I remember now!
When I moved into the town I lived in before Pumpkin City, when I was starting 2nd grade, there was a family that lived in the house behind us that consisted of a mother and father, two boys and two girls. The two boys were also in 2nd grade. They looked and acted nothing alike. I was in the same class as one of the boys whom I shall call Mort. Mort taunded me for being short, for being Asian, for doing well in school, for wearing jeans with butterflies on the back hip pocket, for walking, for breathing. He was obnoxious. His brother Bart was somewhat quiet and generally nice.
As the school year progressed, I found that the brothers had different birthdays, and also different last names. Mort alone had one last name, and his sisters and brothers shared another. I knew this, but my friend Carrie, who was in Bart's class, did not. She said Mort's last name was the same as Bart's. On the way home from school, Carrie and I argued loudly, shouting Mort and Bart's last name many, many times.
The next day, I was approached by Mort's sister Liz, who was a year ahead of me and Carrie in school.
"Why were you and Carrie shouting yesterday?"
"Carrie said that you and Mort had the same last name, so I told her she was wrong but she wouldn't believe me."
"Oh," Liz grimaced. "Could you please not shout our names anymore?"
"But who was right?" I asked, wondering what the fuss was about, but willing to do something a friend asked, but still wanting to be right. I haven't changed much since 2nd grade, I guess.
Several months later, Mort's mother, sisters, and brother left the house behind ours, leaving Mort and his dad and their dog, an obnoxious Doberman that barked when we ventured too near his kennel. Mort continued to taunt me regularly.
A couple years after Liz and Bart's family had left Mort's house, my friends and I spotted an unfamiliar woman in the Doberman's kennel. She was probably in her early 20s. When she was done cleaning the kennel, she went into Mort's house through the back door. We saw her often the next year or so. Then we stopped seeing her. Mort taunted me some more.
When I started junior high, I spotted a familiar face in the hallway. "Hi! Do you remember me?" I said to Liz.
"Yes," she said.
Liz avoided me the rest of the school year.
Mort still taunted me, but he seemed less of a threat. I made lots of geeky friends who thought algebra was a recreational activity. Mort's plain looks, poor school work, and lackluster athletic abilities, not to mention his obnoxiousness, dictated he would never be one of the cool kids. I can't remember a time when I saw him hanging with his friends. I can't remember who his friends were. I can't remember if he had friends.
I moved to Japan. No more Mort.
In retrospect, I should have pitied Mort. Mort lost his birth mother at an early age. His father's second wife and his stepbrother and stepsisters left him when he was eight. His father's young live-in companion left him when he was eleven. He did poorly in school and had trouble making friends, and I am sure there are pediatric psychologists who will enthusiasticly discuss the relationship between his failure to build relationships and his father's failure to bring stability into their home. Whatever the case may be, I no longer hold a grudge against Mort. I wonder what kind of person he has become. Maybe he works for NASA.
OK, probably not.
(Names have been changed to protect privacy, except for Ayako and Carrie, because lack of tact in a seven year-old is hardly a crime, is it?)