This rant to poor Neal was about how ignoring bullies, which is what teachers always told you to do back then, was like pushing a rope. Uphill. Actually, I was trying to appear brave by convincing Neal, and thus, myself, that insults didn't hurt me anymore because they were so common, I could insult myself and it had no effect! "I do it just for fun, ha ha!" This is what I look back on and shake my head at daily. Somewhere in 5th grade, I got this "great idea" that if I insulted myself, and beat the other kids to the punch, it would diffuse them. The worst they could do was agree with me, which isn't conducive to a fight.
Bully: You are a retard!
Punkie: Yes I am! You bet!
Bully: Yeah, well... you agree! Ha ha! Euh... [deflated confusion]
Yeah, it worked as designed, but the psychological damage that took on me was simply appalling. I would actually take insults that had been said to me throughout the day, and "deprogram" them at night, saying, "I am an idiot. I am an idiot." over and over like a mantra. I figured I would become immune to the poison, so to speak. Instead, this re-enforced the insult, until I believed it. Fuck! I am STILL undoing that mistake...
But why mention this in gym? Because I am still convinced to this day that gym is where all the jocks have free reign of terror over their victims. I always said the "Presidential Physical Fitness Test" was a way, on paper, to PROVE you were a failure. "Here's your loser score... geees, Larson. Not even ONE pullup? I mean, you're fat but... damn, that fat kid over there did at least TWO. You're not even trying..." They never knew how hard I tried, even to the point of tears and injury. I just wanted to pass one, just ONE of the dozen or so things you had to pass. I never even got half of any minimum done. And the bullies let me know it. I may never have been graded on the fitness test, but it scored a big fat L on my forehead for 8 years.
We had co-ed flag football? Damn! That must have been frustrating for me... seeing young girls... in their skimpy shorts... but I mention it as "fun" because the girls weren't into playing at all, so apparently this was after I had "made peace with being single for the rest of my life" (although, I do recall having normal "visible" puberty issues until high school). I also notice, for the first time, that girl's gym seems more like busy work. I have always had this theory that gym and recess was a ploy for schools to tire you out, but the girls never seem to be pushed like the guys were. There were always 5-6 girls who would be sitting on the sidelines, not even dressed up. And the whole thing seemed so disorganized, like they just collected girls for 55 minutes, dressed most of them up in gym uniforms, and kind of had them all do the same activity... unless they didn't want to. But anyway, I don't just say this because I think preteens will run into the bushes and shag like burning hot monkey sex, but I describe this incident where a guy tackles a girl with the ball, and when she rolled onto her back, he SPIKED the ball into her stomach. Damn.
And what was the fucking point of jockstraps? We actually had, every day, jockstrap inspection. You had to pull the elastic band from your buttcheek to prove you had one on. And you weren't allowed to wear underwear with it, either. Which they also graded you down for, along with showers and stuff. That disturbed me then, and disturbs me now...
I have to say, though, with the exception of one gym teacher in grammar school, none of the others really treated me poorly. Some were amazed at how bad I was, but they never made fun of me, and if they caught bullies punching me around, or pinning me to the wall, making me say things, the gym teacher would break it up. Sometimes, they even would punish them. "You can't go beatin' up on Larson, he tries, he tries!" I tell on the tape of one incident I said, "Fuck you!" to a kid while I was crying over something (I didn't specify, and I cried a lot in junior high), and didn't get in trouble. He got sent to the office for taunting me, and I was sent to the locker room to "cool off." They even gave me odd jobs to do, like go through athletic stuff to find deflated balls [snicker], take towels down to laundry, sort papers in their office, and stuff like that. They seemed to "know" I was just not cut out for athletics. So, God bless you Mr Wood, Mr. Palmetto, Mrs. Timmerman, Mr. Oliverio, and Mr. Pease. At least you guys weren't against me.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000635.html