Monday, March 17, 2008

Whoda Thunk I had a Conscience?

Have you ever done the right thing, only to sit, moments later, in abject horror over what you've done? Because you gave up something PRECIOUS to you, all in the name of doing the right thing?

Well, I didn't.
Thank you very much. I gave up something PRECIOUS because it was driving me bug fucking nuts. We'll see how it goes....

I'd like to tell you a NOT-SO-VERY complimentary story about myself. I told Thing 1 and Thing 2, and they have joined the ranks of the "Miss Ann Thrope is a dirty sum-BITCH" society. Y'all can contact them, if you wanna join up, they're happily accepting applications for new members.


I'm in the sixth grade at the tiniest little elementary school known to modern mankind. The whole school, I think, had maybe 50 kids, first through sixth grade. I'm the queen of the school, everybody wants to be my friend. I'm so popular, we keep a LIST of which little girl I'll play with each day of the current week. It is a popularity I have never known before, and one that I will never know again. Soon enough, I will disappear into obscurity, in that great social pond known as JUNIOR HIGH.

So, a bunch of us are in the girls bathroom, right after lunch, and just before recess. We are excited, it's a pretty day. We might actually get the boys to join in a rousing game of Red Rover. Of course I would be in the middle of the two cutest sweaty little sixth grade boys, each holding one of my hands, while the other side sent runner after runner over, trying to break that hold, to bring the QUEEN back to their side in triumph. My little chubby heart is pounding in pre-hormonal glee at the mere thought of it.

As we prepare to exit the bathroom, we run into a small group of girls, encircling a younger, terrified little girl. She was one of THOSE kids, socially backward as all hell, from one of the poor-as-dirt families that dotted the hills of that little southern place where I grew up. She was one of I don't know how many, but at least three of them had passed through the halls of our school already. Her name was Lisa, and she was probably in the second or third grade. Her sister Connie was in the same grade as me, but she was an UNDESIRABLE too, and I had never paid her much mind. The entire family was borderline retarded and had endured the scorn and "I'm better than YOU-ness" of the entire community.

Lisa had a habit. One we saw as weird. In sixth grade, in 1977, weird=bad. She kept the first two fingers of her left hand stuck in her mouth. She didn't talk, or smile, or meet anyone's eyes. She kept those fingers in her mouth throughout the school day, taking them out only to eat her lunch, or to get a drink of water.

This day, in the girls' bathroom, she stood in that little circle of scornful girls, eyes downcast, her little cheeks bright red, fingers held almost defiantly in her mouth. The girls were laughing, taunting her. I stopped at this group, said, "What's going on?" One of the other girls said, "Watch this!"

As I watched in horrified fascination, she pulled Lisa's fingers from her mouth, and slapped her face. I realized Lisa's cheeks weren't red from shame. They were red from receiving who knows how many of those stinging little slaps...

Immediately, she put her fingers back into her mouth.

"Try it," the girl said.

Wouldn't it be nice if, right at that moment, I got in that nasty bitch's face and gave HER the slap she'd just given Lisa? If I'd given her ALL the slaps that Lisa had endured? If I'd said to her, in no uncertain terms, "You touch this little girl again and I'll you up and horsewhip you until you bleed from your pores.."?

Yeah, that would have been nice.

But what I did was pull Lisa's little hand from her mouth, and smack that smooth, red little cheek. I remember that her eyes were full of unshed tears, tears she staunchly refused to cry. She DID raise those eyes to meet mine and stuck those fingers slowly back into her mouth. A better "FUCK YOU" has never been said.

Filled with complete horror at what I'd done, I did the only thing I thought I could do, both to save face among my peers, and to, hopefully, stop what was being done to her.

"Wow, THAT was fun," I said with heavy sarcasm. "C'mon girls, we've got better things to do."

I do not know if the other girls continued abusing her. I never saw it happen again.

When I told my girls this story, I cried. After all these years, I am still horrified by what I did that day. And I'm horrified by what I didn't do, which was to stand up for someone who couldn't stand up for herself. I tell my kids to treat people fairly. I tell them to be KIND to people, and kindness will be returned to them. I tell them to have fun, but not at the expense of others, and to offer a hand in friendship to someone without any friends. I tell them this because I know what kind of karma comes back to bite the ass of a snotty little bitch who was afraid to do the right thing...

So at this time, I'd like to take this opportunity to fling a wish out into the heavens. Lisa, if you're out there, know that I've paid, a thousand times over, for what I did to you. And that even now, I regret it from the bottom of my heart.

To the rest of you: confession is good for the soul, I think. Leave a comment, tell me something you've done that has caused you heartache and regret. My blog allows anonymous commenting. You don't have to leave your name. Surely I am not the only person in Blogland who has ever been cruel to another human being? Maybe I'm offering you a chance to get it off your chest. More likely, I need to know I'm not alone in my guilt...



I'm one of the Lisa's of the world... so there aren't any cruelty confessions from me today. This doesn't mean I don't have any deep dark secrets... just that I'm taking those to the grave with me. As as bullied and teased kid I would have never understood what you wrote today, or even cried reading it as I did today, but as an adult reading your side of the story I can totaly see how difficult it is to be a kid period. The Miss kind or the Lisa kind.

Sleeping Mommy said...

I too was more of a Lisa. But I did lash out a few times when I felt pushed beyond the limits of my patience or ability to just let it slide. As a result I threw a kid across a classroom when I was in the 4th or 5th grade.

He should have left me alone...

EC said...

Wow, I hurt for you. I guess although I was never picked on or made fun of that I can remember, I do feel for those kids. Maybe it is something deep down that always wonders if someone is still picking on me today, just without me hearing it.

As for cruelty to others - let me see... there was a girl named ... OMG - her name was Lisa too!! I was just typing it and I realized the coincedence. Anyhow, she was very "dorky" if you will... glasses, matted hair, and to top it all off she was bow legged. We were playing duck duck goose and someone picked her as the goose because they knew she coudln't run. We were in like 3rd grade or something. A boy sitting next to me dared me to stick out my leg and trip her as she was running. So, I leaned back and did it without the teacher noticing. She never told, but she never looked at me again. She cried for hours - and I felt absolutely horrible. I acted like I could care less, but inside it ate at me. Man, I still feel back that I could do that to someone even know.

Who knew... confession is good for the soul... hopefully my Lisa ended up with a good life and found people that respected her.

Burfica said...

I had a friend, that was much larger than me, but I really liked her. I also had a bigger group of friends that did not like her. And they always teased her. One day as we walked through the halls behind her, the group of other friends started acting like her walking was causing an earth quake and falling over teasing her and I joined in. I've always felt bad about that, cuz I really did like that girl.