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.

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.


Sometimes timing is everything.