Friday, March 1, 2013

Bully for you, bully for me.

Bullying has been a major buzzword over the last few years. Journalists are writing about it. Celebrities are making videos. Is it helping? I don't know. Pretty sure I'd be arrested if I started asking random school children if people are mean to them.

This week, I came across the lovely video embedded at the bottom of this post. About bullying. This week, I also posted an article to the company Facebook page. About bullying. I thought I'd come here and share a little story about young Jen. About bullying.

This isn't my only story. And there are far worse stories than mine. I'm a grown up now and most of the bullies sunk to the bottom. It got better. They were wrong. I wish I had understood that when I was a child.

I can't remember if it was ninth or tenth grade. My bus arrived at school before most. I got off alone while the sky was still semi-dark. She waited. Every morning, She waited. For weeks. With her friends. She was obviously the leader because the others were scared. They never said a word. They were scared and I was alone and She probably had a miserable home life. 
They would make a circle around me and She would hold out her hand. "Lunchbox." I carried an old metal lunchbox because my very small circle of friends, who wouldn't arrive at school for another twenty minutes and would have been just as passive and squirmy as me, was into vintage. It was an awesome lunchbox. Care Bears. An awesome lunchbox that, by lunchtime, only contained the things She didn't want.

She would take the food She wanted and eat it right in front of me. Make fun of whatever was left. Liking those things made me stupid and ugly and a freak.
"See you tomorrow. Don't miss school."
After weeks of the same. damned. thing. I finally told my parents. I guess I just needed to talk about it and I was too embarrassed to tell my friends. My mom wanted to call the school. My dad wanted to make Ex-lax sandwiches. I begged them not to do anything because She would beat me up. I had never been in a fight and the thought of being punched terrified me. I would rather be humiliated and hungry.

"Stop packing your lunch, buy it." "She'll beat me up." "Stand up to her." "She'll beat me up." "Tell a teacher." "She'll beat me up. At this point, I want her to take my lunch. Taking my lunch means nothing worse than a stolen lunch will happen to me."

My parents phoned the school. I cried.

I was called to the principal's office. I didn't even know how to go to the principal's office. I watched his angel fish. He asked me about She. I told him the what, when and where. As for the who, I didn't know her name. He had a clue. He said "I think I know who would do this." He had me stand in the hallway while he called her out of class. "If that's the girl, give me a sign. Scratch your nose."
I thought about how nice it would be to just die. I wondered why none of the adults could understand that I would be beaten beyond recognition after this. They thought they were helping but they were sentencing me.

I positioned myself in the hallway. Down-wind from where she should emerge. If all went according to plan she would turn right and not see me. I have never been the girl who believes that all will go according to plan. "I'll hide to the side of the lockers," I thought. But there were no lockers in that part of the hallway. That's the first time I remember thinking a curse word. I darted around like a cornered animal until I noticed a water fountain. I stooped next to it and untied my shoe. And retied my shoe. And untied my shoe. And retied my shoe. I repeated this until She emerged and turned right. It all went according to plan.

I scratched my nose. His hunch was correct. He had the right girl. I wondered what had to happen to a 14-year-old girl for people to recognize her by her cruelty? Then I wondered how it was going to feel when She shattered that nose I just scratched. Would I look the same after it healed?

I never saw her again. I don't know if She continued to attend my school or if I was the last straw that sent her somewhere else. I still don't know her name.
P.S. If you are She and beating the million-to-one odds that She would ever read this AND you are still mean, I currently live in Oregon. As a man. And a vegan. Come and get me.


  1. This is so horrible!!! It makes me so mad for you!!! DOWN WITH BULLIES!!!

    1. Down with bullies indeed! I like to think that there is less bullying these days with "nerds" and "freaks" and "weirdos" being in vogue. Hopefully what I like to think is at least a little bit true.

    2. This doesn't compare, because it was an isolated incident (that I never forgot obviously). My first day of high school I walked in the cafeteria anxious to find someone I knew. You know, it was one of those times that I didn't care if I FIT in, I just wanted to BLEND in. All grades ate lunch together, meaning, there were the cool hip big bad seniors that I didn't want to get in the way of.

      After cooling scanning the room I found a friend! Or at least someone in my grade I knew well enough to sit down and eat lunch with. So I walk over to Angela, and grab the seat next to her. As I sat down, she kicked the chair out from under me. My books went flying (cause I was trying to be too cool for a backpack), and I grabbed the edge of the table, and nearly took it with me to the floor.


      To this day, I don't know why she did it. I don't remember if she ever apologized. But I know she laughed, and so did a ton of other people. I was mortified, but I don't remember anyone bringing it up beyond the first few days. I think it happened, I might have just been so traumatized I tuned it out.

      Like I said, it doesn't compare to your experience...but I do believe this was one of the first things that happened to me that started to make me hate people. Even the smaller things have an effect.