magen new

The teacher stepped out for only a moment and that’s when I heard it — a maddening tone that taunted me coming from the back of the room.  The harmless taunting could have been easily mistaken for a joke, except for the fact that I didn’t take it that way.  I was being bullied.

This boy, and the rest of his cronies, grew up with me. We knew each other since the playground — wood chips abound.  Only in those days, I was the one taunting as I mirthfully pushed them off the slide or playground swings.  Throughout school they picked up on my tomboy persona, because I didn’t like all things pink or cared about their silly popularity contests.

As we neared adulthood from adolescence, I wasn’t persuaded they were ready to grow up just yet because of their incessant name calling and fun poking at me as I ignored them.  They were no longer my childhood friends; they were a group of overgrown bullies who had nothing intelligent to say after their honors courses were through.  Therefore, I continued to ignore them so much their name calling would become louder and lewd.

As someone who’s gone through the degradation of bullying, I found it best to ignore the ignorance.  Although, my family saw the result each time I came home broken down with tears.  I felt so helpless, and calling the school’s administration seemed a tad overboard since it was just a bit of name calling.  

“Butch.”  “Emo.” “B****”

Laughter roared from the back of the classroom on the last day of school as the teacher walked out into the hallway for a chat with the instructor next door.  It was my last day of school; after that day, nothing would matter.  I would leave that school and never return, never see those “friends” ever again and never have to endure their awful torment.

I sat smack dab in the front of the room with my back turned against them.  One of the boys bravely stood up and called me a name. My best friend snorted in muted laughter — she thought it was funny.  A friend doesn’t laugh. I expected her to say something or stand up for me, but she didn’t.  Anger was blistering my temper and I couldn’t take it any longer.

A threw my chair out from under me, a risk I was willing to take with the teacher out of the room dilly dallying. My fists were clenched and my stature tenacious.  If I was going to be the lesser woman they thought I was, I was going to show them just how tough I could be.  I swiftly yanked my body to face the group behind me. The room silent, so silent I could hear a pin drop, as well as the boy jumping two rows of chairs over in cowardice.

“You want to say that again to my face?” I said enraged.

He nervously shook his head “no” as he stared fearful at my fist.  

“That’s what I thought.”

Shortly afterwards, the teacher strolled in with a smile on her face humming to herself, completely oblivious to what had just occurred under her supervision.  I never spoke to any of them again, and just ran into the boy a couple weeks ago.  What did I do?  I smiled politely and walked away. I don’t hold grudges, but I’ll always remember how he backed down with his tail between his legs.

I dealt with bullying for seven years, but you don’t have to. Stand up and speak out.  

mmccrarey@sentinel-echo.com

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