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A few years ago, I found out that a majority of my breathing issues (or snoring if we want to be blunt) was possibly due, in part, to having a deviated septum. I wrote a little bit about that here. And it has bothered me ever since, because while I talked in my sleep when I was younger (okay, yes, I admit it, I talked all of the time), I did not snore. Snoring is for old men and obese people and should I fall into either of those two categories then it is for people who are not me. And so I’ve gone over my life with a fine tooth comb to try to figure out the HOW of this truth that plagues my adult life and I think that I finally have an answer.

I grew up in a great area in Toronto in the 70’s and 80’s. Widely referred to as The Beaches, it was and still is, in all actuality, The Beach. At the time it was a true community, it was safe, we were free to roam the streets (‘be back when the street lights come on!’) and aside from the occasionally keyed car or ripped off car stereo, there was very little violent crime to worry about in our little corner of Hogtown.

But that is not to say that we weren’t forced to contend with some bad seeds. It wasn’t Utopia after all and not everyone was friends, even if we all knew or knew of one another, we certainly didn’t all play nicely together.

Both my parents worked, so I went to Kew Beach P.S. rather than the much closer Williamson Road P.S. because Kew offered before and after-school daycare on site. And it was while attending Kew, that I am fairly certain that my flawlessly functional, straight and perfect septum was mangled. Here’s what happened.

1983. In the fourth grade, there was a boy in my class who was not like the rest. He was kind of, well, bad. He had strawberry blond hair, a face full of freckles and a glint in his eye that told us that a) he’d rather set fire to his desk than clean it out, b) he was just putting in time until he was old enough to go to prison and c) he was always just about to ruin someone’s day. I’ll call him Malcolm, but only because that was his name.

One afternoon during recess I was running around playing with my usual group of girl friends and Malcolm and some other boys decided that it would be fun to chase us. They chased and we ran away. We ran all around the giant climbing apparatus (that no doubt has now been deemed far to dangerous for kids to play on and replaced with something padded or made of feathers) when Malcolm grabbed my best friend, Jeannette, by the arm and swung her around. She screamed, and you have to understand that Jeannette was little. She didn’t have a spare ounce on her frame. She was no match for him. So I charged over there determined to protect her and free her from his dirty, grubby, mean nail-bitten hands. I grabbed his wrist, yelled ‘Let her GO!” and then, before I knew what was happening, WHACK!

Malcolm threw a punch at me, aimed with a precision that only comes with experience, and his grime-smeared fist connected with my nose straight on. I fell with a THUD on my ass and the shock of what had just happened brought all the surrounding playground activity to a dead stop. Then he took off. He just ran. As though I or anyone else was going to chase him. Um, no, I was fairly certain that I was about to die. From either the complete humiliation or blunt force trauma.

I’m still not sure what happened to Malcolm for his savage assault on my nose that day. I do not remember many consequences ever following his demented behaviour, other than a teacher screaming at him and sending him out into the hallway (seen by him as permission to rifle through his classmates coats, I can only guess), but I assume that someone bought him a puppy or ice cream or something. As for me? The principal (Mrs. Boucher), called my mom who was understandably and appropriately pissed off, but much to  my horror, I had to stay at school anyway. For the rest of the afternoon, I kept touching my face with tentative finger tips, waiting for it to ‘look’ different to my touch. Instead it just felt tender and bruised, but to my touch, I still looked the same, just my sparkle was somewhat diminished.

And then I noticed that my mouth did not want to work right anymore. I could no longer bite down with any pressure. Just great. And with my jaw locked from the impact, I was unable to eat my dinner that night.

So, while ass-wart Malcolm was eating ice cream and playing with his new puppy, or killing the neighbour’s cat or whatever, I sat at the dinner table in my semi-detached Beach home woefully not eating my dinner and crashing into a crater of self pity that only a ten-year-old girl could dig. To hit a girl was a mortal sin and we all knew it (even though we were not Catholic something about concept of SIN was just irresistible and we labelled transgressions ‘sins’ with a quiet respect that we could not explain) but to take away the fat kid’s ability to eat dinner was just wrong. That is what he did that day, he hit a girl and deprived the fat kid of dinner. Guilty as charged on both counts. Oh, and I think that he deviated the fuck out of my septum.

I am no longer upset about missing that meal, to be honest I don’t remember what Mum served that night, but I am still grieving the loss of my straight-as-an-arrow-air-just-flies-through-like-a-hot-knife-through-butter septum and dealing with the jaw-popping, headache inducing TMD that I’m pretty sure is also courtesy of Malcolm’s right hook. Oh, and that bff who I was defending? She was more like a bff until junior high. More accurately termed, she was a bffn (best friend for now). After we graduated from the sixth grade and started at Glen Ames Sr. P.S., we barely muttered ‘hi’ to each other in the halls and now, for the past almost twenty years, we’ve had no contact at all. Totally not worth taking a shot in the face for, I’d say.

Moral of the story? Defend and stand up for those who need your help, but if you’re going to take a life-altering shot in the face for them, get some kind of pinkie swear that they really will be your friend forever or else let them take their own damned lumps.

Malcolm is not in the middle, but he is in this class picture. As am I. Except that my septum is blissfully unaware that it's straight days are numbered and soon it will be bent as fuck.
Malcolm is not in the middle, but he is in this class picture. As am I. Except that my septum is blissfully unaware that its straight days are numbered and soon it will be bent as fuck.

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