When I was in seventh grade, my locker was right next to the locker that was used by this kid named Todd. Now, he was a couple years older than I was but had flunked a couple of grades in order to put himself in the position to have a locker next to mine (I’m not serious here, I’m certain that wasn’t the real reason why Todd was two grades behind his peers).
However, that became the beginning of the worst two years of school bullying that I experienced as a child.
I was a pretty nerdy kid growing up and only really had a handful of people in my life that I would consider genuine friends. I mean, I didn’t get picked on a lot but I wasn’t really the kind of kid that everyone else was drawn to either.
No pity party is necessary here. I’m just setting the stage.
It seemed that I could not go anywhere without Todd being somehow hovering over me. I would go to my locker in between classes and Todd would be there, looking into my locker while I got my next books.
If I had a class with Todd, he would be sitting directly behind me, attempting to look over my shoulder during tests so that he could copy my answers (jokes on that clown, I never really tested too well at that age). If we were at recess, Todd was probably pushing me around for some unknown reason.
Long story short… Todd was a thorn in my side.
Yet, at the same time, Todd was always trying to get me to hang out with him as well and I never understood this.
So, here are to events that happened about two months apart from each other. It was early in my eighth-grade year, most likely around Halloween. I had a crush on this girl named Beth and most of my time was spent attempting to get her attention so I really didn’t put much effort into my schoolwork at all.
Todd sat behind me in our history class and it was a test day. The teacher got us all started on the test and then stepped out of the room for a moment. I knew it was coming…
Todd tapped on my shoulder and told me to let him see my test. I typically didn’t put up much of a fight with Todd but on this day, I felt a little ballsy so I refused. Shortly after that, I felt the thump of a finger on the back of my head as he began flicking me.
So, I turned around to ask him what his problem was. Todd mistakes this as aggression and it was on. That dude pounced on me from his desk before I even had a chance to get turned fully around. My arms got trapped under my desk and he began wailing on my forehead (or at least it seemed that way).
He hit me probably three or four times before someone stopped him and the teacher came back into the room. It should have been obvious from the situation that I was not fighting Todd but we were both sent to the office.
Detentions were assigned (one of only two that I ever received in my school years) and, my assumption was that Todd would be out to get me. My assumption was incorrect. He moved on from that one as if it never even happened.
Fast forward a month or so and it is Fall Festival weekend in Louisville, where we all grew up. As an adult, Fall Festival has lost most of its luster but as a child, this was the event of the year.
On Friday night, they would have a talent show that was followed by the queen pageant. There were a plethora of vendors all around the town square. It was a few blocks from my house so I always walked up there and spent the evening attempting to be cool.
However, a couple of days before the event, Todd pulled me aside with a sheet of paper that he had scribbled some crude drawings on. He began to explain that he had figured out how to take apart one of the vending machines that sat at a store about a block from the square.
His plan was for the two of us to remove the face of the machine while everyone was watching the queen pageant and steal all of the food that was inside of it.
I mean, what the crap? What thought process would even lead you to that point?
I politely declined to participate in this adventure, half expecting to be beaten down for it again. Todd shrugged his shoulders and explained to me that he would kill me if I ratted him out because he was going to do it anyway.
I do remember checking out the machine the day after Fall Festival and took note that it had not been broken into so I guess he changed his mind.
My point in all of this…
There are a lot of different kinds of people in the world. There are a lot of different kinds of kids growing up with those people.
I don’t feel like Todd ever really had a chance. I don’t really know for sure because my last memory of Todd was of him crawling under the bleachers and hiding from our gym teacher during Freshman PE. Maybe he’s still under the bleachers… I haven’t seen or heard from him since and that was in 1991.
Perhaps he changed course as he got older.
I don’t know what Todd’s home life was like. I don’t know if he had any kind of family support. At that age, I didn’t care. I just wanted him to leave me alone.
Now, I look back and wonder if Todd could have been any different.
Or, could I have been Todd? What circumstances in my house or influences in my life helped me to successfully navigate into my adult life?
What about the children in your home?
Do you have a Todd under your roof? What are you doing to help him along?
Life is Strange. Live it Well.