Memories of Me

I was given the name of Trudy from birth; the additional title of grama came after the birth of my grandson. It is misspelled. I know. It should be grandma, but it is the story of how grama came about that sways me to say grama, instead of grandma.

My daughter calls me “Ma”. She always refers to me in front of the children as grandma. However, my grandson always copied his mother, calling me Ma instead.

I can only imagine this was a rub the wrong way, since she was his mother, not I. She would correct him and say “Gra’-Ma”, encouraging him to say the extra sound before he said, “Ma”.

Well, he learned “Ma” first, so he put that sound first and called me “Ma-Gra'” instead. For years I answered to “Ma-Gra”.

Nevertheless, Ma-Gra gave me top billing over Ma; at least that is the way it seemed. My daughter earned top billing, just by giving birth. She was insistent on correcting him; it took years of correcting him before he turned it back around and said, “Gra’ma”.

In his spelling studies grandmother was one of the words he learned to spell with a great deal of difficulty. Most of the time he spelled it correct when he heard the syllables and the correct pronunciation. Nevertheless when he was hurried and thinking of me, he spurted, out “Gra’ma”.

This became visibly apparent on my birthday when he made a Happy Birthday banner and hung it up above the table with the help of his Mom. No one caught the spelling error. He was taught to spell out the syllables. He called me Gra’ma, not Grandma. Hence, I have since then referred to myself as Grama Trudy.

In this computer world, I drop the capitals and the space and just make it gramatrudy.

On my last birthday, I became 74 years young. In my mind’s eye, I am just a kid. My mother lived 95 years, so maybe I have another 25 years to skip around this internet.

        “When I Was Just a Child”

As a child, I think all stories stop with the words “The End” and start with “Once upon a time”.  This sounds logical, considering the stories look back upon the past when told and afterward nothing more is said.

Nevertheless, the minute the story starts to unfold, the child becomes part of the action; he or she is drawn in, not as a character, but as an observer, listening, reasoning, watching, and witnessing (in the mind’s eye) while the action commences.

Sometimes existing is not so easy when life hands you a bag of lemons.

I was born.  However, if my mother had conceived me in this day and age, she could have opted to abort since she was infected with the measles during her pregnancy.  Measles is known to cause birth defects.

But she didn’t have that option nor would she take such an option; she loved children.  I thank God I was born . . .  with a defect.  It (the defect) is detected at the age of three, when in one of my childish tantrum fits; I throw myself down on a nail poking up out of the floor in the corner of the room.

Mom let me be, thinking, “The kicking and screaming will stop if I ignore her bad behavior.”

But suddenly I am thrashing around in a pool of blood she cannot ignore; and she is rushing me to the county hospital where I become the center of attention.

I earned the nine stitches I get on my butt.  But when the doctor asks, “How long has she had a hearing problem?”

“She has a behavior problem.  She hears what she wants to hear,” is my mothers’ reply.

“You do realize she cannot hear the sound of your voice.” he says as he turns me around where my back is to them. “Give her a command to do something.”

“Turn around and look at your mama,” she instructs.

Her words fall on unresponsive ears. I do not budge.

This is the start of the background that gives bullies an edge over me.  I am different. Because I am different, I am like a magnet.

Bullies with the intent to hurt and intimidate cling to such draws, making it hard for one to push forward.  I ask, “Why?  Why? Why do they even bother?”  Don’t they realize the victims, especially the independent thinking ones, never tire of making lemonade?

I for one prefer lemons over sweets; my lips pucker just thinking about them. I’ll spend my money at the local store for a bag of lemons or a jar of pickles any day over a candy bar.  Likewise the life experiences I treasure most are the ones I achieve after overcoming the obstacles in my path, especially ones’ where another attempts to bar my success.

Mom says, “Turn the other cheek – – turn the other cheek.”  Then she reminds me, “Stay out of the pantry.”  The pantry is where she keeps the pickles.

When there are pickles in the Mason jars in the pantry, they came from Granny.  Let me tell you, “Granny’s pickles are the best.  You can’t buy them at the store.  They come directly from her house to the pantry and then to me.”

Personally, I question mom’s reasoning.  Why do as those hurtful people wish?  Why turn the other cheek?   That is what they want; they want the other cheek to turn; they want their victim’s to bow down to them.  In essence, the bully needs subjects to control.  The bully hungers to feel Godlike; he craves total power.  He manipulates through words with criticism, lies, or gossip.

For years I turn the other cheek.  I obey, just as my mother tells me. And she is right we should avoid conflict with another over petty stuff.  Nevertheless, even though the intimidation may be minor, stupid stuff, not life threatening, just the “sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me” type; that type still torments.

I remember once acting like a bully. I was retaliating for similar action done to me.  My brother had been teasing me and making me cry, so I spitefully turned it around on him.  I started singing the rhyme, “Georgie porgy, pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry.  But when the boys came out to play, Georgie porgy ran away.” I sang that rhyme over and over again.  Others joined in which made things worse.  When my brother starts to cry, it hurt me.  Inside I felt really bad.  I was sorry I did that to him and told myself, “I will never do such a thing again.  I learn that day, names do hurt the ones you love.”

The bullies plague me, teasing me about my crowning glory, my hair.  They call me a baby because I don’t comb my own hair into those long ringlets that hang down my back; they are right – I don’t, because I can’t.  So what?

“Look, at the baby,” they say.  “She can’t comb her hair.  Mommy’s got to do it for her.” Reaching out to yank a curl they add, “Are you going to be a crying baby?”


Others join in yanking or they laugh.

“Ha ha ha.”

(These girls are the precursor to a late 1950 or early 1960 coffee clutch, where women get together to tear another apart with criticism in that person’s absence.  I attend one of those coffee get together sessions – once.  After that, they did not want me to participate nor did I desire to join them, because I say to their face: “If you haven’t got something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.”)

They got a good yank of my hair and a laugh at my expense.  That is okay because I turn and walk away, but the laughter follows after me.

“Ha ha ha”.

Personally I think they are all jealous.  Their hair is in a pony-tail, a thin one at that.  I will never be able to get all of my thick hair in a ponytail like theirs; it will take five, maybe even six, of such pony tails stacked from the base of the crown of my head to the nap of my neck with the tails hanging to my butt or beyond. I tell myself, “It doesn’t really matter what they think about my hair.”

The results of the encounter lingers when the class goes out to the playground for physical education.  I wind up odd-girl-out because nobody wants to play with the baby; as a result, I am not chosen to play team sports.  Instead, I stand on the side lines with the teacher and help referee.

She says when the bullies object, “Ignore them; they will bore of their foolishness on their own.”

I bore before they do.  I excuse myself and ask permission to practice serving and hitting the tether ball.  Tether ball is one on one sport with one player on Ups until beaten by another.  There is usually a line of want-ta-bees, waiting their turn to challenge the winner and a teacher or yard monitor, keeping it civil.  I like playing tether ball.  It is said, “Practice makes perfect.”  Believe it.  Practice does make perfect, especially if you drill hard enough.

In Tether ball once I get up, I stay up. The bullies lose.  They continue to lose until the bell rings and recess or lunch hour is over.  Poor losers look for ways to gain the upper hand usually through deception.

On the other hand, I question my thinking about my hair as I tag after my sister when she goes to the beauty shop to get her haircut and a permanent to curl her board straight hair.

These long curls of mine never felt the blade of the scissor’s snip; no, they‘ve never been cut.  Eight years of growth hang down my back.  Eight years of tears as the comb pulls its way through the tangles.  Only a person with curly hair understands the meaning of those tears or how I long to shed their weight. The tangles are worse immediately after washing it.  In those days, I didn’t use crème rinse. The nearest to my shampoo is a plastic glass and a bottle of distilled white vinegar.  The mixture of 1 part water to 1 part vinegar is used instead of a crème rinse; it takes away the aftereffects of soap, leaving a shine on the hair; the hair actually squeaks when you pull the hair between two fingers.  The vinegar purifies the hair and the environment (the scalp), ridding it of or fighting off any unwanted diseases or critters picked up outside or from others. Plus, it makes your hair sparkle; it is considered a sterilizing municipal remedy for all that ails the hair.  The only downfall is the comb does the de-tangling and the temporary after smell is that of a vinegar base salad dressing.

I stare as the beautician cut and perms my sister’s hair.  She goes to the beauty shop on a regular basis to keep her hair in shape and permed when we can afford it

Toni Home Perms are the rage then. A home perm is the cheaper way to go.  However, it is a trial and error state of affairs; if you leave it on too long, it frizzes.  Then you wear a head scarf for a while until the frizz hair tames down some.

Personally, I don’t need a perm.  My hair is naturally curly and it frizzes on its own when there is moisture in the air.  Thank God for my curly hair.  I hate the smell of the perm liquid; it burns the inside of my nose from just being in the same room sitting and watching my sister as she gets her hair done.

Our dog has curly hair too; we name him Toni after the home permanent name.

His hair looks like a perm gone bad (frizzy) and overcooked in the perm liquid.  When he gets wet, he smells like he just got a perm too.  You want to walk around with a clothes pin on your nose to avoid the stench.

Oh how I long to do the same and get a haircut like my sister, not a perm though.  Still, when I ask Mom she says, “No, absolutely not!” She will not debate me on the subject.  She says, “Your hair is beautiful as it is.” Absolutely not is her final word.

I still take my savings with me.  Deep down I pray mom will change her mind and if she does, I will have the money for the haircut with me. The savings is money I save from all the hard work I do for our neighbors.  I have regular jobs, washing dishes at two houses after dinner every night, except for Sunday; cleaning house for the elderly woman who lives next door once a week; and pulling weeds from the flower beds for lady down the street.  My sister and I also clean two other homes together on Saturdays while we sit for the kids; we do everything: the wash, the ironing, change the sheets, mop the floors, and clean the kitchen; we do everything that needs to be done.  We earn $5.00 each for a full day’s work. Most kids our age are not able to do what we do.  Our mother trains us right. We both look older than we are so there is no hesitation in hiring us.  Sometimes the kids we sit with are close to our age, but no one ever asks our age; they just assume we are older because we look and act older. We are mature because we willingly take on more responsibility than other kids our age.

The money is burning a hole in my pocket. Usually I save it to help buy school clothes. When the beautician sits my sister aside to let the perm set I ask, “Will you cut my hair too?  I have money?”

She smiles.  Then she says, “Sunshine, I won’t touch your beautiful hair without your parents’ consent.”

I frown with disappointment, looking up at her with my large, sad eyes, holding in my hand all the money I count out to pay for a haircut.

My look yanks at her heart-strings.  She hesitates momentarily and then she blurts out, “Give me your phone number.  I’ll call your parents.”  She steps away, picks up the phone, and dials the number.  When she returns to where I am waiting for a reply she says, “Your dad says I may cut your hair.”

My mouth drops open.  I am silent. It is a good thing my sister didn’t hear that.  I don’t know who the beautician spoke with, but it was not my dad; he left years ago – my aunt (his sister) told me he went out to cash his paycheck and get some milk, but never returned. She helps our family out a lot by making school clothes and such.

We always go to Granny’s and my Aunt’s house for holiday meals; and she takes us on vacation every summer, plus we get to stay at her house for two weeks in the summer. It is usually fun staying at Granny’s.  I say usually because sometimes it is not so fun.  There is this one particular day I will never forget.  Granny wants fried chicken for dinner. My aunt isn’t in the mood to cook and my Uncle, who normally does the cooking, isn’t home.

Granny raises her own chickens in the backyard.  I gather the eggs plenty of times for her.  Shortly after my Aunt goes outside, I hear a loud commotion.  The chickens are scurrying outside and clucking loudly; I would equate the noise level equivalent to a scream, and rightfully so.  My aunt is chasing them.  One of those chickens is going to be our dinner.

Yep.  She caught one.  I saw her pick it up by the neck and swing it.  Then I heard the ax hit the chopping block.  I can see the chicken (minus its head) running around the yard. The ax is stuck in the block; that means: the deed is done.

My Aunt yells, “Start some water boiling.”

I do.  When the water comes to a boil, I transfer the pot to the kitchen sink as Granny instructs.  No problem doing that.

My aunt comes in plops the chicken in the boiling water, pulls it out and starts pulling the feathers out or should I say she is showing me how to do it.  I had no problems pulling the feathers.  In fact, it was kind of fun.  The ends of the feathers are kind of sharp and hurt if they poke you as you are pulling. “Ouch!”

When I finish with the feathers, I start to get down because I think I am done.

“Wait.  Stay where you are.  You are not finished yet,” my Aunt says.

“I got all the feathers off it.”

“Yes,” she says, “But you haven’t cleaned it.”

“I washed it off,” I reply.

“Washing it off is not cleaning a chicken,” she states then tells me, “Wash your hands.  You are going to learn how to clean a chicken.”

And learn how to clean a chicken, I did.  It is a hands on learning experience with my Aunt verbally chanting out the instructions in her southern colorful manner.  I did what she said without repeating her word choice.

“Listen carefully: Do not break the sack in there.  If you do, you will spoil the whole darn (only she used the other word, the word I’d get spanking for if I said it) chicken.”

“My brother loves gory stuff.  Why can’t he do it?”  All my please ring on deaf ears and are ignored. I take a deep breath and proceed as she instructs.

My hand and half of my arm enter inside that chicken’s underside.   By the feel of my fingers I locate and I am about to pull out the liver, heart and giblets, but instead I react, “uh, there’s an egg in here,” I cry out.

“Where do you think the ‘blank-ka-de-blank’ eggs came from?” She asks. “Pull it out.”

I do.  Then again I say, “My goodness, oh there is another egg in here.”

“Your breakfast tomorrow,” She said.

I think I am done, but she says, “You still have to cut it up proper like the butcher does at the meat counter.”

“I don’t know how.” My aunt does not accept such answers.  Her motto is “If you don’t know, it’s time to learn.” The words “I can’t” are not in her vocabulary, so saying the words “I can’t” do no good.

“You’re going to learn.”

Before you cut up a chicken you need to sharpen the knife which amounts to pulling the blade of the knife across the stone a few times.  Not hard.  Once that is done, you are ready to start.  The first cut made is to the wishbone at the center of the breast.  Splitting the breast in half comes last.  You never split the breast without first removing the wishbone.  We all yell, “Dibs on the wishbone!” Having that piece grants us a pull and possibly a wish if we are left holding the larger portion. Then the wings, thigh, and leg, are separated followed by the back and tail bone.

I prepare the chicken for cooking by rinsing it off and dipping each piece in white flour until the flour dust covers each piece.  Meanwhile the grease heats to the right temperature.  You know it is hot enough when you see bubbles popping in the pan.  Here my Aunt warns,   “Be careful”.

I again try to convince her, “Someone else can better finish this job,” I say. “Mom doesn’t allow me in the kitchen when she is frying,” but she wasn’t hearing it.

“I’m tried. “

“You are not finished.  You can leave only after you finish cooking the chicken and serve it up on a platter.”

My mind is brought back to the present when the beautician says, “Jump up in this chair.”

Perhaps I am wrong, keeping quiet as I am, but I desperately want the hair cut; I need the teasing to stop so I keep quiet.  I smile as I climb up into the chair.  “Will you put a ribbon on my curls, so I can give them to my mom?” I ask.

She nods in the affirmative.

“Will you do a poodle cut?”

“Oh,” she says, “You really want these curls gone.”

“This is my first haircut!”

As she cuts, she sets each curl aside.  She put a band around the curls to hold them together, and then ties a pretty bow around the band.  The curls are ready to go. They are now sitting on the side line waiting to go home.

I watch her every move.  I image what people will say.  Day dreaming, I wonder if losing my hair will be a reverse of the way Sampson is affected when he gets his locks cut off. That is silly thinking I tell myself.  I know it is silly, but how nice it would be to gain strength so the teasing will stop. I have hope.

But for now there are other more important worries.  I know my dad did not give the beautician permission to cut my hair; he’s been gone too many years.  How am I going to handle this problem? I knew it wasn’t him, but I keep quiet, letting her cut my hair.  Mom is going to kill me!

The Beautician gives me a mirror so I can see what is happening.   And so I can see what my hair looks like.  I certainly appear different.

A poodle cut, in case you don’t know, is a short haircut with little curls all over the head similar to Shirley Temple, except my hair is auburn brown where Shirley’s is blonde.  I like it.  I can comb it myself.  I need no one else’s help.  Walking home I am quiet.

My sister asks, “Mom change her mind?”

“No. The Beautician said father gave permission.  But you know that isn’t so.  I think she dialed a wrong number and the man who answers gives her permission to cut my hair.”

“Oh,” she says, “You are in trouble!”  And she adds, “I can use your curls to make me a ponytail!” She exclaims.

“No.  You cannot, “I reply.  “My hair is not your toy.”

“We’re home.  Now what are you going to do?”

I open the door.  I throw in the hair tied with a ribbon and bow.  It falls on the floor in the middle of the room.

I hear my mother scream.  I hear my mom call my name.  The first time she calls out I hear only the first name.  Then she calls out again.  This time I hear the first and middle name.  The tone of her voice increases in volume and intensity.  Then suddenly my mom is screaming, not just my first but my second name too.

I take off running.  I can hear her in the distance, calling out my name again: first, middle, and LAST; the sound of my full name follows me down the street.  Anytime my mom calls out my full name: first, middle, and last, I know I am in deep do-do.  That is worse than saying: “I am going to count to three.”  I want out of there until she cools down.

I take off running before she calls my name out . . . my full name for the third time.  There is no way I am going home, at least not for a while.

I go to a friend’s house.  “I fear my mom when she gets angry, especially when she calls me by my full name.  Experience tells the tale when a switch hits my butt; it is even worse when you have to pick the switch off a tree yourself so you can get the switch.”

When I get to my friend’s house, my friend and I play for a few hours. They like my new hair style. Time goes by fast.

“It is getting dark outside, hon” her mother says.  I think you should go home.  Your mom will worry.  Besides it is time to eat dinner; her dad will be here momentarily.”

Just then, there is a knock on the door.  She goes to the door, opens it, and finds my brother and Tony, our dog, standing there. “Is my sister here?  Mom says, ‘It is time for her to come home.’”

“She was just going to leave.  It is nice of you to come get her as it is getting dark outside.” She said.

“Yes, mam, my mom sent me after her.” My brother answers. He is always polite.  He is the only man in our family anymore, a lot of responsibility for a guy his age.  He watches out for his sisters (all three of us) and sticks up for us and protects us, if needs be. He takes his responsibility seriously.

We walk home.  My brother fills me in on mom.  He says, “She took a while to calm down.  A friend of the family is there; he was at the house when the beautician calls; it is him that gave permission to cut your hair.  So she is mad at him now, not you.”

Oh what a relief it is to hear that. I will thank him the first chance I get.

The next day when I return to school there is a big fuss about my hair.  Everyone appears to like it, except for the ringleader of the band of girls who teases me daily about one thing or another.

When I first start to read, she laughs about my reading and makes fun of me.  I am usually at my other school on reading days, but there is no school there that day because the teacher is sick.

The next time I read in front of the class, things are different: The trouble maker starts to laugh before I even start; the teacher stops her and tells her to keep quiet.  I knew how to read correctly now; and I was good at it.  But I still need couching to get me started. The teacher prompts me, “Go ahead.  No one will laugh.”

I read (using the punctuation as a guide to give emphasis and pause as needed).  No one laughs.  The teacher thanks me and remarks on the improvement in my reading ability in front of the class.

The trouble maker, the bully, just stares at me with a hateful glare.

Another smiles and says, “You read well.”

In the fourth grade, myself and a girl from another class become friends.  We both share a similar dilemma; we walk around with our arms folded across our chest, blocking a view of the developing breast because the boys point at us and whisper to each other, sometimes teasing us.  Their teasing is different.  I feel embarrassed.

At first their teasing bothers me and almost makes me cry, until a nearby teacher explains, “Boys who act that way usually do so because they like you and how you look.”

Nobody ever told me that before.  It made me feel good just thinking somebody likes the way I look for a change, especially a boy.

“Really?” I ask.

“Really,” she reiterates.

The other girls make it difficult for us because the boys like us better than they do them.  One girl in particular tries her best to get this one boy to change his mind about me, because she wants to call him her boyfriend.

Deep down I know when she starts to be nice to me she has a bizarre motive for doing so.  She asks me a lot of questions.  I answer them all truthfully.    I am developed physically.  So rightfully so I am going to weigh more than the average fourth grader.

When she asks, “How much do you weigh?”

I answer, “One hundred ten pounds.”  All the other girls weigh in at seventy-five to eighty pounds.  I am not fat, just curvy.  But somehow she convinces the boy who likes me to change his mind because I weigh more than him.

When will I learn to stop giving her ammunition to win this war she declares on me?

After that, if anyone asks, “How much do you weigh?”

I tell them, “It is none of your business.” Or I smile and remain silent.

They yell at me, “Dummy,” because I attend two schools instead of just one like them.  Immediately after roll call twice a week, I leave for another school on the other side of town.  The name calling bothers me at first until I really think about the ramification:  I’m not the dumb one; they are.

I do not share my knowledge; I keep it to myself. Taunting them serves no purpose.  I know the truth; that is all that matters.  Believe me if you continue to tell yourself, “What they say doesn’t really matter,” it won’t.  You will feel better about yourself and you will succeed in all that you do. Your success makes them squirm because they try and fail at making you feel bad.

Most of them do not know how to ride the bus or transfer to the streetcars, but I do, plus I learn to read their lips.  In other words, I can listen with my eyes.

I see what they say about me from across the room.  I smile a lot when that happens; it gives me an advantage.

Independence is my gain when I show I know how to act and react to given situations, a freedom the bullies only dream of and never achieve.

I remember a man bothering me on the bus.  The driver, who hears the commotion and knows me because I ride his bus regularly, stops the vehicle and kicks the man off.  After that, the seat right behind the driver is in reserve status just for me on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  It is safe on the bus and the streetcars; all the drivers know me, either because they knew my Dad when he was a streetcar conductor, or because I am a regular on their route twice a week.

I do not fear anything or anyone, except the Lord (and my mom when she is angry).  I am taught to fear the Lord because He is the Almighty (and I learn to fear my mom because she is the keeper of the switch and my dad’s leather strap).  However, everything else is a different matter altogether.

After all, the bible says, “Fear not, the Lord is with you.”   Even so, I back down and avoid fighting when bullies confront me because mom says that is the correct thing to do.  I do not fear the bullies though.  I just give them space and their own rope to hang themselves.

Inwardly I question.  I don’t fight.

At school when I tell a teacher or the office, they do not scold the perpetrator; instead they say, “Stay out of the bully’s way”.

I don’t understand their thinking:  “Why is it the victim’s responsibility to keep the peace?” Why isn’t the bully told to “Stop being a bully?”

Sometimes staying out of the bully’s way is easier said, than done.  But I do.  I elude them.   At times, Instead of playing on the grounds at recess, I sit on the bench and do homework assignments.  When I get home, I immediately go outside and play, because my home work is complete.

Strangely, the most ruthless and unforgiving is the female bully.  For that specific reason, I say women learn to dress to please other women from a very early age.

Unfortunately, I learn at a very early age it does no good to try and please them because they never satisfy.  So, I operate outside the norm.  I have my own space outside their box. I mix it up and wear orange with red and checks with stripes or dots or flowers whenever I feel it looks good to me; of course, that is when I can get away with it.

However, there is a clothes police at our house, my older sister, so I don’t always get away with it very often.  She does not allow me to leave the house if I do not match up to her or her fashionable friend’s expectation which to me makes no sense.  I just don’t understand her reasoning.  Orange is, after all, a derivative of Red and yellow. So why can’t I wear them all together?  And lines are lines no matter whether they form a stripe, a square, check, or a circle, or flowers.  Right?

It is said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” That may normally be the case elsewhere; but at our house there are exceptions when the older sister disagrees.

I am not the only one that has to toe this line.  My younger sister has to appease the clothes police too.  Mom usually makes my older sister lay off when she acts on the younger one’s choices.  However when mom is out, that is another thing altogether.  The time I remember most is when she acts on the younger sister’s fingernails that need cleaning and grooming.  Her fingernails are long, the kind every girl dreams of having.  But she will not clean them or file them or polish them no matter how much we plead with her.  So as soon as mom leaves the house, my older sister gets the file, polish and etc. out.  She asks nicely at first, “May I clean and polish your finger nails?”

“No” she answers.

“Please,” she asks again.

“No I said.  Can’t you hear me?” She screams as she stomps out of the room and plops herself down in front of the television, watching the screen pattern as she waits for “Beany and Cecil” to come on.

My older sister whispers in my ear, “Get her down on the floor and hold her there so I can do her nails.”

I do what she tells me because there is a pecking order at our house.  If I don’t do it, my brother will hear about it and then I will be sorry.

So I get the younger one down and tell her, “No one is going to hurt you” I say as she kicks and screams. I continue, “She is just going to clean, file and polish your nails and make them pretty.  You like to be pretty don’t you?”


“Well, I am sorry, but this is going to happen.  So just be still and be quiet” I say.

“Hold her hand still,” she orders.

“I’m trying.”

I look her in the eye, “You need to be still otherwise we will both be here all day.  Your program is coming on now.  Watch it.  The more you struggle the worse it will be for you.”

After the nails are finished, they need to dry.  I hold her hands still while my older sister blows on them trying to speed up the drying process.

“Almost done, almost done.  Done,” I say as I release the hold I had on her and get off of her.

She jumps up and runs to her room and slams the door.

I guess you can say I am born before my time or maybe even a trend setter, because later in life both my sister and her friends wear my choice of style.  Of course, later in life they consider it fashionable.  And as far as they are concerned, I had nothing to do with those changes.

I am told the reason bullies act the way they do is because they are jealous; they envy others. Oh, you know: “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” That is their kind of logic.

I guess you can think of it in a different way:  A Bully is a sinner (aren’t we all?).  A sinner covets, desiring what belongs to another.  They are jealous because we have it together and they don’t have a clue how to achieve that status the correct way.  Instead, they connive to bend things their way.  Perhaps their day will come.  According to Ecclesiastics: “There is a time for everything under the sun,” but not now, just not yet.

A bully intimidates because he needs attention.  When he oppresses another, he fulfills that need.  Even though the person he torments does not notice him in the manner he inwardly desires, he still temporarily satisfies his own longing.  However, his satisfaction is only temporary, requiring him to continue to harass others in search of more, never reaching full satisfaction.

The thing is we can stop the bullies and turn things around.  But first we must control our own circumstance instead of allowing the bully to control the situation.

Do not allow them to know how it bothers you.  Speak up verbally—you can.  It might help; it might not.  One thing works in one situation; it may not in another.  There is no specific way to deal with them. It all depends on the circumstance.

Bullies bother me from grade school to high school.  Then one day everything abruptly changes.

In high school while standing in the water line, a rough and rowdy girl takes advantage of me.  I have an arm load of books, waiting to get a drink of water.  She comes up and pushes me out of line, calling me a few choice names in the process that I won’t repeat here.  And she said, “B . . . . .  or W . . . . Don’t stand in front of me in line.”

I am stunned and shocked.  She has been bothering me some for about six months.  I was ignoring her like the office advised me.  But here it is again, only this time it is worse; she is calling me bad names and getting physical to boot.  I reached the end of my rope.  This has got to end.

Without even thinking, I ask a young man, “Will you please hold my books for a minute?”

He answers, “Sure,” as he takes the books.  He didn’t know what I was going to do.    Heck, I didn’t know what I was going to do.  I didn’t ask him to hold my glasses, just my books.  He is just being nice.  What happens that day – well, it just happens.

I immediately go back over to my place in the water line.  I say, “Excuse me, thanks for holding my place while I put my books down.  You can move now.  I am taking back my place in line.”

She immediately pushes hard against me, telling me to “Get lost,” along with a few more choice words.  That is the wrong thing to do.

I don’t start fights.  But nevertheless, I’ve been in training all my life to fight.  I am just told not to fight.  But I know how.  My older brother and sister beat on me constantly.  My brother uses his fist and hits me on the arm. I don’t like being hit, so I always hit back.  I never fight with my sister because my brother is always there and he does all the rough stuff.

He tells me, “If you hit her, I’ll hit you.” So you see I never learn to fight like a girl.  I only learn to hit and fight back like a boy.  I am good at doing it too.

Once a friend of my brother’s came over to see him, but he wasn’t home.  His friend asks to wait inside until my brother gets back.  I let him in (my error).  He gets fresh.  I hit him hard on the chin.  That is all it wrote. He fell.  When my brother walks in, his friend is out cold on the living room floor, unconscious.  Poor guy never lives that down.

My mind is jolts back to the present as I instantly react to the bully’s hard push to move me away from my rightful place in the water line.  I follow through with my right fist to her face.  It is not my intent to fight; it is just my intent to tell her to stop pushing me around, to stop calling me names.  I just want to let her know I have reached my limits with her and that it has to stop.  I never get a chance because she pushes me and tells me to “Get lost.”

Fighting with girls is a drag; their main focus is disrobing you (at least that is her focus) in front of an audience.  As if showing my bra to the huge audience watching is going to stop me from hitting her.   Her long nails never make it to my face to scratch me.  Since I have no finger nails, I could not have followed suit because my bad habit of biting them saw to that.   She never gains the opportunity because I keep hitting her like she is a punching bag. When the Principal separates us and he escorts us both to his office, she is sporting some bruises and two black eyes.

It is punishment time.  Not for just the one who starts it, but for both. He told me privately and confidentially, “I really like to thank you, but I can’t.  I know she started it; I have had a ton of reports of her bullying others.  If I expel her, I must expel you.  So I will not expel either of you.  You can stay home for a few days till things cool down, if you like.”

“I don’t fear her. I don’t need to avoid her.”

“You realize she is in a gang.”

“Yes, but I still do not fear her.”

“You can return to your scheduled class,” he said as I left the room. He motioned the other party to the fight into his office.

Between classes for the rest of the day, kids I didn’t even know came up to me, patted me on the back, and said thank you.  “If you fight her again, hit once for me.”

I had no intention of fighting again.  I figure she’s had enough, after that beating she took from me.  On the other hand, some people have a hard time accepting defeat.  Near the end of the day, I find out she is one of those that doesn’t easily accept defeat.  Evidently this is so because she is in a gang; she feels she has no need to so with all her friends to back her up.

Other kids tell me during last period (my gym class) that her intent is to catch up with me in the park on my way home from school.  When the bell rings, I leave wearing my gym clothes. I figure I should to save my clothes from being trashed by her, since that is where her focus in her first attack was centered.

To Be Continued: