I was telling this story to a friend of mine last night, and I thought it was worthy of sharing it with the rest of the world.
This happened forty years ago, I have never really told this story. I was in seventh grade. It was the first year in Junior High or what they call Middle School now. I was completely overwhelmed, not really loving life if you know what I mean. I was the fat kid in school. I was the target for most everybody, I didn’t fight back so I generally got beat up.
We had a detention hall, we called it the “bull pen”, which at one time was the stage to an auditorium, it had no windows, narrow, long and all the desks faced forward. The door was at the back where the teacher’s desk was placed. It was always hot and stuffy in that room. There always was a teacher ‘guarding’ the detainees. You came in, checked in with the teacher and took a desk. You were not supposed to talk. Some teachers were a little more lenient than others. You are assigned detention in one of two types, during the day in all your free periods for two weeks at a time, and/or after school for a combination of days. It usually start small and work its way up to a suspension if it is for the same thing.
I found myself with the daytime detention for some reason, to this day I don’t recall what I did to warrant the detention, I am sure I deserved it the justice system at Marshfield Junior High was strict, but just. But what happen during that will live with me forever. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I remember the teach, what she looked like, I remember the feel of the air, hot and stuffy.
It was middle of the afternoon. I was in there during a two period break between classes. I was working on some math homework. I was sitting third seat back from the front in the right row looking forward. I noticed a couple of older students, eighth graders, talking to each other and such. I was always irritated by people who could not follow rules, I guess it was if I was not allowed to talk, neither should they. But these guys were part of the punk, scary group. Although they never did or said anything to me, I still kept my distance. Then I noticed that one of them pulled this silver .22 caliber revolver pistol out of his coat pocket and was showing his buddy. This I knew was wrong. I thought for a minute, what to do, I kept my head in my book. Then I got up and asked the teacher to go to the bathroom, as I asked her I passed her a note saying that they boy in the front seat left seat had a gun. She read the note, folded it up and said I can go to the bathroom. That was all I heard of it. When I got back both of those boys were not there. Nothing more was said, or so I thought.
Pretty soon people was starting to call me a Narc. To be honest I didn’t know what that was, one of my friends in school told me what it meant. I actually took it as a badge of honor. But I was verbally ridiculed for the rest of my Junior and Senior High years. I was threatened with physical harm, but nothing ever came of that.
There was one instance shortly after this incident. We had this one room, it actually was the old auditorium, but now it was just a big open room with desks. We were allowed to go there one period before or after our lunch. One time a friend who also was a neighbor’s older brother started to poke at me, literally poke at me, slap the back of my head, poke me in the ribs. I was about 5’9 at the time, 275 lbs, I had an easy 100 lbs on him. But I was not aggressive, everybody knew it, what they learned thought was you don’t poke the bear. That was the one and only time I got into a fight in school. One minute I remember him poking me, the next minute I remember having him pinned up against the back wall. He had tears running down his face and he was telling me to stop it. Our Science teacher was the monitor in there and he saw everything, he was standing right next to me and when I “came to my senses” he said “That’s enough, Gower, let him go”. Then he told the both of us to go see Mr. Sweat who was the Assistant Principle.
This guy was like the Mr. Strickland in Back to the Future, maybe not as strict. He was the one you had to go to if you were late, if you needed to go home early, or in this case you got in trouble . I remember walking into his office scared to death. I have never been in a fight before. I was going to be expelled, I was going to have to live on the streets…
Then when I got there he asked me what happened. I told me, at least all the details I remembered. It took me about five or so minutes to explain it all. Then he asked me where the other guy was, I don’t know, we both left at the same time. Mr. Sweat’s office was literally down the hall from were we were. Mr. Sweat then told me to go on, we were done. I asked what the punishment was going to be. He looked at me for a minute, then said “since you came right here and Mr. Smith choose to run” you off the hook. I don’t EVER want to see you here for that again!
Well come to find out the guy that was trying to incite a fight out of me, was one of the running mates to the guy who had the gun in the Bull Pen. This incident happened about two or three weeks after that first incident. So the only things that ever happened to me during my school was allot of verbal and emotional abuse or bullying. But I made it through.
I found out about 20 years after I graduated that that the guy who had the gun ended up dying of a drug overdose. His buddy died in DUI related single car accident. These are all sad endings but I say this to say that during the time in school, they seemed to be the cool ones. But bullies were really the week ones, they would only pick on those who they know will not stand up to them or fight back. When I did push back they never used that tact again. They did have an affect on me, I did suffer some emotional affects in school. But looking back I still would do it again. I know I did the right thing by telling the teacher about the gun. Who knows, they could have accidentally shot somebody, or maybe not so accidentally. That is how I justify me taking all that verbal and emotional beating for all those years.