Most kids have bullies, and most girls’ bullies are female, but all of my bullies were boys and even though I got into a fistfight with one of the other ones, YOU were the worst.
Recently, I saw your name on the “People you may know” section on social media. My blood froze. Most profiles that pop up there, I let linger for months or years, indecisively. But I don’t want to see your face or even read your name ever again. I deleted it immediately.
I saw from the picture that you’re married. You have two little girls. Wow. I wonder if anyone has ever bullied or belittled them. No, like, I really wonder that. What does your wife tell them? Does she tearfully confess that daddy was so mean to other kids when he was little that at least one of them grew up having a hard time trusting men? You’re not stupid, so I know that you know that you were a bully. We sat in the guidance counselor’s office together, and in my total naivete, I thought that time maybe things would get better.
Every day, constantly. Fate played a sick prank on me and you were in my class every year. Our names were next to each other in the alphabet, so you sat next to me. I prayed at the beginning of every year not to see your name on the class list, and then that the teacher would arrange us by height, gender, even grade point average- anything so I didn’t have to sit next to you and your hatred.
The very worst of it is- your insults were bland and uncreative. “Fat, Ugly, Dumb” are half-assed and boring insults. But they grated on me, every day. Every day. All-day. Every day.
You were so popular- great! Just enjoy your social calendar and leave me alone! But you didn’t. You muttered under your breath. Every day. I wondered so many times why insulting me was even worth your time. I don’t know.
So, one thing I never did get to say to you- in between the tears that I fought back, or the whispers to please be quiet and just leave me alone.
Because of you, I can spot others like you from a mile away. Some of them I still have to deal with: family or coworkers, or mutual friends. And because I dealt with you, I have a thicker skin. I know when to politely change seats, decline an invitation, just let them make their point, and keep my silence.
Also because of you, I’m better at choosing an inner circle. I’m not fooled by appearances, and I don’t rest on a first impression. I am overly critical, and I guess you’re one of the people that I have to thank for that, too.
Thanks for being handsome but shallow and boring. Perhaps because of this, I don’t gravitate to beauty for beauty’s sake. As an adult, I’m much more likely to prefer a person who is funny or smart over someone who is merely attractive. You do get credit for curing that juvenile bias.
When I hear terms like “Zero Tolerance for Bullying,” I chuckle. As though you ever announced what you were doing, or didn’t stop right away when you were about to get caught. Bullies can be subtle, conniving, and even charming to those other than their victims. We don’t tolerate bullying as a society, we eat sleep and breathe it. It just is.
Despite this post, I very rarely think of you. However, when I hear or read the word “Bully,” your face involuntarily springs to mind. I’ve had physical altercations and adversarial screaming matches in my day, but no person I’ve ever known can match your hostility and pure venom. You made me feel miserable, but you must have been miserable. And you probably still are. So, thank you, I have never chosen to keep anyone like you in my life, and I’m a happy person now.
So- you lost. This is an era of embracing body positivity, so you can’t call anyone fat. I never did give any kind of a shit what you thought I looked like, so I don’t care if you call me ugly. And you can call me dumb all you want.