The Bully

tdc168-aLately I’ve been turning to the zany questions on OkCupid for blog fodder from time to time. Today is one of those times.

The question is: Were you picked on a lot in school?

This question is a little different than the others. The common thread in the other questions is that I had to think for a few minutes to figure out the answer that’s right for me.

For this one I know the answer right away, but it struck me as an interesting–and even sensitive–question for a dating site to ask. What does the site think that my answer says about me?

OkCupid gives me two options: yes or no. I chose “no,” as in, “I was picked on, but not a lot.”

I was a quiet kid in school, and I kind of stayed out of the way of others. So I wasn’t the biggest target to be picked on by bullies or older kids.

But I was picked on by one particular guy in middle school. I’ll call him Isaac Potter, because that was his name.

I was a scrawny 6th or 7th grade (I can’t remember exactly when it was), and Isaac was much bigger than me. I was in the gifted program and Isaac wasn’t, but kids in my program mixed with everyone else for gym class.

The bullying started out of nowhere–as far as I could tell, there was absolutely nothing that initiated it. One day things were normal, and the next Isaac was going out of his way to lower his shoulder into me every time he walked by.

I didn’t say anything. I definitely didn’t stand up to Isaac, and I didn’t tell on him either. So things got worse.

I remember the final two incidents in detail. One I remember not so much for what Isaac did (he slammed me into my locker and hurt my shoulder), but rather for the kindness of a guy who kind of followed him around. After Isaac walked away, the guy asked me if I was okay. “I’ll tell him to stop,” he assured me.

The final incident was a few days later. We were walking in from the playground when Isaac approached me. He loomed over me and said, “What did you say?”

I literally hadn’t said anything. Isaac didn’t wait for an answer before shoving me to the ground.

With gravel pockmarked into my palms, I made my way to the vice principal’s office that afternoon to report Isaac. I felt cowardly going to him instead of confronting Isaac myself, but I was scared. That was the best I could do.

A few days later, the vice principal called me into the office with Isaac. I remember Isaac saying that he thought I had said something about his mother, but he said it in a way that made me realize that he as scared to be in that office as I was to be in the same room as him. I fought back tears and said that I just didn’t want to be picked on any more. The vice principal sent me back to class and asked Isaac to remain in the office.

I think the vice principal must have been pretty good at his job, because I noticed something odd in the days and weeks that followed. Not only did Isaac stop picking on me, but he seemed to be looking out for me.

I can’t put a finger on how I know this. I actually think the vice principal used Isaac’s desire for power and control from something bad into something good, like giving a uncooperative German Shepard a backpack to wear. Whatever he did, I’m grateful for it, and I’m even grateful for Isaac.

Did you get picked on at school? Are you happy with the way it was resolved?