Bullies were always stereotypically singular and identifiable. They were the loner sweaty-faced angry kids who shoved and punched their way around knocking books out of the hands of the meek or making “meet me at 3 on the playground” challenges. They were always in the company of just themselves and the anonymous mob kids who watched, egged on and color commentated the rough handlings of these snarling malcontents like Romans in a warped Colisseum. The mob kids shouted louder when the dust rose, the fists flew. “Fight, fight. Fight!” The mob kids had to side with the bully so they wouldn’t be next on the bloody dance card.
Until now, I thought a bully to be handle-able. I never took the first swing, but if I was punched first, I had permission to end it right then and there. I believed that all a bully needed to quit was a good nose bloodying, or a knee to the crotch. I did my share of leveling the field in those days, both for myself and others. I stuck up for the ones who couldn’t fight. Not terrifically girlie of me, I know, but my sense of social justice was simmering.
If someone would just hold my glasses and my retainer, it was on.
If adults got wind of it, we’d endure a “come to Jesus” meeting. The bully, the prey, both sets of parents and the school principal usually cleared it up. Deal sealers like a “no contact contract” or the threat of a lawsuit would stop down the whirling gyro of anger and then, after an appropriate period of time, the bully casually targeted the next victim in the chute, and the games began again.
The bully was, for me, a surly kid sitting in a chair. A singular I could diminish with one well-aimed punch.
Fast forward to now.
The bully at high school is a cyberspace phantasm named Rumor. Its genesis is secrecy, anonymity.
Who knows what sneering voodoo princess hatched that first untraceable egg a year ago? Someone who hates the Girl’s spark, her courage, her confidence, her independence, her beauty, probably. Someone who took her boisterous “ah, screw it” attitude personally. Someone who anonymously wanted her love, her loyalty...
But hatch it did.
It splits like an atom over and over again dividing exponentially along razor sharp web fibers sending soul killing lies and accusations from cell phone to laptop to hissing sibilant whispers echoing in steamy cement corridors. There is no bully to blame, no singular to bloody or restrain by law.
The bully is a ghost.
When the electrical storm of lies abates, Girl breathes, but just a breath or two. It comes again in waves, she knows. It’s not stopping, not flaming out. Friends don’t battle with her, stick up for her, fearing the ignition of their own personal incineration.
It is invincible.
It comes from the space between hell and college.
Thank you to: Sabine Mayer - Easy to be hardHAIR Musicalsommer Amstetten, Austria 2007 Sabine Mayer-Fowler (Sheila) sings "Easy to be hard"