My Bully Story
Wherein the Author, in Tender Youth, Learns a Rather Painful Lesson and Reflects on the Delicate Balance Between Being Bullied and Being a Bully Oneself
Once upon a time, in a junior high school situated in a sleepy little community on an enchanted island, there was a nice young man who was apparently being bullied by a big meanie. I say apparently for while I never saw this bullying occur, the nice young man, being a friend, told me about the tribulations the big meanie was causing him, and how he felt frightened and intimidated.
Being the type of person who with this sort of thing will not put up, I approached the big meanie at school, and instead of asking him why he had such discord with my friend the nice young man, I grabbed him around the throat and told him, “if you don’t stop fucking with my friend you’ll have to deal with me.”
A few weeks later we were all at a school dance, enjoying the wonderful Nazareth cover band, Hair O’ the Dog. During the band’s achingly beautiful version of the ballad, Love Hurts, the big meanie lurched out of the swaying crowd, spun me out of the arms of my sweetheart, and challenged me to a bout. He was obviously under the influence of the demon drink, his eyes glassy and breath foul, and I refused the challenge while pointing out he was inebriated. Undeterred, he insisted I come outside and put up my dukes, so wishing to cause no more commotion for the other revelers, I complied.
Once outside he proceeded to kick the shit out of me.
The cuts and bruises I received left me in pain for several weeks, and without the gentle ministrations of my sweetheart I might never have recovered. Bruised, too, was my ego, and my reputation in our institution of learning. I thought I might never regain my rugged countenance, nor my standing amongst my peers, but in that curious way the world has of spinning on, my physiognomy healed, the mockers stopped mocking, and everyone pretty much forgot about the whole distasteful incident.
Short years after all this unpleasantness I happened to have a new sweetheart, and it was under her advisement that we repaired to a local drinking establishment of an evening for some amusement. There she espied the big meanie, and to my shock greeted him as if they were long-lost friends, separated by war or plague, and much overjoyed to once again be in each other’s presence. Naturally I was taken aback, but now being much more mature and worldly, I conversed with the big meanie in the course of the evening and thoroughly enjoyed his company.
As my sweetheart and I were preparing our departure, to the big meanie I broached the elephant who’d been standing in the room all evening, casting a rather enormous shadow across our renewed acquaintance.
“You beat me rather soundly in our brouhaha,” I smiled.
“Ah, yes,” he replied, “I always felt bad about that and I always wanted to ask you why you’d earlier grabbed my throat and threatened me in the halls of our institution.”
“Say what, then?” I rejoined, shocked to my very core. “I was told by the very nice young man that you’d been giving him some heavy-handed guff, so I stepped in to help. All you can do for a friend, and such.”
It was his turn to be surprised. “I hardly ever conversed with the nice young man,” he said. “I don’t know why he’d relate such stuff and bother…pure balderdash! I’m afraid he was pulling your leg, rather, and for what reason I have no mind!”
“Hmmm,” says I, and bid him adieu.
Later that evening I cogitated on this conundrum, and ultimately realized the major errors of my actions. Firstly, I had acted on hearsay and rather than corroborating a single source I’d rashly acted out. Secondly, my acting out was of the most egregious nature – I’d come to a bully acting the bully, a nonsensical approach that I then and now realized was just not on.
Lastly, of course, was my recommitment made those many evenings past that never, ever, would I again resort to try and settle any disagreement through fisticuffs. Every person, especially those in the flower of youth, must know their limits, and like most everyone else I detest being battered to a pulp.
Thus, My Bully Story. May you learn from my youthful missteps and forever disdain gossip; may you never become a bully in an effort to quell same; and may you only resort to pugilism at the very, ultimate last, and only if you know what the hell you’re doing.