Fat Boys are Back … and J.P. is Under Attack! (Part 4 of 4)

Posted: August 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

After admitting to all the beatings, fear, and, humiliation, what I’m about to share is actually the most difficult part of this whole story.

There’s no way I can even think about it – much less write it – without crying. Yes … you read that right. I’ve done it many times in my life and for many different reasons. I’m so far beyond fearing being laughed at or shamed, so I have no problem admitting it here for all the world to see. (Quite literally.) While it’s not something I do every day, it is something that happens when I’m overwhelmed with emotions, pain and, most importantly, empathy for others. I was certain that I was going to do it when I sat down and told my wife the entire story of the Fat Boys ordeal, yet I didn’t. I’m only now brought to tears because I look back on all that I’ve been through and think about the future … and what it might mean for my son.

For those who don’t know, my 5-year-old son is Autistic and non-verbal. While he has certain ways of communicating with us when he wants to eat, play, or go swimming, he in effect does not speak. He is a very pure and rather innocent and naïve child who doesn’t have it in him to hurt other people … nor does he have it in him to defend himself if he were forced to do so. Looking back on all the horrible things that have happened to me and how deeply and profoundly they’ve wounded me, I’m utterly terrified at the thought of what affects these or similar incidents would have upon him. Just the simple thought of it brings me to tears, and my eyes are now filled with them as I continue to type this.

Simple acts of schoolyard bullying would likely traumatize my son, as I can only assume he isn’t able to defend himself. I can also assume he has little to no coping mechanisms to help him make sense out getting pushed to the ground and kicked by two brothers at a bus stop. Or being smashed in the head with a loaded book-bag. Or nearly having his nose nearly broken by a bully so jacked up on anabolic steroids that he looked like a less reasonable version of the Incredible Hulk. (All of these happened to me.) And what about the more severe incidents, such as being jumped by a group of people? Or shot in a drive-by? (Again, I’ve suffered both.) How would my son make sense of these atrocities if they happened to him?

Can I tell you that these are the thoughts that race through my mind while I stroke his blond hair as he sleeps in his bed? Dare I mention that tears roll down my face in torrents as I do? Because I can’t help but to worry about these things because I’ve been scarred by SO much in this life, and the memory of it has been permanently burned into my brain. (See my future blog on the “Shame/Pain Matrix.) The thoughts of these things have made me say to my wife, “I don’t care if Johnny lives with us forever; in fact, I hope he does. He doesn’t ever have to leave, as far as I’m concerned.” And let me tell you, I mean it!

There’s something I didn’t include in the previous Fat Boys posts, and it’s the proverbial “elephant in the room” that no one has dared discuss. Suffice to say, after the ordeal was over, I promptly stripped my high-tops of their fat, neon laces and replaced them with the original thin, white laces. I then gathered all my hip hop records – Newcleus, RUN-DMC, and the Wild Style soundtrack – and put them in a box, then pushed that box to the darkened corner of a closet in our basement. (They still remain there to this day.) Lastly, I got rid of all my big cardboard boxes that had seen countless backspins, centipedes, and windmills. My friends could continue on their path of being “down,” but this honky had all the hip hop he could handle. My friend “The Dude” said it best when he opined, “Just because you’re interested in something doesn’t mean it’s interested in you.” Truer words were never spoken.

While all that might be good for me, how can I keep my child from making the same mistakes I did? How can I keep him from placing himself in similarly dangerous situations? How can I protect him and keep him safe at all times?

I can’t.

That’s the simple truth. All I can do is try to communicate with him and someday teach him about the foolish things his father did … and that he shouldn’t do under any circumstances. I also cannot neglect or ignore him, because doing so would prevent me from seeing if he were headed down a path that puts him in danger much as his father did throughout his own teenage years. Which brings us to the very obvious elephant in the room … What kind of world will Johnny be living in when he’s older? How will he, with his blond hair, fair skin, and blue eyes, be perceived by those who don’t look like him? Will he be accepted? Or will he be nothing more than a symbol of everything they’ve been taught to hate? And if so, will they lash out at him? Hurt him? Try to kill him as others have tried to kill his father?

The sad and utterly terrifying answer to that question is … “yes.”

While some reading this might feel the need to label what I’m saying with the latest buzzword or “ism,” I could care less. I’ve grown numb to all that. Those words get tossed around so carelessly and recklessly these days that they’ve lost their all meaning. But while you’re busy sticking me with your labels, I’ll remind you that I’ve seen your posts. I’ve read you’re hate-filled ravings about everything from Iggy Azalea’s alleged “cultural appropriation” to the crime rates and demographics in major American cities. Everyone’s crying for an “honest discussion” about this topic, yet no one on either side wants to hear the reality of someone else’s perspective. Instead, they just want to deliver a lecture or even a sermon … one that reinforces their narrative, strengthens their prejudices and validates their ignorance, anger, and frustration.

I want no part of that.

So if you’re here for your pound of flesh, you’ve come to the wrong place because I’m going to take it for you. Yes, I admit it. It was me, J.P. Ribner … I’m the one who got hit at the Fat Boys concert. Go ahead and laugh. Tell me what a stupid cracka I was for going somewhere I didn’t belong. Or tell me I should’ve been listening to “our” music. Say whatever the fuck you want because I don’t care anymore. All I care about is my wife, son, and stepsons … and my close circle of family and friends. I just want to do whatever I can to keep myself and all of them safe and try to enjoy everything that this short life has to offer.

To me, this whole thing is rather black-and-white: I don’t have the time or the inclination for anyone’s hate.

  1. Kymm says:

    JP I think that what we go thru as kids helps to prepare us for when we have kids of our own. You did an amazing job putting it out there like that! I cried right here with you.. Your family is truly lucky to have you 🙂

  2. tracielynn71 says:

    Incredible JP! I loved it, and I respect you immensely for sharing something so personal. You have truly touched me, and again I am so thankful for your friendship.

  3. Mama S says:

    JP , I was so overwhelmed by your thoughts I had to leave me PC and compose myself. I could relate to your concerns whole heartedly. Let me explain.. I had the honor of growing up with a handicapped, older sister R . As a young child growing up , I really didn’t know how special she was. In the beginning , I totally accepted that R required more attention , patience and compassion then me. Guarding her from any “evil doers” was a normal task for me . As time went by I experienced shame, resentment , fears and anger that R seemed to be loved more then me. Given to her ‘ prim donna” status, I wanted her gone. I was in the 9th grade at the time… However, my bias fears ended one day when she did the most amazing gesture of LOVE towards me . (that’s another story) Needless to ay, that one gesture validated all my years of seemingly personal sacrifices . R died 40yrs ago and still I miss her dearly. To this day JP, whenever I see “particular ” children or adults my heart swells with pride for them…Living in Az, I volunteered on programs that work with Autistic kids and I have never found a more rewarding experience since. These children have so much love to give once you earn their trust….And yes, TRUST is their greatest character. They seem to have a God given sense of judging . Others don’t always comprehend Autistic behavior . Therefore they shun them, which is their LOSS . It’s amazing how an Autistic child displays their happiness and free will.. I wish everyone could to experience this . Your son is so blessed to have you such a responsible , dedicated family . Knowing the evils out there ,I know that you will keep him safe as humanly possible. He will flourish JP…

    • johnribner13 says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Mama S, and thank you for sharing so much about your sister and yourself. It’s funny … I did this blog to help people better understand me, but I think I’m the one who’s gaining a greater understanding of everyone I know. Keep reading!

      • Mama S says:

        JP, I didn’t mean to be insensitive or minimize the horrific traumas you suffered. Sharing your most inner emotions through this story was humane . I am so proud of you JP. Plus, most don’t have the courage to “out ‘ themselves so openly and honestly… Which only confirms my admiral assessment of you. Because of your past , I honestly think you understand what life priorities matter most now. I see all your strengths through your writings , your character, your ethics , your morals and your love for family . And yes, your writings did help me personally . You have a rare quality JP, a natural way with words that inspires others to see , feel and “THINK”..I pray you take comfort in knowing how much you are truly appreciated . Thank you and keep writing !

      • johnribner13 says:

        I would never for one moment think of you as insensitive nor minimizing my trauamas, Mama S. You’ve been extremely supportive of my writing from the very beginning and it’s been a comfort to me thus far. I thank you for all the kind words and encouragement you continue to share and I look forward to providing you with more of my writing, which you love so much.

  4. Thank you for visiting my blog- do hope all your children have positive experiences in and out of school. FYI the Beach Boys and the Fat Boys performed together- black and white sharing a love of truly great talent and music- Ok – there are always people who perpetuate problems- but if you have a minute scoot on over to utube and hear the two bands performing- maybe it will replace a sad memory with a more positive one.

    I hope that the support system you find as Johnny moves through school is solid.
    best of luck.
    Ali in Toronto

  5. Thank you for visiting my blog- do hope all your children have positive experiences in and out of school. FYI the Beach Boys and the Fat Boys performed together- black and white sharing a love of truly great talent and music- Ok – there are always people who perpetuate problems- but if you have a minute scoot on over to utube and hear the two bands performing- maybe it will replace a sad memory with a more positive one.

    I hope that the support system you find as Johnny moves through school is solid.
    best of luck.
    Ali in Toronto

    (to clarify- did not mean you, John, when noting there will always be people who perpetuate problems-)
    had posted the above without the p.s. when realized clarity was called for

    • johnribner13 says:

      No worries. I didn’t think you were talking about me. LOL And yeah, I well remember the Fat Boys/Beach Boys duo from back in the day. My only problem with it was the song was “Wipeout” and the Beach Boys never did that song. #musicnerd

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