I’ve been doing a series of tweets for the past couple days, counting down (or up, technically) to my 40th birthday on August 20th. I’ve been using the hashtag #Countdownto40 and posting some tidbits about my life in the years leading up to now. I started with age 9 a couple days ago, and then 10 yesterday, and today is time for the age 11 tweets. (I’ve timed it so that I will reach age 40 when I reach age 40…get it?) You can read my tweets about ages 9 and 10 here via a Twitter search for #Countdownto40.

But as I “get older”, there are more things to mention, and I was already starting to blow up people’s timelines with my age 9 and 10 tweets. So I think I will be doing most of my spilling in blog posts from here on out. So here goes:

When I was 11…

…My neighbor and supposed friend Ralph Deane beat me up in my driveway while we waited for the bus one morning. (My driveway was the bus stop.) The previous day or so, I had called his sister Tammy a bitch, when she kicked at my bike as I was riding past her on the road. Ralph decided he had to defend her honor, and demanded that I apologize/take it back. I replied that she had in fact been a bitch via her action, and I stood by my words. So he punched the crap out of me in the face and stomach. (I feebly swung my arms a couple times, but Ralph was a man-child, and I was a tiny little dude. It was very much no contest.) As the bus pulled up, Ralph and Tammy got on, and I bleedingly limped my way back into the house, skipping school for the day. When I reported Ralph to my homeroom teacher Mr. Walsh the next day, Mr. Walsh just laughed. I think he was happy that I finally got some pushback for my “wise” mouth. I kind of despised him after that. And I definitely never forgave Ralph. He tried to friend me on Facebook a year or so ago. No thanks, Ralph. P.S. – Your sister was¬†being a bitch.

…I think it was 6th grade (with my birthday being in late August, age 11 is basically synonymous with 6th grade, age 12 with 7th, and so on) that had my “one sleeve up, one sleeve down” phase. I regularly wore long-sleeve dress shirts to school, and for a period of time in 6th grade, I decided to start wearing one sleeve rolled up, while leaving the other down. Why? When I was asked that by my classmates (and I was, a lot), my answer was “Why do you have both sleeves down [or up, depending on the case]?” In other words, I did it just to challenge pre-disposed notions of how things should be.* So people would have to think “Huh?” when they saw me walk by. I did that sort of thing quite a bit throughout my school years, but the one-sleeve-rolled-up thing may have been the most overt and ridiculous of all of them.

…My musical tastes finally diverged from my Mom’s and my sisters’, via a cassette of the Beatles 20 Greatest Hits album. Me and my usually-best-friend Eric Day listened to that album a bunch, and I listened to it a whole lot more on my own. I would soon start venturing into other Beatles albums, buying the LPs of Sgt. Pepper and the White Album, and getting taped copies of almost every other album they had. They became my first favorite band (and remained so until Pink Floyd displaced them a few years later).

…I’m pretty sure I won the top sales slot for my grade in the school sale, which I think was for wrapping paper that year. I won the top slot or near it 3 years running I think, and 6th grade may have been when I won a boombox as a prize for my efforts.

…I think year 11 was also when my love affair with Coca-Cola began. My mom’s boyfriend Bruce was an avid Coke drinker, and when he became a regular feature at our house, Coke became a regular feature in our refrigerator, and soon thereafter became a regular feature in my diet. It wasn’t long before I had an unhealthy addiction to/love for the beverage, which sadly continues to this day. (Though probably not for much longer.)

Other interesting things must have happened that year, but those are the highlights that come to mind. If you remember anything noteworthy that I missed, please post it in the comments. (That’s mostly for the 70+ former schoolmates on Facebook who I’ll be sharing this post with. And my mom, who subscribes to my blog. :-))

*Long before then, in first grade as I recall it, I had come to a definite conclusion about the evils of school society/peer pressure, and had decided to stand against the inherent pressure to conform, on behalf of all those who were too cowed to do so themselves. This took a lot of different forms over the years…including the uneven sleeve experiment.

Lots of fun stuff coming up tomorrow in the age 12/7th grade edition of #Countdownto40. See you then!

(I’ll probably edit this post to add a photo from back then when I get up in the morning.)