“When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don’t be surprised if they learn their lesson”

Today is heavy with humidity. It has the look and feel of rain which won’t come, but its possibility will hang in the air all day. Nothing stirs, not a leaf, not a spawn, not a dog named Gracie. I’m already thinking nap, and I only woke up a couple of hours ago.

Yesterday I went grocery shopping. I was out of cat food, the only thing which forces me to shop. The aisles were filled with abandoned carts leaving no room on either side to pass. The cart owners were checking shelves and jars up and down the aisles. I moved a couple of carts to give me space and got such looks you’d think I was abusing children or small animals.

Sunday by its very nature is languid. On the seventh day he rested seems still to be a piece of the day. I went to church, stayed close to home and ate a big Sunday dinner. It was the same every week, and I think remnants of those Sundays are still part of my every Sunday. Seldom do I go anywhere other than breakfast. I do a wash every now and then, but that’s a leftover from my working days when I stayed home, changed the bed, did the laundry and corrected papers every Sunday afternoon. I also took a nap.

Elaine Clapper was always the target in my class. Every kid, make that mostly every boy, said she smelled. That Elaine was not especially attractive or smart or funny made her an easy target. The teasing was covert: laughing behind her back or pointing at her as she walked away. Most kids had little to do with Elaine. She was usually isolated. I think we girls were afraid of being drawn into her circle and becoming another Elaine. We all said hi, but that was the extent of our interaction. Once I invited her to my house. I don’t know why. I think I just felt sorry for her. She came. I have no recollection of how we spent the afternoon. I never invited her again. She went to the local high school, and I didn’t. I never saw or heard about Elaine Clapper again. I wish I were braver back then.

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9 Comments on ““When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don’t be surprised if they learn their lesson””

  1. olof1 Says:

    Much the same weather over here right now but with the exception of strong winds (and it did rain earlier today). I wasn´r supposed to take a nap today but fell asleep in front of the tv 🙂 I can´t remember my dreams but I woke up thinking they were really strange 🙂 🙂

    I guess all classes has a child like Elaine and I guess we all wish we had been braver back then. Now days those people has started to sue the different schools that never tried to help them and they usually win as well 🙂 But we don´t come close to the sums You in the US can get when winning a case like that. But I think that just winning is the biggest reward after all.

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • Kat Says:

      Christer,
      It never ended up raining at all today. It just got humid. I tried to nap but didn’t, just relaxed on the couch.

      There are laws here against bullying. They were enacted after a girl committed suicide because of constant bullying. I’m for whatever it takes to stop it!

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      The day stayed humid and stifling like someone had you around the neck. I even turned on the house central air conditioner.

      I always felt sorry for Elaine. No one should ever be singled out, but I don’t think I was strong enough as a little kid to stop the teasing. I guess I didn’t want to singled out either.

  2. Bob Says:

    Kids are just mean. I think we all have a mean streak which we suppress as we get older. Those of us who don’t learn how to control that mean streak generally wind up in the penitentiary or find a legal outlet by fighting a war someplace.

    I once had a student who was a retired army helicopter pilot. This guy was a large man who was one of the first people I met who shaved his bald head to look mean. He had a very nasty personality and loved to order underlings around like a drill sergeant.

    We were flying together from Houston to Miami, in 1980, at 35,000 ft. above the Gulf of Mexico. During a casual conversation about what he did in the war, he proceeded to tell me that he missed the Viet Nam war. When I asked him why, he replied that he loved to kill people and that you could only legally kill people in a war. I was relived that he could suppress his killer instincts away from the battle field.

    A few months later I was working with another retired army helicopter pilot and asked him if he know the first guy since they were both stationed in the army at the same post. He replied that they fought together in the same outfit during the Viet Nam war. He told me that the first pilot was crazy. Unfortunately, I didn’t need him to confirm my suspicions. The first guy would fly his cobra helicopter back to the battle field where they had fought earlier in the day to look for dead enemy soldiers and scalp them. He had a collection of scalps hanging all around his quarters.

    Since then I learned that the crazy scalper had died of cancer in the 1990s.

    I would love to find out how many of the mean kids I avoided in Jr. High school were either killed or injured in a war or died in prison.

    • Kat Says:

      Bob,
      I agree about kids being mean. They never stop to think of feelings and those that do are afraid to step away from the mob mentality.

      That is one sick man.

      I have always wondered what happened to Elaine.

  3. Zoey & Me Says:

    Elaine? You ask? She grew up to be a Tea Party Advocate. . . just kidding. . . but when I think of the kids who stood out because of their sad plight in life it’s like watching them all over again on TV when you see Tea Party people protesting. Don’t they look like those kids in High School that always answered “Duh” to every question? It’s not funny, I’m sure, but somehow appropriate. We had the same drill you did. But it is amazing, I think, that all three kids in the same family trained to go to Catholic Church every Sunday or face dying in eternal hell hardly stepped foot in a church once we had our own place. What’s the count to Ghana?

    • Kat Says:

      Z&Me,
      I don’t think she had much of a chance. She lived in the lower project, the one which was always unkempt and seemed filled with problems. She wasn’t stupid but it was difficult to tell as she seldom spoke up, afraid of ridicule I suppose.

      13 days!

  4. Lori Kossowsky Says:

    I think you were brave to invite Elaine over; I bet not many children did that. Remember the “cooties”– yes children can be cruel. I think they learn it from their older sisters 🙁 Some teachers know that it is happening and don’t do anything to stop it. Now bullying in the schools comes with guns..or internet bullying. What a world.

    • katry Says:

      Lori,
      I wish I were braver and could stop Elaine being the brunt of the jokes.

      I do remember cooties and how that branded you for ever!


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