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True or false: Fighter or prankster? by Rhonda Bulmer

Rhonda Bulmer, from New Brunswick, takes Lawrence Hill's first writing challenge and tells us one tall tale and one true story. 

Which one do you believe: the story of her first fist fight or that she was a member of Pranksters United? Let us know in the comments below!

UPDATE: Scenario #1 is the true story describing Rhonda Bulmer's first and last fistfight. 

Scenario # 1

It was late winter, and lunchtime break was just coming to a close. We were all lined up together on the steps leading to our grade six classroom, a portable add-on to a small grade school. The boys were jostling around, and Debbie was right in the middle of it. She had short auburn hair, brown eyes and lots of freckles. She could handle herself around boys, too. 

I wasn’t enjoying the boisterous fun. I liked to stand still, especially since that was the rule—stand still, be quiet, wait to be let in. Though I tried to avoid the pushing, pulling and swaying, Debbie managed to elbow me and it hurt. I don’t know why I reacted so quickly, maybe I was just frustrated. I pushed her back—hard—and I wasn’t being playful. So the humour faded from her face, too.

And then I realized: I was about to experience my first (and last) fist fight.

“Woah,” came the delicious rise of anticipation from the boys.

I remember my stomach caving in around Debbie’s fist. It was painful and drove the air out of my mouth. And I remember my knuckles meeting her jaw in flailing fashion, ‘cause let’s face it, I didn’t know what I was doing.

It didn’t go on very long. The teacher opened the door and we were promptly punished after school. Lines, I think, sitting beside one another in silence.

When the teacher left the room, Debbie lifted a hand to massage her jaw and leaned toward me. “I think I’m gonna lose a tooth,” she whispered.

“Sorry,” I mumbled. “My stomach hurts, if that makes you feel better.”

She turned back in her seat. “Kind of.”

We were pretty good friends after that.


Scenario # 2

I’m finally ready to admit it. I was a member of Pranksters United in grade 12.  We each took turns pulling an anonymous, innocent prank on a teacher once a month. Though I was a timid little thing, I have to say that it really brought me out of my shell.

Mr. Matheson, for example—the most boring history teacher in the history of teaching. He talked in a soft, monotone voice, the kind that hypnotizes you with the message, “just go to sleep, because I’ve been reciting the same crap for 35 years and quite frankly, I’m retiring next year.”

Mr. Matheson had a stereo system in his office and one day, we switched a recording of one of Hitler’s World War II speeches for a cassette recording of someone snoring. When he hit play in the middle of class, the confused look on his face was hilarious, but I think the subtle message was lost on him.

When my turn came round, my victim was Mr. Burns, our English teacher. He was fond of Shakespeare and the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was in a wheelchair after developing multiple sclerosis a few years prior, but he still had a pretty good sense of humour. My idea was to photocopy a poster of The Bard, gave him some black teeth and a speech bubble above his head that read “Toronto sucketh.”

The problem was, how to stick the poster on the back of his wheelchair? During silent work, I approached him at his desk for help and while posing a question, managed to stick the poster on the chrome frame of his wheelchair with one hand.  He wheeled around with it all afternoon before somebody pointed it out.

I could tell you who the other members of Pranksters United are…but then they’d have to kill me. Or give me a wedgie.

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