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Tuesday, September 19

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Fuel

r / August 25, 2011 10:34 PM

I was given a lot of flak for being overweight, so I tried to not attract attention in school for fear of being harassed. But my memories of who said what are very, very clear. When the '85 Bears won the Super Bowl, several of my classmates called me "Fridge," after Walter Perry. These boys had no problem calling a pudgy girl that name. Awful.

I refuse to go to any of my reunions, for fear that I'll spend the evening bitchsmacking and berating a few very memorable former classmates/assholes.

Mike / August 26, 2011 9:37 AM

I moved to San Diego in 7th grade. At the beginning of the year this kid who was skinny but quite a bit taller than me walked up to me and said, "hey, how's it going?" I didn't have any friends and he looked nice enough so I thought he was being friendly. But before I could answer, be belted me hard across the face with a rolled-up magazine. This type of shit went on for a few weeks ... sometimes he'd hit me, other times he'd just threaten me or make a sudden movement to hit me just to make me flinch in fear. I dreaded going to school. And (of course) I never told my parents.

Finally, one day in the locker room, he walked up to me with a big shit-eating grin and started to go into his routine. Something in me snapped and I hauled off and punched him as hard as I could in the face. I probably didn't hit him very hard but it definitely surprised him. He just looked at me in surprise. I said, "you need to stop it now," and walked away. He never bothered me again.

His parents must have been real pieces of garbage. If I saw that kid today I don't think I'd be angry. I'd probably feel sorry for him. That fear and anxiety I felt for a few weeks he probably felt every day on his way home.

That said, bullies should have to attend mandatory counseling along with their parents, and if they don't improve, get them away from the good kids so they can learn and succeed.

paul / August 26, 2011 10:05 AM

I was a skinny, short redhead, so a lot of kids picked on me. I had an older brother too, who I was constantly fighting with.

So by about 4th or 5th grade I had a tolerance for pain and the reflexes of a trained boxer. Unsuspecting bullies would find themselves bloodied, and often, when it was the first time someone had faught back at them, crying. Not saying I won every fight, but I taught a few of them that they better be able to take what they dish out.

In high school I caught myself teasing a younger kid - stealing his shoes after gym, or something like that. Something not in my character then, or since. I'm not really sure what turned me that one time.

Michael / August 26, 2011 10:20 AM

As the resident art fag at my middle and high schools, I did get bullied a lot. But then, after puberty hit, I also got to sleep with all the bully's girlfriends.

mary s. / August 26, 2011 11:01 AM

i also got teased for being "pudgy", but only by a few boys. nothing i couldn't handle, apparently, since i don't remember any nicknames. most of the people i went to school with either liked me or were not bullies. i never got physically bullied by anyone other than my oder loving, also pudgy, brother who still threatens to sit on me every once in a while.

me, whispering "i can't breathe...."
brother "if you can't breathe how can you talk"

i recently found out that my #1 "bully" died of a drug o.d. a few weeks ago. i told my mom i was sad that he couldn't turn his life around, but that's about all i felt about the situation.

eee / August 26, 2011 11:33 AM

I think everyone has been bullied in one form or another. It's part of the dog-eat-dog lifestyle that is growing up. Junior high is especially terrible for some reason. And I think that in most cases, the kids who were bullied in some way, shape, or form probably bullied someone else. There's a pecking order, and kids tend to keep to it.

I know I was bullied quite a bit (tall AND fat, that's a great combo for a girl). I also know that I said things I shouldn't have and hurt people's feelings in my own way. Hopefully with time and perspective, everyone has learned that often bullying happens because kids can't cope properly with other factors in their life, and bullying = "control" for them somehow. And hopefully with that perspective, people have been able to move on and be happier, healthier people as they age. At least, that's what I'll keep telling myself.

Ramsin / August 26, 2011 11:39 AM

I was bullied a bit when I was in elementary and grade school, but did some light bullying of my own in high school--not physical, but I did tease people. Mostly though the objects of my insults were the kids who normally did the bullying--I tried to bully the bullies. Because I hate bullies.

Andrew Huff / August 26, 2011 11:39 AM

I was a bit of a nerd in elementary school (and onward, but it became more acceptable by high school), and a couple of kids on my bus started picking on me to and from school. I told my parents about it and they said the best way to deal with it was to ignore it. Wrong answer. It just got worse, to the point where one of bullies' younger brother started getting into it, too.

I finally fought back in middle school one day, and it ended almost immediately. Wish I hadn't listened to my parents earlier.

Kat / August 26, 2011 11:51 AM

I wore leg braces all through middle school and high school because I lost the genetic lottery and ended up with a rare bone disease - no one was sure where it came from- but I had to wear leg braces until I stopped growing. So... I was a punk rock kid wearing leg braces. I was fucking tortured.
I never fought back. I never told my parents. I am now 31 and I still wish I had told them then.
When my mom asked a few years ago why I wasn't going to attend my 10 year HS reunion, I told her what I'd been through and she bawled for hours. She said she'd wished I had told her so she could have done something. Done what, I wonder....
I haven't worn leg braces since I stopped growing at age 18 and now you'd never know anything was "wrong" with me.
I live thousands of miles away from those kids now - but ran into one of the torturers on the EL a few years ago. He said, "Wow, you got hot." I told him was still an asshole - just bald now.

Kat / August 26, 2011 11:52 AM

I wore leg braces all through middle school and high school because I lost the genetic lottery and ended up with a rare bone disease - no one was sure where it came from- but I had to wear leg braces until I stopped growing. So... I was a punk rock kid wearing leg braces. I was fucking tortured.
I never fought back. I never told my parents. I am now 31 and I still wish I had told them then.
When my mom asked a few years ago why I wasn't going to attend my 10 year HS reunion, I told her what I'd been through and she bawled for hours. She said she'd wished I had told her so she could have done something. Done what, I wonder....
I haven't worn leg braces since I stopped growing at age 18 and now you'd never know anything was "wrong" with me.
I live thousands of miles away from those kids now - but ran into one of the torturers on the EL a few years ago. He said, "Wow, you got hot." I told him was still an asshole - just bald now.

Spook / August 26, 2011 12:11 PM

Sh*t was way complicated back then.

There were levels of "bullied" and "bully". Can't lie and say I wasn't a "bully". But, I can say that unlike others, I didn't have a choice in the matter. I can also say that there were far far far worse monsters that roamed the halls from the 3rd to 8th grade years. And, I say with certainty, that I did managed to protect some of the weakest kids( somewhat) as well. But it got worse by the seventh grade. Things really deteriorated and even I found myself in more fights to maintain my place in the "pack". And to add insult to injury(making it worse) the "administration" actually blamed me-and I was an honor roll student at that point- instead of going after the real problems. Those kids should have been kicked out for some of the sh*t they did, I'm talking sexual abusing other students. But now I know the school would have lost federal dollars had they booted them.

I'm glade I was able to bounce after the 8th grade because I would have become "them". The deep thing is the amount of adults that knew how violent and dangerous/out of control our "school" was and did nothing to address the situation. The worse sh*t happened in the basement locker room, where our gym teacher would not even go.

Hey Nisi "thanks" for the way-back- machine trip, see you in the halls.

amyc / August 26, 2011 12:11 PM

I got bullied by lots of kids (including one who signed my 7th grade yearbook "To an ugly dog who makes me sick"). But my main tormentor was a kid named David whose mom taught at our middle school. I tried reporting him to other teachers and the principal, but no one ever punished him. I was told to ignore him, even into high school when he escalated from verbal teasing to shoving me against lockers and stealing my stuff.

Fuckin' bullies, man. They're the worst.

R.S. / August 26, 2011 1:33 PM

I may have been a bully. Me and some fellow football players would walk down the hallway in high school. We would pick a kid out (normally a frosh who fit the nerd profile) and one of us would shove the other into the kid, ending with a huge shoulder block.

Take down! 2 points! If there was any question, we could plea that we got pushed into the kid.

Now that the Press has grabbed onto the "Bullying" story, I've look back feeling bad about what I did.

Someone did point out to me that 'bullying' includes targeting a specific person to harass. In our hallway shoulder blocks, we never targeted anyone specific...only targeted a stereotype. I never knew the names of my victims.

I may, or may not, fit CNN's definition of a Bully...but it sure was fun scaring the shit out of freshman.

Mucky Fingers / August 26, 2011 2:36 PM

My wardrobe probably spared me from bullies.

I spent all of high school in the musician clique. I suppose our general appearance made us look tough. It was the late 80s, and we all wanted to look like either Bono or Slash. There was lots of black leather jackets and/or trench coats, long hair and oversized boots. Carrying a guitar case at all times was obligatory.

If bullies had targeted me, I would have gotten beat up every time. I was a total pacifist then.

Erica / August 26, 2011 2:43 PM

I was so afraid of being considered uptight or uncool freshman year at public school (I was from the Catholic school) that I let a guy sexually harass me every day on the bus for a very long time. He said really disturbing things about what he wanted to do to me and constantly insisted I get off at his stop so we could fuck or whatever. I finally stood up for myself and told him I was going to tell if he didn't stop and that's all it took. "I'm just playin'. Chill," he told me and tried being SUPER nice and friendly like we were old friends. He was horrible. He totally broke me down all those bus rides and made me feel so gross. Knowing what I know now about sexual harassment and bullying, if I could go back in time, I would have done something MUCH earlier in the game. I saw him on facebook recently. I still think he's a pig even if he did grow up.

Monica / August 26, 2011 4:49 PM

I was bullied during my junior year of high school because people assumed I was Jewish due to my looks. During the spring, a kid called me a "dirty Jew" and I told him he needed to come up with something better because half of the school had used that insult. It stopped after that point.

fluffy / August 26, 2011 7:46 PM

I had just moved to the US and didn't speak English conversationally. I lived in a crappy neighborhood in Texas, full of white trash, so on the school bus I got teased a lot, slapped around a little. The worst part was that my father would do the same thing at home. I was miserable. In high school I also got teased for dressing 'weird' but by then I couldn't care less- I'm only friends with one person from high school now and she's a great friend. It only takes one person that sees you as interesting instead of weird, and it changes everything.
Even at work a few years ago, some co-workers nominated me for the show 'what not to wear'. ha ha! That's friendly teasing, though. My niece just started first grade. If anyone fucks with her, I might just have a little talk with them.

JimmyJoe / August 27, 2011 8:18 PM

I'm with Paul.

I wasn't the biggest guy in grammar school, but I detested the bullies and ended up fighting them when they picked on the little guys.

Funny story, I went to a Catholic grammar school on the South Side and there was a class bully that generally did what he wanted. Well one day, he tried to bully me and I promptly punched him in the nose leaving his light blue uniform shirt bloodied. This incident of course resulted in after school detentions for the both of us. One of the nuns that taught in the school was so happy with what I did that she snuck me ice cream sandwiches while serving my detections.

This taught me two things. One, bullies back down as soon as someone stands up to them. Two, you can never lose by standing up for yourself. These lessons have served me well through the rest of my life.

Marie / August 28, 2011 7:05 PM

@R.S.

Yes, you were a bully. You can contest the exact definition of the term, but that's just lame excuse-making. The fact that you say "but it sure was fun" seals the deal. You sound like a jerk, then and now.

R.S. / August 29, 2011 11:25 AM

Marie...good points...but your deal seems to be with the Mainstream Media, not me.

The problem with the Media grabbing onto this flavor of the month is that they need to define terms. I'm not contesting exact definition of the term, I'm embracing it.

Have you ever shoulder blocked an unwilling participant? Try it, it's a rush! ;-)

PMan / August 29, 2011 11:30 PM

A bit of both. Whether my school was better or worse than others, I don't know, but there was a good deal of malevolent herd behavior.

I don't remember ever leading the charge, but my main regret from grammar school is that I partook in making fun of people because they were vulnerable. Many of my classmates feel the same way.

Anon / August 31, 2011 3:09 PM

I was born with an extra ear on my neck just below my jaw so needless to say I got picked on quite a bit. My dad was a used car sales man and he changed jobs often so we moved all the time. One year we moved three different time and I was in three different schools. Starting over was especially stressful for me. I would always get my hopes up that the new school would work out better that the last. I would try and wear scarfs as often as possible and turtlenecks but somehow the local bully incarnation would sniff me out and rally whole classes against me. It would start with whispering when I would walk into a room which I could hear really well because of the extra ear and eventually ended up with me getting punched, kicked and thrown in to the garbage can. At one school they started calling me Van Gogh which really made me angry because it made no sense but bullies are not usually the smartest apples in the basket. At this school in Arkansas someone filled my locker with q-tips so when I opened the door they all fell out. This continued all the way through high school with hourly beatings by both teachers and students. I could not wait to graduate but even on graduation day I was bullied by the principal who tripped me after getting my diploma. I still hear the laughter in all my ears but today I know that I am a better person for all the pain a ridicule I suffered. It has only made me stronger. Luckily I now I work from home designing web apps and don't have to del with the public almost at all or leave my home. The internet saved my life. Peapod and Netflix is all I need.

Spook / August 31, 2011 8:04 PM

anon and R.S.- who are probably one in the same.

I would not protest adding some levity to this serious topic that has caused teens to take their own life. I mean that's how Voltaire came to most of us.

But with a topic such as this, could you at least be creative? But therein lies the rub! If you were clever, ( as opposed to a Lincoln Park frat boy type who got laughed off some Monday night stand up stage) you probably wouldn't do it .

sarah / September 1, 2011 9:52 AM

I was bullied by mean girls (and boys)all throughout elementary school and jr. high. Didn't really have any self esteem until high school. I'm very grateful that I had some much better experiences when I was an older teenager that sort of made up for all of the put-downs I had heard for so many years. Bullying sucks. It really, really hurts the people who are targeted, so those who think it is "fun," I would ask to give it some more thoughtful reflection.

vise77 / September 1, 2011 9:54 AM

I learned early on that, even a very skinny kid, standing up to bullies almost always sent them to other targets. When I become older--my age increased, if not my apparent muscle mass--I also learned that I could take an ass-kicking pretty well from, say, the state wrestling champ who was picking on my nerdy friends. I also learned that I was a lot stronger than I appeared, with freaked out some bullies along the way.

I also learned that people who probably don't think they are bullies often engage in the same type of thinking as do bullies: Mainly, thinking by stereotypes. As per usual, today's prime example is our insecure little friend Spook, who writes this: "( as opposed to a Lincoln Park frat boy type who got laughed off some Monday night stand up stage)." Here is Spook bitching and moaning about bullying behavior, yet engaging in the same type of narrow thinking used since ancient times by bullies.

Don't you people ever learn? Live by the stereotype, die by it. Idiots.

Anon / September 1, 2011 1:24 PM

I knew someone was talking about me because my ears were ringing. All three of my ears. How's that for a creative rescue of the situation. Being bullied is a serious issue, but this is not a serious discussion. So if it makes you feel any better I can assure you were this a real discussion, and not a keyboard pecking party. I would treat it with as much seriousness as the situation would require. Granted my post was nothing to go tell mama about but I thought it might offer a ray of laughter in a land of somber stories. Gotta run!

Spook / September 1, 2011 4:23 PM

Well Lookie Younder!
Over dem dar hills, ah leaning up gainst that big old big cactus laughing with the ghost of President Ronald Reagan!

It’s none other than Vice 77, striking ah wooden match off that big boulder to light his last Lucky Stripe, readying to dispense his own frontier cyber justice gainst Spook( POW!!!) combined with his own biblical tale of a long long ago 3:15pm show down in the school yard against the state wrestling champ.

Yes sir re, old Vice licked him ah good, winning the respect and admiration of all the nerds, the Afro Samurai,Michele Bachmann, and that of Molly Ann Blushcheeks.

But Quiet as it’s kept, old Vice also won the forever admiration( and the varsity letter jacket) of the state wrestling champion by extending his hand to help him up from the ground where he himself put him. And to this day Vice defends both bullied and bully as is his way of things. Cause to old Vice Semper Fidelis aint just no motto, it’s his code.

M / September 1, 2011 4:42 PM

Inevitable Spook argument. Time to change this diaper.

R.S. / September 1, 2011 10:55 PM

Anyone who "Anon's" and finishes with "gotta run" clearly has never given a solid shoulder block in a school hallway.

R.S. and Anon are not one in the same.

vise77 / September 2, 2011 8:51 AM

Spook: Do you have a newsletter, and how can I subscribe? You offer the best performance art this side of Benny Hill.
Peace out, yo!

David / September 2, 2011 9:27 AM

How odd and unexpected that a conversation about bullying would descend into finger-pointing and nonsensical disagreement.

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