…on applying terror when confronting bullies…

Posted: February 25, 2014 in Growing Up Socio
Tags: , , ,

“I have to stop in and see the principal this afternoon,” my friend told me yesterday.

“You been looking up skirts under the bleachers again,” I joked.

“Not this time,” he laughed. “It’s a bully.”

His fourth grade son’s friend had told him in confidence. Two dreadful little shit asses were stealing the little fellows lunch on a daily basis. My suggestion of planting chocolate Ex-lax in his lunch bag was a fine idea but wouldn’t have worked. The rotten bastards were dumping it out and grinding it into the floor with their Nikes.

I had a bully once. His name was Chris Haggart. I was in the seventh grade and the first time it happened I was wearing my Rude Dog and the Dweebs t-shirt. Chris leaned back, during class, and backhanded me in the side of the head.

While it didn’t hurt all that bad, I was in shock that it had happened. I was pretty quiet and stayed off most people’s radars…Chris was my first experience in being bullied. He didn’t want my lunch, my milk money or my sneakers. He just wanted a victim. A bully lacks self esteem and seeks out others whom he may rob of theirs.

It’s quite an unfair exchange. The bully is raised badly, possibly even abused , and comes to see himself poorly. The difference between a bully and any other abused child is the bully’s capacity to revisit this treatment upon others. The public assault and subsequent humiliation isn’t personal, mind you, but it is certainly the only way the bully sees to make himself feel strong. It’s a false boost of ego, but it’s a boost nonetheless and it’s damn sure better than nothing.

The victim gets fucked over double in the process. Not only does the abuse come externally, but the victims personal identity changes. A seventh grade boy assumes the other kids think he’s a pussy when he doesn’t go out like Chuck Norris, jumping up and roundhouse kicking Chris in the face. That’s what we’re taught by our culture and the popular media. A real man stands up and defends himself at all costs. Right?

Chris had fifty pounds on me easy. He was two grades behind. Hell, he was smoking already. And I didn’t know how to roundhouse kick.

What was I to do? We’re taught, these days, to tell. Report it to the teacher, the principal, the police. Report it, seek protection and ultimately defer our self esteem and safety to the benevolence of other people who are placed, through circumstance, into places of power in our lives.

Our power is taken. Go ahead and roundhouse kick the bully. You’ll get suspended too. That was the nineties, these days, they call the law. Either way, I didn’t want to get in trouble at all. Trouble at school is bigger trouble at home.

It happened twice more before I asked my dad what to do. He didn’t explain how bullies operate. Instead, he taught me to apply terror.

“Catch him somewhere private, get the drop on him and hurt him so bad he never does it again.”

I was in shock. Really?

He began to elaborate. People, like animals, follow patterns and within these patterns, lie our vulnerabilities. He reminded me how we often exploited the predictable feeding patterns of deer and squirrels in order to kill and eat them. He said Chris was like a bear. He was big and scary and formidable, but he was a food source nonetheless and the plan was to take him down.

I began to watch Chris at school. I stalked him. Within a week I’d found a hole in his pattern I could exploit. Two weeks, a dry run, and two failed attempts later I got him. He was on his way out to smoke behind the building.

You need the right tool to hunt a bear, dad said. I shouldn’t leave any marks on Chris, so this hunt would require a special weapon. I ended up in the school library, checking out a big assed book about the ocean. It was so big it wouldn’t fit in my backpack and I had to carry under my arm. I bet it was an inch thick. When I swung it I had to use two hands. And I practiced. My dad said a book wouldn’t leave a mark. It would cause the same injury as falling onto the floor.

Or down the stairs.

It was after lunch. It was my third attempt. No one else came into the stairwell. Chris had no idea I was around. It was correctly timed. It was correctly executed. Jeez, I’d been planning it for three weeks. My book was nearly due to be returned.

The stairwell was optimal. Getting behind him as we descended the stairs gave me as much height on him as I needed. Think about the way a deer hunter uses a tree stand…

Chris was two steps from the bottom when I hit him. It was a solid hit to the back right corner of his skull. My dad said a blunt head attack would confuse and partially blind him. I would have what is referred to, strategically, as the initiative.

The book made a loud thump when it hit him and he stumbled down the stairs, falling face first into the red steel door at the bottom. I hit him again.

My first instinct was to run. My dad said not to. He said that beating up the bully was not enough. This was not to be a hit and run. This was a conquest of an enemy and the enemy needed to know his place.

As Chris went down to the floor and I hit him for the second time, I spoke to him in the most menacing way I could imagine and I made sure he knew it was me. I also tried to make a scary face. He was done hitting me, I told him. He wasn’t to speak to or look at me unless I spoke to him. Next time I’d use an aluminum bat.

“I could kill you right now,” I said as I turned to leave. “And no one would know.”

At that moment, I felt strong again, more even than before Chris had begun to tear me down. Hell, at that moment, I was strong.

My retaliation against Chris marked a transformation of my identity. I was no longer a victim and at that moment, it was all that mattered. It didn’t matter that I had become a predator and a terrorist. Sometimes, in life, a man has to be willing to go a step further, to worsen himself in order to better himself.

The reality is that we are taught conflicting ideas. Culturally we’re taught the Chuck Norris method but socially we’re taught to defer our defense to others. As I see it, the framework of our society necessitated my admittedly excessive actions in order that my developing self esteem be preserved.

Chris was ok, by the way. No one ever said a word and he never bothered me again. It probably helped that I changed schools a month later.

My friend spoke to the principal. The principal said he would put a stop to it.

Problem solved?

  1. wow very inspiring story. Seems like your dad knew how to help you.


    • My dad taught me a very dangerous way to handle the situation. Predatory behavior can get way out of control…like you said dopamine and oxytocin are quite addictive and relating violent behavior to a reward center might not be a great idea.


  2. Disillusioned says:

    My Dad told me to carry a ruler. The bully was stunned speechless when I used it to smack him on the cheek. He never touched me again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes that’s all that’s necessary. Unfortunately our culture can be somewhat emasculating when it comes to dealing with problems like that. Confrontation in life is inevitable. Teaching kids to defer their protection to others robs them of the lessons they need later in life when they have to apply prudence and hopefully experience to solve similar problems.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Disillusioned says:

        It may surprise some to know that my use of violence to counter violence did not set me down the slippery path of problem solving through power over reason and becoming an habitual abuser. I am exceptionably reasonable and non-violent. At that time, in that moment, the ruler was an appropriate measure.

        Liked by 1 person

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