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I ran home. Mom screamed. I was crying hysterically. When Dad came home from work, he was furious.

Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90

Like many kids my age, I hated school. It wasn’t the homework, boring teachers or getting up at 6:45 every single morning. It didn’t even bother me walking five miles to school through scorching heat waves or torrential downpours.

I did hate not being chosen for the football, basketball, tennis or chess teams. But that wasn’t the real problem.

I hated school because of David Cohen.

Cohen lived up the street from us, and every day I walked to school across the park Cohen was there poking fun at me. “Those red sneakers make you look like a clown,” he’d taunt (I hated my mother for making me wear those). “Your hair looks like a Brillo Pad. Your nose is so big you look like a pelican. I’m gonna get all the kids to call you Pelican Laz, or Laz with the pelican shnaz,” and other assorted rhymes.

I tried walking to school the long way around, but Cohen would be waiting on the school steps. “Here comes pelican-face Lazarus. What’s the matter Lazy Laz, couldn’t...

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