Aug 23, 2013

Flashback Friday: The Sweater

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.


  1. High school kids are just as nasty as elementary schoolers, aren't they? The cliques just get worse as we got older. I'm also SO very glad there was no social media when I was in school: at least I got a break when I got home in those periods I was bulled (mostly because anyone who had the guts to call and try to taunt faced the wrath of parental units, and so didn't call again). I just watched Dazed and Confused again the other day, and I wonder sometimes if the sanctioned bullying in that movie (via initiation that EVERYONE went through) was a way to mitigate the bullying tendencies of asshole teenagers, or if it was just as bad after initiation. By the time I was in high school initiations were banned.

    But I don't recall a single instance in my school district of a kid killing him/herself because they were tormented 24/7 the way they are today. It's enough to make homeschooling the star option for kids.

  2. Initiations weren't banned at my high school but they were really only done to younger brothers or sisters of kids at the school that were a-holes or they were already a-holes. My BFF's brother got duct taped upside down to a tree, but he kinda deserved it. lol

    We only had 1 suicide at my high school (during school years) but he was never bullied. He kept to himself, mostly. I think he just was very ill and suffered from his own demons ;(

  3. That is completely awful my friend, and I'm so sorry you had to go through something like that. I guess I didn't matter enough to be bullied, people pretty much left me alone. I was picked on a little bit by this person or that person, but I found ways to walk away and ignore them and of course cry where no one saw me and eventually was left alone. This was mostly elementary and junior high. High school, I wasn't even a blip on the radar Freshman or Sophomore that's a blessing.

  4. I detest bullies....I got bullied when I was little a lot because of my red hair.

  5. Despite my weight and my oily face going through puberty way too early, I'd always been able to handle myself & ward off potential causes for ridicule by being super outgoing. This? Beat me down.

  6. I know exactly where you are coming from. MY best friend taunted me for sitting at the front of a maths class, which I had only done because I was struggling to see the board. As she taunted me it gave the rest permission to do so. I left school in tears and after 2 weeks my doctor basically said I needed to stay away from school for a while. When I returned, I ignored every one and everything every one said. As it was through the exams I left school talking to only 1 or 2 people.

    3 years later the same 'best friend' stood in my queue at a shop I had a saturday job at and wanted a conversation. I looked at her in disbelief and told her I would never forget what she did and I hoped she taught her kids not to do the same thing in the future as that 'childhood bullying which meant nothing' stays with people and shapes their future reactions in differing situations.

  7. Wow LE thank you for sharing- I was also the outgoing one and despite my coke-bottle glasses, I always had tons of friends. Somehow I became the object of the school bully's obsession and soon became "Captain Goofy Goggles" in the halls of my high school. "Goofs! Goofs!" He and his gaggle of a-hole friends would yell. "Can you see craters on the moon, Goofs?!" I got my revenge a few years later when I ran into him at a college party and I realize he didn't recognize me. He was hitting on me hard, wanting to get my number and to go out. In front of all his friends, I said, "You wouldn't want to be seen at dinner with Captain Goofy Goggles, would you?"
    HIs response,
    "Goofs, you got contacts! You look great!"
    I said, "You know what I always looked great. But you were always ugly, inside and out."
    It did feel good to tell him off but never will I forget his cruelty.

  8. I was a unique breed of kid and actually never really cared what people thought of me, I was my own critic. But I did encounter bullying once, but it was because these group of girls thought I told on them, when in reality, my friend did. I didn't know she told on them so I just kept denying it for the both of us. They surrounded me and were about to jump me (5 on 1... how fair right?) and the only thing I thought to say was "I'm not going to fight you because I just got my nails done." I'm not even kidding. And they decided not to jump me, I don't know if it was because of what I said or I was looking rather fierce that day.


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