CJDaily's Blog

August 29, 2009

I deserve some extra nice karma for my restraint…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 5:49 pm

For those of you who were aware that I took the summer off to find a new job, you will be relieved to know I am now currently employed and my new job starts on Monday.  I will not be mentioning WHERE I work, however, or regaling you with any hilarious stories about my new-found employment, because 1. The corporation let me know that is against their policy, and 2. I once blogged about my old job on this site and a spot of bother erupted over it, which concluded in me deleting that post.  So you’ll have to be contented with me simply saying that I am excited about this new job, which pays me a larger starting sum than the salary I was making after 5 years at my old job, and also is providing benefits and daycare for Belle.  So, yay. 

On a different note, I was at the grocery store yesterday, going about my business as normal.  I had just checked out and paid and was walking towards the exit door, beside which is stationed one of those Red Box things, from which you can rent dvds for a dollar.  And my eyes drifted towards it, and towards the girl standing in front of it.  And it was like one of those moments in a movie where everything slows down, and the person in focus is the only thing clear, and you can hear a chorus of violins playing a high shrieking note that says “Danger!  Evil!”  The person in focus is usually wearing a hockey mask or holding a chainsaw or somebody’s boyfriend’s severed head, but the person in my view did not look at all threatening UNLESS YOU WENT TO MIDDLE SCHOOL WITH HER.

My dear God, I thought as I nearly came to a screeching halt.  It’s HER.  The girl that made my life a living hell from third to sixth grade.  I won’t mention her name but she was a BULLY.  There’s no other word for it.  This girl lived in my neighborhood, was in my class, was part of my Girl Scout Troop, and for some reason unbeknownst to me to this day, SHE DIDN’T LIKE ME.  Me!  Quiet, nerdy, full of painful anxieties and habits far beyond my age (like curling up under a desk to read Gone With the Wind during fifth grade free period, instead of playing hangman on the chalkboard with all the other girls.)  I wasn’t a threat, but I was, apparently, a target.  She made fun of me every day on the bus, picking on my hair, (kind of frizzy), or my clothes (not cool clothes), or the book I would bury my nose in to try and block out her screechy voice.

“Little Women?”  Her voice was always louder than everyone else’s, probably because she knew she had an audience–all the other kids who were relieved she wasn’t picking on them and would eagerly laugh at anything she said.  “Are you reading about turning into a woman?  Does it tell you when you get your period?”  The other girls would giggle nervously, as though any of them had gotten their period yet.  But periods are both funny and gross to girls in middle school, and her even saying the word out loud was a testament to her daring, her pugnaciousness. 

I would refuse to look up from my book, trying hard to squeeze myself into the corner of my seat.  She’d find something else to pick on.  “Aren’t those the jeans you were wearing yesterday?  Are they from Walmart?  Tell us where you shop, Christina!”  I’d look up at her and find nothing to say, and look back down at my book with cheeks burning.  Later at night, I would inevitable stand in front of my bathroom mirror, thinking of scathing retorts and witty comebacks to throw at her.  I’d practice my look of disdain, and compose full monologues reviling her, monologues I could never seem to remember when she was around. 

The funny thing about looking back now is realizing that this girl had nothing going for her.  Her only nice attribute was her long blond hair, that fell almost to her butt.  It was pretty hair.  Her face, however, was broad and thick, with small, beady eyes set too closely together.  Her nose, fittingly, was piggy and upturned, with narrow nostrils like someone had put a clothespin on it when she was born.  She had the making of a double chin, and the stocky build of a future field hockey player.  I guess her clothes were cool, probably from The Limited and GAP and other places my mother wouldn’t have dreamed of taking me.  But I could never get past her face.

Oh, how I dreamed of saying something really nasty to her!  I had recurring dreams that she would say something mean to me in class, and in those dreams I’d slap her in the face, then take a pair of scissors and with one swift cut, chop off all her cornsilk hair.  “Now there’s NOTHING nice about you,” my dream self would say as I left her weeping in devastation.  But in person that was likely to get me a in-school suspension, not to mention I’d rather use those scissors to remove my own arm rather than do anything at school to get in trouble.  I was a nerd, but too shy to say anything smart in class, a goody-goody who wasn’t cool enough to fit in with the other goody-goodies.  So I’d let her keep insulting me, and steadfastly keep my nose in the book of the day. 

So here she was, standing in front of me in the grocery store, over fifteen years later.  That same fear that used to sweep over me when I saw her in the halls or on the bus came flooding back to me.  But suddenly that fear was overtaken by a much stronger feeling.   A VERY ANGRY FEELING.  That old urge to walk up to her and slap her crept up behind me and grabbed my shoulders, but this time I wasn’t dreaming. I was wide awake. 

What are you waiting for? my urge whispered.  Go pop her in the nose!

Um, I can’t just go PUNCH somebody!  I reasoned with him hastily.  For starters, we’re in public.  I could go to jail.  I don’t purposely DO things to get in trouble!  Remember?

But she made your life hell!  he argued, and he had a point.  But no matter how heinous somebody was to you in middle school, I don’t think a judge would be that lenient.  Besides, we’re grown-ups now, right?  I’m a twenty-seven year old woman, and a mom on top of that, and here I am shopping for groceries like grownups do, and all of a sudden I’m back in sixth grade, remembering how I used to not go into the bathroom if I knew she was in there.  I would hold it for a whole hour, just so I could pee in peace, and not have to listen to her joke to her friends about how maybe I was in there masturbating–another topic that is both hilarious and taboo to nine year olds. 

And I realised I was getting angrier by the minute just standing there.  I wanted to walk over, to smile a really bitchy smile and see if she recognized me.  Cause honey, I may have had frizzy hair and awful uneven bangs that my mom used to cut for me, and thick glasses, and a shiny forehead and un-cool clothes that yes, were probably from Walmart, but now?  NOW?  Bitch, I look GOOD!  I bought myself a straightener and learned how to use a blow-dryer and my glasses, I have it on good authority from many men, are SEXY!  And I don’t wear clothes from Walmart anymore, but if I DO?  IF I DO?  WHO CARES?  I am WAY hotter than you!

I wanted to march right over there and say, “Hi.  You might not remember me but I saw your potato head and your pig face from way over there and I know you.  You’re a bitch, and a bully, and how dare you pick on a little girl who never did a thing to you!  You made my life hell and I can only hope that karma has come back and bitten you in your fat ass cause you have an ugly face and an ugly soul, and you are NOT A NICE PERSON.” 

But did I do that?  Can you guess what I did?  Did I follow my urge and give the Bully the verbal spanking that she deserved way back when? 

Of course not.  I slowed down, and yes, I swear that all of this passed through my mind as I was walking by the Red Box, and I was probably outright staring at her, but I collected myself, and I took the high road.  I just… walked away.  

Who knows why she was so nasty to me?  She probably knew she was ugly and masked her insecurity with anger and spite.  I’m sure she’d be gobsmacked if she ever knew how badly her words hurt me.  I mentioned all this to Jesse, and he regarded me with astonishment.  “You remember that stuff?” he asked.  “It was so long ago!”  Of course it was.  That’s the point.  If somebody said that stuff to me today, I’m secure enough to laugh it off, or counter back with something clever.  But back then I was painfully shy and anxious and desperate just to blend in, and this girl picked me apart daily, like a vulture exposing my tender flesh to the rest of the circling beasts.  Those were vulnerable years, and I bet everyone who was ever a nerd or an outsider can point to one person in their past and say, “That guy.  THAT guy used to make me miserable and I’d gladly run him over in my car today.” 

One year when I was a camp counselor for a group of third graders, one of them was a girl named Claire.  Claire reminded me of myself at that age in every way possible–the hair, the awkward shyness, the hesitant but hopeful smile.  I went out of my way to be nice to Claire that summer.  I made sure she knew just how special she was, because I wanted her to know that who you are matters so much more than the clothes you’re wearing or who you hang out with.  Everything changes, except who YOU are on the inside.  “Never be afraid to speak up for yourself,” I wanted to tell her.  “You need to love yourself and tell everybody who disagrees to suck it.”  But since I didn’t think I could really say that and have it come off as not crazy, I just made sure to complement the things she did well.  I made sure she knew her big green eyes, (behind her thick glasses) were beautiful.  And I gave her a hug every day.

I will do the same thing with Annabelle, when she is old enough to understand.  For starters, I’ll probably let her dress a little cooler than my mom dressed me.  Also, I won’t cut her bangs the day before school starts with dull kitchen scissors.  But most importantly, I will tell her you need to be nice to everyone, whether you’re a nerd or a cheerleader, because if you’re not, someday someone might come up to you in the grocery store and punch you in the face.


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