I was bullied. I was always half a foot shorter than the average kid and I did not see the world the same way everyone else did. I spent most of grade school and early middle school trying to walk around invisible, but bullies always found me. They would point out my height, the fact I carried around a violin or would rather read fantasy and history books than run around the swing set.
Anytime I would bite back the kids would reward my courage with a smack to the face, choking me to the point I thought I might die or stuff my small frame into a garbage can or locker. Even if I tried to ignore them and took it, the kids hated the lack of response and would become worst and worst with their venomous put downs and physical cruelty.
I hated going to school. I hated being asked questions on what I thought about something because I didn’t see the world the way my classmates did. I didn’t like Motley Crue or Def Leppard. I didn’t like Michael Jackson or Prince. I didn’t like the same books or the same TV shows. The older I got the lonelier I felt.
Some days I would stay at school and try to walk through the halls and make myself as small as possible, but the kids would see me and latch on to my fear. I remember one time a bunch of seniors tried to play a football game with me being the ball. I got a way when they had to punt. I got held down in gym class and farted on and when I couldn’t play basketball I was called a faggot. I kept water bottles full of vodka in my locker for the times I got stuck in there.
Finally by high school I stopped going. I rather go downtown and hang out with the kids at Pioneer Square and smoke cigarettes and try to find drugs. The homeless kids didn’t care what I wore or what I was into. Anything was interesting to pass a day.
To this day I see bullies. They don’t grow up and let the bullying nature go away with maturity and age; they just do it differently. I still get called a faggot. People make fun of the way I look at the world.
Now days I don’t let it bother me. Sometimes I thank the bullies for making me stronger. I don’t let stupid embarrassing things freak me out. I don’t have to worry about what people think of me. I never could fit in so I became comfortable with who I am. Call me a faggot? I now know you fear me and have nothing intelligent to say.
There always seems to be a pecking order – the strongest on top and the weakest on the bottom. I left the pecking order. I do not value myself based on who is above me or who is underneath me. If there is one thing about being bullied that I learned is to embrace my uniqueness and take the abuse.
You will never get rid of bullying. It just won’t happen. Change the rules, changes dress codes and have sensitivity training, but the bully is a bully and he or she will find his or her target.
A bully of mine came into my work when I worked at a gelato shop. I didn’t recognize him at first, but he kept looking at me like he recognized me. He was with this other guy and they were both wearing suits. He is only a year older than me, but he was bald and bloated. His neck was bulging out of his dress shirt collar. He finally asked me if my name was David Fisher, and when I finally said yes he turned to his friend and exclaimed, “I used to beat this guy up every day on the bus!”
I smiled and handed him his change and said, “Well you got fat and bald, so guess who won?”
His friend laughed at my bully and punched him on the arm and said something to the effect of I got him.
The bullies have only made me stronger and wittier.