There was an albino at my high school. He was rumored to have had two holes in his heart and severe allergies to wheat and cotton. The holes may have been apocryphal, but the allergies were a matter of record and a source of conflict between us.

You need to understand that Colin followed the immerse/then accuse school of allergy prevention. He’d seek out the stairwell where I’d regularly eat my sandwiches, glare at the nest of crumbs surrounding me, and then damn me as a monster for my careless consumption. If approached differently I may have been more sympathetic, but what Colin lacked in pigment he made up for in belligerence[1]. On the day in question the exchange began as such.

“I could have an attack if I inhaled those” he said.

“Maybe you should shut your mouth and keep walking then” I said.

Colin just stood there, bravely risking his glutinous demise, glaring at me with his weird pink eyes.

I’m allergic to bread; I could have an attack if I breathed those crumbs” he said.

In my defense allergic=gets a little itchy to my 15 year old understanding. I thought that people who needed Epi-Pen’s for bee stings just had bad coping skills. So my careful sweeping of the breadcrumbs into my hand, and then blowing them into his face, seemed a perfectly reasonable escalation. At the time. Colin felt otherwise and tackled me.

Now I should mention that Colin, on the advice of his doctor, had been working out regularly for years, as a means of correcting the holes in his heart. He was strong, two grades older, and had a good 30lbs of muscle on me. Which he put to good use by banging my head against the floor. Repeatedly. Eventually I scrambled out from under him, squared up, and prepared to fight a mutant with a serious medical condition.

A few punches were traded and then a crowd formed spontaneously around us. Calls of

“A.J. is beating up the albino” rang through the school.

To be fair, I was at best holding my own against the albino. This did not stop several girls from shrieking insults and pelting me with garbage for my apparent bullying. The guys were more forgiving, and contented themselves by shouting hate filled encouragement and unsolicited medical diagnosis.

“Smash his face A.J.”

“Fuck the pasty bitch up”

Dude…I think he’s a hemophiliac

By this point I had secured a front headlock and wrestled Colin to the ground. I did not want to continue the fight, but felt trapped by the bloodlust of the crowd and the prospect of losing to a man so full of rage, yet potentially devoid of platelets. I needed time and information.

“Are you hemophiliac” I asked.

Colin gurgled “fuck ahhhh”.

I applied a light choke and tried to remember if hemophiliacs could die from something like that. All that came to mind were random factoids about the British monarchy. After a couple minutes of holding that position, a waning crowd still thwarting my attempts at de-escalation, a lunch duty teacher broke things up and sent me on my way with no punishment. Save the deep shame I felt for brawling with a wronged albino.


[1] A mutual friend of ours later explained Colin’s medical history to me in detail. It turns out he was both allergic to wheat and a hostile asshole that picked fights on a regular basis. I felt slightly, partially, vindicated.