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Being An 80's and 90's Fat Kid Part 2

When our small town voted to close down our grade school, I was devastated. 

Absolutely wrecked. 

Very few parents voted to keep the school open, as due to budget cuts there were already two grades to every classroom and not enough teachers to go around. This really WAS a small school. This is what it looked like back in the day. It's been the town office for many many years now. You can't really make out the name, but it's Bremen Grade School. This was scanned from an old 80's yearbook. 


   This is what it looks like now. A little bit different but a lot of the same. I visiting home last year and there are still a few giant poster sized pictures of myself and other students doing projects up on the walls. You can see that they removed the little "tunnel" as we liked to call it on the side of the building that lead to the downstairs classrooms that were in the basement. K-4 downstairs and 5-8th upstairs. My last year there we literally had ONE 8th grader. ONE. She was spoiled with her own personal 8th grade graduation just for her. It was kind of awesome. 


Anyway, getting back to the sucky stuff. Every adult at the time felt it was in our best interest to be sent to neighboring schools for our last two years of Junior high. That we'd have an appropriate amount of kids to a classroom, we'd have advisory groups, get to experience a bigger school and more activities and possibly prepare us more for what high school would be like. Some of the kids were excited, others like me were none too thrilled. Earlier in the year we had had a gas leak and instead of sending us home, they decided it would be fun to bus us all to a neighboring elementary school. We arrived right smack in the middle of lunch time. They wanted us all to stop by the cafeteria, grab some lunch and eat it in the art room. As we walked through the line the kids that were eating their lunches all stared at us and whispered. Giggling. Pointing. Doing annoying stereotypical things you'd expect kids to do, because they are jerks.  (No offense to kids,  Being fat and shy didn't mean I wasn't a jerk sometimes myself)

The art room WAS pretty neat and they actually HAD a gymnasium. Our school didn't have one. We'd play outside during the non cold months (kickball, dodge ball, killer ball, floor hockey on the pavement, basketball etc) and during the winter we'd be bused to the local YMCA for 45 to rollerskate or walk the track or attempt Tennis and racquetball. There was no denying though that this was a school that was much larger and full of strangers. A few kids peeked in through the window while we were eating. They busted out laughing and ran down the hall. I couldn't help but think they were laughing at me. I couldn't imagine they were laughing at pretty blonde Megan or any of the guys. We managed to survive those few hours and then got to go home.

It just so happened that in the vote later that year, the school we had visited was the school that we'd end up being transferred to. 6-8th grade  to that school and the younger kids would get one more year at our school before it permanently closed and they were shipped off to another close by school. They were only lucky enough to get one more year, I imagine, because they needed to give those teachers more time to find a better job.

I basically threw a tween tantrum when we found out what the vote was. I cried, I was angry. I took it out on my parents, as if it was their fault. I didn't behave well or take the news good. I was terrified and angry that my life had to change. I was 12. I was fat. I didn't WANT to be the new kid. At this point I was consistently reminded that I wasn't going to be alone. We'd ALL be new kids. At least we'd all be there together. All of us kids that had grown up together in the same classroom for years. Including my best friend. She was a grade older but other than when I was in second and she was in third, and I was in fourth and she was in fifth, we were always in the same classroom. It would be a change having her in a different classroom but at least we'd be at the same school, sit next to each other at lunch, could be in chorus together, and hang out at recess. I still didn't warm to the idea of this new school but these thoughts were all I had to grip on to.

It's funny looking back on it all now. You'd think myself or one of my parents would think hey, let's take the summer to eat healthier and exercise. Maybe losing a few pounds will boost your self confidence and you won't feel like you stick out so badly. I guess it's easy to say that now. Who knows how I would have reacted at the time to that suggestion.

That summer was not a very long one. Much of it was spent being nervous about the coming school year. As per usual my best friend slept over most of the summer. As the second week in July approached, something weird happened. Something weird and awful. My best friend's mother called my mother and broke the news, because she knew it would be too hard for my friend to do it. In just a few short weeks, RIGHT before school started, they were moving. Not just to a different town, but from Maine to Alabama. I was dumbfounded. I was so angry with my best friend. So angry. As if it was her fault in even the slightest. As if she too wasn't going to have to start at a new school. Heck, it would be worse for her. She was starting in a place where she'd know NO ONE. At that second though, I couldn't grasp that. I was too selfishly upset for myself.  I still to this day am not exactly sure WHY it was that they moved but it doesn't really matter. They did. It took me a few hours to blurry, angry tears to come to terms with the fact that it was absolutely NOT my best friends fault.

The day they left was a blur. It felt like it was literally just a few days after i'd been told they were leaving. I know that wasn't true though. We had a few more weeks together. Very few. I remember my mom took us to the mall where we bought some stupid trinkets. Then we watched Hocus Pocus in the theatre. Yep, this was how long ago this was. Also, yep, Hocus Pocus was released oddly during the summer time, not the fall. I remember they honked as they drove by our house, on their way down the road to leave the state. (Which of course would be hours later but the closer they got to New Hampshire the further they were away from me. I couldn't tell you what I did the rest of the summer. I just can't remember. I'm sure I was terrified. 

I'll never forget the first day at my new school. Nobleboro Central School. I remember stepping off the school bus with my small school classmates and barely being able to breathe. As we walked into the school, and down the hallway, I could hear kids behind us saying things like "Wow, Larry..didn't the hallways hold less weight last year? I know they for sure smelled better. DEFINITELY LOOKED better!". I turned to one of my fellow classmates and whispered that they were making fun of us. I knew of course they were specifically making fun of ME, but I was hoping this kid would say something to make me feel better. He didn't. He was frozen in nervousness himself and trying to survive making it to the room marked with the number he was told his homeroom was. 

By the time I myself made it to my homeroom, my glasses were SO fogged up with crying, I could BARELY see my homeroom teacher as he reached out his hand for me to shake it. I tried to hide the fact that i'd been crying. I'm not sure it worked, but no one pointed it out. I looked around the room as he did role call. ONE student. ONE student from my old school made it into my 7th grade homeroom. The other three were in the other one. Didn't that just figure. This particular kid wasn't a total jackass, and I never had a problem with him. However he wasn't one of the kids i'd have chosen to be in a classroom with.  I took deep breaths as I thought how much this sucked. My best friend was gone, and so much for we're all in this together. I had one acquaintance in my homeroom and would soon realize i'd barely see the other ones. We had a different lunch period. To top off the whole experience, although this was kind of entertaining, one of the kids from the Marine Biology camp was in my homeroom. He and his best friend talked like Beavis and Butthead 24/7. They were also obsessed with Power Rangers and Animaniacs. 

It was about a week or two into the school year before the bullying started. It wasn't from ANYONE in 7th grade. In fact, the majority of the 7th graders were pretty great to me. It was two 8th grade boys that started to give me problems. When we'd be changing classrooms, sometimes these two boys would be straggling to leaving and the teacher would have left the room for a quick break. I'd go in and sit down in my desk. As they were getting their books together, they'd make comments about me like I wasn't there. Talking about my size, saying I needed to go on a diet, comparing me to an elephant, etc. I did my best to ignore it. I briefly mentioned it to my mom but at the time it had just been a bit of verbal bullcrap and I didn't want her involved. I knew how that would work. About a month or two into the year, they decided that they'd take it a bit further. As I sat down in my desk, they both looked at each other and said "I wonder if we could lift her up. She looks super heavy.". They decided they'd try it. They both took an end and literally tried to pick me up in my desk. I was too shocked to say anything. One of the girls in the classroom (At the time it was just myself, the girl and the classmate I had gone to school with and he didn't say a darn word when they were doing it) told them to lay off and leave me alone. They set me down. I was humiliated and angry and biting back tears. 

It's really strange for me to type this out, because at the time this felt SO dramatic and humiliating and violating..and if someone were to do that to MY kid i'd be pissed. However the amount of bullying that goes on NOW, and the TYPES of bullying, the violence..the suicides..school shootings..it just seems so minor compared to that. Let me assure you though, at the time it felt like a very, very big deal. I was in a terrible mood when I got home. When my mom finally ripped it out of me, she was FURIOUS. I BEGGED her not to say anything. BEGGED. I knew that even though I hadn't done anything wrong, hadn't antagonized these boys, hadn't done anything to piss them off except exist, if I got them in trouble, my life would be ten times worse. She agreed. However, she lied. In retrospect, as a mother myself to a freshmen, I get it. I really do. I'd still not go this route unless it was an absolute LAST result, and before that i'd tell my son "Defend yourself. You won't get in trouble with me no matter what the school says".

The next day I was minding my own business, HATING gym class, when I was called to the office. I was briefly relieved to be leaving gym until I stepped foot into the office and saw my mother. She, the principle and the guidance counselor were both sitting there. I just stared at them. It got worse. I was informed that they had JUST finished having a meeting with my mother, the guidance counselor AND the two boys! All of them in the same room. I was furious, but didn't want to embarrass myself anymore in front of the guidance counselor or principle. They made me go back to class and ask the girl who'd witnessed it to go to the principles office. I explained to her the situation and she on the one hand seemed to sympathize with me but on the other hand had this air of "Why would you tell on them?" which killed me.

I gave my mother an earful later that night. She said i'd understand when I was older, and I do, but she didn't and still doesn't understand how bullies work because she was popular as a teen. Things were quiet for about a day. I was sitting at lunch and I could see the two boys out of the corner of my eye. One of them picks up their fork and says"I'd love to stab her with a fork. Bitch.". I was mortified. The best was yet to come though.

My moms tactic worked, in a sense. The two boys left me alone. Even when they were encouraged to call me names by their friends, they wouldn't say a word to me. This just meant that their friends started in on me. Not their guy friends. Oh no. Their girl friends. Not girls they were dating, just trouble making girls that were their friends. One girl in particular. I'll just say her first name. Mandy. Mandy went out of her WAY to make me feel like the dirt underneath her sneaker.

My first encounter with her was when I was walking around outside at recess. She had left her group of friends to walk over to. "Hey. Hey Banana Boat. What's up Banana boat?"

Now you might be thinking what's the big deal in that? Banana Boat? Like the sunscreen? I don't get it.

Oh no. A Banana Boat is a nickname for something HUGE. In fact, one of the reason's i'd known exactly what she meant, was that I'd seen an episode of Who's The Boss where Samantha's car was made fun of and called a Banana Boat. Angela piped up and said kids used to call HER a Banana Boat. I tried to ignore her, but she followed me around. "Hey fatty. Hey Banana Boat., I hear you like to rat on people and get them in trouble. What's it like to be that fat and ugly? you must hate yourself. You smell by the way. It's because your fat. I'm serious. I mean what parts of your body to you rinse off first when you shower? because it must be hard being that fat Banana boat". Then she got bored and walked away.

I was in shock. Again,when I think back on it now, it's not like I was getting death threats online or having a lynch mob of snotty jr high kids gang up on me and tell me i'd be better off dead...but I think anyone that's ever been bullied and embarrassed at all knows at the time it feels like time stands still and you just want recess to be over so it can be the end of the day.  It's funny, I always wondered how it was that no one seemed to notice that I was getting picked on. I mention it to people that were around at the time and they had no idea. It occurred to me that it's because we were ALL trying to fend for ourselves back then. It's just how it is sometimes. You get self involved with what's happening to you and you don't notice what might be going on with someone else.

Mandy would be cruel to me every recess. I didn't mention it much to my mom as I wasn't going down that road again.At times she'd throw little pebbles and sand at me from the playground while the teachers on duty stood around gabbing with each other and never noticed. I certainly wasn't going to mention it. The names of course continued, woolly mamouth was added and Miss Piglet among other things. Sometimes she'd just walk by me and jump at me and yell. Then she'd laugh when I recoiled. It's odd to think that this girl literally was maybe about to turn 14. She probably to adults LOOKED like a 13 and a half year old but to me she might as well have been someone in their 20's picking on me.  There was another girl named Rachel that I made friends with that was also harassed by Mandy. I have no idea why exactly but she made it very clear that she didn't like this girl.

One day myself and Rachel were sitting on the benches near the entrance to the school at Recess. Our friend Amy, who was a very nice and popular girl was sitting with us. Her mother had recently passed from Cancer. Mandy walks up to us and starts in on Rachel and I. "Wow what a skanky fat bench this is. Hopefully they steam clean the fat smell out of it. I'm not sure you can get out skanky though." Then in almost the same breathe she said in a normal, kind person voice "Oh hi Amy. I'm really really sorry about your mom. That's so awful" and turned on her heels and walked off. All three of us looked at each other like "What the heck?". At the time I remember being slightly inwardly upset that Amy didn't stick up for us at the time. However, she was in shock AND her mom had just died. So another example of my selfish thinking as a teen. Is it nice to have people stick up for you? Sure, but no one is obligated. I should have stuck up for myself.

It got to the point where i'd bring my lunch, but i'd give most of it away and not eat it. I was too anxious for someone to see me eating and get made fun of. I stayed fat though because I was obviously eating at home. If there was a combined 7th and 8th grade field trip, I stayed home. I faked sick. No way in heck was I going to end up stuck on a bus sitting near Mandy or those two boys, who didn't themselves bother me now but they laughed when she did. 7th grade was a long year. I was SO relieved the final day of 7th grade. Mandy had graduated 8th grade and would not be at the school the next year. Neither would the two boys. 

You might be wondering about my best friend that moved. We exchanged letters pretty frequently. Yep, real hand written letters. I really enjoyed writing on the pretty stationary my mom got us both before we left. She herself was adjusting ok, but had hiccups as well. She was flying in to visit me for three weeks that summer and we were very excited. So I said goodbye to Mandy, goodbye to 7th grade and hoped that 8th grade would be much better.
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Vaporman87 Posted on Dec 25, 2018 at 05:43 PM

Such a heartfelt and difficult to read second part. The cruelty of kids never ceased to amaze me. However, I think in some ways bullying was actually worse when we were young. It was highly unlikely you could do ANYTHING to make it stop. Trying to only made things worse, as you found out. Nowadays with all the attention that bullying receives, the act itself is almost taboo. Naturally that doesn’t stop it from happening, and with the advent of cyber bullying, the opportunities to bully have increased significantly... but it seems that it isn’t so much that bullying is worse, but instead the ability of kids to deal with it has been extremely hampered.

Looking forward to part three!

Dalek227 Posted on Dec 25, 2018 at 05:26 AM

Working on it as we speak :)

Benjanime Posted on Dec 25, 2018 at 04:52 AM

is there gonna be a part 3 to this? it's getting interesting!

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