Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bullied in High School

There was recently another bullying story in the news. No, actually there were two which made the national headlines. I was so angry and disgusted that extreme bullying still occurs. I know as children, we go through a certain amount of bullying as we grow up. It is, unfortunately an expected part of growing up ... especially if you are a geek, dork, nerd, gay, lesbian, or another minority. Hopefully it doesn't effect the individual in later life but in too many situations, we have seen that this is not the case.

I was bullied. Let's face it, I was a meek, a smaller kid, bookworm, geek, effeminate, nonsports-oriented. Did that make it OK for me to be bullied, NO! But, I was a prime candidate for bullying. Luckily, I survived high school unscathed for the most part. You learn how to stay under the radar and not attract unwanted attention to yourself. I wasn't bullied too often and had enough bigger kids looking out for me.

My high school girl-friends Marguerite and Angie were also great friends and my protectors. Love those gals! Many a time, they stood up for this geek and I appreciated it. Again, I was lucky. I even actually really enjoyed the majority of my high school. My senior year was great. I had plenty of friends, was pretty well liked, and was active in not only varsity sports but also held some officer positions in a couple of clubs.

One time, in 7th grade, I was punched in the stomach by this asshole Alex. All I had done was flirt with one of my classmates Marnee, whom I had known since I was 5! I had always had a crush on her. We were in gym class, he liked her and saw us kidding around. Before I knew it, he came over to me and exclaimed, "Stay away from her!" and punched me square in the stomach. I doubled over in pain, out of breath. It was so stupid and in my opinion just showed how much of an idiot he was. Other kids saw and just let it happen. No one helped me. It goes without saying that I avoided Alex for the rest of high school. I just saw Alex as a pretentious 7th grade asshole. Even though I have never seen him since, I still think of him as a 44 year old pretentious asshole. Sorry, that just happens when someone bullies you. You get scarred. GET IT?

Luckily, Marnee and I remained good friends. (Blush and beaming smiles)

I also remember waaay back in grade school that I got into a pretty bad fight with my best friend Jeff Cope. I don't even know why we fought but he was stronger than me, and tossed me into my neighbor's bushes. I climbed out, told him off and walked home all scratched up. The next day we were friends again as if nothing happened. I also got into a fight on the playground with John Mullens. Next day, friends again. Too bad things don't work that way these days.

This next anecdote is one that I've only told to a few close friends. I've been scarred by it. Truly shamed and hurt. All the other bullying incidents are nothing compared to this one. I used to say I was embarrassed that it took me such a long time to get over it. Now though, I accept that it is a part of me. I acknowledge it and move on. BUT it will always be a part of me and it has taken years to deal with it.

If only I had known that Steven McQueen wore a turtleneck.
I was in line in the cafeteria, 9th grade. I was waiting in line for food when a larger classmate imitated me, my mannerisms, my speech. He told me quote unquote that Jews only wear turtlenecks. I immediately felt fire, but not the type of fire associated with rage, but the fire and heat associated with the feeling of embarrassment and shame.  It crept up my body, my head, my eyes. OMG, I fought the urge to cry and run. I felt tears but I held them back. I just told him to shut up, turned around, and went silent in line.

Let's think about this for a second (as adults). WHAT THE FUCK? What does that even mean? Only Jew wear turtlenecks. That is one of the most ridiculous statements, as an adult, that I have ever heard. BUT, as a 15 year old, it was truly damning.

I was so embarrassed. I felt so obvious, so noticeable in my turtleneck. I felt like a Jew, because only Jews wear turtlenecks. This kid had been tormenting me for 2 years since 7th grade, but now he had tormented me about something different, my religion, the one thing which at this point in high school, had set me apart, made me different, but it was never negative up until this point. With regards to turtlenecks,  I had never worn one for at least 15 years because I hated the way I looked in them, always thinking back to that incident in the cafeteria.

This bully was a monster, grabbing at anything which made a kid different and then negatively capitalizing on it. Asshole yes. Monster (in my eyes) yes. Pathetic and pitiful ... yes.

He tormented me through high school. It was Hell. But luckily a couple of good guys by the names of Mike, Chris, and Joe (of our Gateway HS football team) befriended me and I got through it unscathed. He seemed to back off. I have always (mentally) thanked them for this, maybe not publicly until now. Mike, unfortunately passed away a couple years ago and it pains me that I never was able to thank him. That's what happens though after high school as you more than often go your separate ways. I feel Mike somehow, somewhere, knows how much I owe him.

I saw the bully at my 25th reunion back in November 2013 and was cordial and pleasant to him. His wife though was sooo nice. I had all of these grandiose plans that I would finally confront him and tell him what an asshole he was. Then I realized, why am I talking to this asshole? After a short meaningless conversation, I pretty much walked away from him mid sentence. 

I finally bought a turtleneck in the mid 2000's. Wore it, got compliments, and kept it until I wore it out. It's a shame we are scarred this way. Luckily my "scarring" has faded, as true scars do. The pain grows less each year as the scar fades. It sucks though that I still have pain. I recognized that at the reunion and there is nothing wrong with that. I choose though, to not have to talk or acknowledge that individual anymore in my life. I can say he doesn't have any power anymore, but sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. I can honestly say though that he still is such a fucking asshole.


  1. I was scarred by witnessing the school principal paddle a boy at the front of the class for being a sort of class clown.
    This was 5th grade.
    The principal looked like an enraged demon, the hitting seemed really hard and the boy did cry -and scream out in pain.
    I'm well past ten now but I still cannot unsee that.


  2. Thanks for your comment. I totally understand how horrible that was.

  3. I lived in fear for three years of elementary school from the beating I got from LC and HH in Wenonah. Being in the music department at GRHS saved me.

    1. GRHS music dept saved a lot of us

    2. Agreed! Don't know how I would have made it without the music dept.

  4. Marc,
    My heart goes out to you. I remember living in fear in 8th grade because some stoned asshole would rub my leg and make sexual comments all through math class, I was scared to go to school..

  5. You did well, of course your Brother tells of you Bullying him a time or two. All kidding aside, it was an excellent post

  6. Marc, I too was bullied ruthlessly. Sometimes, it is part of growing up, how kids deal with differences. Like in elementary school, I was called Tinkerbell by many of your classmates (maybe once or twice by you as well, but I hold absolutely no animosity). I thought it would stop once I hit GRHS, but 7th grade it continued. I remember Shirley was pretty harsh in reading class. Then there was Steve in gym. We were playing volleyball and I made the mistake of insisting that the 8th grader's shot was out of bounds. He punched me in the head on the way to the next class. Luckily, Becky (on whom I had a huge crush) talked to me and made me feel better. And I totally agree, the family atmosphere of the music department made high school the best. I'm very pleased you started this blog, Marc. I honestly had no idea you were bullied. You're a great guy, and keep up the good work!!

  7. Thank you for the compliment Aaron. Right back at ya. I do remember you being bullied and am sorry if I took any part of it. I was trying so hard to avoid any conflict for myself. Being bullied is like being on an island, you are so alone. I did bully a couple of kids, I'm embarrassed about it. I thought some how (wrongly of course), it would help my situation. It didn't. I'm glad you are doing well my friend and we survived.

  8. I kept my story inside till recently and for some reason I feel the need to let it out on occasion.
    I had at least two bullies in school. I was bullied from when I was in grade school till my 12th grade year. In grade school I had a song sung to me every morning when I got on the school bus that referred to my bucked teeth. They also called me fish face because I had a small mouth. I was desperately SHY and was never able to say a word to anyone, ever. Then from Jr High into High school they started this thing where they would say out loud "Ten Bucks" which means they wanted a blow job for Ten Bucks. My Bullies names were Bruce Brand and Paul Ramsey from North Penn High School. Scared for life a$$holes. I wonder how their kids are doing in school. Our 30th Reunion is coming up in Oct. In my fantasy I'd love to sneak up on these d!ckheads.

  9. Nannette, thank u so much for sharing these painful memories.