Dec 132017

I mentioned in the previous post that no adults in my life were aware of the bullying I was doing. I did get in trouble for bullying once, though—only I had no idea that bullying was what I was doing!

I attended a K-8 Catholic school for three years. When I was in the seventh grade, the father of a first-grader called my mother. He said his son said he was being bullied, and he gave my name as one of the offenders.

When Mom told me who it was, I couldn’t believe it. I knew exactly who she was talking about. The little boy’s name was Jon, and a couple of my friends and I would find ourselves on the sidewalk with him when it was time for everyone to be picked up at the end of the day. We—all of us—would frequently speak to him. “Hey Jon, what’s up? Gimme 5! (slap) All right!” That kind of thing. You know what I mean? Maybe a little loudly; maybe a little animatedly? None of us thought we were doing anything but being a little guy’s buddy.

Well, turns out he was terrified. He didn’t understand why we were talking to him. The whole time he was interacting with us, he was apparently just trying to end the encounter before something bad happened. We were stressing him out big-time and had no idea.

I tried to explain this to Mom. She was having none of it. She wagged her finger at me and told me how disappointed she was, and she better never get another call of that nature. I had done nothing wrong, but there was little point in trying to argue.

So I stayed away from Jon from then on. I’d evidently been rather inept at communicating to that point, so I couldn’t reasonably risk an explanation or an apology.

Jon, on the off-chance you’re reading: I’m sorry I scared you. I really, truly didn’t mean to.

 Posted by at 10:08 am
Dec 112017

The story of Keaton Jones has gone viral. Keaton is bullied at his Tennessee middle school, and he made a heartbreaking and powerful video telling you all about it.

I wasn’t bullied much as a child, but enough to remember. I wasn’t the bully much as a child either, but that’s what sticks with me much more now. I can only claim immaturity. I have no defense for the behavior. As I said in my Rocket City Mom piece:

I think back to those times I bullied someone else now, and I wish I could tell you I remembered it as cathartic. If I had derived some emotional or mental relief from it, it wouldn’t justify it, but at least it would be a little more understandable. Alas, no. I did it as mindlessly as it was done to me, my empathy circuit firing minimally or not at all.

I have reached out to three of the four people I bullied—the ones I could locate—and eventually heard back from all three. Each of them thanked me for reaching out, and each of them forgave me. Each of them seemed to be a happy and well-adjusted adult. I’m thankful for that, as well as their forgiveness.

No adult in my life at the time was aware I was bullying these kids. I don’t know whether they told their parents or not. Whatever the case, I bullied with impunity. It’s a good thing I didn’t have more of a taste for it.

The problem is on more hearts, minds, and lips these days, and that’s a good thing. But you know kids still get through the cracks. At the end of his rope, Keaton made a video. What would he have done without a supportive mother? Without the chutzpah to craft a powerful message?

I think we’re spending a lot of sociocultural energy right now on stupid crap; on problems that are either greatly overstated or not problems at all. I don’t think bullying is one of those. I think bullying is worthy of every bit of attention it gets.

Even jaded old jackasses like me like to keep at least a candle or two of hope lit. If we are to entertain the idea of genuinely improving the human condition, how can this not be a primary input into it?

Thank you, Keaton. Hang in there, big man.

 Posted by at 11:36 am
Dec 102017

I first became acquainted with Brickell Men’s Products from my experience in the Chisel Shave Club. Included in my box was a small bottle of Brickell aftershave lotion. Brickell products are expensive. But it takes me forever to use two ounces of aftershave, and it’s excellent. So it’s a minor luxury of which I partake. […]

 Posted by at 12:02 am
Dec 072017

Well, I wish our first genuinely cold Saturday was full of football, but no matter. I’m still going to make chili, and we’re still going to have a fire. The worst commercials of the 21st century are the “some people still like cable, just like some people like…” Direct TV commercials. They are deeply unfunny, […]

 Posted by at 10:41 am is using WP-Gravatar