Anat And The Bully

I’m a nerd. Therefore, I’ve had a school-life filled with bullies. I wanted to tell you about one of them that was different from the rest.

I was… what, tenth grade?

I was teased a lot, and I mean A LOT. I was the only nerd in my school at a time where not only girl-gamers were scarce, but I lived in a farming community. No one played video games or read fantasy books where I lived. I would be made fun of for everything. From the drawings I did, but what I said. For my mistakes, for my bushy eyebrows, for being the new kid in school, for being short, for being me… For anything. My approach, when I could, was to pretend they didn’t exist at all. They would yell insults at me, and I would make a point to hum to myself and pretend they were my imaginary bullies. I would even continue conversations with my conversation partner looking confused at me that I wasn’t acknowledging the hecklers. I don’t know if it helped, ’cause I didn’t get bullies any less, but that’s how I handled it.

In this one, I was walking along one of the corridors with my “friend” (you’ll understand in a bit why the quotation marks) Maya. We were generally just walking from this place to that when Maya was shoved from behind meanly out of the way by a tiny little ball of angry. We’ll call her “Reef”, as I had honestly forgotten her name, but it was one of those modern names like “Oceaniea” or “Reefia”. Let me tell you about Reef. She was tinier than me (and I’m only a whopping 5’3″). And made up for it by being really angry all the time. I don’t know how that worked for her, but she and I had pretty much zero interactions prior. She was in the same grade as me, and looked pretty much like if a cross between a tiny wiener dog with the face of a pug.

So Reef comes barreling down the corridor and into Maya, knocking her to the ground. She didn’t apologize or anything, just walked off. So I said, “Someone’s having a bad day.”

That was apparently all she needed. She marched up to me and started screaming in my face. I remember some parts of it, even to this day.

“Did you talk to me?!” She demanded, her little face trying to convey anger, but it always looked angry, so it was hard to tell. “You don’t get to talk to me, do you understand?!”

“I understand.” I replied with perfect equilibrium. You see, I’m the complete opposite of impulsive; I react with my mind first, then later think about what I should have felt then. It’s strange. So when this furious thing was screaming in my face, my own expression showed nothing but curious bemusement.

“Do you understand me?!” she demanded again, her finger in my face. I guess I didn’t give her much material to work this. I replied with the same calm voice,

“I mentioned just now that I understood. I don’t understand what further confirmation you’re looking for.”

Yeah. She didn’t punch me or anything, luckily, but she did shove me make some awful threats to. Only after she had departed did I notice that Maya had since bolted. She didn’t even wait for me to finish the altercation. I thought she was my friend. It was also only after that my knees were shaking and my hands were shaking and I was so very scared she would come back and beat me up. I might have some remnants of wit on me, but no physical capacity whatsoever. I hated being beaten (who likes it?!) and was honestly really really scared.

She would corner me in corridors, telling me to keep the hell out of her way. She threatened me with all sorts of things, like tearing my eyes out and suchlike. It was scary! She was always angry.

I didn’t have really any friends, as even when I was friends with Maya, she was the type to care for boy-bands and beauty, and I was the sulky teen who wore black. The news of the encounter(s) spread throughout my grade, and another classmate expressed,

“You’re so brave!” she said, “I bumped into Reef a couple of years ago and when she shoved me I fell to the ground and cried.”

“Was she satisfied with that?” I asked. “Yes,” Replied my friend, “She hasn’t ever bothered me since.” At the time I wished I could be scared and cowed properly so that I wouldn’t be in that situation. I was scared daily. I wondered if I was brave or just broken. Each time we met it was like I didn’t really understand how to be bullied properly. Maybe she was a lousy bully. I tried to simply be polite and patient with her outbursts.

To make matters worse we took the same bus home. So I would hope very hard that she had an extra period each time I climbed the bus, and tried to pay attention to my book whenever she did get on. Sometimes she and her friends would stand by my seat and make fun of me for a while.

At one point another bully, one who had long since given up and bullying me (after we accidentally found out we both loved the band Queen– not a very interesting story), approached Reef one day when she was waiting to waylay me and told her to leave me alone. Consider me and him had hardly spoken two words since our shared music experience, I was very surprised. It didn’t do much to stop Reef, though. Still, I remember his moment of kindness to this day.

One day I climbed on the bus after she had. I was scared and dreaded a confrontation. I figured I must have really offended her with my offhanded remark back then, so I figured I should just go apologize. I approached where her and her friends were gathered and I said,

“I think I must have hurt your feelings back then when I spoke, and if I did I apologize.” And I went back to my seat. She approached me then and told me again, with less gusto, than I am not to speak with her. I told her that was ok by me.

For a few days nothing happened, then…

I was reading a Terry Pratchett book, sitting in the shade and waiting for the bus home. I remember it was a really sunny day. I saw her approach. My stomach sank to my shoes. There was no one around, no one else for her to talk to or interact with. I was the only target. It would be the perfect spot for her to beat me up.

She arrived at the stone fence I was sitting on and sat down in silence. I pretended to continue reading, but I was really afraid she would grab my book and hurt it somehow. I was really enjoying it and I felt I would burst into tears if she did that after all these days upon days of fearing her.

At long last she spoke,

“Whacha reading?” It was in English, so one can imagine that she would have had to make an effort to read the title (I’m not from an English speaking country).

I replied courteously, but cautiously, “A book by this author called Terry Pratchett.”

“What’s it about?” She inquired. I wondered if she was trying to bait me into something, but I didn’t know what else to say. I answered, “It’s a fantasy novel about a guy called Rincewind. It’s very funny.”

“That sounds nice!” she said, looking into my face and smiling for the first time I had ever seen her anything other than angry.

She never made any threats on my again or even really spoke to me ever again.

What the hell? To this day I don’t understand what happened. Did she simply get bored? If so why bother talking to me and being nice? What was it all for? Why talk to me at all and be nice only to never talk to me again? What was all that about?!

I still don’t know what went through her head through all this. I don’t know if I acted appropriately or right, but I feel proud that I never quite gave in, I guess.

For the record, all of Clou and Gilad’s bullies and assholes are all named variations of my own bullies. They deserve it for making me sad.

Does anyone know what this meant? Why did she stop? Heck, if someone had an idea of why she even started that’d be a thing…

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4 Responses to Anat And The Bully

  1. Stig Hemmer says:

    Humans are weird. Really really weird. There are people called psychologists who study humans for years in university and then work with humans for the rest of their career after that. They still don’t understand humans.

    I will not try to understand what makes bullies bully.

    However, I will say that the school have seriously failed their mission if bullying is as rampant as you describe. The school, the principal, the teachers, the school bus drivers and everybody else who witnessed the situation without doing anything failed in their job as adults who should teach kids how to behave. (The same can be said of Clou and Gilad’s schools, but those were more brutal times)

    • Anat says:

      Stig, you raise an interesting point. The school, after I told them of the situation, did try to do something, but it was so clumsily and ineptly attempted that I actually asked that they wouldn’t try anymore. If they had their way it would have made things so much worse for me. I didn’t think their “reaction” such as it was was worth mentioning.

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