Chapter 4 THE RUNNING OF THE BULLIES
There’s a boy at school and I know Marney said to use my brain, but I like him. He’s cute. Even the girls in the bathroom think so.
“He’s so hot,” I overheard them say.
I’m sure it’s a little ridiculous to think that a 12-year-old boy would even think twice about a 7-year-old. But maybe in ten years. Ugh! Ten years is a long time. What if he changes by then? What if he’s not even cute anymore? What if he’s covered in hair? Oh, why do I have to be a 7-year-old genius?
“Oh, why can’t I be a twelve-year-old dumb blond?”
“What did you say?” demanded the girls in the bathroom while peeking into my stall and banging on the door.
I guess I must have said that last thought out loud because suddenly, my bathroom stall was surrounded by 12-year-old girls tapping their shoes on the tile floor. I had nowhere to go. So, I opened the stall.
“Uh, do you mind if I wash my hands?”
I walked through them toward the sinks while they huffed and puffed. I washed my hands and ignored their glares drilling into the back of my head.
“I said, I wish I were a twelve-year-old dumb blond,” I stated matter-of-fact.
The girls didn’t seem that impressed by what I was saying, so I went on to clarify my stance on the issue.
“Come on, you’ve been my age before. The only difference between you and me is I’m small and you’re big. We basically have the same needs. We want the same things.”
The girls in the bathroom looked perplexed. So, I continued, pacing the room like an attorney pleading my case.
“For example, we both want to pass the seventh grade. We both want to make friends and we both...”
I couldn’t stall much longer and I didn’t know what to say next.
“I like a boy in school and he doesn’t even know I’m alive. I thought if I was bigger here, here and here,” pointing to my height, flat chest and butt, “and less of a nerd, he might like me.”
The girls looked at each other and laughed hysterically. Then as they made the capital L sign on their heads with their thumbs and index fingers, they walked out talking about me as if I wasn’t even there.
I didn’t find it funny. Being small in a big kid’s world is like being surrounded by ice cream and having a milk allergy, cute boys everywhere and not one under 12 years old. I kept trying to reassure myself that when I was a baby these adolescents were only 5-year-olds. That’s not a huge age difference and, by the way, when I’m 18, they’ll only be 23 and when I’m 40, they’ll be 45.
I slunk out of the bathroom hoping to avoid all signs of pubescent life. No such luck. The girls had gathered the pack and started the telephone game, complete with nasty words, rumors and all sorts of distorted notions to make me the gazelle in a hallway full of lions. I stood there frozen. They began to tease me.
“The Brain wants a boyfriend.”
I don’t like teasing. I blame Jane and Fred. Why did they have to have me tested? I should have been in the 2nd grade right now teaching green-nosed little kids how to do multiplication. I’d have ruled that school and I would’ve felt good about myself. Right now, all I want to do is die. At least that was one thing we could all agree on.
Seventh grade girls are ruthless animals. I didn’t know if I was going to leave the hallway in one piece. It seemed like an eternity that I stood there and that they stood around me mocking me. I tried to make them all fade away and think of a happy place. I noticed Fred does that when Jane is nagging him. It worked for a moment. Then the bell rang and as the saying goes, I was saved.
The kids separated and moved in the direction of their various classes. The leaders of the pack turned in unison, arm in arm, and walked toward their class. I looked at myself from top to bottom--not a scratch. I had survived this time. But, I had a feeling this fight wasn’t over yet.
I was right. After school, there were some girls waiting for me at the entrance. Marney usually picks me up right where they were standing. I slowly walked toward them hoping that they’d disperse before I got there. I looked around for a supervising adult and was, once again, disappointed. There was another spot where I could wait and Marney should be able to see me just fine. As I walked past the group of girls, one of them held their arm out to grab me and pull me back in.
“Hi!” I stated enthusiastically, but my big scary-looking grin slowly faded.
“What are you, like, a midget or something?” one of the girls asked me and then pulled out a lollipop from her pocket and opened it. The others laughed.
I corrected her, “I thought I explained this before. I skipped a few grades and now I’m here.”
The girl put the lollipop in her mouth. The other girls were chewing gum and maybe it’s the daredevil in me or maybe it was just stupidity, but I said something that made them very very angry.
“Did you know that in German, the word, cow, means to chew? Not really spelled the same but still.”
“Are you, like, calling us cows?” another girl asked.
All three girls gathered closer to me, huddling me in a tight circle. Looking up at their faces, they really did look like cows. I’m glad I don’t like chewing gum. One of the girls, who I thought, was really big, even for her age, began to pick me up. This was one of those times I really wished I wasn’t so smart. She picked me right up and put me into the trash can a few feet away. What’s worse is that Marney rolled up to meet me right at that moment. But it was too late. She couldn’t have saved me anyway. The girls ran off laughing and I had been placed not ever so delicately onto something very smelly and sticky. They’d won--this time.
Marney rolled up to the trash can and I tried to boost myself up so she could pull me out. But, she couldn’t manage. Suddenly I saw him, Dean Marlowe, he was there beside Marney and me and he reached into the trash can, grabbed my arms and pulled me out. My hero.
“Thanks Mr. Marlowe,” I said to him.
Mr. Marlowe’s our phys-ed teacher. He’s super cute and all the girls at school like him. His is the only class I had an “A” in.
It appeared I wasn’t the only one who thought Mr. Marlowe was cute. Marney was looking at him with a look I’ve never seen before. She was blushing.
“Marney, this is Mr. Marlowe. He’s our P.E. teacher.”
Mr. Marlowe held out his hand to Marney. She took it absentmindedly and still didn’t speak.
“Mr. Marlowe, this is my sister Marney.”
“Hi!” Mr. Marlowe said loudly. “It’s nice to meet you! Your sister’s a good kid.”
“Mr. Marlowe, she’s not deaf. She just can’t use her legs. Everything else works.”
I took aim at Marney who now looked like a deaf mute.
I kicked her leg and then I was sorry. I knew Marney didn’t feel it, but she didn’t like her legs being messed with either.
Marney, embarrassed and upset, spoke up, “We gotta go. Nice talking to you.”
Mr. Marlowe stood there and waved goodbye.
“Sorry Marney. I forgot,” I plead.
“It’s okay, Squirt. It’s not your fault.”
She was still self-conscious about her legs. It’s kind of strange to have something there that you can see and touch but not feel or use.
“Your P.E. teacher was really cute.”
“Oh, I hadn’t noticed,” I laughed.
She laughed too, then asked, “So, what happened with those girls?”
“I called them dumb blonds.”
Marney laughed at me.
“I mean, I didn’t do it directly. But somehow it was directed. Oh, and I called them cows.”
Marney laughed again.
“Again, not directly.”
Marney looked at me and gave me another noogie, “You have a way of directly getting yourself in trouble, don’t you?”
I smiled at her. “That’s okay Marney. I’ve got you to bail me out.”
Marney smiled back and kept rolling home.