When I was in ninth grade, I was seated next to a girl named Jean Hostetler in science class. This was simply because my teacher believed in seating everyone “alphabetically”. I was Judy Fletcher, and her name came right after mine. Jean was a big girl and I was not. She was also a bully. On a regular basis she would casually slam me on the head with her science book; you know the big heavy one!
Well, I was never a fighter and I believed in that whole, “turn the other cheek” thing. But, to be honest, I was really just scared of her. So, I PRETENDED I didn’t notice. Surely, if I ignored her, she would “go away.” But no, every day she showed up and many days I endured the book to the head.
One day she came into the room and she was VERY nice to me. It seems she found out that one of the substitute teachers, one with whom I had a good rapport, was subbing in my English class. She wanted to tell me that she thought he was, “SOOOOO Cute!” Now, you must understand, I did not have googoo-eyes girly-in-lust conversations with this girl EVER, so I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to start having them now! So I answered her saying, “Cool, I’ll let him know.”
Well, she dared me to do it, and, since she dared me and I didn’t know whether I’d be worse off doing it, or not, I did. On my way from science to geometry class, I stopped off at the English class and greeted Mr. Dawson. “Hey,” I said, “Jean Hostetler dared me to tell you she thinks you’re cute!” Well, he was laughing and all and then his face got serious. He told me to head on down the hall.
I looked behind me and there was Jean. Charging at me like a mad bull. OK, time for me to RUN. Off I ran as the hallway, filled with kids changing classes, parted like the Red Sea. All was going pretty well, though she was taller and faster, I had the FEAR driving me. Unfortunately, as I may have mentioned in a post some moons past, I always wore shoes too big for my puny feet. I stuffed the toes and wore size 6 or 7’s.
This particular day, this practice let me down, for I tripped on my “clown shoes” and down I went. Knowing Jean was hot on my trail, I picked myself up, but only to my knees and was literally trying to run down the hall on my knees. By this time the kids were all getting involved. They knew I was dead meat, and they were not willing to stand in the path of RAGING JEAN!
Just as I was about to get really clobbered by this crazed girl, my geometry teacher, Mr. Foran, came to my aid. He grabbed Jean and held on. I was never so thankful to see my geometry teacher as I was that day! Jean was sent home and I was told to go see the school nurse. I told him I was fine. She had not actually touched me that day, though murder was on her mind!
The next day, back in science class, Jean slammed me on the head with her science book. I looked at her straight in the eyes and told her I did not appreciate her doing that, and I wanted her to stop. She laughed at me. She said, “I wondered when you were going to finally acknowledge I was hitting you!”
I won’t say we ever became friends, for that would be untrue. But she did not hit me again, nor did she confide in me about those she found cute! I was happy with it that way. I can’t say I really stood up for myself, because it really didn’t feel that way. I just got tired of pretending something mean and nasty wasn’t happening.