There’s something about Real Live Preacher’s newest series in the Foy Davis stories. The latest three center around a boy named David Friedman. His stories and writings always hit hard in an ultra-realistic way, but it’s not that.

In another life, back in school before college I was David Friedman. During fifth grade, I was beaten up daily and blamed for it. (Smart kids ask for it, apparently, and should just act normal.) Middle school wasn’t much better. High school the beatings became emotional. College? It was wonderful. But my experience reflected through David’s aren’t what’s eating at me through those stories.

For awhile, a part of me wanted those who bullied me to be monsters, still. Probably some are. Probably some are ordinary people. Even some may be nice people once they grew up some. Another part of me wanted to lord over them that I’ve managed to do things with my life that they haven’t–I’m one of the few from my suburban high school who’s living further than 10 miles away from the suburb I grew up in.

There was a time when I wanted to show up at a reunion, Hoopy Frood in tow, and name-drop the composers, choreographers, visual artists, and other people I’ve met, while reciting my CV. In the end, I didn’t go to my 10 year reunion. Now I don’t feel much towards those people. If I hadn’t read the story, I probably wouldn’t have thought about them. I have people who love me, and I have people I love. I’ll never be a social butterfly, but when the mood strikes I have people to do stuff with. Life is pretty good.

What made my stomach sink was the idea that those who bullied me are feeling some kind of remorse, yet I want them to be faceless monsters. Can anything erase what they did? Probably not. Will I forget what was done to me? Probably not. Catholic teaching says as much that we have responsibility for the effects of the sins we commit. What reconciliation does is allow us to go on with our lives. Do I want their lives to go on? Sure. Do I want them to feel awful for what they did? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t, but no I don’t as much as I once did.

What would happen, if we ran into each other in QFC? Probably the initial pleasantries. I’m sure they’d be as interested in my forays into the arts like I’d be interested in their kids. We’d exchange smalltalk over avocadoes, and then go on with our lives. Maybe they need to hear that my life is as boringly normal as theirs is. Maybe I needed to hear that they’re just people.


~ by Jen on September 5, 2007.

5 Responses to “”

  1. Hi Garpu,That’s a great post. You were beat up in school when you were younger? Really? That’s awful. I’d like to comment on this further when I get a chance.I’m not seeing your email address on the blog or on your profile, unless I’m missing it somewhere. Do you want to post it up and delete it once you’ve heard from me?

  2. Got it. You can delete it.

  3. Hi again Garpu,Just an aside, before I speak directly to your post. Perhaps you are right. Perhaps sexual ethics and abortion are topics that are just too incendiary to address on a blog. Maybe what I’ve been trying to do with mine just isn’t viable in the long run.Wow. Getting beat up as a girl in the 5th grade or so… That’s pretty rough. I know this was common for boys to go through some years ago, but girls? Was this an inner-city school?In a lot of ways I can relate to what you are saying, as a classic late bloomer myself (I’m still blooming late for my age). After what I’d call an idyllic childhood, the gawky, oily, pimply, adolescent “Junior High School” years were very difficult for me, and the bullying and physical intimidation were a source of constant worry and pre-occupation for me, even though I was kind of a battler myself. It finally started to ease up in High School, and in college I finally found my niche, but those were tough years to go through. You also find out later that some people give up their bullying ways, and other people are bullies for life.It’s easy now when we look at kids (and I have to remind myself of this now, since I have some kids in middle school of my own) how much this weighs on their minds… how much of a factor it is in their psyche.I’ve always found that I get along pretty well with most of these people when I run into them again years later in life. It’s usually all seems to be smiles, and bygones seem to be bygones, but you both know… I hear what you are saying. As I’ve said elsewhere, one of the hardest things in life to do is to forgive someone who doesn’t want or need your forgiveness, and sometimes we just need to do it for our own good. It’s something we need to do to keep it from chewing us up inside, if for nothing else.

  4. I’m sorry to hear it was like that for you. I was picked on a lot in school too … not until college did it let up and my sister was my only friend. I’m still shy.Sometimes I think about my stepfather, who sexually abused me, and wonder about forgiveness. I do want to forgive him because I hurt a lot of people myself, being such a screwed-up kid, and i cringe when I think of how what I did may have forever harmed them. I hope they can forgive me. It’s a tough topic – very thought provoking.

  5. I’ll respond more fully when I get my new DSL modem…having problems with connectivity. Sorry!

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