Sunday, March 5, 2017

TURN THE OTHER CHEEK AND YOU'RE DEAD




Were you ever bullied as a child? The world seems to be divided into two distinct camps: the bullies and the recipients of bullyism.

Unfortunately, the art of bullying often extends into adulthood. Little bullies become big bullies and big bullies eventually turn into old bullies. And there's nothing more unbecoming than an old bully.

I was never a fighter, never aggressive, and never an instigator of trouble - but I learned one thing at an early age:
if you back down and passively turn the other cheek, you're a jackass.

My father was not only a bully, he was the most viciously violent and abusive person I've ever known. My terror of him not only ravaged my entire childhood -  it extended well into adulthood. I was so completely, overwhelmingly consumed with fear of him that I would have never even considered fighting back.

When I was nineteen, my father flew into a rage over a trivial matter (trivial things always sparked him). He choked me into unconsciousness and knocked me through a sliding glass door. It took some time to physically recover - - but soon after that incident I got his handgun, sneaked into his bedroom late at night, and intended to kill him.

Rationality eventually assuaged the rage, and I lost my courage. Instead, I took off for Hollywood and learned the fine art of being streetwise and feigning toughness.

I am inherently very timid, passive, and completely unobtrusive - but there are two things that ignite an intense fury in my reticent nature: being bullied or being pummeled with unwarranted criticism. I blame both of these afflictions on my father, who was a champion bully and a relentless criticizer.

I have an unwholesome - and potentially dangerous -  habit of immediately attacking bullies and criticizers. If someone throws a handful of horse crap at me, I'll toss a shovelful of elephant shit right back. I certainly don't endorse this reaction, but it's unwittingly become part of my nature.

Flashback:
Junior High School. Anaheim, California. I was eleven years old in the seventh grade (nearly two years younger than most of my classmates).
I was constantly bullied by a smart ass named Elliot - who was a pompous, vain, decidedly effeminate bore. 

I was tall and skinny - but Elliot was extremely tall and skinny. He looked like a swishy anemic sunflower. One fateful day, I'd had enough of his condescending crap. I gave him an enthusiastically hard push and - to my amazement and his astonishment - he went down like the Hindenburg. Right in the mud. He never bullied me again.
I felt a keen sense of accomplishment....and unexpected power.

Fast Forward
A decade Later:
I happened to be in downtown Los Angeles at night. Hollywood can be tough. Downtown L.A. is brutal - even in the daylight.

I was just leaving the public library on 5th Street. Somewhere, in the heavy nightshadows outside, a small swarthy dude came out of nowhere and demanded me to turn over my wallet.

After initial shock and disbelief, I got angry. This little shit wasn't going to bully me. I instinctively pulled out my (safely concealed) switchblade and somehow managed to slash his hand.
Then I ran faster than a bunny out of hell and quickly ditched him. I think the guy was drugged. His reactions were damn slow.

L.A. Public Library
 scene of the crime

An Aside:
Switchblades were illegal in California (and undoubtedly still are). I had purchased mine at a dubious place in Mexico. I did things back then that I wouldn't even dream of doing now.  

Unfortunately, the ugly art of schoolyard bullying and street punk bullying has now extended into cyber bullying. Cyber bullies are rampant and especially bold because it's safe and anonymous. We've all encountered them, or at least saw the viciousness of their handiwork. 

One only needs to scan the comments on YouTube to see how shockingly vile, vulgar, and cruel humanity has become. And, of course, this viciousness has infiltrated blogging (I can certainly attest to that).

I prefer to encounter bullies in person - so the raw light of day can illuminate their pathetic insecurities.

I have many of my own flaws and faults - and there are things about myself that I've always loathed. But I have never had the need to belittle others in order to inflate my ego. And I am never purposefully cruel, caustic, or condescending. I'm a sensitive sweetheart most of the time.....but push me off the curb and I'll push you over a cliff. I've been taught by masters.

Afterthought: 
There's no specific reason for this post. I'm not presently being bullied - I just happened to be thinking about the subject.
And I realized that bullying - in one way or another - starts in childhood and extends into adulthood. We're bullied on many levels: by employers, relatives, neighbors, spouses, customer service representatives, even "friends". 

Turning the other cheek is admirable, and probably the most safe and effective form of resistance to bullies. But it's not my style. Hot Hungarian blood runs through my veins....and bitter past experiences have eroded my power of resistance and sharpened my methods of defense.
I seldom turn the other cheek. 

16 comments:

  1. I am very shy and was bullied and made fun of because I stuttered as a small child. Those people never got their dick sucked when we were in high school! I carry a fake house key that turns into a very sharp box cutter. It has a ring on it and I wear it when walking home from a night out.
    You do not have to post this. It may be a bit much for some of your readers.

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    1. Jimmy, if my readers can handle ME, they can certainly tolerate you. Thanks for the input.

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  2. I remember some of these stories from you. I was out in high school and never had any trouble, as being gay wasn't a huge issue where I grew up. I only had one girl that started with me, and called me a faggot. WELL that was her last time. I turn and proceeded to go into a Julia Sugarbaker rant for 5 minutes, before finally telling her to look in the mirror at her fat self. I ran her self esteem in to the ground fast. I usually go for a physical attribute to attack on. She was in tears. I later called her Bubbles. Another time in Philly a friend of mine was called a fag, and wanted to know if my friend was sucking me off in the bathroom of the bar we came out of. Saying fag once more, I slammed him against a wall, slapped him hard across the face and told him to go inhale the rest of his coke up his nose till he used it all into oblivion. He ran like hell. I don't think of myself as a fighter, but a lover. But don't trifle with a drag queen......we can get scrappy.

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  3. I only remember one bully in my school, I'm sure there were more. She was the Principal's daughter. Teacher never called her down for fear of losing favor with the Principal. Lucky for us that family didn't stay in the small town long.

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  4. Of course I've been bullied, Jon. When I was 10, my family moved to a small town with a school that was --I don't know-- infested with Klingons or something. I found out I was a nearly perfect ducking machine, quick reactions --actually embarrassed the bullies. Stood my ground. One did connect when I was in 5th grade, caught me square in the forehead and went screaming off with a broken knuckle. I was unhurt. Most recent attack was when I was 50. I simply got into my car. Big idiot climbed onto it and tried to punch his way in. Sadly, he gave up as I pulled out into the street. I am still mystified by bullies --there's no profit in what they do. It's a psychological enigma that admittedly scares me.

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  5. Today's blog brought back some raw memories. I remember when I was in 8th grade during gym class that another guy said I had "homosexual tendencies". He also tried to throw me to the ground but I tripped him up and he landed face down on the ground. He disappeared from school soon afterward. I never found out where he went or why. He was smart, though, with braces and he had a huge pompadour of wavy blond hair. Too bad he didn't play his cards more carefully.
    I remember as a teenager my mother saying I pranced around the house like a fairy. It still hurts to mention it. I learned how to blend in better after that. You can argue whether or not that was the thing to do. In that place, at that time, it was.

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  6. There's no doubt that bullying wreacks havoc on the lives of those who experience it. Many of us have been targets at some point. Sure, standing up to a bully can be tough - but it needs doing or else the behavior won't stop if one endures it. Caustic remarks are rampant in cyberspace. I don't see that ever changing since social media is a magnet to these types.

    You'd make a good anti-bullying spokesperson,Jon.

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  7. Re: Geo.'s comment about no profit for bullies. I think there is some kind of psychological one. Makes them feel superior to those they pick on (as long as those picked upon don't fight back) Fighting back can be hazardous in today's climate of violence. I saw an article about a man shot in the face because he dared to honk at the driver of another vehicle. Talk about overreacting. (I know that sounds flip but I am truly horrified)
    I was bullied a little as a child but not to the point that it left emotional scarring. The closest it came as an adult was working with chauvinist types who felt they were better/smarter because they were men. Um, nope but I also never felt compelled to prove them wrong. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. Plus, I worked with a lot of great guys who more than made up for the Neanderthals.

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  8. I was one of those kids who went after bullies! I was always quick to defend and come to the aide of the underdog. Absolutely ready to defend them physically if I had to, but they usually backed off. Whether it was to support or save another person or an animal--beware of the righteous sword of my wrath. I stood up to and backed off adults when I was a child. I was fearless! As an adult also. It has been many years since I've had occasion to step into a situation with strangers, but I would hope I would still not hesitate...that the warrior within me would rise up as automatically as it has in the past. This crazy little swede would have defended you.

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    1. Wow Rita - when I grow up, I want to be like you.

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  9. I didn't consider (at the time) what my 4th Grade teacher did to us as bullying. In fact, I've only a few hazy memories. It took 'reconnecting' with a former classmate and sharing stories to realize the influence he had on us 9 year olds. Subtle, but damning nonetheless.

    These days, my GM and AGM (aka, the Mean Girls) exude a certain force ... but I put up with it. Why? The benefits are golden and at this stage in my life, I've no other options.

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  10. I once wrote about being bullied as a kid. sad to rehash. i am sorry you had to endure this too.

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  11. A good and timely post Jon. Many of us have been bullied. I was bullied in school and while I was in the Army (basic training) which I have written about in my blog. Like you I am non confrontational and do not bully anybody. But, much to my surprise, when I was bullied I hit back, which stopped the bullying immediately as it did in your experience. I wasn't bullied that much, six times (from first grade to basic training) that I can remember. I'm not even counting the cyber bullying. I ignore them. Now Jon, here is a question for you. Don't you agree that Donald Trump is a bully? That's my main concern about him. I refuse to be bullied by him. I'm surprised that so many are willing to be bullied though (see Republican leaders). Interesting times Jon.
    Ron

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    1. In answer to your question, Trump often comes across as a bully, but I truly think it's all fabricated brawn (much like myself). Some of the Democrats have really been acting like bullies, with all the riots and protests - and the unending attempt to impede and thwart everything concerning Trump's presidency.

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  12. My father was a bully, too, but I never thought of it as bullying at the time. He was just mean, but so many other men in our neighborhood beat their wives and kids, it was kind of the "norm." I was rarely bullied in school, but I was one of those wishy-washy kids who wanted to be friends with everyone. (A "pleaser.") I vaguley remember being in a fist fight once, but I can't remember who it was with or what it was about. I sure did get a bloody nose, though! (I don't remember hitting her at all...) I was much more likely to stand up for someone else than I was to stand up for myself, and in a way, I'm still the same way.

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  13. Jon,

    Yes, I was bullied as a child. Best way to handle a bully is bloody their nose, but society today dioesn't seem to understand that concept. Once in jurior high I had a kid (supposed friend) puching me all the way down the hall between classes. I'd had enough and finally punched him back. Guess who ended up in the principal's office?

    Larry

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