Friday, March 16, 2012

How Iño the Cat Saved Me from the Playground Bully

Back in my earliest memories of growing up in New Jersey, long before my family decided to trade the frozen tundra of the North for sunny mosquito-and-humidity-ridden Miami, I used to have a cat plushie that I christened Iño the Cat.

If you are wondering how to pronounce Iño, it's Ee-nyoh. I credit his Spanish-sounding name to the fact that Spanish was my first language. This is perfectly normal when you are under the age of five and are surrounded by said language because your parents speak Spanish, and their neighbors speak Spanish, and your parents' friends speak Spanish, and your cousins, uncle and godparents speak Spanish and the Disney Channel is in English (hey, I had to learn my native tongue somewhere).

Iño wasn't even mine to begin with. He belonged to one of my older cousins, but from the moment my toddler self laid eyes on him, I knew that it was love at first sight. I began bouncing like a caffeinated rubber ball chanting "Iño, Iño, Iño!"



What did that mean?

That meant that I had a new toy. My little arms clutched tightly to his velvet texture and squeezed into his fluffy body with deep admiration. He was so soft and inviting, and I was never going to let him go.


Iño and I were nearly inseparable. Ours was a great love story. We were like peas and carrots. Cookies and milk. Peanut butter and jelly. PG Tips and milk. Escargots and parsley garlic butter sauce. Lechon asado and arroz moros.

(Is it just me, or are the best pairing examples often food-related? Either that or I must be hungry.)

The peculiar aspect of Iño the Cat was that he was, in reality, a Felix the Cat doll. You remember Felix the Cat, doncha? The black cat that has a yellow magic bag of tricks?

(I would so carry a yellow purse marked with crosses and dots.)

But in my hands, Felix the plushie was no longer Felix. He was Iño. My parents tried, to no avail, to correct my mistake by saying that my new toy's name was "el gato Felix" and not "Iño."





Their adult reasoning was no match for my toddler vociferousness. He was Iño the Cat, not Felix, and that was that; they accepted it. Persistence triumphs over logic.

Anyway, the only vulnerable moments in which Iño and I were separated were when my mother washed him and when I would go to the park to hang out in the playground. I've been told by people older than myself that I was a fairly amiable and sensitive child who could at times be hyperactive but had an overall pleasant demeanor. In other words, these wholesome traits made me bully fodder and I was highly susceptible to accept any invitations to be abused by the neighborhood playground tyrants.

And I was.

I don't remember his name, but for the purpose of this post, I'll refer to him as "Dickwad the III."

Dickwad the III was your average bully, the despotic kind that because of his bulky stature and questionable personal life feels the need to belittle others to give himself a false sense of superiority. I also suspect that his anger was fueled due to his lack of some decent-sized "manhood."



Since he was far too young to purchase a gigantic car to compensate for his minuscule genitals, it was unfortunate for everyone that Dickwad the III sought out to justify his dominion when he crowned himself king of the slide, see-saw and swing set. Woe unto me when I invaded "his" territory.







Poor sensitive me ran away in a flood of tears. His treatment towards me was unjust and unmerited and I couldn't understand why he would abuse me in this manner. Some adults suspected that he may have had a crush on me, but who were they kidding? That couldn't be possible; he called me dumb. No one says that to me and gets away with it. But how was I going to face him when he could easily overpower me with his pinky?

I had a revelation. I couldn't bring myself to vanquish this bully, but I knew someone who could.

In my child's imagination, Iño could accomplish anything because he was the Honey Badger of stuffed toys (he didn't give a shit). Iño would help me face Dickwad the III because he was my guardian, my sentinel and, most importantly, my valiant friend.





Under Iño's protective aura, I had the resolve to face my playground nemesis. Nothing was going to stop me  from seeking justice.

The following day, my mother took us to the neighborhood playground. I searched the area until I spotted Dickwad the III traumatizing some smaller kids over by the swings. I couldn't take his arrogance any longer. Holding Iño at arm's length like a shield, he and I charged like the pair of enraged banshees we were and confronted Dickwad the III's tyranny head-on!









You gotta face your problems directly, folks. It helps to make your opposition scared straight because you went right after them with a high-pitched war cry and shook a cat plushie in their face.

Let it be known that from that moment on, Dickwad the III knew better than to mess with the little girl on the playground. I will never forget Iño's act of bravery. To this day, whenever I see Felix the Cat in stores, I brush a tear from my eye, reminiscing about that one glorious, fateful day when my cherished Iño beat up a boy who was much bigger than I was.

Barb the French Bean

25 comments:

  1. Hahahhah this is absolutely fantastic! YAAY FOR Iño! A real hero!

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    1. I sometimes think he merited his own ticker tape parade. ^.^

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  2. Do you still have Iño? I want a cat like that!

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    1. I still have him, but he has since retired to a hidden spot that I can't find in the house. He IS a cat, after all.

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  3. LOL - this was like an epic tale of victory for the underdog (or cat int his case) Like Rocky - only better! xx

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  4. I was reading while hung over and waiting for a delayed train but it was so funny and cute that it made my day.

    Iño is so cool.

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    1. Glad to hear that, Stu! ^.^

      So how bizarre was it to read this post with beer goggles?

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  5. I love the line that persistence triumphs over logic. It really does. I'm glad you stuck up for yourself, or your stuffed cat did. Either way the guy learnt not to mess with you and your rabid cat. That could thankfully never be put down.

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    1. Yeah. You wouldn't think it, but quite a number of bullies are pushovers at heart. It only takes one person (or maybe ten) to stand up to them.

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  6. hahahahaha this was really funny but one of the best happy endings ever. YAY you! I just tweeted 'persistence triumphs over logic' there is a truth in that.

    xx
    meinmode.blogspot.com

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  7. Wow. Reminds me of Oblio (who was banished from the Land of Point for being the only child with a round head) and his dog Arrow.

    I can only hope this is true about bullies having a crush on their victims. It means all those women being so mean to me are just playing hard to get.

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    1. If they ask you for your credit card information, DON'T GIVE IT TO THEM.

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  8. I'm so glad this story had a happy ending! I wish every kid who was ever bullied had an awesome story like this to tell.

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    1. I do, too. If even one person who was bullied gets a smile out of my story, it will only make me feel better.

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  9. Oooooo, you're a former New Jerseyan! :D SQUEAL! Which town did you live in? And did you hear about the capitol running out of toilet paper?!

    BTW, no frozen tundra up here. We haven't gotten any snow all winter. And it's been in the 60s and 70s for the past week, and we're getting set for more weather like that next week. I miss winter...

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    1. I was born in Jersey City and my family lived in Union City, where I have vague recollections of an avenue called Bergenline. We were essentially a skipping stone's throw away from New York's Manhattan, give or take a bus ride.

      And that *is* odd news to hear about having had no snow all winter. Almost as bizarre as running out of TP. o_O

      I do miss experiencing a change in the seasons. Here, it is green year-round so I don't appreciate the transition of "hot and dry" to "hot and humid" as much.

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  10. Iño sounds like he was a wonderful friend. :)

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    1. And he is. Everyone should have a friend like him.

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  11. What a great memory! "The time I kicked that bully's ass" lol. I immediately recognized the drawing as Felix the Cat but I'm glad you brought it up and not me. I wouldn't want to go up against the 'toddler vociferousness' hehe.

    Also, "Persistence triumphs over logic." Isn't that the way our society works? ;)

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    1. Yeah, pretty much! ^.^

      And you are a wise, wise woman to back away from toddler vociferousness; it is a most powerful and awesome force!

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Apparently, leaving comments on this blog is a hit-or-miss game of Russian roulette: you are either lucky and can comment away, or you are required to log in when the settings are CLEARLY set to allow trouble-free commenting (sorry 'bout that, folks). If anything, the Facebook page is always a viable option. :) -Barb