My First and Last Time Fighting a Bully
And the surprising hero who came to the rescue
Before I begin to tell you about my experience with a bully, let me set the stage. It was the early 90s, Vanilla Ice was flowing like a harpoon, Forrest Gump was running just because he liked to, and I was in love with Baby Spice.
It was also the time that I was a short, pudgy guy in junior high school. Not much has changed. I am still short and pudgy, just not in junio highschool. I was small for my age but my appetite was big and twinkies and Cool Ranch Doritos were my best friends.
As a small, loner kid with a belly, I was quickly becoming a punching bag for everyone. It didn't help that I was one of the only non-white people in my school. I had a target on my back the second bullies saw me.
One summer day, for lunch, I had gone to the local pizza shop where I usually went to inhale a giant pepperoni slice and then decided to get a giant, red cream soda, 7-11 Slurpee for desert.
I was walking back to the school and was passing the playground where many of the boys played baseball. Since there was still time left, the weather was nice, and I didn't want to throw away my slurpee, I sat on the rocks near the baseball field so I could watch cool, athletic, skinny boys play baseball.
While I was watching, a boy named Cameron, and his two friends (Tony and what's-his-name) were searching the ground for pebbles and throwing them at things. Because that's what they liked to do I guess.
They noticed me sitting alone and came over to me. They started chanting "Hey, pig boy! Give me your money!" They tried to get my attention but I pretended not to hear them and kept watching the game.
Cameron, who was the leader of the buffoons, stood in front of me and came up to my face. "Give me some money! I want some slurpee too! You need to diet anyway, you don't need the money. Pig boy, can you hear me?"
I meekly said, "I don't have any more money, leave me alone." I sounded quite pathetic actually. It didn't help that my voice was also high and I sounded like a little girl.
Cameron gave up on asking for money. Instead, he grabbed my shoe and pulled it off. He said, "I guess I'll just take this instead," and proceeded to take my shoe and start filling it with all the pebbles they had been collecting. His friends were laughing their heads off. I guess they were easily amused.
I got up to try to get my shoe and yelled, "Give it back!" as un-feminine as I could sound. They just started laughing and Cameron looked me in the eyes and said, "What are you gonna do?"
At that moment, I don't know what came over me, but I took my Slurpee and dumped it all over his plain white T-shirt. I could see the shock and anger in his face the instant I did it. I also realized I was about to get the shit kicked out of me.
He looked at the red stains spreading across his shirt and he took a step toward me to grab me. But by some miracle, a boy from the higher grade who I had never talked to or even really knew, came running from the baseball field, pushed Cameron down, and said, "If you wanna fight him, you're gonna have to fight me first!"
Cameron and his two friends took off but not before warning me that I shouldn't come to school tomorrow if I want to live. The hero, whose name was Bart, asked me if I was okay and went back to the field. I am sure he was a typical-looking white boy with short blonde hair, but to me, I felt like it was Captain America coming to save the day.
The Next Day
The next morning, I woke up and watched Dennis the Menace while eating Capn Crunch cereal as usual before walking to school. Unfortunately, on the way to school, as I was walking through the small path between houses that leads to the school, I saw Cameron standing blocking my way.
He was throwing punches like he was Rocky about to start a boxing match. Suddenly his two buffoon friends came from behind and grabbed me and threw me down. As I was down on the ground, Cameron came up to my face and said, "You're dead!"
As this was happening, the girl I had a crush on named Michelle, was walking past with her two friends. They saw me on the ground, then the boys who were about to beat me up, and kind of giggled and walked away. Great, not only was I being man-handled by 3 boys who were the year lower than me in school, but the girl I had a crush on didn't stop to help. Instead she laughed.
One of the boys pulled out a gun. Luckily, this isn't America now, it was Canada in the 90s so it was just a cap gun. But the boy proceeded to shoot the cap gun into my ear. The shots were loud and slightly deafening but nothing too scary. But the boy was laughing thinking he was hurting me.
Laying on the ground, I had kind of given up hope of fighting back or anyone helping me this time. I was just hoping to quickly get my beating over with so I wouldn't be late for school.
The two boys were egging Cameron on to punch me as they held me down. But Cameron didn't. Instead, he said something like, "He'll tell the principal on me so it's not worth it." Then they left.
I lay there on the floor with my slightly deaf one ear, broken heart, and body full of shame. I felt no physical pain. Just a sad feeling of emptiness. As I walked to school, I realized whether Cameron hit me or not, I was the loser. I didn't fight back. I just lay there waiting to die.
When I arrived at school, word had spread and my entire class was laughing at me because I got "beat up" by boys younger than me. I let Bart protect me the first time, and I got lucky the second time by just playing dead.
I guess there is no moral to this story. I just wanted to talk about my one and only time when a bully tried to fight me and how I handled it. Luckily, I have never been in a situation where someone tried to fight me. I wonder if I would act differently now. Would I run away? Try to resolve the situation without violence? Or would I just take the punches and not fight back?
I would like to think that not fighting back would be an admirable thing that meant I was beyond violence and was better than that. But I think the truth is I am still scared to deal with any confrontation, especially physical. I wonder what my therapist would say. If I had one.