Odd Thoughts: Cold facts about bullying

I proved them all wrong time after time through the years.

I proved it once again this past week.

But there’s no satisfaction in it, and certainly no pleasure.

If you saw me today you might be surprised to learn – but probably not – that I was no good at sports when I was a kid.

I was the one who was always picked last when sides were chosen… actually, that’s not entirely true.

There was one kid who had a leg brace on most of the time because he had a seriously bum leg. Perhaps he had had polio or something. He wasn’t allowed to play anything rough or vigorous when the brace was off, so technically, I wasn’t last on those days.

One day when sides were being chosen for a softball pick-up, someone actually suggested choosing me before all the dregs were out of the barrel.

“Nah!” said the team captain, “He can’t catch a ball.”

“He couldn’t catch a fly,” called out a wag from the back, quite pleased at his clever turn of phrase.

“Hah!” said the other team’s captain, an infuriating big-for-his-age jerk who was good at absolutely everything except exercising common decency, “He couldn’t even catch a cold.”

And that was it. From then on, I was the kid who “can’t catch a cold” – always punctuated with a round of derisive laughter – whenever there was anything happening remotely to do with sports. The jocular tagline came up even if there was no ball in the game.

The epithet followed me for several years, right through junior high school – until I was in a big enough school that I could duck all of my childhood “friends” completely.

It wasn’t called bullying back then. It was just kids having fun. Any kid who didn’t punch you in the face or otherwise physically assault you could not be a bully.

Even a few of my teachers got into it, although their laughter mostly sounded a little more sincere. Except for one teacher who was clearly as malicious as any kid could be, I believe most really thought I was in on the joke.

Take it like a man, unless you want to be a cry-baby, too. That’s what it really was from my end.

Well, a kid eventually grows up. And I’ve caught many colds since then.

So there!


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