Late that night I was laying in my bed staring at the glow from my TV, those old TV’s that were just as big in-depth as they were in size, before the term high definition was even a word that was associated with televisions. The year was 1998, it was around twelve o’clock at night, nothing was going on in my bedroom, all the lights were turned off and I lay there on my top bunk immensely switching though channels desperately trying to find something of interest to watch.
Nothing was on TV other than infomercials and talk shows, this was back when MTV actually played music videos, I didn’t even find that interesting. The glow that was filling my room was turning black every two seconds because of how often I was flipping to the next pointless program, I might have been thought the channel line up about three or four times by now.
I finally decided to stop on a talk show that I skipped three times prior. It was Jenny Jones and I figured it was better than anything else that was on. I didn’t want to go to bed yet, but I should have; but my life changed for the positive because I didn’t.
That next morning we had to wake up early because the movers were coming over to help us pack up the rest of the house so we could move everything we owned to Washington State.
Earlier that day I was over at one of my friend’s house with the three or four other friends I was lucky enough to have. We were having a small get together at my friends because that was going to be my last day in the state of Nebraska.
A few hours later my mom, dad, and sister show up in my mom light blue 1994 Dodge Caravan. At this point in time my dad had lived in Washington State for the past six mouths.
On a side note, the apartment complex that my dad moved into while the rest of us were in Nebraska was the same apartment complex I lived in eight years in the future.
My dad just took a flight back to Omaha a few day prior to help us pack up the house and drive up into the part of the country best known to others as the Pacific Northwest. When the van rolled up into my friends driveway I remember saying bye to everyone but it was not that memorable. When I slide open the van door I can see that my mom is in the passenger seat and my sister in the front row of the bench seats in the back of the van. They were both crying because we were about to uproot our lives into a different part of the country.
I was not crying however. Ever since my dad told me that we were moving all I could do was to think about middle school.
I never had a good time in school, when I entered sixth grade in 1995 I had a bunch of other kids from other elementary schools plus the kids that were already there jam-packed into a school. And like everyone else that age you didn’t know where you belonged, the whole time I was in school I tried too hard to fit in, that never worked out for me; all it did was backfire and give them another reason to make fun of me, which I did not understand until later that night.
At one point I had 30 bullies, that was a lot, too much to be honest. But with all that pain I never had any thoughts of suicide. I can go further into being made fun of, but it’s not that interesting and might make me sad to relive that specific memory.
I got into the van, I was not crying; I was happy to move, I got to start all over, with entirely new people, none of which knew me. And it wasn’t like I was leaving friends behind; I was, but what I foresaw was a more vibrant picture that what was already painted.
The show I was watching that night was a geek to cheek episode where they took all these famous people and show us what they used to look like. That was when I find out that hot ass chick on that show was not so cute when she was a kid, but that is beside the point.
“The only people tease you is because you give them the reaction they are looking for,” a guy in the audience stood up and said this. It got me to thinking, everything made sense to me. It was like the universe opened up…and then I remembered, no one in Washington knew who I was.
The basics of my thinking has all do to with kids not knowing how to find friends. Let’s us the name Andrew, Sam, Drew, and Ryan in this example (all kids who made fun of me by the way). Let’s assume that these four kids do not know one another, but they are young and none of them know how to make friends. Lets say that Sam is a witness to Andrew making fun of me, Sam and Andrew are now friends that found something in common based off of my reaction that both of them found funny.
At that age I did not understand this, and I kept making it worse on myself by giving them the reaction they wanted. This created a chain reaction until one turned into thirty.
So, I was happy I was moving. I could completely change my life, and that was my intent. I just didn’t know how good it would have worked.
The first day or junior high in Washington State was weird, it was different. Washington’s population was a lot bigger than that of Nebraska, even though my middle school in Nebraska had two floors it was not like my new school.
I had to walk though the commons to start my trip up the stairs so I could go to my first period class. There was this kid next to me, doing the same thing as me; going up the stairs. He looked at me and said, “hey man, you want to race up the stairs?” I continued to look forward, I was doing what I was supposed to do, I stare forward and quietly said, “no.”
“Come on man, you can do it; race me up these stairs.” I could tell this was not going to end anytime soon. I repeated myself, “no.” I continue to walk up these stairs, but he just won’t shut up, “come on man, I can tell you’re pretty fast,” I continue to walk up the stairs and without saying a word he continues by saying, “come on bro, I know you can beat me.”
I know from past experiences that if someone is not only trying to act like my friend but is asking me to do something that, in their eyes, is funny; their whole goal is to make me look like an idiot, which will be humorous to him and his friends. Causing a chain reaction that I didn’t want to fall into now that I knew what I was looking for.
“No I can’t,” I said in a quiet voice while thinking that this whole episode was bothering me. As much as I wanted to say something like, “fuck you,” I knew it was not going to end the way I wanted it to.
“Yea you can dude, come on man, you got this,” this dude just would not shut up after I told him many time I was slow and I was not going to even try because I was not going to win. This kid was looking for a reason to make fun of me, if he could his friend would also find it funny, and thus starts a chain of popularity using the new kid that just happens to be different.
The whole time this was going on I was thinking to myself, “I’m going to have to try to race this asshole up the stairs. He won’t shut up if I don’t.” But I also had the other half of me saying, “don’t do it Dan, that’s just what he wants.”
I look down and I start trying to race him up these stairs, in my mind I was going fast. After all I was going faster than normal, but I knew damn well that it wasn’t doing anything other than making me look stupid in his eyes.
The fourth step I got to I slowed back down and looked up while continuing to walk up these stairs. I was going my normal pace again while I was watching this kid race up the last two stairs just to turn around and laugh at me.
However he wasn’t able to, I didn’t give him the reaction that he was looking for. Instead I kept a straight face while we stared at one another for a few brief seconds. Giving him a “fuck you” expression while silently laughing inside.
Something happened that I never saw before. I don’t know if some kid was trying to stick up for me from behind or if the actions that both of us made caused him to look like an idiot to everyone that was watching. He looked behind me and the smile that I expected to see turned into a quick frown as he turned away and continued to walk towards class.
I did it, I fucking did it! I’m sure you can sit here and say, “yea well, kids get older and the mature.” Yes, maybe. But I do know one thing, and regardless of why or how it happened I was ecstatic that it did.
I coasted thought the rest of my ninth grade year with almost no teasing. Kids tried to make fun of me, but I never gave them the reaction they were looking for, and some point in almost came to a halt because in their eyes it was pointless. They had to go another way of trying to find popularity.
I was just worried about high school. Once again there were going to be more kids, new kids, kids that didn’t know me from the year before, how was that going to work out?
(10 minutes after posting) Yes, I know…there are grammatical errors, sue me. I might fix them in the future, but for now I think you can figure out what I’m trying to say.