There’s nothing like spending an entire year of your childhood perched on the edge of a sidewalk to put the damper on the boundless enthusiasm of youth.
This particular sidewalk, right outside the hall door from my third-grade classroom and at the edge of school property, represented for me the boundary between the forces of order and the forces of chaos.
I was a victim of bullying.
Now, Carl—not his real name, but the name I’ll use for him—Carl was my bully and stood out in my mind as a Neanderthal. He stood a full head-and-a-half above our third-grade peers, thick-framed with untamed, long hair. Carl, for reasons he never shared, picked me for his target that year. I lived only two blocks away from the school, but Carl would catch me after about a block, day-after-day, to knock me down and shake the contents of my backpack out on the ground. It’s not like I gave Carl a run for his money. I was a scrawny, asthmatic kid. It got to the point where I would anticipate Carl’s arrival and throw myself down and empty my backpack myself to save him the trouble. (more…)