Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Bully and the Locker

Time for another story - this time one of mine. I guess I thought of it since school is starting soon. This happened to me in eighth grade. Funny thing is, I never even told the story to my family until I was about 26 years old. I can still remember my dad's smile as I told them what I'm about to tell you. He was proud of me for standing up for myself. I still have some mixed emotions about it myself. I guess I'll let you decide if I handled it OK.

My friends know that I am primarily a verbal person; I don't tend to be physical or violent. When I was in junior high, I was extremely miserable. I was fat, unpopular, shy (with everyone but my friends) and we didn't have the money for the "right" clothes. This left me pretty much ripe for the teasing and I endured a ton of it. I really don't think about junior high much because those three years were just that miserable.

There were three boys who made it their mission to say the most cruel, hurtful things they could think of every day after third period. They stood by their lockers and waited for me to pass by and made pig noises, rude sounds, swear words - whatever they could think of - as I passed by. I never acknowledged them. One time I walked past and I couldn't keep myself from letting a tear fall, and they saw it. This only caused them to crow at their success and redouble their efforts.

Of the three, there was a ring leader. To this day I can't remember their names or faces; only that they were boys and they were there. The ring leader said the most while the two others played along. Finally one day, I had enough.

As I walked by, they began their usual litany. Something inside me snapped. I don't know why this day was the breaking point or why I chose to do what I did. The boys were in the middle of the hall about three feet from the locker bank lining the wall. Out of the blue, I grabbed the ring leader by the collar with my right hand and I swung him around with every ounce of strength I had. As he hit the locker, I pushed him up and there he was, slammed against the locker on his tip-toes, with my fist in his adam's apple.

At first, his friends started hooting, but I snapped a look at them and they shut up. I turned to the ring leader and I said, very calmly, "I've had enough of you. Don't you ever, ever talk to me or say anything to me again. Do. You. Understand?"

Somehow, he did. He nodded. I pushed harder against his neck, then dropped him and walked away. The amazing thing is, he and his friends actually listened to me. They never talked to me again. I would see them in the hall and they would look away.

I've never understood the mind of a bully, so I really don't know why this worked. On one hand, I'm proud of standing up for myself, but I wish I could have handled it without stooping to their level.

All I know is, I still remember every moment of that confrontation, and I still remember that my dad, who rarely showed approval, was really proud of me when he heard the story.

Go figure.

Here are some comments from this story:
E said...
This is like a scene right out of a movie and I love it! I always cheer for the underdog in scenes like that and I would've been in that hallway rooting you on! I hope that those boys learned a lesson from that and didn't treat anyone that way after their run in with you. You *should* be proud of yourself!
BTW...ditto back atcha about your comment on my site. I get the feeling we could be good friends and do some serious commiserating in real life!

Heather said...
You didn't sink to their level. It takes no courage to taunt a poor girl who is already feeling different. It took courage for you to confront them, though. I didn't get teased much in school but I often stood up to those who teased the underdogs. I am just built that way.
The only girl I ever teased was killed in a car accident our senior year. Even though she and I had long since become friends, I will always regret that I was ever cruel to her.

buffi said...
You are SO my hero!!

Geekwif said...
I never had the guts to stand up to the bullies in school. Good for you BG.

yellojkt said...
We teach our kids to not resort to violence, but bullies only respond to strength. I was bullied in 8th grade by the kids on the bus and even beat up once.
I finally picked the weakest kid of the gang and took him on one-on-one one day. His friends just watched him get beat up until he bit me. My mom took me to the emergency room for tetanus shots. None of the parents of the kids in the gang would believe their "baby" could do such a thing.
The whole gang steered clear of me after that. I don't know if that would work in today's zero-tolerance atmosphere.

princssis said...
Way to go, BG! I agree with Heather in that you did not stoop to their level. It's amazing how bullies can dish it out but can't take it! From what I understand, they have to make others feel bad in order to compensate for the poor self esteem they have.
I'm glad for you things worked out the way they did. I also agree with yellojkt that this probably would not fly in today's schools (unfortunately).

CoachHardin said...
As a teacher, I see that happening at times, and you can see where it comes from when the parents are the exact same way. I was also a bullied person growing up and can relate, but never retaliated. That just wasn't my style. Instead, I hung back and waited until college to start over in a new place. However, I'm a big advocate of the underdog all the time. I'm one trying to keep bullying from happening again. ;)

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