When I was in fifth grade, I broke my hand sledding. I was pushing off from the top, and someone ran over my hand with a metal old timey toboggan. I had to wear a cast for 6 weeks.
I an attempt to make my life in school easier, my mom gave me a coral colored net beach bag to carry my books from class to class, and it was so exciting, because at that age, the most asinine things are awesome. Retainers, eye patches, Remy Shaw had crutches for a few weeks, and I envied the hell out of him.
One day as I was walking out of religion class, a group of three 8th grade boys were waiting in the hall for me yelling, save the whales, stop netting the whales!
To this day, I can’t figure out what is the most humiliating part. The part where three cute older boys I’d never actually spoken to made fun of my bag in the hallway in front of everyone, or the fact that, at the time, I had absolutely no idea they weren’t making fun of my bag at all.
I went home that night screaming at my mother, asking her why she sent me to school with a stupid coral net bag, especially when all the cool girls carried things in plastic Gap bags, never mind we couldn’t afford to shop at the Gap, or in reality, carrying your things around in a used Gap bag seems a bit homeless, WHATEVER, at the time, it was a big deal.
For the remaining six weeks, I struggled to balance my books with my bad hand, and I’m almost positive it slowed the healing process down a good month.
Funny side note, one of the three 8th grade boys asked me out in high school. I was apparently less whale-like then. And also one of them died.
It wasn’t until the next year, when nobody wanted to be my partner for square dancing (which is basically like child marriage in elementary school), that I began to realize, it was me that was the problem…not the bag.
It was almost paralyzing. I was afraid to maneuver about school, the teasing was humiliating, and I would spend entire days with my jaw clenched and my skin prickly, scared to turn the corner and hear how fat or ugly I was in front of my friends.
Now, I can sit here and think of a million and one witty things I should have said back to them. Pointing out their sub-par wit and glaring appearance flaws. And then running into them as adults, with poor hygiene and unfortunate genetics…except the dead guy, obviously.
But, that is how my head works, in the moment it’s hazey and stuttery and full of jibberish, but after, I could have the entire articulate fight with them in my head over and over, and spoiler alert, I win every time.
Yesterday, on the very long drive home from Florida, Andy and Wyatt had to pee, so we stopped off at some sketchy looking gas station off the highway. I decided to change Gigi’s pull up, but when I opened the side door, in pure Three’s Company style, the bag that had been leaning against the door fell out, spilling all it’s contents (you know, like my tampons, pads, pills, glasses, dirty underwear from the previous night in a shady hotel) on to the ground.
As I bent over to pick it up, in my black leggings (because Cracker Barrel and Golden Corral have a lax dress code), a man walked out of the gas station, and upon seeing me bent over in front of him, says, Hey watch it there, slim, and then starts laughing.
I jerked up to face him, and saw an overweight bald man in a tank top and frayed jean shorts, laughing next to a woman who looked positively humiliated.
Maybe she felt bad for being with a jackass who makes fun of a woman in front of her two small children outside a smelly gas station.
Maybe she realized we were basically the same size, and she was one break up or hillbilly divorce away from being on the receiving end of his bullying, if she wasn’t already.
Or maybe she was deaf.
I have no idea, but when I stood up to face the guy, all I wanted to do was call him fat and ugly and disgusting and probably *fingers crossed* impotent, but what came out was way more logical and boring.
Does that make you feel better about yourself, to mock women for their weight when they clearly weigh less than you?
I wanted him to say no, that he was merely mirroring his own insecurities on to me, and that he hated himself.
Oh. Well, it’s really gross, and you should focus on other things, like being nice to people and making more jean shorts, I mean, when don’t those look good on grown men?
See? Jibbery nonsense. He said “fuck you” and walked away, and I spent hours staring out the window as we drove home, thinking about what he said, and how he probably would never give his words a second thought, even though I was stuck carrying them around with me the rest of my life.
Sometimes people don’t realize that part of words, you can never ever measure how deep they cut others, and how they never really go away.
Thankfully, I like scars.