Elsewhere on this blog, I have told the story of bullying a classmate who had the last laugh in the end. But like many people, I’ve been on both ends of bullying. In early grade school, I had a “best friend” at school who I’ll call Andy. Lest I ever forgot that fact, Andy instructed me to repeat my allegiance to him every day on the playground. Out-loud and for his sake, I would say “We’re best friends forever.” And we were best friends (so long as I did everything he told me to do).
As an eighth grader, I had accepted (through a kind of osmosis) the idea that good kids get A’s on report cards, live at home with two parents, attend church regularly, and probably star on the local sports team. That’s who I was trying to be. I’d never been in a fight before, unless you count scraps in the yard with my older brother.
To the contrary, bad kids lived with single parents, struggled to read out loud in school, and didn’t play sports because they were too busy doing drugs. That description fit Steve, or at least that’s the way I saw him. He was one grade ahead of me in school.