It was the 7th grade. I never tried to fit in. Never even realized that conforming was a thing people did try to do until much later in life. I was in gym class when she decided I was going to be the target of her frustrations. She walked up to me, out of the blue, and announced that after class she was going to kick my ass. Now, I didn’t try to fit in, but people usually liked me. I thought they did, anyway. Until today. In this exact moment.
I was flabbergasted. I didn’t even really know who she was or what I had done to make her want to “kick my ass”. My usually happy, devil may care attitude toward just about everything in life took a sharp dive into despair. I became frightened. On watch.
She didn’t beat me up after class but she did meet me after class to trip me as I walked down the hall. And after the next class she came up behind me and pushed me. And the class after that she took a sharpened pencil and pushed it into the flesh on the back of my arm. By the end of the day I felt hopeless as she walked up to me from a sea of other middle schoolers at my locker and announced once again that tomorrow morning she would definitely be kicking my teeth in.
I rode the bus home in silence. I walked into my house and didn’t hit the cupboards for an after school snack as per my usual. I was misty eyed and just defeated. My dad came home from work and noticing my silence he asked what was wrong. I told him. I told him every last detail of the day I had just endured. He listened intently and then said, “Tomorrow, when this girl comes up to you at any time and announces her plans to beat you up at a later time, when she tries holding you captive with intimidation, you just say “why wait?” and punch her in the face.” I couldn’t believe this advice was coming from him. But, then again, all day today people had been acting twilight zone-ish. Then he continued, “You will get in trouble. But you have to do this. You have to show her you’re not scared of her.” My father further explained that when I did follow through with his big plan to defend myself against this bully who was a full head taller than me, I was to tell the principal to call my parents before I talked to anyone. He would be staying home from work the next day and waiting for a call from the school.
I hardly slept that night and was very hopeful that this mean girl wouldn’t even be there the next day. But she was. And just like the day before, which she obviously enjoyed tremendously, she followed me out of the girls locker room stuck her finger in my face and said “After this class, I’m gonna kick your ass.” Just as I’d rehearsed in my mind a million times the night before, I looked right back into her hateful eyes, said “Why wait?” and shot a fist out from my tiny little frame of a body. That punch landed hard. It knocked her out and as her body fell fast and hard down, she hit the other side of her face on my knee. Thus producing two black eyes. I took one look at her lifeless body laying on the floor, knocked out cold. I thought I killed her! I took off to find our gym teacher. I ran into the gym yelling ,”I punched her! Come and help!!”
I didn’t kill her. She was, however, just as stunned as I was that a fun loving pipsqueak had stood up for herself. We each got pulled into a different administrators office. I told the vice principal I wouldn’t be talking to anybody until she called my parents. My dad and mom came into the office in record time. If that didn’t spell out premeditated actions in all caps! But, it was my bully’s fault for being so predictable. I received a stern talking to about violence not being acceptable and a subtle recognition from the vice principal that I had never had any problems in my school record remotely associated with fighting in the past. My punishment was three consecutive Saturday school detentions.
My dad drove me to the first of my scheduled Saturday schools. He parked the car and got out, putting a rolled up newspaper under his arm as we walked toward the school. What was he doing? He walked just ahead of me all the way up to the entrance doors to the school. He held the door open for me and followed me right in. I reported to the common room area…. well, WE did. During roll call, the detention room teacher looked inquisitively at my dad sitting right beside me reading his Saturday morning paper. The teacher then called me up to his desk, asking in a whisper, “Who do you have with you? And, why?” I told him, “That’s my dad and I think he thinks that since he gave me some advice on how to deal with a bully and it got me in trouble, that he should be in trouble and serve detention time, too. He’s probably going to come to all three of these Saturday schools.” The teacher looked out at my dad just sitting there reading glasses on, engrossed in his paper, as if he was the most comfortable and content individual on the face of the earth and he smiled and said, “Take your dad and go home. I’ll mark that you were here for all three of your detentions.”