Opinion

How to deal with a bully

There’s always at least one in every class. You know who I’m talking about.

For me it was Debbie Albright.

Debbie, my third grade classmate, was blond and petite. I wasn’t. I was Karen with the big feet.

Debbie was popular, but she was also a bully. I can now see her popularity solely stemmed from the fact that if you weren’t her friend then you were her enemy.

From Day One I was her enemy.

She joyfully and enthusiastically took it upon herself to make each and every day of my school life miserable. It was a mission for her. A vocation of sorts, one might say.

I well remember the day Debbie and I met. It was the first day at a new school for me. Because we moved lots I always had plenty of those first-day days. I was used to them.

Those were the dreaded days when the teacher would parade you like a prized catch in front of the class.

Some of you likely know the routine.

Teacher: “Boys and girls, I would like you to meet...”

Unfortunately for me, my maiden name was Floëting (pronounced floating), a good old German name, but the kind of name which other, meaner, kids gleefully latched onto.

“Ha, ha! You’re a boat!”

“Are you going down the river?”

I’d heard them all.

Or so I thought.

The girl in the second row narrowed her eyes and with great disdain said, “Floating in pee.”

That was Debbie Albright and that’s when I knew my work was cut out for me.

I can now laugh about the floating in pee business, but back then it hurt to be the butt end of jokes.

Nonetheless, I smiled gamely and hoped for a better tomorrow.

The following day wasn’t much better. As I slipped into my desk I heard, “I smell pee.”

And so it went, unrelentingly, day after day after day.

I was taught to never throw the first punch, either physically or verbally. It was OK if I defended myself against a punch, but it was never ever okay to initiate the punch. But that was beginning to wear thin.

Debbie deserved a punch and maybe even a kick, but I couldn’t act on it.

So I hatched a plan. A plan for Debbie. A brilliant plan which would not leave the stain of blood on my hands.

That night after school I went home, tore a strip of aluminum foil off the roll and locked myself in the bathroom. Digging frantically through the medicine cabinet I found my ammunition.

It read: Ex-lax. I grinned as I grabbed several squares of Ex-lax and wrapped them in foil.

I grinned when I went to sleep and I was still grinning the following day when I went to school, the foil-wrapped goodie stuffed in my lunch bag along with my tuna sandwich.

They say timing is everything. I agree.

That day at lunch I made certain to sit near Debbie. I saw her eyeing me, waiting to verbally pounce on me. That was OK by me.

“Hey floating pee girl whatcha got there?” she asked as I unpacked my lunch.

“My lunch,” I answered, eyes averted.

“Is that chocolate?” she asked as she eyed the foil-wrapped prize.

Before I could answer she grabbed the foil, unwrapped it, and plopped the chocolaty pieces in her mouth. I smiled as she taunted me with lip-smacking noises.

And I was still smiling when, just before the end of the school day she frantically ran out the classroom door on the way to the bathroom.

Yup.

Sometimes timing is everything.

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