Sunday mornings on the deck with coffee, a cat purring in my lap, a dog at my feet and my beautiful family still asleep upstairs equals something good. It is all good.
Of course it wasn’t always that way. I think of my kids. I’ve done a lot to make sure they’re strong and secure. I make sure they’re not open to con artists and bullies. I made sure that they learned to stand up for the weak and those who are different.
So why am I musing on such lofty parenting goals? It is because their witty, confident, successful and good looking dad was once the kid who went to school in fear each day because of bullies. Nobody thought anything of bullies back then, when I was a kid. It was part of the school culture. But you know, even as a kid I knew it was wrong and one day it would be over.
It was over for me by the time I was 13. I went to high school and reinvented myself into a funny smart semi-popular kid.
My mind went back to fifth grade – in particular to one kid. Ronnie Martin was the personification of a bully. He was Goofus in Highlights Magazine. He was a sadistic little shit who never let down on reminding me that I was smaller and weaker than he was. Ronnie amassed an army of schoolyard thugs up against me. I was taunted, tripped, lied about, and shunned by other kids. I never knew why his one goal in life was to make my life a living Hell.
Once we got to high school nobody would put us with his bullshit. He faded into the background of kids nobody sees. I was free.
So what brought these memories back on a beautiful Sunday morning?
Last Friday on the way home my 15 year old son and I stopped by the hardware store to pick up some supplies for a leaking faucet. I still had on my suit (important meeting at the Capitol that day) sans the jacket. My son had on a band shirt and skinny jeans (no sagging mind you.) We were a typical father and son – only my son was an inch taller than me. When did that tiny six pound baby grow to be six feet tall?
I’d sent Tristan off to find a new front doormat while I went through the thirty thousand small bins of washers.
Standing in isle 34 I heard a voice that made me go cold.
“Here kitty kitty.”
In fronting of me was Ronnie Martin. He was older and larger than I remembered. The last time I remember seeing him was 45 years ago in Freshman English class when a couple of popular kids told him nobody put up with bullies in our high school and that they liked me. Now here Ronnie was a big slob with a gray ponytail, bad ink on his arms and a shit eating grin on his face.
I had the misfortune to be named Bartholomew. My mother called me by my full name. I went by Bart. Ronnie picked up on the mew.
Back in elementary school Ronnie and his minions would follow me making pathetic mewing noises and yelling “here kitty kitty.” Someone once filled my desk with cat litter. Ronnie told the teacher I’d done it to get out of work. She believed him. I had to clean it up and was sent to the office where the principal lectured me on my bad behavior. Such was my life for the next three years.
Ronnie made sure I was always picked last on teams and that I never had a place to sit on the bus. Now I look back on it I realize that I was his obsession. It just seems so sick and twisted now.
The bully looked me up and down in isle 34 like some creeper looking at a pretty girl in short skirt. “So I hear you’re some sort of big shot. What are you the gay secretary?”
He knew I owned a successful advertising and PR agency. He must have known.
Tristan came up with a doormat looking curious at the big rough looking Buba blocking my way.
I tried to pass and Ronnie blocked me. I looked him in the eye. “The fact that you bullied me does not define me. The fact that you are a bully defines you and will always define you.”
“You’re still a pussy Bart. You’ll always be a pussy.”
I said nothing but I knew he’d always be an asshole.
Putting my arm around Tristan I headed for the check out.
“What was that about Dad?” My son gave me one of those amused WTF looks.
“Just some loser I knew in elementary school.”
Tristan started to laugh in that way teen boys laugh. I had to laugh too.
For more short stories, including romance, gothic tales and Vampire stories check out the Short Story Page (click here).
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
Good read! The part that rang truest with me was the comment of “no sagging mind you.” It seemed such a defensive statement, as if he thought other parents might read his thoughts, but his love for his kid came through. Like most dads I would think.
I’m glad you liked this. Thank you so much for your comment.
Powerful story! I want to say something like bullying never goes away but that sounds so cliche. Still, it’s true. And sad. But your story is fantastic, probably because it does remind us that bullies may be outgrown but their words stick with us.
Thank you. I always wonder about the motivation of such mean bullies to become obsessed with a physically and sometimes emotionally weaker child. Some say we should feel sorry for them and try to make excuses but there are no excuses. They learn it from their parents and elder siblings. The sad thing is that they know better. They know they’re bullies. Monsters who grow old and pathetic while the rest of us move on. Sigh.
I had been bullied too, you know… in elementary and high school… I let it go to a certain degree – until that moment I nearly exploded and beat the bully up. It wasn’t the big “I will kill you” fight – it was a few clear “statement slaps”… the surprise was just too big and the silence was deafening… That was the moment that changed everything. I’m over that now… the bullies had the same problem: turning into losers. Interesting, isn’t it?
I got bullied again a couple years ago in my job. And I didn’t seem to get over this one so easily. Maybe because I was too controlled to “explode”… maybe I should have done that… I could still rip them to shreds…
You never forget bullies, even if they forget you. But sometimes they don’t forget – in that case they’ll only see how much better you’ve done in life. Workplace bullies are the worst because they’re adults and there are no excuses for their behavior. They use the same tactics as the kids only meaner and more determined. But Karma is a bitch and it will all come back to them in the end – trust me on that one. They’re just a bunch of losers full of so much hot air. Hugs.
Dear Readers – to all of my readers,
Thanks for not pointing out the typos. Darned auto spell. I swear I’m ready to scream. I fixed them but thanks for not being bullies.
Reblogged this on West Coast Review and commented:
A story worth taking another look at. All about bullies, growing up and moving on.
Reblogged this on Mandy White and commented:
I often wondered what happened to some of the people who mercilessly bullied me in high school. Thanks to Facebook, I know about a lot of them. Some are still bullies, having taken their bullying skills into the adult workplace. Some are thugs and losers. Most are ordinary people, parents who have had to deal with the reality of school bullying through the eyes of their children. Some are remorseful for their shameful behavior and are now my Facebook friends. The internet is a magical thing…
Thank you for the reblog Mandy!
Sorry I tried to leave a comment but something went wrong.
I know how it feels to be bullied.
A bully left me to suffocate but I refused to die and I refuse today.
I am stronger then I once thought.
Juliette thanks for an insightful blog post. You are fabulous writer…Thanks