In sixth grade I was beat up everyday after-school from January to June because I woke up over the Christmas holidays of 1994 with boobs and they never went away.
It started the day I graciously held the door open for Timmy, an 11 year-old jerkface, who was the human nexus point for all preteen aggression as was evidenced through his uniform of L.A Raiders cap and Air Diamond Turf II sneakers. Timmy was mean, loud and always started the fight. He was shorter than me, but fast and wiry which made my already dormant reflexes look that much more asleep. Regardless of his ill reputation, I remained steady in my kind gesture and held the door open for him anyway.
“It’s ok. Go ahead.” I motioned for him to walk through the wide metal doors but my intention to briefly befriend this callus L.A Raiders fan was met with angry confusion. Not only did Timmy refuse to walk through the path I had so unselfishly laid out for him, Timmy pinned me to the door, clamped his hand around my neck and spat out the hurtful, but honest, statement, “Your boobs are like tennis balls!”
My first thought was, I don’t understand. My second thought was, that’s probably true.
The next thought was slightly more disconcerting. I intuitively knew that his Jean- Claude Van Dame move, which was witnessed by an audience of pre-pubescent stakeholders, was going to change everything.
And it did.
That was the moment I became target, and the rest of the class followed suit. For six months my body transformation caused a ferocious controversy among the sixth grade. My boobs were the topic of discussion at most lunch tables daily from 12:00 to 12:45. My boobs were the destination point for every launched dodge-ball, soccer-ball, and basketball during recess and gym. Kids, who once shared their grape juice with me, suddenly ran out of straws. Even the skipping rope turned it’s weaved and hypocritical back on me, extending its medusa reach to whip me in the chest. During this time Timmy grew from mean bully to chief commandant of the movement and gained a massive following.
It was at this peak that he developed the habit of following me home after-school. He waited for me post bell ringing frenzy at the only exit of our school-yard and would begin his taunting upon first glance of my terrified face. Timmy kicked my ass all the way home – literally – until we would reach my corner, and he would disappear west towards his place.
Sometimes I would hover in position, frantically rubbing my ass, watching him walk away. I imagined him shedding his tough skin to make room for the innocence that would embrace him as he walked though his front doors into safety. Most of the time I would simultaneously turn away from him and part east into the safety harbour of my own home.
I never told anyone that he followed me. That was a time when the word follow was creepy. Eighteen years later the word has a new lease on life. Follow means opportunity. I wish I had been able to unfollow Timmy, but I wasn’t a strong enough kid. Instead I just developed a healthy shield of self-deprecation that saved me from his malicious sting and has stuck by my side ever since.
As luck would have it, I saw Timmy at a bar last week. He walked over to talk to me with the intention of reminiscing over our early years. Mid-conversation he pulled out his phone and added me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
My chance to unfollow Timmy reared its spiteful head.
But what did I do instead? I bought him a drink.