I was thinking about bullying recently. It wasn’t too long ago that I saw the film ”Cyberbully”, one of the worst films ever made, and also I heard on NPR that some Gangsta Rappers were speaking out against bullying. This got me wondering if I was every bullied. Definitely I was a prime target for bullying, skinny, small, shy, and a good student. I wasn’t really bullied, though. Not really. I was an easy target to be made fun of, still am in some regards, but all of that was in good fun. I do have one experience where I was bullied, and shame followed: I tattletaled. I’ve never shared the following story with any person. I’m that ashamed of it… That, and I didn’t really think about the story until recently.
I was 12 years old, in the culture I grew up in that’s when you begin to become a man. It was my first year in middle school. The 7th grade. It was pretty much the worst time of my life. I was scared to death, knew nothing about anything, pretty much hated to go out in public. You know the score. It’s a horrible time for everyone, really. On a side note, just to emphasize how awkward a time this was for everyone, I want to tell you about this girl in my English class at the time: She always wore an sweatshirt inside out. And I mean, ”always”. Every single day. Even during the warm months. And I may be wrong, but I’m 90% sure that she wore the sweatshirt because she was embarrassed about her maturing body, and that she wore it inside out because there was some dumb logo on the sweatshirt. I mean, I sympathize. I once wore a Mario sweatshirt inside out because I was embarrassed. I wonder if that girl had it worst than most. Definitely in her attempt to be less noticeable she stood out, and didn’t even know it. She was an attractive girl too, I mean at least as far as twelve-year-olds find other twelve-year-olds attractive. So it was an awkward time for all. And I was no exception, so back to my story…
I was eating lunch one day with my usual posse, of which the only person who I remember being in it was my buddy [[blog:might-and-magic Aaron]], but there were a few others that varied from time to time, this kid named Jared comes to mind… In any case there were about five or six of us total. We were all eating lunch. Talking about video games, most likely. And suddenly I feel this wet thing in my right ear. And I was like, “Gross somebody just stuck their tongue up my ear.” And it was this dude who’s name I didn’t even know, but I’d seen him around. And it wasn’t his tongue that he stuck up my ear, it was a french-fry with some fry sauce, a Utah institution, on it. I have no idea why this kid targeted me, because I didn’t even know the kid, like I said, I didn’t even know his name.
Anyway, what I should have done was laugh it off. In fact everyone at the table was telling me to laugh it off. Alternatively, what I should have done was start a fight with the kid, no one at the table was telling me to do that. But I think it would have been a fair fight since we were both about the same size. So definitely it would have been a good story had we gotten into a fight, but instead I never once got into a fight, so I don’t have that story to tell. Well enough about what I should have done, here’s what I did do: I went through the rest of the day totally upset about this event. I was so angry at this kid all day. And here’s the part I’m ashamed of… Nay, here’s the part I’m ”doubly” ashamed of, and I sort of hinted that it involved tattelaling, but it’s even worst than that… I went home crying. Yes indeed! I went home and bawled my eyes out. Crying to my mom, as I told her about the experience. It was doubly bad. First I was tattletaling, and second I was crying. ”Crying!” Me, a twelve year old boy. ”Twelve!” The first stage of being a man. And there I was crying to my mom. I wonder if I’m more ashamed of that than I am about tattletaling.
Okay, about now you’re probably thinking, “That’s not really tattletaling, you just told your mom, it doesn’t even matter. I tell my mom everything.” You are right about that, but it get’s worse. ”Way worse.” So I was totally upset the day it happened, but the next day I go to school and I’m sort of over it. I mean I remembered it, but I wasn’t crying anymore, and then I get called to the vice-principal’s office. And I was thinking, “What could I have possibly done? Was this because I was late for school like two weeks ago?” And so I found myself in the vice-principal’s office, scared to death. And he’s like, “So your mom called the school…” I died right there. Literally died, for like 30 seconds, then came back to life, and I was like, ”If there is any mercy in this world, get me out of this room, let this event be erased from everyone’s memory”. Indeed, it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. ”My mom called the school and told them I was crying because of some kid…” I was devastated. I wanted to disappear into Oblivion. I never wanted to be seen again. I was like, “Why mom? Why?” I was already over it. I mean, sure, I had some resentment for the kid, but I didn’t want anyone to know about it, least of all the vice-principal. I can’t even begin to express how ashamed I was in that moment. Trying to explain that some kid stuck a french fry up my ear, and the vice principal being like, “Well, there’s really nothing we can do about it, since you don’t even know the kid’s name.” And I was like, ”Good. I don’t want you to do anything about it. I don’t want anyone to know it happened. I don’t want anyone to know I was crying to my mom.”
Somehow I lived. Even though I had died for like 30 seconds, and then I got out of that office, and went back to class. And when some of my peers asked me why I got called to the office, I was like, “Oh, it was just (think of some dumb excuse that if you told an adult they would know you are lying, but another kid might not question you).”
So yeah, I’m pretty ashamed of that all. I had indirectly tattetaled on this kid to the vice-principal. ”To the vice-principal!” I’m not mad at my mom. I never was. I mean, she was this single mom, and her baby was crying, and she didn’t know what to do, so she called the school. If I had had two parents things might have been different. Certainly I would never call the school because my kid was crying about something as unimportant as that. Certainly I wouldn’t want to put them through the embarrassment. My mom didn’t know, and so I had to experience the shame.
But there, I said it. I admitted something I’m ashamed of. It actually feels kind of good to get that off my chest. I kind of wonder what happened to the kid that stuck the french fry up my ear. Maybe he’s a doctor or something now, but being that I’m not sure what his name was, I can’t even facebook cyber-stalk him to find out.