VICKI'S VIEW: The James and Roy duel


By Vicki Brown

I was in the fifth grade and thrilled to death. James and Roy were in love with me.

It was a beautiful spring day and school was going well in the Elementary School in Mableton, Georgia. My mother had insisted I get a “cute little haircut”, so I ended up as a Beatles look alike.

For some reason and on the same day, I got a love note from James, and one from Roy. Now, truly, I couldn’t have cared less. I was in love with David Forbes, but he didn’t know I was alive. He liked some little blonde girl. So, feeling piqued, I decided to go along with the James and Roy thing.

That year had been a tough one so far. Darlene had fallen off the swing set and landed on her hands and knees. Unfortunately, her dress flew up over her head, and everyone could see she had a hole in her underwear. My teacher got married and left for parts unknown, and Ms. Ragsdale came to be our teacher. She hated my handwriting.

To make matters worse, I desperately wanted a pair of saddle oxford shoes. They had just come into style and I wanted them so much. Daddy said no, the white parts would stay dirty, and the shoes would leave blisters on my heels. Sigh. He was probably right.

So, to have James and Roy want to fight over little ole me…(insert a southern Scarlett O’Hara accent here) well, it was just what I needed to improve my year.

Now, Roy had bright red hair and freckles. He was skinny and had two prominent upper front teeth. We weren’t meant to be…somehow I just knew it.

But James required some thinking. I’m not sure, but I think he wanted to be an Elvis lookalike. He wore white t-shirts with the sleeves rolled up, one containing a pack of playing cards. He greased and slicked back his black hair, wore jeans with the legs rolled up into a cuff, and black high-topped converse sneakers. He kept his pencil short and put it behind his ear…like a cigarette. His dad rode a motorcycle and was a mechanic. Every Friday during free time, James brought his dad’s records to school, and we played 45s of “Hey Jude” and “Get Back” by the Beatles, and “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones. We all thought James was cool, but I was kind of scared of his family.

But all of that paled into comparison when I had two men who wanted to fight over me.

So during recess that day, we all made our way out to the grassy area near our classroom. I had told most of the girls in class about the situation (of course) so there was quite a crowd waiting to see who would win me. It was enough to make me swoon.

Well, things didn’t go like I thought they would. At first, James was just talking trash to Roy, telling him that he was going to beat him up and leave him bleeding in the dirt, after breaking his arm….blah, blah, blah. Roy snarked back, and the argument just kept going. I was just beginning to get impatient when James suddenly picked up a rather large stick lying nearby. Now we were getting somewhere.

James began hitting the stick against the tree over and over as an attempt at intimidation. But suddenly, as James struck the tree, the end of the stick broke off, flying through the air and smacking Roy in the nose. Blood gushed.

Gasping in shock, James dropped the stick and ran to Roy asking if he was hurt and exclaiming that he didn’t mean to hurt him. Wrapping his arm around Roy, James led him indoors to the teacher to get medical help and pleading for forgiveness the whole way.

And there I stood. What happened? Now just a doggoned minute! I had been on top of the world! Before the “fight” I felt beautiful! I had felt like a dang princess! Now I was just standing there feeling stupid. I blinked and looked around. All the girls stood there staring back at me. Feeling like an idiot, I dropped my head and slowly followed the boys indoors. I wanted to be sure I didn’t end up getting thrown under the bus by the two enemies who were now best buddies. But no, I had been forgotten.

I learned a lot that day: Boys stick up for each other, love in the fifth grade doesn’t last very long, and dueling on the playground rarely goes as planned. But I was glad about one thing…at least I wasn’t Darlene.


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