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WHAT STAYS WITH YOU

It’s funny when you think about the “little” things that are said or done to you that stay with you forever. Like most people, I’ve been thru hell and back again. We’ve all suffered in life. That is life. Yet, there are a few minor things from my childhood that have stayed with me and have even formed who I am to an extent.

This is all came up from a recent email exchange with this guy who I used to know —– in elementary school!?!?!? He came across my blog and sent me an email. Once he told me who he was I remembered him. But, to be honest — and he knows I am going to write about this — I don’t remember too much about him. We were not “tight” and he moved when we were in 5th grade. I never had any problems with other kids in school. I can only think of one time when someone tried to pick on me and it was a 4th grader when I was a 2nd grader. He got in trouble. I was never really popular, but I wasn’t unpopular either. I was able to blend in fairly easily. And, I think I was a nice kid. Friendly and easy going — that is how I see myself. I was always looking to make people laugh — and did.

It turns out that “Danny” was really e-mailing to let me know that I used to make fun of him and that he had never been able to forget it. Now, this is the second time that something of this nature has happened to me. The other time was several years ago when I heard from a guy who was in my drama class. …I actually found him on one of those alumni pages and sent him a note. Mistake. He told me I had been a jerk to him. All he could remember was that me and a couple of girls with whom I was very close used to tease him to no end. And, yet, I didn’t remember that. Well, apparently I made “Danny” feel really bad when we were in 3rd grade. We had a crazy teacher by the name of Mrs. Byrd who used to grab you by the shoulder and shake you. Parents used to complain, but this was back when teachers could still spank you. But, she was a real witch!

She had this annoying and nutty habit of yelling at one kid who had done something wrong, but she would reach out to the nearest child and shake him/her silly while she yelled at the other one. ??? And, she had long red fingernails. She reminded me of the Wicked Witch. Me and my pal, Lane, used to love to get her pissed just to see her go off. …even if it did scare us a little bit. Well, according to “Danny” I was being an asshole to Mrs. Byrd —- apparently rolling my eyes and giving her the finger whenever she turned away from me. This was making all of the kids laugh. She caught me making a face and started yelling at me and “Danny” was just in her reach. So, poor “Danny” got shook. …and, he cried. I remember lots of kids crying because of Mrs. Byrd. Anyway, after school I told “Danny” that he was a wimp loser much to the amusement of some older kids. And, he has never forgotten that.

How horrible. And, I don’t even remember it at all. I can’t believe I would be such a jerk. I wrote an apology to “Danny” and he wrote back that it was ok and did one of those “LOL” thingys and wished me well. But, I just feel really bad that I did something to him over 30 years ago and that it has still stayed with him enough for him to send me an email about it.

But, I was thinking about it and more often than I can probably count I can remember something that appended to me when I was hanging out with a friend at her house. Her mom gave us each an apple. I had never had an apple before. I think my Grandmother had cut apples up so I had only ever been aware of them cut up and kind of brownish. Yuck. Well, anyway, this was a fresh apple. My friend just started biting into it. We were sitting one her lawn. There was an older kid across the street trying to do “wheelies” with his bike. I tried to take a bite of the apple and it fell out of my hand. My friend laughed. I laughed. Then the kid across the street called out, “What a homo! You can’t even eat an apple!” — I remember yelling something back at him and my friend’s mother coming out and making us come into the house.

That moment will never leave me. It stays. Not sure why. But, when I see an apple I think of that and how stupid and bad it made me feel. I am sure that the kid who yelled that to me meant nothing and forgot about it within a few minutes. But, all these years later I still think of it. …like “Danny” I guess we all have some sour apples we carry with us that don’t mean much but more than most realize.

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February 1, 2006. Uncategorized.

14 Comments

  1. Dessie replied:

    Repression. You were a fiend! Just kidding, we all did bad things when we were kids, you do it and you move on and you feel bad, you make up for it. Karma baby 😉

    I have a memory of eating plums on a beach outing with my family, I think I was about 4. I kept dropping them in the sand, which made me cry. I would be offered another one, but I always wanted the one I had dropped even though it was covered in sand.

    Does anyone else out there have a traumatic fruit memory, or are we unique Matty?

  2. matt replied:

    Dessie — I know! I can’t believe I did that! Or made that other guy feel so bad! ugh! Well, we can’t be alone in terms of fruit trauma. …I mean, look at a banana for Chirs’ts sake!

  3. ginab replied:

    Matty, I’m not confident any child was particularly kind to another child, not even to friends. Throughout my school years I was as quiet as dirt, but I remember a kid named Richard. Richard wore high waters, striped shirts buttoned to the neck; he had a rectangular skull, blond hair, mini-bangs; and he walked a lot like Frankenstein’s concoction. Really, I noticed him because he’d jangle his arms and legs and taunt me with gina ‘bitcher’ (a concoction of my last name), and then he’d kick a red ball, slamming it against the wall nearest me, before taking off with other boys into the deeper end of the playground.

    My mother told me, I think I was ten, she was washing out a pot, she told me she nearly named me ReGina, but she didn’t at the last second because she saw the future. “Vagina” I would be called. And sure, Richard would have had a field day.

    Then there was Danny Blankenship. Every ounce a ship, he wore a white t-shirt, high-waisted pants firmly belted at the waist. The belt was thick and black, a lot like his plastic framed glasses. He was tall, and he carried himself okay, but he received countless whispers from the gaggle of kids around me, when he’d start his walk from his back door, to the opposite curb, to crossing the street where we stood and into an orchestra of “Sshhz-uzz”.

    Miss Parish, my kindergarden teacher, was the “shaker”. For several months, I thought she was exotic. Modern, single, long dark hair, brown eyes, min-dresses, hippyish, beaded, dangling hoop earrings. She was grand, until one day I confused “orange” for the color green and vice versa. (I was plagued by this for quite a few years, but that’s another story). We were filling in triangles on ditto sheets with the right colors. We were seated in little chairs at various round tables. I goofed up, and she replaced my paper with a clean, sharp smelling ditto sheet. “Start over,” she said, and she informed the class of the expense of a single ditto sheet.

    Again, I goofed and this time she swiped the screwed up ditto sheet from me, replacing it with a third. I goofed the third, and she asked me to stand. I stood, and she was yelling, she was losing her cool. Her hair was a tad wild and her beads swung. She kicked my chair out of the way, hoisted me up by my pits, and shook nearly the urine out of me.

    When I got home that evening, I went promptly to the piano bench where inside I kept a few crayons and sheets of blank paper. I drew her naked, with wounds, admired my drawing, and pitched her in the incinerator.

    Childhood and its grief. I’ve always wanted to use Blankenship for a character. Maybe I’ll do that now.

    -g+bb

  4. Jenny replied:

    Matty, the other boy you speak of that we “tormented” in drama class — I am pretty sure I know who you are talking about. I had a run-in with him a few years ago. He said the SAME THING to me, about how mean we were to him, we made him miserable, etc. He had been carrying this hate in him about us for 20-plus years and took the opportunity to tell me off in front of my child at the store. Sorry, but I am not taking on any of his repressed shit.

    I told him that we all went through many awful things as kids, but if the worst that happened to him was us making some jokes during drama rehearsal, then he needed to thank God he had such a great life. Matty, you know I am super-aware of other’s feelings due to the garbage I went through in my own childhood. We did not do anything bad to the drama boy in question.

    Just to give you an idea of the type of person he is now — he’s our age, married, with babies, and STILL drives around with a “No Fat Chicks” bumper sticker on his car. Tool.

  5. matt replied:

    Gina — I suspect you’re right. Wow, that story about your teacher really got me. How horrible. Children are working thru all kinds of things I guess, but what was her excuse?

    Jen — Yes! That’t the one! It was so funny because I sent him an email just to say hi and to see how he was doing and I got this two page long angry email. It shocked me. I have to say, tho — I hate that someone even feels I made their life such hell. I don’t think any of us ever disliked him —- we got annoyed with him because he was a narc, but I would have never known he felt that way about us. I can’t believe he did that infront of your son. I love his bumper sticker. Class. LOL! (look I’m being mean again!)

  6. josh williams replied:

    I was always small as a child but still a little shit.( I remember)

    I was talking to friend of mine who said he grew fast and so was a big kid and then stopped growing. He is now around 5’9″ I guess. He said he went to a Highschool reunion and met a guy he used to beat up and the guy was a big guy in grown up times. His old tormentee had a discolored tooth from when Len had hit him and Len apologized and offered him a shot, they guy just laughed and said no big deal. He then told Len how everybody was afraid to ride their bikes down his street because Len would jump out of hiding knock them down and jump up and down on their bikes. Len did not remeber this nor is he proud. You meet Len today he’s very easy going, not someone to piss off would be my guess, but very civil and civilized, wife two children and devoted to his family. Other than a sick sense of humor he is the bully that did good. What drove him to this in his childhood he has know idea, but apparently he was a real terror. As far as belly button lent, just have your belly button lent gland removed. Inexpensive outpatient operation. It will change your life. JW

  7. matt replied:

    Josh — Me & Len probably would have been buds! LOL!

    Ok, am going to look into having that gland removed. I know it is outpatient, but I should think it expensive. I’m unemployed at the moment. But I will look into it.

    I hope you don’t get too many glands removed. You might need some of them later.

  8. Lubin replied:

    As someone who was picked on occasionally at school, I’d just say “let it go”. There’s a reason we don’t put kids in prison for stuff – they’re not mature enough to understand the consequences behind their actions. But as adults, we are better equipped to deal with stuff that happened to us as kids. I’m not sure what that guy felt he’d achieve by confronting the grown-up bullies decades later. They’re not the same people anymore. It’s kind of a sad story all round.

  9. matt replied:

    Lubin — Yeah, it is sad all around. But, I have such a hard time understanding or seeing myself as a ‘bully’ — but coming from all perspectives I guess what matters most is how those two people felt. I wish I had been more aware of others. I always thought I was. hmmmm….

    Jenny — did you ever think of us as “bullies’? ..actually, it makes me laugh as I type that. But, to the drama guy, maybe we were. ????

  10. Chris Capp replied:

    Matt,
    You are such a prolific blogger! Impressive.

    It’s funny how we all have vivid memories of childhood — teachers, students, friends, enemies — but it is somehow surprising to find that we figure into someone else’s vivid memories. If we are all the star of our own movie, it is always funny to find out we have cameos in others.

    On the flip side of your story, Matt, one of my younger sister’s friends had an older sister close to me in age (if you can follow that…). She was excruciatingly shy. I remember that. But apparently I was moderately friendly to her — you know, saying “hello” in the hall and stuff. And this made a huge impact. I don’t remember those small exchanges, but they were very important to her and she told my sister this recently. While it made me feel good to learn this, it also made me realize how carelessly we can give both support and hurt. Especially as young people.

    Great post.

  11. matt replied:

    Chris — Yeah, we really do take it for granted how we can touch someone’s life. …and, each other. I guess that is why it is important to remember it is just as easy to be friendly as it is to be rude — or, mean.

  12. Karyn replied:

    Matty, you beat me to the punch. I’ve been struggling for over a year – a year! – to write a blog entry about some girls who were really shitty to me when we were little. It was a defining moment for me and I hate how much it bothers me.

    We’re all on both sides of the fence. We’ve all been made fun of by someone, and we’ve all done our share of poking fun at someone else. It’s part of the process, however sucky. And some people are more aggressive and unkind about it than others.

    In 6th grade there was this eggplant shaped kid with Bert-From-Sesame-Street hair and big eyebrows and a beezer of a nose and oily skin who was really rotund. The Loser, right? One time in gym, the teacher made him a kickball captain and then instructed the captains to pick teams.

    Yeah. He picked me first.

    Can I just say I was never, EVER picked first in gym, for any reason apart from this. I am not athletic – even a little. I was mortified! I turned purple, felt my face get hot, and stomped over to him, glaring and muttered, ” I could just kill you.” Then I met his eye and noticed he was kind of gazing at me with the puppy eyes and thought, OH CRAP.

    I felt so bad about that for the longest time; I still do. Makes me as bad as the little bitches who hurt me and my tiny feelings.

    He’s ok though; turns out he’s from a loaded, powerful family and probably has to beat off women with a stick, and even if it’s just because of his bank account, people get off on that.

    Sour apples indeed. I’ve got a cart of them.

  13. Robert replied:

    You hung out with girls?? hahaha, just kidding! I would hang out with you! We would form a pack and would get all the lunch $$ from other kids and we’ll have a blast! Bwhahaha!

    Seriously tho, it’s easy to keep the hurt and go on with our daily lives, but much more difficult to just let it go and be free from our own prison.

    I’m just glad I’m not a kid in this day and age! oy!

  14. matt replied:

    Karyn — Pitch them sour apples out! I hated kickball, but I despised dodge ball. I always got picked somewhere in the middle of the picking. ugh.

    Robert — LOL! Agreed.–>

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