School has started up again, and whenever I walk, bike or drive by a junior high or middle school, I feel sick and want to be anywhere else. Why? I was bullied.
I attended kindergarten through sixth grade with the same 20 or so kids. Our parents all knew each other. Then I started junior high surrounded by hundreds of students and I don't know how many teachers.
There were even three different lunch times. I used to eat by myself, until one day I mustered up the courage to sit next to my best friend from elementary school. He said, "This is for cool kids only. Get lost."
Being shy while liking "Star Wars" and comic books wasn't something well-accepted back then, like it is now. Nerds liked that crap, and cool kids beat the crap out of nerds at my junior high. I never even played "Dungeons & Dragons" like I do now, because rolling 20-sided dice was another reason to get picked on.
Kids would slap my books out of my hands, throw me into lockers and punch me, all while thinking of new nicknames for me — Semen Freeman became the big one.
I was doughy and dorky. Sports weren't my forte, so I studied. When I happily opened my first GPA report card, somebody snatched it out of my hand, smacked me and called me a "smart faggot."
I didn't even know what that word meant, but I heard it all the time, especially in gym class. Every day, the boys kicked the snot out of me. They'd make fun of my clothes, dumpy body, pizzaface and tastes in entertainment. Then they'd steal my baseball cap and tear apart my homework.
I asked my gym teacher what I could do to stop getting picked on. She gave me some great advice: "Well, why don't you stop being a faggot?" Thanks for the wisdom.
When gym class ended, so began the most terrifying hourlong sessions of my life: shop class. Our teacher would peek his head out of his office, say, "Start reading Chapter Two," close the door and start clipping his toenails. In P.E. class, my adolescent tormentors gave me wedgies so hard that my penis got bruised and my butt bled. I sat through an entire class with unsupervised devil children in a room full of drills, vice grips, hammers and electric belt sanders! It was like being in a "Saw" or "Hostel" movie. Luckily, I finished shop class with all my digits.
Every day, I'd walk home and thank God that none of my enemies lived along the way. And I wasn't even in the top 20 worst-bullied kids.
Then something magical happened. I didn't move to a new city or experience a growth spurt. Nope. My parents sent me to a private Catholic high school. I was still a doofus, but no more bullying for me.
However, not every kid gets that chance. Especially now with social media and phones operating 24/7, can kids ever escape bullying? What can we do to help out? Email me, share this with a friend or just tell me what the heck to promote or report upon, and I will.