhere in the teens, of the school was black. Black people did not reside in Brighton Beach so this was something new. I talked to a few of the kids and they seemed just like any other kids.
In seventh grade I was reading at a college level and the second school year I was named President of the academic society, the Athenians. I think it was an attempt at a cruel joke as the other students didn’t speak to me.
Eighth grade was a year of discovery. I discovered that I could hide my true feelings because some of the thugs at school became pals would me while I loathed them. They operated by creating fear in others and I considered that reprehensible. I also discovered that one could feel sexual desire. The landlord’s wife came to collect rent and she always dressed sexy at such times. For the first time in my life I felt a sexual attraction. I also loathed her because she gave Mom a hard time when she collected the rent. Sometimes we didn’t have it. I discovered politics. I volunteered to help Bobby Kennedy when he ran for President. I discovered how tremendous my Dad could be when he disagreed with me politically but would hear out my position. And I learned how terrible war could be, like the Vietnam War, how terrible bigotry was, and how desperate one could be when poor.