A good friend of mine from my hometown sent me the following story today. I never knew the guy he’s talking about, but it’s a compelling story. Enjoy:
I went to school with a dude named Wayne Perry. Fat kid, not good looking. His dad was a milkman. His mom wasn’t pretty, but she was nice. He was always picked on by all – in every facet of his life. He asked for it some with his dumbness, but he wasn’t a bad sort.
He tried to hang with me and my childhood friends, and his mom was friends with ours so we were kinda forced to hang with him on occasion as 13-year-olds. I fondly remember giving him a bloody nose in a pillow fight (I had the feather pillow).
During high school, Pugsly – as he was nicknamed – never faired better. He never had a girl or even close. No girl even liked him as a friend. He played football as a freshmen, but his leg got broke, and he was really never in good enough shape anyway so he never made it. He never made good grades. He generally was an outcast everywhere. I was in Boy Scouts with him, but generally we all picked on him then too.
Now Pugsly didn’t come off low in confidence even though he had little to be confident about. He tried to stand up for himself, and usually was deemed irritating doing it. Even the teachers had little patience for Pugsly. Mr Klass, a history teacher, actually gave him the name Pugsly.
I remember as freshman running the mile at the end of the year – Pugsly ran it in a blazing 13 minutes. The whole way as he jogged, a Toyota Tercel with football players in it drove along beside him berating him the whole way. He just never got a break.
Pugsly had three younger sisters, and they did a lot better. Their parents even treated them better. I remember Christmas, Santa looked after the sisters very well. They had toys and love. Pugsly (no genius, as before stated) got one present. It was the big thing for a gift back in ’84 – Trivial Pursuit, if you get the picture. Him getting that was like giving a blind man a picture book. I remember riding the school bus with him, and as he got off, all the kids calling him names thru those slit windows on the bus.
Understand, Pugsly never spent time feeling sorry for himself, he just tried to get along in a society that hated fat, irritating people. When in freshman algebra class, someone brought in one of those huge copper pennies. The ones that are the size of your hand; I have seen them at convenience stores. Looks just like a real penny, cept it weighs a half-pound. Well, as it was passed around and everyone was saying how neat it was, Wayne Perry blurted out “you can tell it aint real!” That was Wayne.
Also, I remember once, there was a teacher’s lounge with a drink machine. In those days, no student could go buy a can drink from it, it was off limits, but having a can drink on the bus ride home was like a great thing. Well, Wayne had snuck in, and purchased two drinks and hid them in his book bag. In our afternoon class with Mr. Klass, a mean Catholic school-brought-up type guy, Wayne had the book bag under his seat. Right before school let out, for some reason – call it Wayne’s luck – one of the can drinks burst and leaked allover the floor. We all waited for Mr. Klass, a famously mean dude to literally beat wayne with a pointer stick, but Mr Klass had to even laugh at the poor Wayne Perry luck.
Wayne was the type – at least as a adult – that was gentle, and would give a guy the shirt off his back. You get a flat tire? Wayne would stop and fix it probably. Fast forward, after high school. Pugsly got a job driving a cement truck. I saw him on the road once in a while, and he would blow that horn and wave. He was a friendly guy in the face of all the crap he went thru. He had no grudges as an adult, just a desire to fit in and be happy.
I never talked to him much after high school. I then heard he had met up with a chick. She was about 10 years older than us. She already had two kids. She was big, and not pretty, I heard. The people that told me about her also told me of her nickname, The Ghela Monster. That’s the name of those poisonous big, orange dessert lizards. I saw her, and with her red cheeks and thick glasses, I kinda understood the Ghela Monster moniker.
Well, I heard the consistent rumors of Pugsly being happy. Pugsly and the Ghela Monster then had a child together. I could nearly see Pugsly showering his child with the love and affection he never really got as a kid. I knew he was happy. I looked forward to seeing him at the 10-year class reunion back in ’97. I wanted to know him 10 years after school, and make sure he knew I was his friend. I wanted to, at least, myself show him some decency and compassion that I never had, nor seen done to him.
I never got the chance.
In that summer of ’96, Pugsly was at a softball game for one of his young stepkids. He was out there volunteering when he fell from a massive heart attack. He died out on that field that day at age 28. I never had the chance to say I was sorry for never being a better friend or human.
Well, today on his birthday, Jan 25th, I can’t help but think of Pugsly – a.k.a. Wayne Perry. I know my friend is in heaven.
Live life daily, and treat people with humanity, cause one day you won’t be able to go back.