(Book Excerpt) If You Could Change One Day From Your Past...

James Jim Belushi Mr. Destiny
You liked it.  Even with
Jim Belushi, right?
Similar to James Belushi, I too, have a baseball memory that I would like to redo.  I took a five pitch walk in the ninth inning in a deciding Little League game for first place.  Both batters after me struck out (which they commonly did).  I feel responsible for not even attempting a swing.  Like Mr. Destiny, I felt I could've changed fate with one wave of the bat.  Instead we got third place, my only lifetime trophy.

But this failed opportunity dwarfs in comparison to the one situation that I was an active participant in that haunts me to this day.   A day I failed at being a human.

The following is an excerpt from my first novel; and a true story (except that in real life inanimate objects don't speak out loud).  This story takes place in the fourth chapter, but the only pertinent background information for this mini-story is that I was out for an early morning jog. (Yes I can run, even with my weight issues).

Extremely worn out running shoes
Okay, maybe not this worn out.  
Turning the corner onto a narrow side street my ankle went left as my body went right, compliments of a morning shower’s residue on the mossy street lane.  I careened to the ground, more bruised by my own stupidity than by the impact of gravel into my palm.  I re-laced my worn $35.00 Nikes and hinged my ankle up and down to see if it was sprained.  It was fine. 

“You fat slobbering idiot,” the road roared in laughter.  “Look around, your neighbors just saw you for what you are, an uncoordinated unworthy lout.”  

Vandalized classroom messy
Just another day in Mr. Wood's Art class.  
I looked around.  A few young grade-schoolers looked at me from a fenced gate, more concerned with my well-being than with adding insults to my injury.  “When does it hit us then,” I thought, “is it third grade or fifth or seventh that we crumble to the societal demands of cruelty.”  

My own moral degradation hit a low point in eighth grade.  We were in art class; the teacher Mr. Wood wasn’t the brightest of fellows, and his dog and father had both passed away that year—details our class reminded him of, cruelly, unsympathetically, almost daily.  Our class was unrelenting in its inventive mischievousness.  We punctured all the oil painting pints with a compass point, letting them bleed rainbow colors on the floor below.  We broke other classes clay sculptures after they cured in the kiln, leaving only fragmented mugs and armless figurines and ashtrays that wouldn’t hold ash (why did they teach us how to make ash trays anyway?).

In this devilish class was a very annoying girl, a “well-actually” girl.  The kind that would raise their hand and say, “well actually, Mr. Wood, the correct way to hold your watercolor brush is technically…”  She would butt in on conversations, was way too book smart for her own good, and she had the misfortune of sitting next to a group of  my impish friends.  We developed a mutual      
Alex Trebek belittling angry jeopardy
Oh, I'm sorry, the correct punctuation is "Well Actually"
not "Well Alex-tually," like you vindictively said.  That's
going to cost you $1000 and a spot in Final Jeopardy.
hatred of her dissimilitude, and stooping to a brief moment of pure unadulterated cruelty,  someone created a secret classroom club devoted to her mockery.  I designed a patch.  It was called the 4F-Club.  As for what it meant, it was merely a sophomoric acronym, each of the four ‘F's were descriptive adjectives of her persona.  One stood for “fat,” one for “four-eyed,” one was a harsh expletive, and one was a slang term for sexual preference (even though I didn’t know then what that word meant).  In fact we knew nothing about her.  I don’t even remember her actual name.  I cringe when I think of our callousness (understand that this was truly group mentality, and in middle school, group mentality is to cling to the lowest common denominator). 

One day, this poor pathetic girl, this girl who never did anything wrong but not learn social conformity skills early enough, saw me creating another patch.  At this point maybe 13 kids in the class were wearing the badges of dishonor.  I felt apart of something when another classmate I barely knew would ask me to craft them a new patch.  Like I was some grand scoutmaster. 

She looked me straight in the eye, and asked, “What are these badges, and why is everybody wearing them?” 

I looked up, instantly my quick wits were coming up with some stupid anecdote, some harmless lie as to not face this confrontation, but another student named Joey simply peered right back at her and deadpanned, “It’s a club devoted to you, or rather the hatred of you.  It stands for the ‘fat, four-eyed…”  I was astonished at Joey’s sadistic honesty; and I was dumbfounded. After an awkward moment I 
Ugly glasses
Even hipsters can't make these glasses look good.  
caught her soul staring back at me through 1/8” thick cheap lenses: there was no distortion through the convex glass.  We killed her.  I saw her die right there in front of me.  She looked at me, and said without saying, “I…I…I can’t believe you would do this…I can’t believe you would spend so much time…to make a fool of me.”  Then without saying a word, and before the beginning of what must have been hours of tears in the bathroom, she turned and walked out of the classroom. 

I wonder how long she looked at me.  Was it 5 seconds, a tenth of a second; was it a single frame of film in a movie?  I don’t know, but it is ironed on my retina.  I killed her.  I was a part of her death.  Maybe she got over it that day, maybe later that year, or maybe never.  All I know is that look.  The look of someone who just lost everything.  Job must have had this look after Satan took everything.  Maybe parents of kidnapped children.  Perhaps only one in a million people might experience this emotion, and I caused it.  I probably put this girl through years of therapy, and I can’t even remember her fricken name.  I wanted to apologize to her.  I wanted to go cry with her.  I wanted to shred up my patches; I wanted God to smite me.  But I just stood there while Joey laughed.  I don’t think I moved the rest of the period.  She didn’t return to school for a few days.  When she did, she was sullen and robotic.  She looked drugged, and unhuman.  I tried to go up to her, to say sorry, or something, but how does one approach someone they emotionally raped?  How do I apologize for slapping her soul?  I didn’t have words strong enough to break through the walls she had already constructed.  
Nelson and gang Simpsons bullies
Bullies are rarely this recognizable.  It's often words
much stronger than "Ha Ha" that truly damage souls.  
The fall of man is often portrayed through moral excess, debauchery like a Roman orgy, but all one must do is spend a day in a middle school (public or private, religious or secular) and watch the true results of original sin.  That is the one event I want over in life.  For years I prayed for forgiveness for me, and later when I truly understood empathy, I cried and prayed for her.  Prayed for healing for her.  Prayed she could move on.  I didn’t need forgiveness; I needed to know she was okay.  But shortly thereafter we moved to a different state.  This was in 1993, the internet was still in diapers, and even if I wanted to know her name, I wouldn’t be able to find it.  I forgot my friends and enemies at old schools, but I don’t forget her face.  I don’t know her name, but I know her face, and I watched her die.  God, I hope she is still alive. 


Comment below about how you were bullied--or a time when you failed to step up to somebody being treated unfairly.  Or let me know what you think of my book excerpt (the book isn't all this heavy, just this little part).   Or you can get all high and mighty, and share how you stood up to bullying and are considered a hero to a select group of people.  


  1. Well. With this in your past you've eliminated running for political office as a future undertaking.

    But I'm not going to say I ever stood up for someone being bullied in Jr. High. One has to have a pretty strong and positive self-image which is rare during those years.

    1. No political office? No!!! Oh wait, I hate politics (but I do like getting paid to do nothing).

      Yeah, middle school integrity is a rare commodity.

  2. I love it! I'm trying hard to think of a response to one of the questions, but in the meantime I wanted to let you know that I really like reading your blog (just discovered it recently though), and look forward to more excerpts from your book!

    1. Dang it, I don't know why my profile is showing up as "Blah." It's Kira, ha. Anyway - nice post!

    2. Thanks Kira (or should I say Blah). I kind of think Blah is funny...

      One of my good friends says, "Meh" a lot. I hope he someday comments with "Meh" on one my blogs. Blah has a similar feeling, that for some reason cracks me up.

    3. Ah, here's the right account. Anywho. I was super dorky in junior high and high school (note the use of "was," since now I'm so cool). I knew that I was a giant nerd though, so I rarely spoke in front of the class unless I had to. I tried to be unnoticed and therefore unharmed. So unlike the girl in your memory, I knew what the consequences would be if I blurted out answers whenever I knew them. What I didn't understand, however, was what exactly made the popular group popular. What made what they said and did so much better than what I said or did? I still don't know. In junior high everyone used to write notes back and forth to each other. One day I was the last one in the locker room before gym class, and I saw that a note had fallen out of a girl's backpack. Stupidly, I picked it up out of curiosity. I put it in my binder and later I read it and saw that it was written by a very popular girl named Kelsey to her friend, Caitlin. The note itself was pretty boring, just about boys and stuff, so I put it back in my binder with the intention of returning it to Kelsey's locker at gym class, now that I knew whose note it was. Sure, I shouldn't have even picked it up, much less read it, but I was 12. I didn't exactly think it through. The next day, I was sitting near some guys on the bleachers, and I set my binder down to go to the bathroom. After I left, they apparently looked through my binder and found the note. When I came back, they laughed at me and asked why I had Kelsey's note. I told them I found it in the locker room and was going to give it back. They of course went straight to the girls and told them I stole the note. You can imagine how awesome lunch was for me that day. Eighth grade girls are ruthless. I finally ran away and spent most of it in the bathroom crying and crouching with my feet up on the toilet so no one would see I was in the stall. After the bell rang and I was sure everyone was in class, I went to the nurse's office and went home for the day because some of Kelsey's friends were in my afternoon classes. I stayed home from school for two days, until my mom finally convinced me to try to talk to one of the popular girls, Meaghan, who was on my soccer team to see if she could tell the other girls what happened and to go easy on me. It worked, miraculously. They stopped bothering me. So part of it obviously was my fault, for picking up the note which wasn't mine and reading it. That was a violation of their privacy, and I can't believe how stupid I was for doing it. However, the things the group of them said at lunch to me stuck with me for years. I was terrified to go back to school, and can vividly remember the fear and embarrassment I felt. I was very lucky to have Meaghan stick up for me, because I'm certain that those girls would have made the rest of junior high and high school unbearable. Holy crap that was long. Sorry!

    4. Dont apologize, that was a great story about how crazy events can spiral in middle school. I desperately wanted to be popular in middle school, but my story above kind of made me rethink popular. Nerds have so much more fun. Especially when you go to a rural high school where the popular kids chew tobacco. I gladly accepted nerd dome.

    5. Yeah, I rethought popular pretty easily after that. My friends may have been a bit socially awkward but at least they weren't evil. Or chewing tobacco. And they were smart! My parents never had to worry about me partying or having boyfriends in high school. We stayed up past curfew at each other's houses doing AP Bio homework. Ha.

  3. I would have been the girl in that story. Definitely took me longer to learn good social skills and I still revert back to that awkward girl on occasion. A good reminder to me that I need to really pay attention to my words and actions.

  4. Christi; why would it ever be your (or the girl in my story's) fault? It's nice to be socially aware, but nobody should ever be publicly ostracized for their social norms (or lack thereof). I WAS IN THE WRONG, as is almost every bully in every situation.

    That being said, I find that parenting social norms is a very difficult task. Figuring out what is inappropriate, rude, funny/not funny, awkward...etc, it probably the hardest aspect of raising good kids. Just yesterday we were eating food at a restaurant, and somebody in the place "passed gas" and Nadia looks at us, and said really loud, "Somebody farted!" Teachable moments. That seems like the only thing I did when I taught 7th graders. Social grooming.

  5. Relating to the Blog. If anyone went to Meridian Middle School in Bellingham, WA. from 1991-1993 and has a copy of our yearbook, please contact me.

  6. in 3rd and 4th grade there was a guy that was poor, smelled bad and had sores on his skin. Kids would tease him relentlessly, and play tag with each other using his name: "now you've got the ____ touch!" I tried to be righteous and would not engage in the game, it bothered me horribly even at that tender age. I tried to be nice to him. Toward the end of 2 years of this classroom-mob treatment he started playing the part and would run around after people trying to tag them with his "disgusting touch." He became really annoying. After holding out for a long time, one day I did it, I joined in the game. He moved after 2 years, but I wish I could say I was sorry.

  7. Anon
    This is just like the book and movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid, where kids got the "cheese touch"

  8. And I noticed you finally broke down and joined the mockery around 6th grade. Middle school, where empathy disappears.

  9. In 6th grade there was this girl named Verginia Fisk, she was the bully. I weighed about 90 pounds and she was 6 foot tall and weighed in at 200 pounds. She was very hairy and never combed her dirty blond hair. I had to ride the bus home with her to the outer edge of Napa valley. One day I got off at my stop and she followed me off the bus. Then the other 5 kids left on the bus, got off to watch what was coming. She jumped on me and started kissing me. Then she was doing other things before the bus driver pulled us apart. I ran home crying. The next day my dad went over to her house and said if that ever happened again he would beat up her father and maybe Verginia too. next I knew Verginia was no longer in our school. Unfortunately later we found out her own father was raping her and her sisters and they were raised like animals before the state came in and rescued her. Many year later I met her again and she was a different and better person

  10. Thank you for posting this. Just incredibly awesome that you realize the wrong you did and turned your life around because of it. Not many people do. Most child bullies grow into teenage bullies, and they continue for the rest of their life.

    As a person that was bullied as a child, teen, and even adult, this is refreshing to read. Bullies normally don't realize the hurt that they cause, that even later in life, adults have problems trusting because of their past. I know I do.

  11. Where to begin...? Beginning in elementary, I, and my cohorts, were bullies, to boys. We had long fingernails, and found it entertaining to cut their skin when they were mean.
    Moving onto middle school, I was essentially part of a clique. Not that I gave two sh*ts about being a part of a group. I liked everybody. I was kicked out of said group because my best friend decided I wasn't "cool" enough. Cool? That was COLD. I don't care about this group, you're supposed to be my friend.
    Curly-haired brainiac self, constantly teased about playing chess in the library in the morning, having staples and spitwads thrown in my ringlets... though they were dumbstruck at my capabilities in class.
    Bullies. Thank god for my parents. Who taught me to always keep an open mind, and try to imagine the WHY of such cruelty.

    1. Yeah I remember certain groups that kicked me out for being too smart. Once at EHS, the "coolest" kid in school said I could hang out with him and his friends if I took a "dip" of Copenhagen. And I was like, "so if I do this chew with you, we are suddenly friends? Sorry, but that sounds like the dumbest thing ever, and I like my friends."