I was bullied a lot as a boy.
My parents found about one particular case in middle school. They told me the same stupid shit I tell my kid when he gets bullied, because it breaks our hearts to know we can’t help, that our intervention in all likelihood will simply make things worse. My mother encouraged me to seek out the help of an authority figure. My father told me to kick the guy’s ass.
“I can’t beat him,” I said.
And I couldn’t.
Dude was a head taller than me. His fists weighed more than my entire body beneath my neck. He had been left back a few times. “A troubled kid,” he had even tangled with Johnny Law once or twice.
I was terrified. Dude was a brawny brawler and I was this wispy suburban kid who was a committed pacifist by the time I was ten. By that age, I had been in a few fights, talked a lot of smack and gotten punched in the face enough to know I was not a fan.
So, I didn’t fight. I whined. I begged. I snivelled. Things got worse. I ran any time I saw him in the hall. I took my mother’s advice and sought the help of authority figures, but Dude was a big shot on the basketball team, and besides, “boys will be boys.” He would get a slap on the wrist, things would cool down for a week or so, and then he would start up again. Even I got sick of listening to my bitching and moaning, so I stopped. I told my parents things had gotten better because I was ashamed of my weakness. I was a craven. A coward.
Over the course of months I learned what misery was. I took some sort of abuse — verbal, physical, emotional — a few times a week. I had night terrors. Pissed the bed once. I started faking sick and playing hooky. I was consumed by anxiety, a seventh grader contemplating suicide. I lost myself in books and comics. I lost myself in art, creating worlds where I was in control, where I was heroic and strong, and defended weak-ass chumps like the me I despised. There were days when I only got out of bed because I knew I would get a chance to make art. I only bothered with school at all because of Art Class. Drawing became my religion. Art class was my holy place, my sanctuary.
But Dude found me there too.
I don’t know why he was in class that day. I didn’t even know he was there until it was too late. I was finishing the pencils on a comic I had drawn on 8.5 x 11 printer paper. The character I drew at the time was a ‘black-washed’ rip-off of the Marvel Comics character, ‘Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu.’ My bully snatched away the pages and dangled them in front of me, taunting me.
“Please, man…” I begged.
He tore a page out. Just the one, and I reacted with pure emotion. I suppose when someone attacks that which you treasure most, there is no time for thought.
I damn sure did. I picked up a chair and smashed him the face, knocking him to the floor, and then I went to inspect the damage done to my work. Someone shouted a warning, but it was too late. Dude came at me like a freight train. His nose leaked blood but that didn’t even slow him down. He tackled me, pummelled me. I never even threw a punch.
He kicked my ass.
And he did so pretty thoroughly. It took Mr. Garland and a couple of other teachers to get him off me. I was covered in cuts and bruises, and my face looked like a pile of raw meat. I still carry scars from Dude’s fists.
But it was the last beating I took. Dude never messed with me again.
It didn’t matter that he could kick my ass. He now understood that doing so wasn’t free, that it was in fact, expensive #af.
And that’s why you fight.
#peoplenotparty #breakthemachine #powertothepeople.
*Captain Pandemonium created by Tim Sinclair