Saturday, September 11, 2010

Another Dollar-Wording Story: Part Three - The Letter

Just as it should come as no shock to my readers that people in my family say the F word a lot, it will probably not surprise you to learn that I was made fun of in elementary school.

I suspect being made fun of in elementary school is something which, as an adult, I'll learn that everyone was subjected to, even the people I perceived to be the ones doing the making of fun.* Or maybe it's just something everyone claims to have experienced once they become an adult.

So, I concede that perhaps my memory distorts things, but in my memory I was one of the people made fun of. I believed myself to be in the category just above kids that smelled bad and kids that picked their nose and ate it in plain sight. I was taller than a lot of other kids and I was chubby; this combination made me big compared to other kids so that I seemed fatter than I really was. Also, I had big hair. No, not like I do now. I did not have cute, fluffy ringlets. I had no idea how to style my kinky hair. I had something between a mane and a cumulonimbus cloud surrounding a chubby face.

At best, I looked like this:

And at worst:

In the mid-nineties, when I was a nine-year-old fourth grader, two of the girls who most often picked on me had rather comical names, but unfortunately I can't use their real names in this post. Well, I can, but I'd rather not deal with them should they ever Google themselves. I will instead give them fake names that somewhat resemble their real names. The one who bullied me the most, who went from my frenemy to my tormentor (so much so that, on the last day of fourth grade, when I learned that she'd be in my fifth grade class after being in my fourth and third grade class, I broke down in tears in front of my whole class), was named something like Mariott Kadiddlehopper. Her sidekick was Greta Grandcouchon. (Or something like that.)

Late one school day, a letter came into my possession. It was a full page, front and back. "Dear Sarah," it began. What followed was a list of sentences. "You are stupid. You are fat. You are ugly." Each paragraph contained a new set of evidence that I was a detestable human being. "You eat too much. You talk too much. You read too much." Still too young to recognize when a search for reason is pointless, I remember asking, "Why would anyone care how much I read?" The concluding paragraph contained the lines with which I had the most contention. "You have no friends. No one likes you. Everyone hates you." All of these quotes are from my memory alone, because I quickly lost the only copy of the letter.

As I walked to my bus that afternoon, Mariott Kadiddlehopper and Greta Grandcouchon waited for me. I heard their jeering before I saw them. "Hey Sarah! Did you get our note?"

I guess I was tired of crying in public or of keeping silent, "ignoring" bullies like grown-ups always said to do, putting my head down as I walked to hide my face and waiting until I got home to react. I wanted to my disapproval to be known. I wanted to voice resistance. I wanted to protest.

But I was inexperienced in this realm, and I did the stupidest thing possible. I turned to face the bullies, my ineffectual weapon in hand. With as much force as I could, I threw it at them &mdash the crumpled ball I had made of the letter. My battle cry was the worst word I could think of, the Dollar Word. Turned into a noun. Pluralized for two people. Hurling a harmless grenade and simultaneously discarding any evidence of the bullies' wrongdoing, I yelled, "You fuckers!"

From all of my reading-too-much, I had not extracted the cleverness that a near decade of bullying would yield. Shortly after dinner that evening, the phone rang at my house.

To Be Continued

* If it's possible to make fun of someone for being a ruthless jerk.

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