I have often heard in my life that ignorance is bliss. If that's the case, I should be much happier, since I've deliberately blocked most of school years out. I can remember bits and pieces, though, including how the worst of it began.

My dad was in the US Air Force, so we got moved a bit. Born in Ankara, Turkey, and began school in Cheyenne, Wyoming. By this point, I'd been getting weekly ear infections (oftentimes more than once a week). By the time I was 6, my parents were pretty desparate to do something to help cure them. The doctor said that a warm climate might help clear things up, and my dad put in for a transfer to someplace warmer. We wound up in Little Rock, Arkansas.

I wasn't happy about the move, to say the very least. Unfortunately, I didn't get over that unhappiness in time for the first day of school. At this point, I was in the second grade, and didn't get along well with people, but I didn't really get picked on so very much, so things were at least okay.

Around this time, though, I began my reading. Everything I could get my hands on, I read. I learned to pay enough attention to the environment around me that I could walk and read at the same time. Turned out to be quite the useful skill, too. I learned to play chess that year, too. All in all, though, things were okay.

Then came the fourth grade. In the first week, I wound up in some sort of physical fight with somebody. I have to say somebody, because I'm not sure I wound up fighting with the person who got in trouble for it. You see, when I went to the principal to complain about it, a rather nice girl went with me to tell the principal the names of the people who had beaten me up. The problem was that I think she picked people she didn't like, rather than the ones who actually did it. As a result, they got in trouble unfairly, and that brought them down on me.

Shortly after that, I started to learn about how bad things could be. I had no friends, no people I could talk to. Yes, we still had recess, and quite often, I was off in some corner of the playground crying because of this.

Fights came a little more frequently. I still recall one of them, because I was trying to do what my parents said, and not fight back. That didn't stop them (and I use them because I was almost always ganged up on) from hitting me in the back, kicking me, etc. And this was by my neighbor, who was supposedly my friend. Well, at least until school was in session.

The last day of school was also never good. After all, the kids couldn't get in trouble with the principal or teachers anymore, so they'd gang up on me, badly. One year, there were 20 or so people waiting for me. Fortunately, all they did was laugh at me. I couldn't outrun them, and I couldn't get away on my bike, because they had so kindly let the air out of my tires.

And I still remember Mrs. Stackhouse (she taught 6th grade on Little Rock Air Force Base in 1982). She actually made me cry in front of my entire class. I don't think I've ever had such humiliation brought down before or since by any teacher.

My dad was retiring from the Air Force, so we moved north, to New Jersey, then finally bought a house in Pennsylvania a year later (oh, and the infections had been dealt with by getting tubes in my ears when I was 7). I had decided not to let this be the same for me. I was going to be better, I was going to be cool, and I was going to fit in.

This plan, of course, failed. Both in NJ, and in PA. I can remember some of the pieces that people used for laughing at me, but not much. Suffice to say that I did not fit in, then or ever.

One of the worst days ever inflicted on me by students, though, was the end of freshman football season. I'd actually joined the team, and (at least a bit) enjoyed it. But the last day, in the showers, it seemed like the entire team (and I know it was at least 10 of them) brought in water bottles, filled them with the hottest water they could get out of the showers, and sprayed me with it, especially focusing on getting my genitals. I hated them, and every body else, after that.

In tenth grade, I had a friend say he could no longer be a friend because everybody was calling him gay because of me. I don't know where he is (hey, Henry, you out there?), but I'd laugh my ass off if it turned out to be true today.

For my senior prom I took a blind date from another school district. I wouldn't have gone if my parents didn't make me (word of advice: if your kid doesn't want to go, don't make him).

For almost all of my high school life, I had my suicide note written out, in my head. And my last request would be that it be read over school announcement system so that everybody would know that they had driven me to take my own life. I wanted revenge. I wanted to hurt them like they had spent so much time hurting me.

Then came my graduation day. June, 1989. I can't even begin to tell you how happy I was about it. And I couldn't (and still don't) understand why so many people were so sad about it. I was happy to escape the hellhole.

So much has happened between now and then, but my time in high school still defines who I am, 13 years later. I'm working on purging that identity, though, and working to find out who I really am. And someday, I hope to dance on the graves of every one of my classmates, while playing our class song (whatever that is) at full blast.

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