There's been a lot about bullying in the news lately. Bullies are bullies and bullies suck and so on and so on. Actually, they aren't really talking about it the news. A few months ago, yes, when I planned on writing about my childhood experiences with bullies. But now they are talking about whether or not Sandra Bullock is dating Ryan Reynolds. Or something....
But anyway. About bullies...
When I was a kid growing up in the eighties, I remember lots of things. We played kick-the-can with a real coffee can, which is highly stupid because when you pretend your Pele and smack that aluminum can into outer space, the metal rim flips back and shanks you in the shin. If you're a real moron or nonathletic klutz you may actually step into the can on accident and shear off your entire foot. Then get tetanus and die.
After that incident we started using a ball.
Other things I remember. Bullies! Yippee!
Now, I wasn't a bullied kid by any means. Kids picked on other kids, but it wasn't like the daily torment some people obviously go through. I was never bullied in high school. I never thought someone was waiting for me after school to kick my ass in the parking lot. I was never afraid of something like that. It never even crossed my mind. High school was, to my teenage mind, something to just "get" through. Like a prison sentence. Prison is a good analogy. I had my own crew, was friends with enough people, didn't particular stand out in any way, good or bad, and therefore was spared from being picked on. I also had an older brother who was popular. An older brother who used to pin me down and make me smell his farts. After that kind of abuse, a knife fight in the parking lot sounded like a damn good time.
So no, I wasn't bullied in high school.
But I was in kindergarten.
It was winter of 1980. I was five years old. I think it was February. There was definitely snow. My kindergarten was Hood Creek in Racine, Wisconsin and it was half day. So around noon I would take the bus home. It dropped me and several other kids off at the edge of our subdivision on Highway K. My house was a good 600 yards away if you followed the twisty blacktop roads. In the middle of the subdivision was an open field, sunken and no houses were built there because of the culvert that ran through and would fill up with a stream every spring after the farm field snow melted and ran off. If you took a direct line through this field it was probably 400 yards. My house was on the other side of the field. This is the way I would usually go, but in the winter it was harder with all the snow, so I would follow the road.
When the bus dropped me off it was me and two other boys and the 600 yard walk home. I don't remember if they went to my kindergarten or not but one of them was a big turd of a kid. The other smaller boy was his toady. I don't remember their names so that's what I'll call them. Turd and Toady.
Now in 2011 parents would be waiting at that bus stop, waiting to pick up their munchkins and see them safely home. But this was 1980, and I was shit out of luck. No one was coming for me. At five years old I already knew this. It was like goddamn Lord of the Flies. In Wisconsin. In February. Which is worse.
Turd and Toady would quickly run off laughing, but I knew where they were going. They were going to hide at their snow fort and wait until I passed, where they would pelt me with snowballs. After I dodged them a few times, I got a little smarter. I started sitting in the front seat of the bus so that when I got to my stop I would jump from the bus and start sprinting, my legs already moving before they hit the ground. I just ran and ran and ran and I was fast enough that they had no chance.
Then they got smarter.
When I got on the bus Turd and Toady were sitting in the front seats, smiling at me. I sat in the back, a horrid feeling building in my stomach. I wanted to puke. That was the longest bus ride ever.
When we got to our stop, Turd and Toady ran off laughing. I shuffled off the bus. The bus left. I kept standing there. It was so cold. I started to cry. Pathetic. The tears froze on my face. More pathetic. I wonder how fast I could make it across the unbroken snow of the field. It was almost as deep as I was tall. With dread, I knew I was going to have to take the road.
I walked to my doom.
I saw them waiting for me, hunched behind their snow fort. I geared myself up mentally and kept walking too slow. That was my mistake.
A snowball hit me in the side of the head. But it wasn't a snowball. It was an ice ball. Hard, like a rock. I screamed and started running, practically blind because the tears had almost frozen my eyelids shut. They had come out from behind their fort to get a better aim. They were right in front of me but I kept running, screaming like a toddler with his hair on fire. I hit Toady like a snowplow, who was smaller than me and I made him ricochet off me and hit Turd, who fell backwards and said, "Ooof!"
I kept running and screaming all the way home, snot flowing down my chin. I was scared, angry and in pain, which was a delightful combination.
Turd and Toady, who obviously decided I was batshit crazy, never threw anything at me again.