One of the things I remember about being young were the bullies. One in particular stands out for me more than the others. I have no idea why; she was not the worst, not by far. And yet, here she is, stomping to the forefront of my mind and making herself known as she did back then.
There is no shame in being bullied by a girl. Especially if you’re gay and confused, vulnerable about something you aren’t ready to admit. Even more so if she was the big hulking beast I am talking about. I don’t remember her name, thankfully. But I remember she was a close friend of one of my own friend’s sisters. She liked me when we first met I was like her pet. I enjoyed the attention and the protection that came with it.
“If anyone touches you, tell me. I’ll sort them out,” she was fond of saying. Her big black and sagging hoody, covered in skulls and some obscure band’s name, barely covered her gut. Her hair was scraped back in a greasy ponytail, the bobbly frayed and thin.
But, out of nowhere, I became fair game for her aggressive appetite.
One thing that truly stands out was a story she used to tell about a film she had once watched. Again, the name escapes me but it was a long time ago, I’m sure it can be forgiven. In this film, a man was made to bite the kerb. He was given two choices, bite the kerb, or face being shot. He chose the kerb, thinking this meant he would survive, I assume – I haven’t watched the film. But instead of letting him bite and leave, the man in the film stood on the back of his head as he bit into the stone above the road.
“Crunch,” she said, “that’s the sound his skull made as he stood on it. Crunch!”
And that was her all over. She gave you two choices. As if her bullying was your decision. As if she gave you a genuine option to save yourself from her torment.
So one lunchtime, walking up the high street of the relatively small town I lived in at the time with my small group of friends, she shouted for me.
‘Connnerrrr,” she laughed with her equally overweight, sagging hoodies, greasy haired mates. I knew what she was doing; she would get my attention and then embarrass me somehow. Not being ‘Out’ at the time, I assumed that was the route she would take. Instead of responding, I ignored her.
I won’t delve too deep into it, this story is opening up enough, but I had had enough of bullies – especially female ones. And so, I decided to ignore her. I just walked away, my head held high and my gut like steel.
I wouldn’t let her embarrass me in front of my friends or the people bustling round town.
At the end of that lunch time, however, in the locker rooms – I didn’t have a locker myself, it cost too much apparently, but my friends did – she appeared. Angrier than ever.
My eyes turned to the floor and my bowels turned to jelly. I nearly shat myself right there. If she punched me here and now, would anyone do anything? It had happened before in this school and no one had care that time either.
She grabbed the scruff of my neck, her chipped black nail polish wrapping itself around the grey-white of my school shirt, and spat in my face.
“Don’t you ever fucking ignore me,” she said, “or I’ll make you bite the kerb.”
She didn’t hit me that day. But her words did. Like a fucking bolt of lightening, what she said pulsed through me worse than any punch ever could have.
I understood then how bullying worked. And how the evil that ran through it worked.
You had two choices with a bully.
Do what they say.
Or don’t do what they say.
Either way you better be ready to put up one hell of a fight, one way or another, to keep the core of who you are intact.
Because these people can smell weakness and they get off in the most perverse way at exposing it.
So my advice? If that bitch makes you bite the kerb, make sure you break her foot as she steps on you.