A few days ago, as I was shaving my face, I noticed again the one-inch blemish where I used to have a hairline. It’s my bully scar. Here’s the story.
One day in first grade, our class went outside for playground recess. (The playground was the standard-issue, clunky all-metal assortment of equipment now considered dangerous.) The girls preferred the whirling merry-go-round, so they’d congregated there. One of the nearby boys was making fun of them and throwing small pebbles.
Although only a skinny runt, I stood up to his aggression, giving him the 1948 version of a dressing-down. I was angry at him, and for good reason: He was harassing other kids for no reason and was getting away with it.
One of the girls climbed up the steps of the slide to escape. I followed. When I was about halfway up, a bully-thrown rock hit my forehead. I started bleeding and was rushed into the classroom, where our teacher cleaned the wound and applied a bandage. I didn’t think of myself as a hero. Yes, my head hurt, but I knew I had done the right thing.
The bully stood in the corner the rest of the day—the ultimate punishment in those times. Seventy-one years later, I remember the sound and feel of that rock hitting me. I still know the names of the girl (Anita Corbin) and the teacher (Wanda Schultz). The bully’s name? Totally forgotten!
My scar remains as evidence of the possible costs of confronting injustice. What’s inside of my head also remains, as fiercely now as back then. I’m just as angry at the bullies of our times—including our Bully-in-Chief—and as determined that they will not get away with their aggressions.
Have any bully scar stories from your past?