It’s been twenty-six years, but I think I’ve finally gotten over that Facing in sixth grade.
No. I don’t think. I know I’ve gotten over it.
If you’re not woke, Facing, which was typically done by adolescent males (though it was by no means gender-exclusive), involved a Facer, palm over face, fingers splayed out like a starfish, yelling a variation of: “Faced! You got Faced! Ooohhh, Faced!” It was quite popular in the 80s and 90s. While Facing may have seemed a way to mock a peer innocuously, years of therapy make a nice counterpoint.
(Facing did come with a risk, as some Facees would smash the Facer’s hand into his face, causing the Facer to maybe bleed from his nose. Face Smashing was common when the Facee was bigger, stronger, or tougher than the Facer.)
I was a master Facer. Fastest gun in the West Philadelphia area, yet judicial in my usage. I also displayed magnanimity, many times deferring an obvious Face opportunity to others, so they could have some fun. Out of fear of a vicious Face reprisal, nobody dared Face me.
Until that fateful May 14, 1992.
A classmate, Jeremy the Worm, had spread a rumor that one of my closest friends, Johnny, was adopted. This was before celebrity adoptions were vogue, so there was still a bit of a stigma attached. And, as anyone knows, schoolyard reputations are paramount.
I was quick to defend Johnny; if anyone knew him, I did. I was one of his best friends.
Oh yeah? Jeremy the Worm mocked. Let’s go ask him. His enthusiasm should have tipped me off, but I was blinded by the anticipation of the Double Facing–an act that, as far as I could confirm, I invented, where one hand was placed over the other in a delicious two-layered attack–I’d lay on Jeremy The Worm.
You need to settle something, Johnny.
What’s that? He, too, was acting weird. Again, I didn’t notice. Fatal mistake.
A crowd had gathered.
Are you adopted? I asked, my hands already moving upward.
Yep, Johnny said.
And there, in the side courtyard of a stone-faced elementary school building, the world saw the first recorded instance of Mob Facing. All I heard was a buzzing drone of “Oooohhhhh, Faced!”, my classmates, all of whom I had Faced at some point, reveling in revenge. I tried to run, but Facing blocked my every turn.
I awoke in the nurse’s office, nearly four pounds lighter.
The school banned Facing after that. Publicly, I denounced the decision, stating that Facing was as much a right as the pursuit of happiness. Inwardly, though, I rejoiced. I never wanted to see another Facing again. I didn’t think my fragile psyche could handle it.
Like everything else, Facing has evolved in the digital age. These days, it’s much easier to simply troll someone online or shame them on social media. While that certainly is in poorer taste, at least those folks don’t have to fear a Face Smashing.
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