Saturday, August 11, 2012

And so it was

Date - Fall 1974

Given a minute to think about it I could likely tell you what date and the time of day, but it is not relevant.  I can tell you that I was wearing a tee-shirt, blue jeans, a dark blue hoodie  and a pair of wallabies ... sort of moccasin type ankle boots which were sooo comfy ... I loved them, but they were not made for running.

I was sitting on a low branch of a tree waiting my turn while my classmates played two-square.  It was a typical warm So Cal autumn day, although the Santa Ana winds were not blowing.  We were having fun and joking, laughing and just being kids.  It was one of the few times I interacted with the group rather than just sit on the periphery feeling lonely.

The girls were a short distance away playing hopscotch.  I would glance at them, wondering what it would be like if I could be a part of their world, but I already knew I didn't fit in with them either.

Every so often something would strike me as funny and I would giggle.  Honestly I didn't think anything of it ... I had a strange sense of humor and giggled at many things.  Unfortunately for me Chris was a poor sport an was losing badly to Pat ... but Pat was the stud of the class and was expected to win.

I giggled.

Chris yelled at me, "Stop laughing at me."

"I'm not.  I'm giggling at everything, not just you."

He slammed the ball on the ground ... This struck me as funny, and I giggled.

The next thing I knew I was being pulled from the tree.  I hit the ground running with fifteen classmates chasing behind me.  I ran full speed for the better part of five minutes.  By this time there were close to thirty people chasing me.

You would think the sight of thirty kids chasing one kid might get the attention of a teacher or other adult ... apparently not.

The caught up to me in the fenced in basketball court and encircled me.

I stood my ground.

The mob began yelling, taunting and laughing.

I fell to the ground and cried ... like a girl.

And so it was ... The tone for the remainder of my school days was set.

Later I noticed that my running tore the sole of my wallabies.  I cried even more.

I told my brother about the incident.  His answer was, "You should never cry.  Find the weakest person in the group and take him on to show you're tough."

Fight?  Why do I need to fight?  Of course I didn't question him out loud, but I did not like his reasoning.  I was not a fighter ... I was not a boy, but somehow I had to find a way to survive.

I developed a very shard and sarcastic sense of humor which helped keep the bullies at bay.  I taught myself to not show any emotion ... good or bad.  Nobody would ever get through my shield ... or at least they would never see how much they had hurt me.

When people began to pick on me I would quickly fire back.  With almost surgical precision I could find their emotional vulnerabilities and lash out with the most savage and hurtful words.  While they were still off guard I would deflect any interest in me by pointing out differences or peculiarities of another nearby victim.

I hated myself.

This technique kept me out of the line of fire and back to being almost accepted by the group I so despised ... At least until the testosterone really started flowing.  When the teasing and taunting was replaced by physical force I was once again a prime target.  Although my pseudo bravery of standing up to the bullies with my comments won me a few allies, it also antagonized others to the point they felt the need to punch me.

I never actually got beat up too bad ... And I tried to act tough a couple times ... But in the long run I simply withdrew.

Back into the silent, self imposed isolation ... Back into my own private little hell where nobody could reach me.