How Matthew’s Hat Saved Me.

Rachel’s recent post about her son’s school shenanigans reminded me of being in Grade Nine.  Given that he is not in Grade Nine, but Grade One, I think I must have been a bit of a late developer (Or Grandmaster B is a bit of an early one). But for the purposes of this narrative, neither matters.

In Grade Eight, I was bullied. Not by the popular kids, but by the kids who had been popular in my elementary school. High school just gave them the freedom to push me down stairs and tell me how ugly I was. High school had no lunch monitors, you see.

I went into a bit of a decline. Something in me decided that they hated me for being smart and quiet and neatly dressed. Maybe they did. They were crueller than wolves, nothing more than a small pack of assholes who worried that their mothers might find their cumsocks. But to me, they were walking hell.

I adapted. That’s what you do, right? I started wearing black eyeliner and a shapeless black cardigan of my dad’s. I affected disinterest in class. I even deliberately failed a test, to my mother’s horror. But most importantly, I got me some protectors. I made friends with The Bad Kids. Not just Bad, but Older and Bad.

It helped that my best friend had bigger boobs than I did, was more sophisticated (Read: Wore miniskirts and Coty Musk perfume), and by Grade Nine was already catching the Older Bad Kids’ attention.

One Drama class (all my bullies were in my drama class), we were supposed to bring hats. I forgot my hat. I couldn’t not have a hat. Drama, despite the bullies, was my favourite class ever. I loved Mr Green, I loved the exercises, I loved the wide-open risers. I needed a hat.

One of the Older Bad Kids was famous for his hat. it was a big-brimmed outdoorsman affair in some kind of rough leather. It was battered and distinctive. And, with five minutes before class, I gathered my courage and asked him if I could borrow his hat for an hour. I explained that it would just be with me in the Drama room, and I would certainly return it right after class. He was bemused, but he let me have his hat.

Oh, that hat. It smelled of smoke and power. When I put it on, I was transformed. Invincible.

All those bullies saw that I had Matthew’s hat. I’d like to say that I saw their eyes widen at the implications: She’s friends with HIM? We’d better not fuck with her anymore. But I didn’t. No one said anything about Matthew’s hat.

But they stopped pushing me down stairs. They stopped ramming me into walls and calling me ugly. They left me alone. Because Matthew and his friends were bigger than them, and might just squash them like the insects they were.

3 Comments to “How Matthew’s Hat Saved Me.”

  1. By rachel, March 13, 2009 @ 5:19 pm

    Gah, you’re giving me bully flashbacks of my own, and I never had it as bad as you (or one of my sisters, who was picked on systematically and HARD). What percentage of people have stories like this? Is it inevitable? How do we help kids make it through this kind of crap?

    Did you see B’s story from TODAY? Gah, it’s got me wanting to kick some six-year-old ass, and I can’t. All I can do, it seems, is hold my lad while he cries, not take it personally when he blames ME for his misfortunes, and try to raise him to be a decent person himself. But godfuckingdamnit, y’know?

  2. By stephanie, March 13, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

    First of all, cumsock. That made me laugh out loud.

    Second of all, I hate high school kids.

    Third of all, GREAT story! I love Matthew’s hat.

  3. By Liz, March 14, 2009 @ 11:52 am

    Rachel, I do not know the percentage. Only that it’s big. And I totally get the godfuckingdammit. As adults, what can we do? I don’t know that, either.

    Stephanie, high school is a fishbowl of hell for a lot of kids. When I hear another adult say, “These are the best years of your life” to some kid, I want to punch the adult in the teeth.

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