The original and still the best.  “The Karate Kid” has Ralph Macchio playing a teen who moves from Jersey to Cali because his mom took a job in the sunny state.  On the first night in Cali, he meets and befriends a very young Elizabeth Shue at a beach party.  Unfortunately for Macchio, Shue’s ex-boyfriend appears with his goon squad of 4 dudes.  Even more unfortunate for Macchio is that the ex-b/f and his goon squad are karate students — and they’re pretty good, too.  Adding to Macchio’s misfortunes is the fact that the ex and his goons go to the same High School as Shue and Macchio.   The beach party ends with Macchio trying to defend Shue’s honor after she and the ex have a spat.  Macchio seriously gets his ass kicked and ends up face down on the sand for a few minutes; and all this leads to one bullying incident after another, with each incident being more serious than the previous incident.

But fear not, as hope appears in a diminutive Asian played by Pat Morita!  Morita plays an Okinawan who is the super at the apartment building  that Macchio lives in.  Oh, Morita is also a karate expert (“father teach”).  After seeing all the troubles the boy has with the karate bullies, Morita decides to help Macchio learn karate so he can defend himself, have balance in his life, and get the cute, blonde girl with the big boobies (Shue).  Of course, Morita gets his cars washed and waxed, his house painted, his floors sanded, and his fence painted in the bargain!

“The Karate Kid” is a great movie about friendship, love, and how to deal with the tough and common issue of bullying in a spiritually and physically healthy way (sort of).  There are many good values that are taught in this movie.  For example: when Morita tells Macchio that karate is in the head and heart, never in the guts.   Another example is the scene when Morita tells Macchio that his bullies do what they do because the bullies are taught by a bad teacher; that there is no such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher (“teacher say, student do”).   That last example sounds good, but I know it’s b.s.  There are some evil bastards out there who love doing bad things to people regardless of how many times they are told not to.  Anyway…

One memorable, movie moment of “The Karate Kid” is the scene when Macchio visits a drunken Morita.  Morita, dressed in a 1940s Army uniform, reveals that while he was fighting the Germans during WW II, his wife died of complications during childbirth.  She was held in a concentration camp in the U.S., and there was no doctor available to help save her life and the life of the baby.  Another sad chapter in the history of this country of ours.

My most memorable, movie moment is the scene when Macchio is running from the 5 bullies, and he almost makes it over the fence to the safety of his apartment building, and the bullies take him down and beat the hell out of him.  Morita appears from the shadows, jumps down from the fence, and within seconds destroys the bullies.  That scene gets my heart pumping every time I see it.   Bad guys getting what they deserve — I love it.

I don’t know what percentage of kids get bullied, but I’m willing to bet large sums that the majority of kids are bullied at some point in their lives.  I happen to be one of them.  Before you start feeling sorry for me, let me tell you that I’ve been on both sides of the fence.   When I was in grade school, I bullied two very nice, shy girls at different times.  The first was this tall girl named Donette.  She came to my class mid year, I think.  She didn’t know any of us and kept to herself, and I started making fun of her.  Why?  Because I could, and I was a jerk.  She was very dark-skinned, and one way I made fun of her was to draw a box on a piece of paper, fill in the box with black ink except for two circles, and I would say that was Donette and all you could see was her eyes.  Donette told on me and the other boys who bullied her, and the teacher had a stern conversation with us to leave her alone.  We did, but now and then I gave Donette hateful stares which I know made her feel very uncomfortable.  Eventually, she transferred to another classroom.

The second girl I bullied was Collete or Collette.  She was a short, shy, nice girl who was not pretty.  She had some kind of skin condition that looked like rashes all over her body.  Not much to look at on the outside, but now I realize that her beauty was on the inside.   Well, when you’re in grade school, and you had @*#hole tendencies like I did, you don’t see it that way.  You focus on the outside, and quickly make fun of those who don’t look “normal.”   I teased her more than I teased Donette.  I was the ringleader of the ones who bullied her almost every day (she was in our classroom).  She never fought back, physically or verbally.  She just gave me pained looks.  I knew I was hurting her, and I didn’t care.  Making fun of her was fun for me and the guys who took part.  The usual happened: stern warnings from our teacher, leading to less bullying, but we resorted to silent bullying by giving her mean stares.  Eventually, Collette transferred out of class.

And then…I went to Junior High School.  And that’s when what I dished out was handed back to me.  Some short, Hispanic dude (shorter than me!) who looked like Al Pacino started making fun of me, and it went on for about 2 very long years.  He even got a friend of his (who looked like a German dude) to join in on the fun.  Now, at some point during my stint at my JHS, I started lifting weights.  One day, German dude started making fun of me in between classes, and I got in his face — well, chest, because he was much taller — and I started yelling and cursing at him and asked him if he wanted to fight.  German dude was not only shocked but he was fearful!  He walked away, and so did I.   Hispanic Pacino still bullied me, but when German dude was with him, German dude backed off and didn’t join in.  At some point I reached my melting point with Hispanic Pacino and I started fighting him in the first floor stairwell during a class change when he started making fun of me.  I think some kids broke it up, and we went off into our respective classes.   From that point on, his bullying of me dropped about 90%.  Hey, I’ll take what I can get.

Oh, get this: Collette was also in my JHS.  And she was popular with many of the tough, black girls.  I know what you’re thinking: payback time!  Nope, she never got back at me.  She looked at me once in a while.  She remembered.  She said nothing.  And I felt bad about what I did to her.  I still do.  The same with Donette.

One day, while waiting for a bus to take me to or from High School, I saw Collette waiting at the same bus stop.  I didn’t say anything to her, but I wanted to apologize.  So I just acted like I didn’t see her.  All of a sudden she looks at me, smiles, and says “Hi, Manny.”  OMFG, I felt soooooo small — and I’m already a tiny guy.  I couldn’t believe how nice she was acting toward me, after all the crap I put her through.  We had a quick, friendly conversation, I forget about what.  And all that time I just wanted to say how sorry I was for bullying her, but I didn’t.  Then, one of us had to leave, and that was the last time I saw Collette.

I still think of Donette and Collette once in a while.   Past sins that were never rectified.  To both those women, I’m so sorry for what I have done to both of you.  You were beautiful girls, and I’m willing to bet you grew up to be beautiful women, and I hope you are living the life you wished for.

As for you bullies out there: be careful.  You have no idea the kind of hateful s*!t that goes on in the minds of those you bully.  Stuff like revenge fantasies that involves going to school with a gun and a lot of bullets.  What goes around comes around.   Absolutely, god damned right.

M

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