I never had a bully all to myself in high school. I mean I WAS bullied but only on rare occasions. Unfortunately, I never had the consistency that a dedicated bully would have provided. Maybe that personal touch was what was missing from my high school experience. Perhaps I became too comfortable, having blended in so well with the adolescent multitudes that I didn’t realize what I was missing. I imagine that if I had done a little bit more to stand out, I would have drawn the exclusive attention of a professional.
I digress. Regret is a path easily trod upon and as such, I should not spend too much time pining for the things that are already in the past. Instead, I can only recall the fond memories of those scarce times that I was noticed, albeit briefly, by someone seeking to inflict some sort of physical or emotional harm upon me.
One of the more popular methods of torment in school was a good ol’ fashioned binder stomping. In this, the aggressor would look for unsuspecting prey carrying a binder loosely under his or her arm. Then, as the prey passed within arms reach, the bully would slap the binder to the floor and promptly stop the spine of the book, bending and twisting the rings inside. I certainly appreciated this as it created an opportunity for me to work on my reflexes as I ducked and dodged my way between classrooms.
Another gem created by the members of the rugby team required a multitude of targets. Undiscerning in whom their victims were, they would usually strike as students moved through the halls between periods. At one end of the hall, the rugby players would link arms, let loose their battle cry and sprint to the other end of the hall, trampling everyone in their path. Behind them, they would leave a wake of broken students, similar to when a bulldozer flattens Wile E. Coyote into the pavement in the cartoons. As the students saw this wave of pubescent hormonal testosterone rolling towards them, they would push against the crowd in front of them. People would panic, trapped like pigs at the slaughterhouse, squealing and fighting amongst themselves to escape. The lack of cohesion made it all the more easy for the rugby members to run us down.
I was not immune to the sweet siren call of being a bully. I remember one moment with absolute clarity in which we were slinking around the school and throwing water balloons at students in the hallways. I caught one of the students, a friend of mine named Blake, while he was using the urinal in the washroom. I drew back my arm, feeling the water balloon in my hand and took aim at Blake. He looked over his shoulder at me.
“Don’t you fucking dare,” he said, his voice equal parts pleading and threat.
I hesitated. I was much smaller than Blake, part of me was afraid of what might happen. I saw Blake trying to pee faster, hunching his head and thrusting his hips forward. I made my choice.
The water balloon hit Blake in the back of the head, instantly soak in his upper half. He whirled around, still peeing, and lunged at me. He slipped (I assume in his piss) and he fell to the floor with a wet splat.
As I sprinted out of the washroom, I heard his voice ricocheting off the tiled walls, “I got piss on me!”
I darted into the hall and bumped into a teacher. I don’t think she even really saw me, so concerned she was above about the unearthly howls coming from the washroom. With a frighten look, she went inside the men’s room. For moment there was silence. Then, I heard her cry, “oh my! What are you doing? Get off the floor.”
“Get out!” Bake shrieked, his voice echoing.
In hysterics, I jogged for the exit. I had decided that I would avoid Blake for a while, give him a chance to dry off and calm down
The discerning bully knows the time to strike, just like a good bully knows when to quit. There is some risk in pushing someone too far, too fast. Perhaps that is why I was so rarely tormented, I may have emitted a subliminal aura of psychotic behaviour. Regardless, I appreciate what my rare bullies were trying to do for me. They didn’t have a lot to work with but they persevered. Thanks to their efforts, the fine upstanding person that I am today I can partially credit to them. I can only hope to one day do the same for someone else. Maybe when I have kids…