“The biggest bully I ever faced was underneath my own skin.”
Paulie Greco emerged. Rising like a boneless demon between the cracks of schoolyard concrete. I couldn’t focus on anything else after that. For hours. Through massive, lead-paint thick Brooklyn public school windows behind heavy-gauge steel grating, I could still see him. Lurking.
I couldn’t stop seeing him. Waiting. For me.
I felt the ice, the fear coursing through veins I didn’t even realize I had inside my body, my head. Until they started throbbing. 2:15pm. He’d been out there. Since noon. High noon. I recall shaking uncontrollably at my desk the closer the hands of the large black & white super-ticky clock hanging above the chalkboard inched towards 3.
My heart beat heavy in both ears. I wondered how I was going to live with no blood, no teeth. No spleen. I heard somewhere you could live without a spleen. That oddly seemed to calm me.
Would I be able to walk? Please god not the face was all I could think. Thinking positively – Perhaps a good pummeling would work off some of the belly fat I carried around thanks to Drake’s cakes, Yodels to be specific.
Let me tell you: I didn’t do anything to him. In fact, I stayed far from him. I was always aware of his space so I could purposely avoid it. He hated me because I was fat. I wore green corduroy pants in the summer (thanks mom). Come to think of it, I get why he hated me.
I was diverting the attention of a spic-guinea (an exotic, smarm-raised blend of Italian & Puerto-Rican and that’s what she called herself) beauty in spandex pants who didn’t give him the time of day – she liked my brains over his brawn. Go figure.
I was friends with his girlfriend (cute girls always liked to be friends with me because I was a non-threatening, funny troll-like figure). I had bigger pimples, maybe. For one reason, many reasons, every reason, this guy hated my guts. All I knew? I was dead soon.
No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks. Rest In Peace. Your life shall cease...
Smashed behind a city school by a leather-jacketed beast. There he was – leaning against a shaky schoolyard fence. Greasy dark hair. Black leather with chains (as I think about it, looked stupid in June). He’d deftly bounce off the chain link, then shuffle – from one foot to the other. Right. Left. Right. Left. Rocking.
The cadence of a psycho planning a pounce on chubby prey. I’m sure he noticed me through the smudgy glass and steel-cage monster panes of glass. I know, at the least, he smelled me. My fear. I think it made him rock faster.
3pm was here. I couldn’t feel my legs, not sure how I rose from the desk…Numb. I walked slow. To the bulls-eye. Not sure of my fate. Listen, it was never leave or die. I didn’t want to live in the dank vastness of the mysterious boiler room, the beast anchored in the school’s basement.
Throughout your life they just re-appear. Those bullies…
Large corporate masters live to bully. Because they can. And since the pandemic, we as consumers have given them even more power to do so. Shareholders, Boards of Directors seem to encourage them (mostly by demanding greater results).
Bullies hate the truth, corporate bullies are seduced by narratives. They diminish in power once they know you’re not afraid and you possess the strength of the truth.
Today, many companies can pay less in wages, avoid raises, ask more out of you, work you out of a position for others less skilled, because they have the power. Yet, out of the other sides of their PR mouthpieces, they can preach social justice all the while pandering to China to preserve their profit margins. China knows this. They are not afraid. They think we’re dumber than Paulie in algebra class.
As for you, you can take your dollars and walk. They won’t care but you will. You can pick up and leave their captive cubicles and prevail in finding greater more lucrative ventures.
Get to know your inner bullies. The bullies who push against you from within. They do stick around until death. You know them. You’ve faced them. The ones who constantly, mentally pummel you. Telling you you’re going to fail, fall, falter. The ones who nag at you. Cajole you until you give up. It’ll take some strong self-analysis to understand your interbullies as I call them, but if you remain aware, you’ll face your internal Paulies head on.
Sure, you may stumble short term; oh, they’ll rock you, shuffle you up, but you’ll persevere eventually. It’s inevitable. The more you fight, the greater understanding you’ll have of a bully’s crude method to shake you. Your mind will grow smarter than your interbullies. It’ll take time but it shall happen. Never give up.
Don’t be bullied to be stupid with money. There’s a lot out there to taunt you to overspend or misuse credit. Stand your ground. The less you spend the more empowered you will become. The more secure you will become in your future. A bully should possess a negative net worth but not you.
Discover your reinforcements. Seek and then never forget what/who supports you. Understand the need to train for battle. Find friends (some you never knew you had) – exercise, a good diet, sleep, deep breaths, meditation, reading, heartfelt discussion, all need to be employed as you fight the bullies.
It’s ok to wallow in Yodels a bit (if you can find them). However, too many will weaken your body and spirit. Know when to shut down the devil’s food (which is a devil’s food).
I couldn’t feel anything. The greater Paulie became in my line of sight, the more steadfast my pace. I wanted to flee but I kept walking. Straight.
I recall closing my eyes to stop my legs from heading out of Dodge. I wasn’t going to run. I didn’t do anything wrong. If I got beat so be it. With all the adrenaline running through me I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have felt a thing. So it appeared to be an opportune time for a thrashing.
I just wanted one good shot. One good kick. One surprise that would shake him. I stopped close to the rock-a-bully. He was in mid-swing. About seven feet away. I tried to move in but couldn’t. Frozen. He moved towards me. He spoke. Rough Brooklyn. Mostly hoodlum. Mumbled.“You talk to my girlfriend?” “Yea,” I said. What was I going to say? “She’s in my homeroom class.” “I know people. I’m related to gangsters. You understand that?” I knew that.
“I know people too. I hang out at Torragrossa’s Funeral Home. I watch them embalm dead people after school. You think my mother could get a discount if you kill me?”
I continued before he could say another word: “You need to realize I won’t die so easy, though. If I can take you with me, I will,” I said. No reason why. Anger perhaps. All I know is I meant it at the time. I had nothing to lose.
At that moment his girlfriend, my friend, ran up (reinforcements) and screamed at him not to touch me or it was over between them. He backed off.
Pussy 1, Bully 0.
A few weeks later I found out that he was a bit scared of me after that incident. It wasn’t his girlfriend’s threats. It was the fact that I watched the dead being embalmed and it didn’t shake me up.
It was a bit of information he wasn’t expecting. It was a surprise. A shock.
Bullies hate surprises. Shocks. The truth.
And apparently the embalming process.
9Robin Franks, David Perka and 7 others2 Comments1 ShareShare