After I’d survived a year of being the only outsider in North Mankato’s insular (if not inbred) Garfield Junior high a kid with bright red hair that looked like this fellow,
from the classic children’s storybook, Moptop, transferred into our school. Damned if I can recall his real name. The kids just called him Zeke.
He was tall and thin and pale and he had the most vividly red hair. I don’t know if he ever would have stood a chance. I had to fight my way to some sort of uneasy detente the year before. My classmates were a year older and had more testosterone coursing through their brains. Zeke was needled mercilessly. I remember the day we had to run in circles around the gym. I was asthmatic and had already had one bout of dying after a track team run. But if I was a lousy marathoner Zeke was a paralytic. On this particular day he ran around the gym a couple times, turned blue and began heaving very hard to take in oxygen. As he sat wheezing on the sidelines others glared at him contemptuously.
If Zeke had ever had the social skills to fit in he’d lost them by junior high. I recall him endlessly drawing spaceships during study hall and other sci fi stuff. I recall, because I could not be mean to him, thinking that he was a very sorry case. I can only hope that today he is laughing at all his old tormentors as a higher up in Industrial Light and Magic.
I doubt that he has been so fortunate. He left our school after a couple months and we asked no questions. A few months later it came to light in some vague news stories in the Mankato Free Press that the kids in the even tougher Lincoln Jr High, (when you’re a kid all other junior highs are more dangerous than your own) had set up a protection racket and were demanding that a new kid in their school hand over his lunch money or they’d beat the crap out of him. Word of mouth had it that it was Zeke.
If the Duluth school district hadn’t put all its treasure and the community’s trust into the God Damned Red Plan they might be able to focus on bullying. Cripes two weeks ago the News reported that there were three racially tinged fights at the brand spanking new East High School:
BTW. Hollywood’s rating system will guarantee that your kids don’t see this movie. Apparently the truth it shows will leave scars far deeper than junior high school students can.