Cursed From The Start

 

9935215544_ac8477b6da_zSome young males are cursed, doomed to an early, violent demise.  I’ll leave the “profiles” to the psychologists and sociologists, but the fact is, some of us are simply ill-equipped to survive and predestined to self-destruct. I will say this: the number of human males so doomed is likely predictable, constant, and inevitable.

My parents moved our family to a small blue collar city just outside Boston when I was eight. Within a week, I’d been in a few scrapes, moving my way up the established order. I was a rugged little kid with no quit and dispatched all takers. This put me in a nearly permanent position in the “chair” in Principal Fortunato’s office at North Beverly Elementary, staring at the clock long after everyone else had been dismissed for the day. One day, after my eventual dismissal, I walked out of school to find a bunch of kids waiting for me. I’d reached the end of the line; Timmy wanted to settle things.  Timmy was a problem child: smart and athletically gifted, but reckless, unruly, surly, and unrepentant. I was selected as his next victim, somewhat strange as I was more than a year younger than he was; but I had so upset the established order, I had been launched to the top of the list to be vanquished.

At the time, I knew nothing of this kid. I sized him up as nothing special, no bigger and likely lighter than me. I could tell he had a reputation given the crowd he’d attracted. He launched after me like a wild animal and I took him to the ground. He refused to give in, so I choked him out.

After serial high school expulsions for a long list of offenses, Timmy quit school and took up crime full time. He died in jail before he could legally buy liquor. He was cursed.

My dearest friend’s older brother, Chuckie — two years my senior — introduced himself to me by killing a frog I’d captured. He shot the poor creature with an arrow then laughed as it suffered and died, but not before he threw the skewered amphibian high in the air to splat on the hot asphalt. Like Timmy, Chuckie was also removed from public high school and offered either reform school or a private high school. His parents sacrificed and selected an expensive, stern, rod-brandishing Catholic all-boys’ high school, but even the Jesuit Brothers could not tame Chuckie. They kicked him out, and soon he faced a choice of jail or Vietnam. He chose the Marines, was dishonorably discharged, and soon after his return home; he died of an overdose and exposure after he was dropped off in a snowbank in front of a hospital emergency room in the early morning winter darkness. Chuckie was also cursed.

Billy was from a tough part of town. He was a big kid for his age, a factor exascerbated by the fact that he was slow of wit and kept behind a year in school. Billy was also a bully and sadist who took pleasure in hurting others. Some kids were drawn to him — probably to reduce the risk of being another victim — and at least pretended to enjoy Billy’s depredations, giving him an audience and attention. Billy never bothered me and I was never one of his sycophants. I’d earned exemption for being too difficult to torture; I would put up too much of a fight. As Billy grew older, he grew bigger still and his antics became much more random and violent.  He would beat people for no reason, brag about it, and admit to being a racist.

Billy quit high school to work as a thug and collector for a local crime boss; rumor had it that he’d moved up in the organization. He was murdered before he reached the age of thirty. He was also one of the cursed.

Here is the truth about some boys: they are predestined to live short and violent lives. It’s likely that poor Michael Brown and Treyvon Martin both suffered more from this curse than from anything else. Folks like to blame these violent ends on racism, police brutality or unfortunate circumstances. It’s not that at all.  The curse is indiscriminate, and knows neither skin color nor paternity. It robs a certain number of unlucky young men of an adequate sense of right and wrong, proportion, caution, and any sense of self-preservation. This leads to anti-social, violent, self-destructive behavior — almost always — to an early violent end.

Some boys can never be tamed or civilized.

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  1. user_44643 Inactive
    user_44643
    @MikeLaRoche

    I agree.  I remember one such boy (a friend of a friend) when I was in high school.  If I remember correctly, his name was Fernando.  He was from a very wealthy family but couldn’t stay out of trouble and got expelled in his freshman year.  Last I heard (and this was about 20 years ago) he had several run-ins with the cops and got beaten up while resisting arrest.  Don’t know what ultimately became of him though, as I moved away from my hometown at 18.

    • #1
  2. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Doug, been there ,done that. The only thing that doesn’t change is that things don’t change with [expletive] for brains boys.

    • #2
  3. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Doug, I agree to a point. Change can happen but it takes a miracle. Ordinary methods will not work. Knowledge in itself does not do it. There needs to be a transforming which is as inexplicable as it is needed. Wisdom also is required. People who think change is possible with “a new set of clothes” are living in denial. The brokenness in the heart needs to be repaired.

    • #3
  4. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    My husband and I have someone in our life who we were sure would be in jail or dead now. At least I was sure; my husband stuck by him.

    He was raised by a single mother, thrown out of high school at 15 labeled as “incorrigible”; he managed to enlist in the Navy, had a good run of about 10 years and learned a trade.

    When he got out he never found a wife – to my knowledge no date went beyond the first. He is anything but normal, but we look at it like “normal” was never an option. He is insecure and has a personality that can be very off putting; looking back I think his biggest problem is his inability to read facial expressions, body language and sometimes the spoken word isn’t even clear to him. His fighting problem probably stemmed from him seeing threats where there were none.

    I’m not sure he’d accurately read boredom in someone, short of sticking a sharp object in your eye.

    He limped back to the Catholic church in his 20s where he is a fixture in his parish volunteering. He does a lot of good work in orphanages in Mexico, but I am sure he has driven more than one priest crazy. He has also been a devoted son to his now very elderly mother.

    So yeah, sometimes there is hope where none is apparent. And it never would have happened for our friend without the church. And I do think it is a miracle that he is not dead or in jail.

    • #4
  5. user_233140 Inactive
    user_233140
    @JohnMurdoch

    There’s also simple demography. In order to maintain population equilibrium demographers figure you need 103 baby boys for every 100 baby girls.

    Which is to say, by the time those boys reach the age of fathering children, three of them will have figured out how to kill themselves, or have become so repugnant that no girl will have them.

    • #5
  6. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    This is not limited to boys only.  Many people seem doomed to self destruction, or are turned onto that path by life’s other events.  You can see many women who careen from one bad relationship to another, their self-destruction takes other forms than that of boys.

    And there are plenty of people of both sexes who seem determined to self-destruct, getting fired from one job after another, always claiming “it was someone else’s fault”, not their own.

    • #6
  7. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Skip,

    I was going to write about girls too. This post reminds me of dealing with people with depression. They struggle with pain inside that is not easily cured.

    • #7
  8. Olive Inactive
    Olive
    @Olive

    Sad but true. I agree with 10 Cents, anybody can be saved through a miracle.

     

    But the *most* handsome boy, the *most* gifted athlete of our school, ended up in prison and dead by age 35. In high school my brother said he was the most talented player he’d ever seen, and my brother has seen some football players. This kid *was* the basketball team, or the football team, or whatever team he was on; he dominated; he was a star. He was also very cruel, a liar, a bully, a thief, a vandal, and my sometime boyfriend, so I always refused to believe the worst about him. But in high school he got into drugs, began to steal to support his habit, and ended up in a Texas prison where he was labeled a security threat and put in solitary confinement. He was released after serving his term but was killed in a car wreck soon after.  

    • #8
  9. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Olive: Olive Sad but true. I agree with 10 Cents, anybody can be saved through a miracle. But the *most* handsome boy, the *most* gifted athlete of our school, ended up in prison and dead by age 35. In high school my brother said he was the most talented player he’d ever seen, and my brother has seen some football players. This kid *was* the basketball team, or the football team, or whatever team he was on; he dominated; he was a star. He was also very cruel, a liar, a bully, a thief, a vandal, and my sometime boyfriend, so I always refused to believe the worst about him. But in high school he got into drugs, began to steal to support his habit, and ended up in a Texas prison where he was labeled a security threat and put in solitary confinement. He was released after serving his term but was killed in a car wreck soon after.

    This is sad. Sometimes the charismatic and beautiful learn how to take shortcuts. If it is not paired with integrity it destroys them. Their talent and youth keeps them going for a while but their actions catch up with them. Power is good only when it is under control.

    • #9
  10. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Olive:

    Sad but true. I agree with 10 Cents, anybody can be saved through a miracle.

     But the *most* handsome boy, the *most* gifted athlete of our school, ended up in prison and dead by age 35. In high school my brother said he was the most talented player he’d ever seen, and my brother has seen some football players. This kid *was* the basketball team, or the football team, or whatever team he was on; he dominated; he was a star. He was also very cruel, a liar, a bully, a thief, a vandal, and my sometime boyfriend, so I always refused to believe the worst about him. But in high school he got into drugs, began to steal to support his habit, and ended up in a Texas prison where he was labeled a security threat and put in solitary confinement. He was released after serving his term but was killed in a car wreck soon after.

    Annefy:

    Hey – I think we shared a boyfriend. Although mine was never a bully or a thief. And I never saw him be cruel, although I’m sure he had his share of fights.

    He is 2 years older than me (and 60 is still a few years off for me) and has lived in assisted living for years thanks to alcohol and drug abuse.

    Someone stronger than me, or a miracle, might have stopped that trip over the cliff. A miracle wouldn’t have been wasted on him, he was worth it.

    • #10
  11. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    John Murdoch:There’s also simple demography. In order to maintain population equilibrium demographers figure you need 103 baby boys for every 100 baby girls.

    Which is to say, by the time those boys reach the age of fathering children, three of them will have figured out how to kill themselves, or have become so repugnant that no girl will have them.

    Don’t forget war. In previous generations, it took a toll on demography.

    • #11
  12. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    Olive:  But the *most* handsome boy, the *most* gifted athlete of our school, ended up in prison and dead by age 35. In high school my brother said he was the most talented player he’d ever seen, and my brother has seen some football players. This kid *was* the basketball team, or the football team, or whatever team he was on; he dominated; he was a star. He was also very cruel, a liar, a bully, a thief, a vandal, and my sometime boyfriend, so I always refused to believe the worst about him. But in high school he got into drugs, began to steal to support his habit, and ended up in a Texas prison where he was labeled a security threat and put in solitary confinement. He was released after serving his term but was killed in a car wreck soon after.  

    He was a narcissist who believed he deserved to do whatever he wanted, and be rewarded for it. He owed nobody anything.

    A popular volleyball player at my high school was this guy, you may remember hearing about him in 1997: http://www.crimelibrary.com/blog/article/jeremy-strohmeyer-and-the-murder-of-little-sherrice-iverson/index.html

    • #12
  13. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Did you know him Kylez?

    • #13
  14. Olive Inactive
    Olive
    @Olive

    Annefy:

    “Hey – I think we shared a boyfriend. Although mine was never a bully or a thief. And I never saw him be cruel, although I’m sure he had his share of fights.”

    Annefy: He was kind and sweet to me, but I know he was cruel to others, so I included this in his profile.

    • #14
  15. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    In the book (didn’t make it to the movie), The Godfather, Michael Corleone asks his father how he could have tolerated Luca Brasi. Brasi was an animal, as brutal and as murderous as any man could be, and yet Don Corleone maintained control over him. Brasi was intensely loyal to Don Corleone.

    The Don answered by saying that society is filled with people “who look for death.”

    “There are men in this world who go about demanding to be killed. They argue in gambling games; they jump out of their cars in a rage if someone so much as scratches their fender. These people wander through the streets calling out “Kill me, kill me.” Luca Brasi was such a man. And since he wasn’t scared of death, and in fact, looked for it… I made him my weapon. Because I was the only person in the world that he truly hoped would not kill him.

    • #15
  16. Mario the Gator Inactive
    Mario the Gator
    @Pelayo

    I am going to share this with my teenage son and daughter. Thanks for sharing.

    • #16
  17. Scott Reusser Member
    Scott Reusser
    @ScottR

    In many cases (including a couple with whom I’m directly familiar), “The curse” turns out to be a matter of mere brain chemistry, a problem for which — thank God — modern medicine is coming to provide solutions.
    Are some parents turning to medicine too soon? Sure. It happens. But equally or more destructive is the kneejerk refusal of some parents to “drug their kid” — a rejection of scientific advances that could alleviate so much terrible suffering, like the sad tales in this post.

    • #17
  18. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    Everything here is absolutely fascinating and provocative.  It’s making me ponder all sorts of things.  Very good post.

    • #18
  19. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Thought provoking post.

    I notice we assume we can know more about the intentional good and evil a person does than we can know, as if we think everyone the deceased person intentionally helped or harmed while on earth is aware of it and talks about it.

    • #19
  20. The Party of Hell No! Inactive
    The Party of Hell No!
    @ThePartyofHellNo

    I do not believe this is a female problem. Females can be nasty and mean, but young men are never afraid of girls. It is the male bully which has no conscience. There are probably very few females who have survived their encounter with above violent conscience free males. There are plenty of males who have survived – if not beaten back and subdued,  or killed these individuals with an attitude of “it is either them or me.” It usually happens not because the individual is stronger or more capable as a fighter but, more because of the bully’s own incapacity to understand – eventually someone is not going to care or, know about, their status as a “bada**; who has for the first time, more fortitude and willingness to “put down the rabid dog.” If someone does write the true history of Trevon and Michael, we who have lived through these encounters will be exonerated in our understanding of who these individuals really were and the true nature of the encounter.

    Finally this attitude personifies two world views – one in which it is understood there are just males who turn out this way – there is no ways to evaluate, diagnose or, investigate or, root around in their background to determine why – it just happens. It makes more sense to try and be aware of who they are, or know they are out there and to be prepare. The other is the view we are all born perfect and something in societies mistreatment (Us or, them, whomever they are?) made them this way. There must be a logical reason and if there is then there must be a way to logically reason them out of their behavior. We have a very large prison population which for me highlights the first world view.We should as a society sigh out of sadness for the death of these young men but, ironically, we must also be glad for the end to their reign of terror over innocent citizens.

    • #20
  21. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Doug Kimball:Here is the truth about some boys: they are predestined to live short and violent lives.

    Some members of our family used to enjoy playing bad-seed-go-round. At various times, one or another child of the family has been written off as the “bad seed”, not just at risk of a bad end, but positively predestined to it. Funny thing is, the one child who did end up in the morgue wasn’t the one labeled the bad seed.

    The problem of incomplete information makes it difficult to say with 100% certainty that so-and-so is doomed.

    Suppose God Himself does mark some of us out for certain doom, but God doesn’t come straight out and tell us which of us it is. We have to guess, and we have a small but positive chance of guessing wrong. What are we supposed to do?

    If God has absolutely doomed us, then whether we guess right or wrong, we won’t be able to change. If God hasn’t doomed us, then, if we guess rightly that we’re not doomed, our odds of avoiding a bad end may indeed be slim, but we’ll at least give ourselves an opportunity to act on them. But if we guess wrongly, saying that we’re doomed when we aren’t, then we forfeit all responsibility for ourselves. How is that a good thing?

    Yes, a great many people are at high risk of coming to a bad end, and we shouldn’t exactly be surprised when the risk becomes reality. But predestination to a bad end absolves a person from even trying to not be bad, and I don’t know if that sort of abdication of personal responsibility is what conservatives should be about.

    • #21
  22. user_1938 Inactive
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    skipsul:This is not limited to boys only. Many people seem doomed to self destruction, or are turned onto that path by life’s other events. You can see many women who careen from one bad relationship to another, their self-destruction takes other forms than that of boys.

    And there are plenty of people of both sexes who seem determined to self-destruct, getting fired from one job after another, always claiming “it was someone else’s fault”, not their own.

    Agreed. There are many forms of self-destruction. Many of them do not involve hurting other people. Some hurt only themselves. Or they do not hurt because they do nothing at all.

    There are many broken people in the world, whether broken by experience or broken from the beginning. Some can’t be helped. But love never ceases to hope.

    I recently saw someone I chalked up as a sociopath doomed to destruction. He was better. For once, he thanked someone. He wasn’t very amiable, but at least he wasn’t ornery and bitter. And he was almost sober. Odds are, he will revert to his hurtful and self-destructive ways. But those little changes can be all that friends and family need for hope.

    • #22
  23. Richard O'Shea Coolidge
    Richard O'Shea
    @RichardOShea

    I grew up four doors away from this guy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Cooey

    I was nine years older, and told my younger brother to stay away from him.  He was always bad news.

    Whenever somebody debates the death penalty with me, I just tell them that some people deserve it.  I knew one.

    • #23
  24. Fredösphere Inactive
    Fredösphere
    @Fredosphere

    Russell Barkley explains, with passion and a bit too-broad of a brush, the cause (a defective brain, basically) of a certain ADHD type of person who fails in life because he has no intuition for long-term consequences:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyDliT0GZpE&feature=youtu.be

    • #24
  25. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    My folks brought me home to the Old Colony projects in South Boston. I thank God regularly that my dad finished college and my mom insisted that we get out of Southie.

    I got in enough trouble with the law on my own…hanging with Whitey’s crew would’ve written a story with a whole other ending.

    • #25
  26. user_216080 Thatcher
    user_216080
    @DougKimball
    Fricosis Guy

    My folks brought me home to the Old Colony projects in South Boston. I thank God regularly that my dad finished college and my mom insisted that we get out of Southie.

    I got in enough trouble with the law on my own…hanging with Whitey’s crew would’ve written a story with a whole other ending.

    FG-

    My parents lived in the projects when I was an infant.  I have no memory of it, but my mother spoke often of how rough it was, how she would do anything to get out, but they were teenagers with two kids and no money.  She hated the rats.  They would get trapped in the empty trash cans.  My dad worked two jobs so he could afford a cold flat in a tenement.  Imagine moving up to a cold flat in a tenement?

    An uncle of one of my best friends was a Winter Hill guy, Uncle Jimmy.  Unmarried, he visited his sister’s family often and took us for ice cream.  After a while, he stopped coming.  Probably told to stay away.

    The Bulgers had a   Beverly connection – close relatives who’d escaped Southie.  The boys, a few years ahead of me, were talented athletes, distance runners I seem to remember.

    • #26
  27. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    Doug Kimball:

    Fricosis Guy

    My folks brought me home to the Old Colony projects in South Boston. I thank God regularly that my dad finished college and my mom insisted that we get out of Southie.

    I got in enough trouble with the law on my own…hanging with Whitey’s crew would’ve written a story with a whole other ending.

    FG-

    My parents lived in the projects when I was an infant. I have no memory of it, but my mother spoke often of how rough it was, how she would do anything to get out, but they were teenagers with two kids and no money. She hated the rats. They would get trapped in the empty trash cans. My dad worked two jobs so he could afford a cold flat in a tenement. Imagine moving up to a cold flat in a tenement?

    An uncle of one of my best friends was a Winter Hill guy, Uncle Jimmy. Unmarried, he visited his sister’s family often and took us for ice cream. After a while, he stopped coming. Probably told to stay away.

    The Bulgers had a Beverly connection – close relatives who’d escaped Southie. The boys, a few years ahead of me, were talented athletes, distance runners I seem to remember.

    To this day, I’m convinced that my dad got a favor done to get me out of jail. During my drinking days, I wrote some paper that the wrong guys cashed.

    I have no idea how he knew I was in.

    • #27
  28. Grendel Member
    Grendel
    @Grendel

    George Gilder began exploring the social implications of male self-destructiveness more than 40 years ago:   Sexual SuicideNaked Nomads: Unmarried Men in AmericaMen and Marriage.

    What used to civilize–i.e., save–men was women and marriage.  Women are just as bossy as ever.  Feminists still see it as their God-given role to set standards, but their principles are corrupt, anti-human, and perverted.

    • #28
  29. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    I grew up four doors away from this guy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Cooey

    I was nine years older, and told my younger brother to stay away from him.  He was always bad news.

    Whenever somebody debates the death penalty with me, I just tell them that some people deserve it.  I knew one.

    amazing how that went from a stupid prank to an extreme act of violence.

    • #29
  30. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    Annefy:Did you know him Kylez?

    No, but i recognized him when they showed his picture, and his friend rode my bus, though I didn’t know his name or speak to him either. He was two years ahead of me.

    • #30
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