Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Growing Up In Himni, Utah - Episode 8

I was always pretty scrawny. Consequently, I got picked on quite a bit through Elementary School and Junior High. It was pretty unpleasant but I learned to keep clear of the bullies for the most part and managed alright.

When I got to ninth grade though, I really met my nemesis. Gavin Richardson was his name. Gavin was one of Butch Farley’s minions. Gavin was small and smart enough to befriend Butch because Butch could easily have whooped him. But, he was big and dumb enough to pick on me. Those intermediate bullies were the worst.

Butch for example never picked on the little kids. He had nothing to prove. Picking on us puny ones was the realm of bullies who didn’t dare pick on anybody their own size. There was one exception. One day Butch got crossways with my seventh grade brother, Todd. I really don’t know what made him mad but he slammed Todd up against the back wall of the auditorium so hard that Todd’s head ricocheted off the wall and head-butted Butch right in the nose. Blood splattered everywhere. Todd came out of it unscathed and Butch cut him some slack after that.

Gavin, however, wouldn’t cut me any slack. Going to school became a nightmare. I hardly slept at night for the dread. One day I happened to see the great Disney movie Song of the South. In it, Uncle Remus told the story of Brer Rabbit and how he out witted Brer Fox and Brer Bear. About the time the fox and bear tossed Brer Rabbit into the briar patch it occurred to me that I, like Brer Rabbit shouldn’t have all that much trouble out smarting Gavin, or Butch for that matter.

A couple of days later, I got my first chance to test my theory. We were showering after gym class. My locker was uncomfortably situated right between Butch and Gavin. Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of Gavin winding up a towel with which to pop my bare backside. The Brer Rabbit in me began to emerge. I kept my cool and made like I hadn’t noticed. Just as Gavin let the towel fly, I moved and that towel snapped like a firecracker on Butch’s exposed rear end. All I had to do then, was quietly, discreetly, get dressed while Butch cleaned Gavin’s clock
Things quieted down for a few weeks.

The next semester though, I took Mr. Hocker’s typing class. Gavin took it too. My assigned seat was near the door at the side of the room. Gavin passed my desk every day and with an extended knuckle whopped me on the shoulder blade as he entered the room. It wasn’t three days before that became intolerable. There was no such thing as “Safe Schools” back then. I was pretty much on my own to solve this one. Gavin was clearly meaner and tougher than me, but I had already concluded that I was smarter.

The next day I kept a wary eye out for his approach. When he arrived and went to thump me, I exploded out of my chair, shoved him over a desk, typewriter and all, and came down on top of him swinging for all I was worth. The element of surprise gave me the initial advantage and I calculated that Mr. Hocker would be there to break thinks up before Gavin recovered enough to kill me. It worked! We got sent to the office where neither of us confessed the reason for the altercation. After a warning, we went back to class, Gavin subdued and Jinx quietly triumphant. Gavin never bothered me again.

In today’s schools the aggressor is automatically considered guilty and I’d most likely have been threatened with expulsion. That would prevent me from daring to defend myself against such subtle bullying. And that would tacitly give Gavin license to pick on me for the rest of my life. The old ways are sometimes better.

Other bullies have prevented Disney from distributing Song of the South anymore. The Sista Rabbit in my wife, however, found it for sale in Europe over the internet and bought us a copy on DVD.

Zippity Doo Dah!

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