The other day I found myself thinking of two different kids that I knew back in junior high that called me “friend.” Two very, very different kids.

Lewis Hibbard sat beside me. He was a stocky guy, some of it fat and some of it just bulk. He had an unusual mean streak, even for a junior high kid. He also chose his victims well, of which I was one. While Coach Dawson taught us American History, he would take a pen and jab it in my arm. It was more a stab than a poke. When he would get started, my arm would be bleeding by the time I left class. Without words, he dared me repeatedly to rat him out. Being a stupid kid in junior high that didn’t want to be the kind of kid to rat a guy out, I took it. I never said a word to anybody about what he was doing while our hapless teacher wasn’t paying attention. I am at once proud and angry at my silence.

He was a sadist then and I would be surprised if he wasn’t one now. I’m not sure what compels someone to stab a classmate. Yet despite the physical abuse, it never felt like he was picking on me. He never made fun of me. In fact, he never said anything negative to me at all that I can remember. In some perverse way, I think he considered me his friend. But nor did he do it because I was his friend… rather it seemed that I was his friend because I endured it.

One row over, two seats in front sat Orson Millard. Orson was a scrawny and short kid. He wasn’t smart enough to get in the honors class, though like me he stood out in the regulars. To Orson, I wasn’t a just a friend, I was his best friend. As far as I know, I was his only friend. I don’t recall being particularly nice to him, but since everyone else behaved so maliciously towards him, my relative indifference was the most kindness he’d seen.

In addition to being small and nerdy, he was also just a little bit weird. One day he mentioned, in passing, that his mother still bathed him. Had someone else said it we would have assumed that he was joking or lying to get attention, but he was nothing if not an earnest young man. Anyway, this little factual tidbit made its way around the classroom in very short order. Half the class was stunned, the other half couldn’t resist making fun of someone that was still being bathed by his mother at thirteen. The only person that came to his defense was the Coach Dawson, who said that his mother had bathed him when he was thirteen, too. It was his oafish attempt to get the kids to lay off, but it only confused us more.

Looking back and remembering meek little Orson, I wonder if rather than an odd little piece of creepy information what he told us was indicative of his timid, passive nature. I wonder what kind of mother continues to bathe her son at 13 and I don’t come up with very many benign answers. In fact, what comes to mind is a mother that likes to touch young men. If it were a father bathing his daughter at that age, it would almost certainly have caught the attention of the authorities. Looking back I think it should have been brought to their attention regardless.

Neither Lewis nor Orson went to high school with me. I figure that Orson just moved away and Lewis was probably placed in the district’s alternative school for thugs, troublemakers, and girls who found themselves pregnant.

I’d be interested in knowing what happened to each. I can’t image either story having a particularly happy ending.

Category: School

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3 Responses to Friends Differing

  1. Barry says:

    I’m sure all of us can look back and remember those certain individuals we grew up around whose behavior, appearance or personality was just not quite right. Sometimes, face it – and kids are cruel – they were just downright ugly or homely. Through no fault of their own, they were not blessed with a remotely attractive face or body and were made fun of once they got out of elementary school. I remember a couple of girls who were rather viciously ridiculed at various times because of their appearance. Did I do anything to defend them or stop the others? No. Now I wish I had, though. I have no idea whatever happened to them, though.

    There were other kids who had just odd characteristics and mannerisms (like the Ally Sheedy character in Breakfast Club) who were avoided and sometimes mocked.

    And others reacted with anger like they guy you mentioned with the pen because of who knows what reasons. Most likely home life, I assume. But they’re all over.

    I do hope that of all the people they (meaning of course, actually, we) made fun of in jr. high and high school made something of themselves, found themselves someone to love and love them back and are generally happy. Who knows, though.

  2. Abel says:

    Have you Googled their names? You’d be surprised by what you could find. I Googled the name of a classmate I was thinking about several months ago and found him on the state’s sex offender registry. Apparently he had a thing for little boys.

  3. Spungen says:

    Many of the nastiest people I’ve known in my life are people who were harassed or rejected due to physical appearance or size when they were young. I think there’s a big difference in effect between being harassed for that versus for other stuff (being poor, from the wrong neighborhood, the wrong race, having certain interests, being too smart, etc.) The latter just makes you pissed off and maybe awkward; the former seems to retard the moral core of one’s being.

    In fact, a friend and I came up with a term, “F-KIC Syndrome” (Fat Kid In The Class), to describe this. We had noticed that people, especially men, who had been overweight in junior high were all but certain to be pathological liars, rumormongers, manipulators and bullies, both as children and as adults. Then a study actually came out about grade-school children which backed this up, at least as to children.

    Guys who are small for their age at junior high often have egomania issues later. They usually aren’t as dysfunctional as the F-KICs though.

    Neither type can be trusted with authority, in my opinion.

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