Sonny Hernandez was the George. His brother Paul was the Lenny. A master blaster pairing of hispanic brothers in the midst of a primarily white catholic school. Sonny, my 4th grade peer was quite small but appeared bigger due to his large helmet of jet black hair. Paul, 2-years older and seemingly as many feet taller, was quiet with tea cup ears, a Lloyd Christmas haircut, and a slouching face. He was terrifying.
Everyday at lunch, Sonny would make his rounds to the tables in the gymnasium, forcing a weak attempt at a cholo swagger, which at the time came off as a goofy John Wayne meets George Jefferson impersonation. His brother Paul, "the muscle", always in tow.
Approaching those susceptible to intimidation, Sonny would ask them, "WHO STOLE MY TWINKIE?!", his eyes narrowed and brow furrowed to show he meant business. "Twinkie" was always pronounced "Twankie", which I always attributed to the John Wayne leanings and a 4th grader's poor attempt as a southern "twang". Although now, I picture it more of the way comedienne Monique would neck roll it out.
And while I don't recall if Sonny ever actually got someone to fork over a "Twankie", I do recall being sickened at his usual lunch involving a cold hot dog sandwich with ketchup. My mother is quite a worrier about things like raw meat and I'd been taught to never eat an uncooked hotdog. Which, was wrong of course. They're all precooked. I learned that around the time I figured out Jesus wasn't watching me do a goddamn thing.
I was reminded about all of this when I was thinking about seminal bully takedowns from movies. And I remembered the time Sonny tried the "Twankie" thing with me on the playground after school. And I was alone and I made some sort of insulting remark. And Paul tried to choke me. And I punched him in the face in a moment of panic.
Paul fell down, just like the man-child Lenny he was. Silently. Shocked. He probably didn't get hit all that often, if ever, due to his size.
And after the split second of my mind racing with "he is going to get up and kill me. run. RUN!"
I realized he wasn't. He welled up, got off the ground with a red cheek, and they walked away.
I just remembered feeling bad about it, sitting on the stoop waiting for my mother to pick me up. I never even told anyone. No one would have believed me anyway. I would've probably been razzed for lying or a rematch would have been incited, one that I would most likely lose badly this time.
Of course, when lunchtime came around again, it was the same shit, different day.
"WHO GOT MY TWANKIE!?"