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In the discussion thread: Have you ever been bullied? [View all]

Response to cynatnite (Original post)

Mon May 14, 2012, 11:52 AM

108. My freshman year at the private high school that I went to for two years

It was technically a Catholic high school, although not overtly religious (no nuns or priests teaching) and a lot of the students there were not actually Catholic but instead simply fuck-ups whose parents sent them there in the hopes it would straighten them out. But my sister had gone there and apparently had a decent experience. And the Catholic labeling for me mislead me--I had a good experience in my CCD classes (Catholic religious education) with my classmates at my home parish, most of whom were all very friendly, sociable and outgoing. So I thought it might offer more to me than the local public high school, tuition was not too outrageous for my parents, so I convinced them to enroll me there.

Bottom line, the place was a hellhole for bullying and cliquish behavior. Most everyone was in various small cliques, all of whom talked horribly about each other behind their backs but smiled to their faces. I decided I didn't want to play along so I disassociated myself from those cliques. The only people I found tolerable were those who seemed to feel likewise; sadly, those were far and few between.

Unfortunately, this was the mid 1990s, right after "Dazed and Confused" had come out. And that movie must have put something into the screwed up heads of the student population, because the non-freshman made it a point to make all the freshmen feel as miserable as possible. (Ironically, from speaking with my friends at the public high school, this was never an issue there. Never). There were stories that the upper classmen would stuff freshmen into trash cans or do other humilating things. I don't know if they were just stories--thankfully that never personally happened to me, but the intimidation factor was there.

And then there was this one student, a sophomore ("young fool", ironic, huh?) named Randy.

To this day, I still cannot figure Randy out. He appeared to be popular and well liked, was a member of the school's basketball team, and always had a cadre of about a half dozen friends walking around him on campus. As God is my witness, I never did anything to upset or anger Randy. I don't think I even spoke to him before. Yet Randy felt the need to single me out, a guy who never did anything wrong to him.

It wasn't anything physical. He never stuffed me in the trash can, tripped me, hit me, none of that. But he did go out of his way to cruelly isolate me. It was a large, spread out campus with various buildings that you had to walk in between. And whenever I would be walking in between classes, he and his gang would be walking the other way and Randy would start calling out my name, making cat-calls and other oddly provocative gestures just to get a rise out of his friends. I'm not exactly sure why. I wasn't gay, nor did I appear gay to others or do anything that might suggest that I was gay. I was, however, shy, quiet and reserved, placid, and because I didn't want to play the clique game I didn't have any close friends at the school. I think Randy just thought of me as an easy punching bag--a victim he could cruelly get a laugh at my expense in front of his friends. I honestly think he was a psychopath, but a charming one at that.

Another possible explanation was that sometimes I would have conversations with some of the cute upper class girls at the school, and maybe he saw me as some sort of threat--the quiet, shy kid gets the girl's attention, and needs to be knocked down a few notches. But that's just speculation on my part.

The worst thing was that even among people at the school who were friendly to me saw this but really didn't see it as a big deal. Some even admitted to me that they thought it was funny, and said, "Oh that's just Randy--he has a huge ego!"

So what did I do? The answer is nothing. I've always considered myself a pacifist, and I had no major desire to get into any fights. Occassionally, I had a few fantasies about fighting back but it didn't go beyond that. It did affect my outward happiness, and I once had a guidance counselor approach me and tell me she heard a rumor I was suicidal. (For the record, nothing of that sort remotely was the case.) However, I didn't want to report Randy's behavior to the school's administrators either, as much as I wanted to. I feared that doing so would make me appear weak, and that if I did that, the bullying would become physical.

Instead, I just kept on thinking, "He'll get his. One day, he'll get his." I believed in karma-type retribution, and that some day Randy would get some sort of payback for his bullying of me (and potentially others).

After my freshman year, Randy's family moved to Arkansas. At that point, I wanted to go back to public school, but part of me felt that such a hasty retreat would mean that Randy won. So I stuck it out through sophomore year--which wasn't as bad thanks to the lack of Randy, but still the whole private school experience was ruined on me. I felt isolated and lonely, and after sophomore year I decided to go back to public school. And it was the greatest decision of my life--the environment there was a total 180, I excelled in academics, connected with old friends, made new friends, went to prom, had the most influential teacher I've ever had, the whole nine yards.

But for years afterwards, I have to admit I was still angry at Randy for his cruel behavior. And I had no interest in forgiving him for his transgressions against me.

Then one day, I was engaging in my occasional passion of looking up on Facebook various people from long ago (yes, Facebook stalking if you want to call it that), and I started to wonder "What did happen to Randy?" So, after a few searches, I finally came across Randy's facebook profile.

Randy had gotten married, had three sons, was still living in Alabama....nothing too out of the ordinary, until I saw continued references to one of his sons on his and his wife's page. Curious, I looked further as to why he was so fixated on talking about that one son. And then I found out: his three year old son (the same age as my daughter) had tragically died in a drowning accident. Randy's Facebook profile picture was him and his now deceased son, as happy father and son.

Now, the cynical part of me would want to say that this was the ultimate payback--that karma or divine retribution had taken place and taken the one most cherished thing out of Randy's life as payback for how he acted towards me and possibly many others years ago.

But I quickly rejected that proposition. Bad karma or divine retribution would be me reading something like Randy had been caught embezlling from his job and being sent to prison, or something along those lines. But this was a man's son who was taken from him, at such a young age. The loss of a child is quite possibly the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone in their lifetime. If God forbid that were to happen with me, I don't even know how I could get out of bed in the morning. It must be a truly hellish situation for anyone who has been through it. I then felt a very deep and very real sense of empathy and sadness for the person who bullied me endlessly my first year of high school.

Needless to say, after reading that, I didn't have much of a desire to see any more wrong come to Randy. As much as I felt how he had made one year of my life felt like a living hell, I realize that my feelings about that situation still couldn't compare to the true living hell of his life knowing he has lost a child.

So Randy, wherever you may be, I have to wish you peace, solace, all the love and enjoyment in the world with your other children, and all the best to you in the remaining years of your life.

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