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 laid 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, and 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 TV show, I might have been though 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; and my life changed for the positive because I didn’t.
That next morning we had to wake up early because movers were coming over to help 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 friends house with the three or four other friends I was lucky enough to have. We were having a small get together because that was going to be my last day in the state of Nebraska.
A few hours later my mom, dad, and sister showed up in my mom’s light blue 1994 Dodge Caravan. At that point in time my dad already 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 moved into eight years later.
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. When I slid open the van door I can saw my mom 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 moved into a new school, a bigger school, a school that was made up of the five elementary schools nearby. There were a bunch of other kids from other elementary schools plus the kids that I already knew from my previous school jam-packed into one building. And like everyone else that age who didn’t know where they belonged they were just trying to fit in, but the whole time I was in school I tried too hard to fit in, this 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 when I was watching TV in bed.
At one point in my life 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, might even make me sad to relive those specific memories.
I got into the van, I was not crying; I was happy to move, I had the chance to start all over, with entirely new people. 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 celebrities and showed us what they used to look like when they were kids. That was when I found out that hot ass chick on that one TV show was not that cute when she was a kid, but that is beside the point.
“The only reason 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. Those lines really stuck with 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 that fact that kids do not know how to find friends. Let’s use 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. Let’s assume that Sam is a witness to Andrew making fun of me. Sam happens to find it funny, but only because Andrew does too. 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 person turned into thirty people.
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, nine times as big; 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 stared 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 would not 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 up these fuckers.”
I know from past experiences that if someone is trying to act like my friend but is also asking me to do something that, in their eyes, is funny; their whole goal is to make me look like an idiot, which will end up being humorous to him and his friends. Causing a chain reaction that I didn’t want to fall into again.
“No I can’t,” I said this in a quiet voice while thinking that this whole thing was bothering me, the kid just would not shut up. As much as I wanted to say something like, “Fuck you,” I knew that 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 any reason to make fun of me, if he could make fun of me his friend would have also found it funny, and thus starts a chain of popularity using my misfortune as a leverage point.
The whole time that this was going on I kept 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 started walking as fast as I could up these stairs, in my mind I was going fast when I really wasn’t. I was going faster than normal, but I knew damn well that I wasn’t doing anything other than making myself look stupid in his eyes.
When I got to the fourth step I slowed down and looked up while continuing to walk up these stairs at my normal rate of speed. 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 seconds, the whole time 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 previous actions that he made ended up making him look like an idiot to everyone else because of the fact that I didn’t fall for it. He looked behind me and the smile that I expected to see turned into a quick frown as he turned around 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 they 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 bullies. I’m sure that kids tried to make fun of me, but I never gave them the reaction they were looking for, and at some point it 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, in a new and bigger school; how was that going to work out?