We've all been there, from being tripped in the hallways to being ripped of our lunchtrays, the bully is a master of intimidation. The worst attitudes and characters imagineable coming together to form a beast that would rival the likes of Voltron. Patrolling our days like a pod of bloodthirsty killer whales looking for their next innocent victim to prey upon.
My misadventures with these creatures began at the tender age of 9. I was at the local playground minding my own business and was suddenly blanketed by a shower of small rocks. I pinpointed my attacker and dropped from the jungle gym down to the sand. I then grabbed the largest handfull that I could and hurled it at my aggressor, sending him away running and crying as I stood victorious.
Now unbeknownst to me this kid happened to be the local tough's younger cousin. Ronnie Smaller was the red headed terror of my dear Hanover Townhomes and had struck fear into many a kid's heart. So the next thing I know I see this same kid returning to the playground with 14 year old Ronnie in tow. I saw the impending damage that would be done to me as clear as if it was an image in a crystal ball.
I vacated the scene and spent the entire summer avoiding him. Although I was thoughtfully reminded of my bleak future by friends who regularly told me that "Ronnie was looking for me". In the meantime his sister and my sister became friends which helped my cause. He finally cornered me one day with the simple warning that I had better leave his cousin alone. This was only my 1st and most mild run-in with a bully. The next episode would prove to be a true test to my developing manhood.
Misery loves company and I found solace in some of the following stories. Let's begin with Bruce Leroy from The Last Dragon.
This guy just wanted to be a kung fu master....thee kung fu master! He was calm, cool, gentle, and peaceful. Quietly living life as he made his way towards the "final level of kung fu". Then during a normal evening at the movie theatre...in comes Sho Nuff.
He abruptly interrupts the movie with the proclamation that "He is the master". After daring the crowd to suggest someone badder than him a kid innocently points out Bruce Leroy who is in the front row.
He fails to incite Leroy to fight,
but promises him that they will do battle. He harrasses Bruce Leroy throughout the movie. From barging into his dojo, to tearing up his parents' pizza shop, and to finally kidnapping Leroy's brother and girlfriend which was the final straw. It all culminated into a final showdown between "The Shogun of Harlem" and Bruce Leroy.
The fight was a classic struggle between good and evil.
Shonuff was wild with anger, but Leroy
was focused with the task at hand. The fight is back and forth for awhile before Shonuff delivers a backhand that smacks the fire out of Leroy.
Shonuff continues his assault with a brutal kick to Leroy's face.
This positions Bruce Leroy in front of a giant tank of water which Shonuff uses in an attempt to drown him, pulling him from the water every so often just long enough to ask Leroy "Who is the master?"
Leroy is about to drown, but something begins to happen. He has flashbacks from his life and suddenly gains enormous strength. He quickly turns the tables on Shonuff and commences to whooping his ass.
Leroy's rejuvenation unleashes a display that would make his master Lee proud.
Ultimately he defeated Shonuff and realized that what he looked for was inside of him all along. You can only be peaceful for so long and unfortunately some people only respond to violence.
This story reminds me of a problem I had in the 5th grade at 10 years old. There was this kid named Sean Collins in my class and he had a real bad disposition. He never gave me any problems at first, but then there was the Talona Young incident. Talona was Sean's girlfriend but she honestly had a crush on me. We were innocently playing around during recess one day when I tackled her in the snow. We laid there laughing for a moment afterwards...never realizing that we were being watched.
So we come in after recess and i'm standing at my locker when up walks Sean...all 4 and a half feet of him. I think the dude had a Napoleon complex, but the fact that I was rough housing with his girlfriend didn't help matters. So he musters up the ugliest look he could, got really close to my face, and told me that I better stay away from his girlfriend. Now I had no serious interest in Talona and was actually the boyfriend of her best friend, but the damage had been done. Sean had it out for me and it wasn't long before everything came to a head. In the meantime the guy would give me dirty looks, bump me when I walked by, cut in front of me in the lunchline, and threaten me on a daily basis.
Fast forward about a month or so later...we're in Art class and i'm getting the usual assortment of insults and provocations from young Sean. He then ups the anty by talking about my mother, which was when I made up my mind that this had to stop. We were sitting across the table from each other arguing and then he pushed the table as hard as he could into my chest. I returned the gesture and then he jumped to his feet to fight. We met each other at the side of the table and the fight was on. There was no defensive technique, no pretty uppercuts or jabs. Just 2 kids standing toe to toe...punching each other in the face with everything each other had.
We traded strikes blow for blow over the course of about 30 seconds. Someone finally broke it up and we just stood there staring at one another. We had a school assembely later that day and I just knew that he would be ready for round 2. He gave me as many of those twisted up looks that his facial muscles would allow throughout the assembely and I readied myself for the trip back to class afterwards. He did step to me in the hallway, but not to fight again.
He basically said it was over and the dude actually ended up being a good friend of mine. Not the dramatic ending that Shonuff suffered at the hands of Bruce Leroy but the point is the same. Sean thought that I was afraid of him, but when I reacted he knew he could no longer push me around and he grew to respect me. There was a certain uneasiness that I would feel about this dude. The anticipation of the problems that he gave me from day to day were actually worse than the problems themselves.
Waiting for a bomb to drop is no fun and I can't even imagine how poor Jerry Mitchell felt in 3 o'clock High.
Jerry Mitchell is a shy, quiet little guy who works in his high school's student store. Buddy Revell is a hardcore punk who has been expelled from numerous schools before and ends up attending Jerry's highschool. He has a really bad attitude and hates to be touched. So on this particular day everyone is talking about the new student Buddy Revell and how much of a bad ass he is. So anyway...Jerry has to relieve himself without realizing the horrible turn his day will soon take inbetween entering and exiting the bathroom.
He's standing there doing his business, incomprehensibly enjoying his last breath of normalcy, happens to look to his right and in walks Buddy.
The expression on poor Jerry's face was enough to fill a novel the size of "War and Peace".
It fell somewhere between "Oh God he's gonna kill me", and "I gotta get the hell out of here!" But instead Jerry keeps his cool and in a moment of sheer stupidity decides that he is going to make conversation with Buddy. He begins by asking him if he can interview him for a "stupid piece" that will be in the school paper (1st mistake). He goes on to say that he isn't a narc and doesn't care if Buddy is into a bunch of drugs and stuff (2nd mistake). After putting his foot in his mouth upto the knee Jerry realizes his foolishness and asks Buddy if they can forget the whole encounter while simultaneously doing this...
(3rd and final mistake).
Now remember Buddy hates human contact and this is all it takes to send him over the edge. He immediately grabs young Jerry and shoves him crotch first into the urinal while flushing.
This immediate attack ends with Jerry being slammed into a mirror where Buddy tells him "You made me really mad Jerry...now I have to work it off." We get another priceless look from Jerry at this point.
His worst fears take the form of a leather clad monster when Buddy then tells him that they were gonna fight at the end of the day...3 O'clock sharp! Jerry was a broken man. I was just waiting for him to slide down the bathroom wall and fall into the fetal position in a whimpering heap, but he held it together enough to walk out. He didn't know what to do...he was desperate and then a friend came up with an idea as desperate as he was. There was a kid in school named Craig Manny who was the tough guy around campus. At a friend's suggestion Jerry asked Craig to beat up Buddy for him, but Craig told him it would cost him $450 dollars. So what did Jerry do? He stole the money from the school store he worked at and gave it to Craig.
Craig and Buddy met up in the school library with Jerry a safe distance away hiding behind some bookshelves. One thing leads to another and in the middle of Craig's speech to Buddy about not bothering Jerry he made the same mistake that Jerry did.
Buddy grabs the guy's finger, breaks it, and hits him square in the nose which sends him into a bookshelf which causes a domino effect in the library. And there stands Jerry in disbelief and utter shock at the scene that has unfolded before him.
The clock is ticking and Jerry has to think fast. His next idea was to get suspended from school so he didn't have to fight Buddy. He had an oral book review to do for English class and he chose to review an x-rated book called "Honey goes to Hollywood". He even lights up a cigarette for dramatic effect before beginning his tale of Honey's raunchy exploits.
Now Jerry is sure he'll get suspended, but just to be sure he ups the stakes by ending his review with a kiss on his teacher's lips.
He was so shocked by what he had just done that he fainted on the floor.
Unfortunatly for him his teacher actually dug his impromptu performance and he found himself back at square one. Jerry has one last trick up his sleeve...he gets back the money he paid Craig and uses it to instead bribe Buddy directly. This gesture satisfies Buddy, but he makes a statement to Jerry and asks Jerry a question that changes everything. He tells Jerry that he is the biggest pu#sy that he has ever met and then asks Jerry how that feels.
Jerry is suddenly more ashamed of himself than he is scared of Buddy. He has totally stepped out of character all in an attempt to avoid fighting Buddy. He gathers up all of the courage he can and tells Buddy that the fight is still on! 3 o'clock comes and everyone pours into the hallways and make their way down to the parking lot. The whole school is there, Jerry is there and so is Buddy. The school principal and head of security both try to intervene but end up knocked out. The moment has come and the world is watching Jerry. The classic tale of David vs. Goliath. A new found look of determination has swept Jerry's face.
But Buddy looks no less determined.
They begin circling each other waiting for a chance to attack. Buddy strikes first, but then Jerry suprisingly lands a stiff jab to Buddy's nose.
This sincerely pissed Buddy off and Jerry knew that his lucky punch would reap unlucky rewards. Buddy checked his nose, and after realizing that it was bleeding he rushed Jerry with a closeline that stunned him.Then Buddy went for his brass knuckles. Buddy drew back to fire
but before he could Jerry's friend jumped him causing him to drop the brass knuckles. Jerry's sister was in the crowd and quickly picked them up and placed them on Jerry's hand.
Jerry threw himself right back into the mix. Buddy never realized that Jerry had the brass knuckles and Jerry took full advantage of it. Buddy threw a couple of missed punches and Jerry hit him with a brass bomb.
Buddy stood there speechless, dead on his feet, and then...
he fell to the ground defeated. As he lay there on the ground everyone congratulated Jerry and took one last look at Buddy.
The bigger they are the harder they fall but that isn't always a rule. Rewind back to 1986. I was a 6th grader now and was nurturing an already healthy interest in girls. There was a Bigfoot of an eigth grade girl named Thandi Dodd who liked me. The feeling wasn't mutual but I was flattered at the idea of an "older woman" being interested in me. However over time I grew tired of her advances and had a friend tell her that I didn't like her, never did like her, and never would like her.
Later that day I was sitting at the lunch table eating with friends. I could see Thandi's lumbering frame as she made hew way towards my right, but I thought nothing of it because she had to pass me to get to the trash cans. I opened my mouth to take another bite of my burger and in mid chomp she slapped me across my face. Now this was no ordinary slap...Thandi was a healthy girl and she really put her back into it. Picture a 14 year old girl with the strength of Serena Williams delivering a backhand minus the tennis racket.
I saw a flash and I swear the chick actually broke the sound barrier with this hit. I felt and heard a sonic boom before a ringing set into my hearing. She said nothing, she just smacked me and calmly made her way outside for recess. So here I was with a crushed ego and a perfect handprint of her palm stained across my cheek. I still had a mouth full of food...thank goodness I didn't choke. My friends just stared at me with sympathetic eyes. I got a couple of those "I know you aren't going to let her get away with that" looks, but for the most part they were sympathetic. The only thing missing was a hug and the words "It will be ok".
I had no idea what to do. I was torn between getting whooped by a girl who had about 40 pounds and 3 inches on me, and beating up a girl (if I could have managed) that would result in various male members of her family and clique then beating me. So I mustered up the last shred of dignity I had, fought back the tears, firmly grabbed the sides of my lunchtray, and stood to leave before making a hasty exit out of the lunchroom. My next stop was the guidance counselors office. It was the equivalent of seeking help from a prison guard as opposed to the warden. I didn't want to go to the principal and get her into trouble, but I did want someone to talk to her. So they called her into the office and handled the situation.
My next few meetings with Thandi were met with dirty looks, laughter from her friends, and some light harassment, but she eventually lost interest and left me be. The schoolyard bully is only second to the neighborhood one. The one you actually end up spending even more time being victimized by. Billy was the average kid who didn't bother anyone. He liked to ride his bike and had a rather unique greenthumb. His story was told inbetween segments of the movie Creepshow 2. It all started for Billy when he went to the local post office to retrieve a package of venus flytraps.
He was overjoyed when the postmaster handed him his prized package.
He raced out of the post office, package in hand excited about his new plant. So Billy is riding home and is spotted by a group of local kids who follow him and soon after surround him.
The leader of the pack is a real jerk and doesn't waste time harassing Billy. He walks up to Billy and snatches the package out of the basket on his bike.
Then with all of the power he could summon he smashed the plant in the box.
He taunted Billy further by holding the plant up for his friends and Billy to see and then stepped on it with his boot.
By this time Billy was pissed and had suffered enough at the hands of this brute.
He cocked back and fired his foot straight into the kid's sack.
Billy jumped onto his bike and raced off with the bullies in hot pursuit of him.
By this time he was formulating the perfect plan to punish his tormentors. He intentionally lead them into an old vacant lot.
They thought that they had Billy right where they wanted him, but it was really him who had them where he wanted. The main thug was quick to walk up to Billy with dreams of pounding him for what he had done.
Unbeknownst to the bully, Billy had already planted some venus flytraps that would soon come to his aid.
They formed a circle around him ready to pounce when one of the boys happened to look up.
He was horrified at what he saw and at that moment 4 very large venus flytraps started eating.
The plants made quick work of the supporting bullies, but the main one tried to make an escape.
He ran only to find himself within the jaws of one of the very plants he had destroyed.
Call it poetic justice...and even the plant seemed to get that by spitting out the same boot used to stomp the life out of its brethren.
Billy had his revenge and managed a satisfyingly evil smirk as the story came to a close.
Being bullied can be a very traumatic experience and unfortunately venus flytraps don't really eat small jerks. So a kid is often left to fend for himself against other kids who are usually bigger or stronger, and outnumber them. Kids who bully will often end up doing so throughout their lives in various capacities, and the kids who are bullied can have serious self-esteem issues among deeper emotional ones. The bullies today aren't the same as yesterday, and kids who are bullied will sometimes react in extreme violence. Don't take it lightly...if you have a kid who is being bullied get to the bottom of it. It may only require the kid to stand up for themselves or it may take you to actually intervene. If you have a kid that is a bully then turn the tables on them. Your bigger and badder so bully them back and see how they like it. You may just intercept a very ugly situation in your own kid's future. We've all had these situations and have hopefully escaped unscathed, but there are some who will and have become statistics as a result.