It’s a very strange thing to look over some of the facebook/flashback pages of people from grade school that I left behind the day I moved on from 8th grade. I look over the friends of one person that I didn’t mind only to find that they are friends with some people that I absolutely detested from those tumultuous days. My hope is that the bullies from my past will have spent the last 21 years in jail or otherwise miserable or somehow dispatched by the justice of life. But life is unjust and they are there in the list of friends, alive and smiling.
There’s one now with a sloppy drunk looking woman smearing his face with her sweaty smile. He looks perplexed like the camera caught him cheating on his wife, or perhaps surprised that I’m looking at this photo. I’m surprised too. Someone recently suggested a class reunion for all of us who attended St. A’s Grade School. I wrote that I would feel obligated to get in a fight with a few of the kids (now men) who gave me such a hard time back then. And it’s a strange feeling. I don’t feel like something would be said, misinterpreted or somehow alcohol would play a part in any reunion misadventures. I grew up getting beaten up or living with the threat of getting beat up by some of these guys on a daily basis for many years. It’s almost natural to feel that if I saw any of these men again, I would fall back into the routine of fighting them off. Funny, the idea of a circle of adults clapping and cheering on a playground with a pit of two scared and vicious, one scared and one vicious, men scratching and kicking each other doesn’t work. It’s fits into the romance of Fight Club, but not reality. Yet, because I’m older now and have lived a life of relative peace, I feel that the terrible time I had back then could possibly be made up for with a serious pounding of my knuckles against their bones. Maybe the demons I’ve lived with for years would suddenly vanish with one night of revenge at a grade school reunion, Carrie style.
But I know it would never work out. Either they would be sheepish and apologetic regretting their actions and seeking my approval, or they wouldn’t care and me destroying their faces would be about as effective as punching the ocean in revenge for Katrina. Perhaps, like a hurricane, my youth was the result of many factors out of everyone’s control. For in the case of Katrina, it wasn’t the wind, nor the rain, nor the position of the moon, nor global warming making the sea rise and the weather patterns bad. It wasn’t the city planners, nor the levy, nor the Federal Emergency Management Association, nor the Coast Guard, nor national defense spending/cutbacks. It wasn’t the Christian holiday season causing a celebration of titty flashing and public sex and drunkenness resulting in a vengeful God to wipe the city clean. And it wasn’t the annual cock tease of near-miss disaster played ad nauseam over the bored and desperate 24 hour news networks nor was it the people who stayed behind to weather the storm in protest of these so called experts with highlights in their hair standing in front of green screens. It wasn’t racism.
From the perspective of time and distance, it was all of these things and none of them. Opportunism and fear combined with poor luck and poor planning. I’m willing to chalk up my childhood to those factors. And punching some grown up bully in the face wouldn’t fix any of that now, unfortunately.