Monday, February 8, 2010

Freckles Rule, Boys Drool - Memories of Me Monday

TODAY'S MEMORY JOGGER: "What is the most outrageous thing you did as a teenager?"

Heh.  I really don't want to go there. Yet.  Not to mention, I did so many outrageous things as a teenager that I simply can't decide which one to write about!  So I'm going to take creative liberty and write about the most outrageous thing I did before I became a teenager.

If you've been following my "Memories of Me Monday" posts you already know that I was very shy as a child.  So shy that my older brother, Mike, was able to tell his friends that I only had half a tongue, which was why I never talked, and they believed him. 

That's why what I did one day at the age of nine really can be called outrageous.  How did I have the nerve??  Why would I have ever thought to do something like that??

But first, let me set the scene:

Just up the street from us, in a large corner house, was a family with six or seven boys, all in a row, all mean, and then finally, a girl, perhaps a year younger than me.  They were the Snedigers.  Like I said, they had a LOT of boys, all older than me, and all mean, hateful creatures.  One or more were probably pals with my brother, though I really don't remember for sure.

I do remember that they were all mean to me.  On the schoolbus or around our neighborhood, whenever they saw me, the taunting began.  At nine years old I had realized that pretty much every kid got teased about something, but I still thought I had more than my fair share of things to be teased about, that I somehow was still less OK than other kids. 

First of all, I was a girl.  That was the Snediger boys favorite topic: "little girl," "girly," "baby," and "crybaby" were among the names I was called.  As you've probably already guessed, I refused to answer back.  I just kept silent.

Secondly, I never spoke when they were around.  Ever.  Fuel to that fire was my brother's claim that I only had half a tongue.  It was endless, the things they tried, to get me to open my mouth and stick out my tongue so they could get a good look at it.  No way would I do that.  Instead I endured what seemed like very long bus rides to school, on the days that I was their target.  Thankfully, this didn't happen every day.  In fact, I think I may have been their last resort tease.  If the Snediger brothers and their friends hadn't found someone to pick on before I climbed on the bus, then I was It.  The best days were when they were already fixated on someone else.

Finally, I had freckles.  Boy-howdy, that was like a goldmine to those boys.  "Freckle-faced strawberry" was something I heard a lot, thanks to the Kool-Aid flavor of the same name.  But more hurtful was just the stuff they made up, like that I had some dread disease that produced the spots on my face, and that everyone should stay away from me or they'd end up spotted, too.

Yeah, those Snediger boys had the goods on me. I remember being relieved when the school year ended and summer began.  It would be three months before I had to ride the bus again and, by then, maybe the Snedigers would have moved away.  Meanwhile, I planned to avoid them all summer.

It couldn't have been more than three weeks later that I saw the youngest Snediger kid, the girl, out riding her bike.  I was in our front yard, just wandering around in the tall grass, swinging a stick at the heads of dandelions.  I think I may have been a bit bored.  Then I saw the girl on her bike; she'd just exited the driveway of her family's home, and was heading down the street toward me.

I have no idea now what was in my head that day, as I strolled toward the street edge of our lawn, my eyes on the girl.  As she reached our driveway, I reached the street.  Our eyes locked as she pedaled closer, until her front tire was just about to pass in front of me.

With one swift motion I thrust my stick between the spokes of that front tire.  As the wheel continued its forward rotation the stick jammed against the frame and the bike flipped completely over, and so did the girl.

She let out a short, sharp scream and then landed with a dull thud in the street.  I just stood there, the stick still in my hand, for about two beats of my heart.

Then I ran.

From the living room window I saw her pick up her bike, get back on, and ride toward home, wobbling a bit.  She looked back, once, at my house.  My heart was in my throat.  What had I done?  And how badly were those brothers of hers going to beat me when she told them about it?

I was terrified.

I was also horrified that I'd done something so mean and hateful, to someone younger than me, and who had never once been mean to me.  Her brothers had, yes, but she hadn't.

Looking back with an adult's intelligence I have to wonder if what I did came from months of pent-up anger against the teasing I'd endured, and that I finally saw my chance at retaliation.  If I couldn't get my revenge directly against the brothers, I'd take it out on their little sister.

Or, maybe I just have a mean streak.

FOR NEXT WEEK: "Which of the following would you characterize as your taste: sour-crunchy, sweet-sugar,  or sugar-fats?"


Anonymous said...

Dear Debbie, I just can't believe it! Love, Mom

Lisa Uskali said...

I'm actually a little horrified right now....I can understand, though, as I was also teased mercilessly on the school bus, but mine may have been worse, it was Jr. High, and I was a dork!