Here are a few examples of what "a lot" is...
I was bullied, horribly, at every school I attended. I was always the "new kid." Apparently, new kids are an entire race of people, ready to be pounded and smashed at any given moment. That feeling stays with you a lifetime. It didn't help that my family's sweet ride was a land barge on wheels wrongfully abducted from some movie called Cheech and Chong. This thing took up half a country block and could easily transport a mass migration of Star Trek fans. I was optimistic about the car, though, and harbored two of every kind of animal just in case of a great flood. Optimism, however, can be very exhausting.
Still, I would try to have hopeful projections for myself, but usually, by the first or second day, the teacher would figure out my IQ was well above room temperature and would say something brilliant like this:
I was always a high target for bullies because I never knew anyone to take up for me and I never fought back and the ego of bullies feeds off of the weak. Their ego would eat me alive.
I would look for places to hide. Usually, it was in the restroom, which ironically was not a good place to rest. There would be puddles everywhere, almost as if a giant shaggy horse had bathed in there.
I staunchly believed in talking out differences by being diplomatic, tactful and graceful; whereas bullies just want to keep it going to continue feeding their ego. And trust me, whatever you do, don't touch their ego.
There came a time, though, when I realized that I was stuck in this neverending loop of being bullied. I tried to come up with a plan. I was not street smart, at all. I knew the only thing going for me was I had a slightly higher intelligence. By slightly higher I mean they weren't smart at all and I could have been Einstein squared.
One thing that made me stand out and did not work in my favor was the fact that I was reading at a college level in the third grade. I was reading Shakespeare and Bronte by the age of 8 and would often sit and dissect the hidden meanings and symbolisms in literature. In the story, "Beauty and the Beast," books symbolize a way of escape for Belle, away from the life she does not want.
One reason I would read was because it gave me the opportunity to hide behind books so that I wouldn't have to make eye contact with anyone. Eye contact never went into the direction I wanted it to and always ended badly.
The only problem with reading classic books at such a young age is I talked liked this:
And then this would happen:
Then one day out of the blue, just like a brick, it hit me. I simply needed to blend in more with my environment.
I probably went overboard on the effects.
I even tried the "Mafia Staredown." I secretly practiced an Italian accent and would subsequently advise them that my dad was a Mafia crime boss.
But, then they would see me drive up in our attractive land barge and that gig would dry up quicker than the Mojave Desert. I became trapped in the soft vice like grip of their oppressive bullying as my self-esteem lazily drowned in a sea of complex post traumatic stress disorder. My stress levels soared to infinite portions well beyond my day to day childhood love of stress.
I doggedly learned the art of being "gangsta," and would constantly reaffirm to them just how gangsta I was.
I would handle up on my bizness and still have a sense of honor and integrity about me. That would buy me only a little bit of time and ultimately I tried to coach myself on moving my internal organs so that their punches felt less like the hull of the Titanic repeatedly crashing itself into my stomach.
My insides began to stealthily wish that they were on the outside of me. My outside of me wished it was on the other side of the playground in another country.
Secretly, though, I wished my family could move us someplace a bit less hostile, like Iraq.
It would have been nice if I would have had something to fight back with like a chocolate cake or a bomb.
They would call me "Tracie Lion" (my last name was actually an animal name so they were pretty brilliant with that one) as my hair is naturally curly and I hate curls and would try to comb it straight but it would just poof up like a golden giant mane. Then, they would roar at me and say bad poetry.
Their heartwarming behavior of torturing me began to take its toll. I began to realize why UFO's don't bother to land. We don't play nice here.
Then one day, one of the bullies grabbed my coveted Gilligan's Island lunch box with the matching thermos that had Gilligan himself on it. OH, but no! I don't know if it was the gangsta or the mafia crime boss coming out of me, but I became enraged and wanted to give her a dose of either fresh air or a severe head injury. I stood there chaotically envisioning in my own head what type of ninja I should morph into and secretly hoped that something heavy would fall on her, like a waffle house.
I was not street smart and all I had going for me was my Mensa I.Q. certificate. Prepare to be thought at! I pathetically stood there with them pointing and laughing at me. They had something that was mine and I wanted it back and I knew that it was time to pull out the punches. I wanted Gilligan back with everything that was in me. But, I just stood there with my fist in the air. I wanted to pound the daylights out of her like she had been doing to me, but I just couldn't do it.
In those seconds of remembering I remembered who I was. Just like the land barge I was so ashamed of and would duck down deep on the floorboard of the car and slither out hoping no one would see, I was lowering myself to their level. I was giving them the power that they were so desperate for. My power. I thought of the UFO's and how the aliens were frightened of us, thought of Iraq welcoming me and ultimately decided I wasn't going to do something brainless, so I languidly put my fist down. Carefully, I stood back and waited for the universe to dispense some exemplary crack justice.
At that instant, while I was standing there waiting for a waffle house to plummet down out of the sky, one of the bullies lunged over and punched me in the stomach. Then, they laughed.