Eugene McBrayer was a fat kid and The Coach hated fat kids.
Eugene wore thick, super-thick glasses that turned his eyes into tiny dots, and The Coach apparently equated this with hateful physical weakness.
Eugene wore ragged gym clothes. He couldn't climb the ropes. He couldn't chin himself. He couldn't do pushups.
Eugene infuriated The Coach, a paunchy tough-talking, short-haired martinet.
So The Coach taught the boys in third period gym at Austin Junior High our most valuable lesson of those years.
He taught us more about abuse of power than our children learned from Watergate. He taught us more about brutality innate in the human spirit than our children will learn from the Bible. He taught us that physical violence can be effective only when accompanied by mental torment or torture.
I'm sure Eugene would rather have fought demons in Hell than come to third period gym class.
The coach attempted before 50 witnesses, premeditated murder on the human spirit, and Eugene, tears refusing to fall, his frame shaking with anger and humiliation, could only draw within himself the strength to repel his assailant.
Eugene finally left school.
The Coach, after that year, was promoted to a post in the school administration.
The rest of us will never forget Eugene McBrayer. We'll never forget The Coach.
And probably we'll never look benignly on the indiscriminate use of what school officials routinely refer to as discipline, particularly if that discipline is administered by men teachers or coaches in a physical manner.