I was chased by a black mob.

It’s another of my memorable life experiences. I was in San Antonio, Texas, and in the third or fourth grade, so 9 or 10 years old. I had a friend called Kelvin Pryor. He and I were pretty good friends. We lived near each other in a development called Rainbow Hills.

I lived at 447 Maddux Drive. Kelvin lived on the street behind us, on Kernan drive, just at the loop where it turns to Berry Hill Dr.

We were over on the other side of Hunt Lane that day, just messing around with some other friends of ours. I was throwing rocks. I picked up a really big one, that I had to pick up with two hands. I started to fling it, when Kelvin ran in front of where I was throwing the rock. It hit him in the back of the head and he rolled out of the way quickly. He was bleeding from the back of the head pretty bad. Blood was flowing freely from the back of his head. I tried to get him to calm down and stay where he was while I went for help, but as soon as he put his hand on the back of his head and felt the blood, he ran for his bike and started biking home as quickly as he could, screaming and crying (naturally). Me and our other friends were following him as quickly as we could on our bikes, but Kelvin was one of the fastest kids around.

As we were following him, he finally made it into his house. We were halfway over to his house, when a crowd of his friends and family gathered around to see what happened. I tried to explain what happened, but one of our friends just said that I threw a rock at Kelvin. I couldn’t explain what happened well enough, so I said I was going home. I was pretty upset, plus now I was angry at the other kid not backing me up that it was an accident and I didn’t throw the rock deliberately at him.

As I started to ride my bike home, I heard “Get him.”

When I looked around, there was the angry mob of black children chasing after me. I booked it to my house and hid in my room for several hours. My father came in later to say that Kelvin was alright and was telling everyone that it was an accident and I didn’t do it on purpose. He told everyone that he wasn’t angry with me and they shouldn’t be either.

It was quite a memorable experience, though, being chased by 20 or more people intent on kicking your ass. I didn’t figure out until later that half of their reason for not believing it was an accident was because I was white. I honestly didn’t know about racism until some black kids taught it to me. At least it is still just an intellectual understanding of it. I know what it is, but I just can’t understand it.

When I first started to fear women.

I was in Turkey. The nice old lady who lived across the alley from us gave us some treats. These were little balls of spiced meat covered with a wheat batter of sorts. All I know is that they were delicious. I had a couple of them and was taking them with me on a trip from our apartment in downtown Adana (on the south coast) to the Air Force Base where my father was stationed.

I was going to give one to the bus driver, and eat a couple of them on the way. It was about an hour drive, with all the stops in the city and then the long drive to the base. This was a special bus that drove to the base and back to the city. Only people with business on the base could take the bus. I gave one of the balls to the bus driver, who (of course) loved them.

One of my schoolmates from the local American military school was on the bus with her mother. The were interested when the bus driver started praising the food to high heaven (yes, they were that good!) I learned quickly that the key to eating well in Turkey was to befriend the old grandmothers on the block and do them favors and run errands for them. They all had secret family recipes that tasted delicious. I seriously considered marrying a Turkish girl (I didn’t care who) because they were good looking and were proud of their housekeeping skills.

Anyway, my friend and her mom wanted to take a look at one of the balls, so I shared on with them. I figure they would split it and eat it, but no. They started analyzing it and figuring out what it was made of, what spices were in it, and how they could make it. I started to know real fear at that point. What was this black magic that they used to figure out how to make this? Also, the teamwork between mother and daughter was frightening. They would take little tastes to try and isolate one of the spices.

Here I was, a young boy of 13, finding out just how powerful and scary these women could be. That fear turned quickly to respect. I’ve always liked girls. I never went through the cooties phase. I enjoyed hanging out with them. Until that day, though, I didn’t have the kind of respect I have now. I realized that there was a whole set of skills that women have and pass down that I never even suspected.

Bottom line, I’ve always liked women. Now I like and respect them.