October 10, 2007
By Laura Henry
In seventh grade I was going though a major awkwardness phase (okay, who wasn't?). I was on the brink of figuring out how to assert myself and promote my own personality, but still followed the lead of a few more obnoxious girls in my group from elementary school days. I wore big ugly thick glasses, had my hideous Oglivie home perm (thanks, Mom…) and was a short shy bookworm nerd.
A new girl, Becky, moved in to our neighborhood one street over from me. She was a year older and was huge, thuggish, and played soccer. Somehow she became friends with my best friend, yet at the same time made my life a living hell on the bus to school every day. I was no stranger to being taunted on the bus, but she was in my face, yelling and scary. She would call me a "wet dog" when I got on the bus with wet hair in the morning. My friends did not defend me. My sense of outrage that this big stupid mulleted new girl could come and completely disrupt my life grew and grew.
One day on the bus ride home I waited for Becky to get off the bus, and then screamed, "You're a BITCH!" out the window at her. Then I sat back down and knew my life was over. I could hear her screaming, "You're dead, I am going to kick your ass tomorrow!"
I got off the bus one stop later and ran home like the wind to barricade myself in. I was trembling, crying, and sick with dread. I was going to have to be in a fight. What would it be like? It would hurt and I would have to try to punch her back.
I can't remember any of the next day except the end of the school day. I was at my locker getting my books and all of a sudden there was a huge crowd of people behind me, yelling. Becky was there yelling at me; another girl, Kelly, was there yelling at me to take my glasses off so that Becky could punch me. Someone grabbed my books out of my hands and threw them over the lockers. It was all a hideous confused blur. I started yelling that there was no way I was going to take off my glasses so that someone could hit me, were they idiots? I started crying and somehow managed to push my way out of the crowd to a bunch of teachers who were standing nearby.
I tried to tell a teacher what had happened. One of them grabbed my arm above the elbow hard and dragged me to where my books had been thrown. She made me pick them up and then dragged me to the vice principal's office. I kept asking her to let go of me, and said she was hurting me. I told her I had not thrown my own books (why would I throw my own books, lady!?), that someone else had, and that they had tried to hit me. Outrage! She did not listen and she did not care and neither did the vice principal.
I got three days of in-school suspension. (Why?) Becky attempted to become my best friend, inviting me over to play Playstation (not interested!) and filling up my locker with candy and cake and balloons.
The girl picking on me, the teacher, the crowd of kids ... none of their behavior made sense to me. This is one of the incidents that really helped me realize that: A) I could defend myself, B) I didn't have to be friends with anyone I didn't really like, and C) other people were idiots and it wasn't my problem.