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Response to Feeling the Bern (Original post)

Sun Jan 15, 2017, 05:55 PM

2. I was a skinny, squeaky, highly reactive kid. A perfect target for bullies.

In sixth grade somebody called me "queerbait" and the name stuck throughout middle and high school.

I was frequently assaulted, stuffed in garbage cans, toilets, lockers... I quit riding the bus to school and rode my bike to avoid harassment, and then they'd vandalize my bike, spitting on the seat, letting the air out of the tires, etc.. Whenever bullies were caught hammering on me, we'd both get in trouble, sent to detention. This would only infuriate the bullies more and they'd torment me further, throwing stuff at me, smacking me as they passed by, grabbing my classwork and destroying it... I spent most lunches in the library. I was relatively safe there.

Less-than-helpful adults told me I'd get into much less trouble if I could "act like a man." There were those who told me I should "fight back." Right. I was clumsy too. The odds I'd do any damage to a bully were nil. Maybe I should carry a gun?

If anything saved me, it's that my siblings and I were largely free range feral children and our home was safe. There was food to eat, a place to sleep, and my parents enjoyed our company, even when they were engrossed in their art. (My parents are artists who had day jobs, and their friends are artists, some rather eccentric, the sort who will strip off all their clothes and jump in a lake. Heck, I had a grandfather who would do that.)

The most unfortunate victims of bullying don't have any safe places, not at school, not at home, and they don't have any decent adults looking out for them.

One of the best decisions I ever made was to quit high school for college. (Nope, I never went to a high school dance or football game.)

In college the violence stopped, just like that. Adults who assault minors go to jail. There was no high school equivalency exam then, but I'd scored high on multiple college placement exams and similar tests, so the high school principal, my parents, and the college admissions office all agreed it was the best place for me. I was still a skinny, squeaky, highly reactive kid.

Some lecturers and professors clearly didn't like having minors in their classes. I think they felt they had to measure their language and behavior. I also had to have my parents sign permission slips for field work and such. Professors who felt they had to be chaperones didn't like it. They didn't know I'd seen and heard everything at that point, adult behavior was no mystery to me.

When I was eighteen my physical development started to accelerate. I grew taller fast, I grew muscles, so much I've got stretch marks in various places. I'm a foot taller and a ninety pounds heavier than I was in high school. I grew the last inch when I was 24.

A few years ago I attended the funeral of a childhood friend who'd built himself a stairway to heaven of painkillers and alcohol after an industrial accident. Some of the bullies of my childhood were there, but none of them recognized me, or if they did, they kept it to themselves. I felt a little sad for them, it seemed that none of them had escaped the environment that had made them bullies. Their kids were probably bullies too.

Meanwhile, I've had all these life-changing adventures, good and bad, and it all started with that decision to quit high school.

My sister had similar problems and quit high school. She took the new high school equivalency exam when she turned sixteen. Curiously, my siblings who completed high school have two year associate degrees, while my sister and I have bachelors degrees from major universities.

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Arrow 2 replies Author Time Post
Feeling the Bern Jan 2017 OP
Pyke Jan 2017 #1
LineNew Reply I was a skinny, squeaky, highly reactive kid. A perfect target for bullies.
hunter Jan 2017 #2
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