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the reality of bullies

I’ve discovered that I don’t need to watch Harper and Palin to bemoan the presence of bullies in our midst.  My son called me yesterday morning to tell me that the night before, at 11 p.m., he was beaten up as he walked home from work   He was crossing the parking lot near his downtown apartment building – “It’s Frosh Week,” he said, “drunk kids everywhere,” – when an “ordinary young white guy” tapped him on the shoulder.  When Sam started to take off his iPod earphones to hear what he wanted, the kid punched him in the face.  Taken off-guard, Sam fell heavily – he’s six foot nine, as perhaps I have told you before – and as he struggled to regain his balance, another ordinary white guy kicked him hard in the forehead, and the first one smashed him again in the face.  

Luckily, there were others around who began to shout, and the perps took off.  Sam tried to stand up and had to sit again.  The police arrived and took statements and descriptions from witnesses, though the chances of them finding the guys are nil.  The men hadn’t even tried to steal the iPod. They just wanted to hit somebody, and the tall guy looked like the right person.  
He came over here the next morning, his knuckles and elbows bloody from where he fell and tried to hit back, and his face like a prize-fighter’s – eyes black, huge purple lump on forehead, bruises on both cheeks.  He’s a waiter, so he can’t go to work for a while, and because his restaurant is seasonal, he’s looking for a new job – can’t do that either.
As the mother of this boy, and, yes, as a peacenik, I can tell you that if someone presented those ordinary young men to me, I would not be responsible for my actions.   
The good thing was that my 23-year old boy and I were able to spend the day together, as he stretched his lean frame out on the sofa and watched “The Sopranos” and “South Park,” as he has on so many other sick days.  I got to make huge bowls of pasta and bring him juice.  He was embarrassed to be a grown man receiving TLC from his mother, but grateful too.   And I was profoundly grateful that the event wasn’t worse, and that I was here.  How glad I was to be here.
He gave me a gift.  He told me that before he went home to get jumped that night, he and two friends had been discussing their childhoods.  “They both told me that they hardly ever talk to their parents,” he said, “that they didn’t like their parents and couldn’t talk to them.  And I told them that we talk all the time,  that a conversation doesn’t end without us saying ‘I love you.’  I realised that I had a ‘Leave it to Beaver’ upbringing, only with divorce.”
Well, maybe not quite “Leave it to Beaver” – I’m not sure if he has actually seen the show, with Walt and … what was the wife’s name?  Of course I’ve forgotten.  But I guess what he meant was, well, ordinary, in the best sense of the word.    



2 Responses to “the reality of bullies”

  1. Mary says:

    Ward and June Cleaver! Parents of Theodore (Beaver) and Wally. Fresh in my mind as I was just talking about Eddie Haskell the other day! 😉

  2. beth says:

    June, of course, how could I forget? I think if my son saw the show, he would agree that I in no way resemble June Cleaver, except, perhaps, in the perfection of our hair and our pristine aprons. And there was a lot more turmoil in his childhood than he remembers. But I’m glad he thinks his upbringing was so normal and nice.

    I remember Eddie Haskell, of course. Love those bad boys.

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