The long walk home...

Setting the scene: It was school year 1982-83 and I was in the 7th grade. 

7th grade

7th grade

I don’t remember how it all went down. But I started it, I suppose. 

“You better get my sunglasses back from her or else”, I said to the boy who I had let hold my sunglasses. 

We had recently returned back from a trip from Washington, D.C. I bought a pair of sunglasses that resembled a pair that Michael Jackson wore. Wearing my silver garden glove on one hand, and my pink knock off Member’s Only jacket pushed up to my elbows, the sunglasses completed the look. 

Apparently “or else” was fightin’ words. By 6th period, I heard that I was going to be in a fight after school. I called the fight?

By the end of school, there were people who weren’t riding the bus so they could walk to SEE the fight.

I had already prepared myself, though I was scared as I would be in the future when I returned home from an 11th grade trip to Daytona with a different hair color. That’s another story.

By the end of the school day I had taken my earrings off and braided up my hair into tight french braids. 

My daddy had taught me how to “box” so I wasn’t worried about my fighting skills. I was worried that my sparring partner was big. She had a sweet nickname, but for those of us who weren’t friends with her, we called her by her name which was preceded by Big. Let’s call her Big Kim.

My heart was pounding as the crowd grew larger and larger leaving the school grounds. I really was just trying to walk home, but I was leading a parade of instigators and Big Kim who didn’t usually walk home was somewhere back there. 

Ten minutes or so into our walk home the gap closed, and there she was. We were walking around in circles, talking junk, no one taking the first swing. And then someone pushed her into me and that’s how the fight started. 

Despite knowing how to box, there was a lot of clothes ripping and hair pulling. Then I landed the punch that won me the fight. Her nose was bleeding. 

The losing team separated from mine. I had all the followers who wanted to see her get beat up. We walked further away from the losers and the crowd dissipated until it was just me and my friends.  They were laughing and recalling the fight blow for blow.


Still a good ways from home we noticed that her crowd was following us. Assuming Big Kim wanted a rematch, I was scared out of my pants. She had landed a punch that made me see stars just like in the cartoons. 

As we rounded a corner, my friends allowed me to walk fast without shame. They kept up with me until we went our separate ways. One more block to go. When I was out of sight from everyone, I ran as fast as I could. When I could see my house I started walking again as if I didn’t know they were behind me. I could make it in the house before they made it to me.

That walk home from school was as long as the time I had an “F” on my report card. That’s another story.

I called my parents to check in. I told my daddy I got in a fight, he asked, “Who won?”

The next day, I could see the beginnings of a real black eye appearing. It was underneath my bottom eyelashes. I prayed that it wouldn’t spread and that no one else would see it, because that would take away my title. Fortunately it only hurt more than it ever appeared.

Here’s the thing... I can almost guarantee Big Kim didn’t catch up with me on the walk home because she didn’t want to fight me again. I didn’t ever boast about the fight because I didn’t want a rematch either.

Big Kim and I never crossed paths again. We didn’t have any classes together, we didn’t live in the same neighborhood and didn’t go to the same high school. 

What happened to the sunglasses?

Now THAT, I don’t remember. 

Kenya G. Johnson