I originally published this story back when I first begun blogging in 2010, but after everything that's been happening recently with bullying, and social media being such a strong contributing factor in teen suicides, I thought I should re-visit this memory.
Even now, as I re-read and tweak the sentence structures (oh-my-god-what-was-I-thinking-putting-that-comma-there-3-years-ago), I can't help but think I dodged a HUGE bullet having this happen to me before the age of cyber-bullying and social media. Something as silly as this could have easily spiraled out of control (even more than it already did) and caused some serious damage.
It took me until this incident to realize that although girls are always pegged to have serious peer-pressure issues; guys aren't that different after all.
In grade 11, I had a briefly lived friendship with Scott, a guy in my graphics class. Of course, I would have wanted more, but even being his friend was good enough for me. He was very cute, but also a little odd, which is why I guess I was drawn to him.
Scott and I really got along well; we had a lot of similar interests and I just found that I was comfortable talking to him. Shortly after we first started talking, he started to wait for me every morning at the top of the hill from our school and we would continue together from there. He usually skateboarded to school, so he would either weave around me and talk or just get off and carry it when we walked together. Either way, I really enjoyed our morning chats and looked forward to them.
During school, he didn't really acknowledge our blossoming friendship, especially when his mates were around. That part I understood and it didn't bother me too much – I was well aware that most of them were complete douchebags. He was a ‘member’ of the cool guy skater boy squad at our school, although only about middle-management, meaning basically that he was a puppet to the ‘higher-ups’. In order to have any kind of relationship with one of these guys, whether platonic or otherwise, the ‘higher-ups’ would have to approve, or some stupid shit like that.
I assume the verdict came in that I was not good enough.
Our friendship had gone one step further and he invited me to his house after school a couple of times. I had met his mum and even had dinner with them. Of course, being the curious person that I was, while we were hanging out in his room, I had gone through some of his wardrobe drawers. We had a good laugh when I found a few old "nerdy" items and I also found a really nice black sweater. He said he hated it and that it was a bit "faggotty" for him, but I really liked it. He said I could take it, if I wanted to – so I did, and I wore it to school the next day.
He met me that morning as usual, and everything was cool between us... until lunchtime. I still have no idea how the ‘guy squad’ pieced together that I was wearing Scott’s sweater – it was a pretty generic all-black sweater – but they found out somehow. I guess that let the cat out of the bag, and from there on in, I could only speculate how things went down. I am guessing that they confronted Scott about me and they must have been extremely disapproving or made fun of him, because the next thing I knew, they were all approaching me – like a swarm of hyenas surrounding an injured gazelle.
Then Scott yelled at me, “Hey, you stupid bitch! Are you a klepto or something? What they fuck are you doing with my top?”
I really wasn't sure what was going on, and I didn't answer for a couple seconds; I was completely stunned, confused and terrified. This guy was supposed to be my friend. I just had dinner with him and his mother the night before, for fuck's sake!
Then, one of the upper-management assholes took over, “Answer him, Klepto Bitch! What the fuck are you doing with his shit?”
I didn't even think that trying to defend my honor would have served a purpose. I just kept leering at Scott, like I was telepathically begging for his help or something, and he didn't even flinch from his stare of hatred that he reciprocated back in my general direction.
Luckily, I was wearing a T-shirt underneath that damn sweater, and I quickly pulled it off over my head and threw it back at him. The only thing I drummed up the courage to say was, “You can take your stupid fucking sweater, assholes!” And then I ran away, so as to save myself from getting my ass kicked by a bunch of guys (which I wouldn't have put past them) and also so that Scott or the others couldn't take any satisfaction in seeing my tears of pure rage that began to burn down my face.
I could hear them yelling and taunting me as I ran away, as well as them victoriously high-fiving each other.
The next couple months felt like an excruciating eternity.
They called me ‘Klepto Bitch’ for the longest time. I tried to ignore it, but it really drove me a little insane. I couldn't sleep and was having serious stomach and digestive issues. I tried to avoid them whenever possible, and if I did see them travelling in a pack, I just cringed and got ready for the insults to be viciously hurled at me. Of course, they were fine when it was just one of them; it was "the herd" that I had to fear. As for Scott, I didn't even try to approach him about the situation. It was clear that his role as a ‘puppet’ was far more important than any scrap of friendship that we had developed. If I was forced to come within close range of him in class, he pretty much ignored my existence. It was so utterly disappointing.
I hated him.
I missed him.
And I felt sorry for him, all at the same time.
Eventually, their herd started to ignore me in the halls — I guess the joke got old, even for them. It took about 3 months, but it did come to an end, and it was so gradual that I barely noticed when it had been weeks since any of them taunted me. Those locusts likely had moved on to someone fresh and new to devour.
I was usually out-going, the life of the party — but they paralyzed me and for once in my life, I welcomed obscurity.