I was thinking about further events to write about as I mentioned in the post I wrote for Carla Louise – this post is about some events in 6th/7th grade when I lived in Alice Springs, Australia. It has some relation to Carla’s series on rape culture, yet is also a little more thematically different so I felt it was better suited to my page… because memories. Boys. Analyzing feelings. Regrets. All that. Anyway – enjoy 🙂
I was in 6th grade, it was the end of the year and I went to an orientation social dance event at the school I would be attending the next year – St Philips College. It was an event where the current 7th graders would be so all of us younger kids would get to meet them and I guess not be so uncomfortable in our surroundings when we arrived the next year.
I sat on a table that was up against a wall, not really confident in my dance skills. I believe my neighbour Erin was there as well as she was to be in my new class. It was dimly lit, I seem to remember disco like lighting and the song “Turnaround” playing.
A redhead current-7th grader hopped on the table and slid until he was right up against me, putting his arm around me in one fell swoop. He turned on his charm and said “Hey baby,” just as I reacted and pushed him so that he slid right back off the table again. He was put out and said he was just trying to be friendly or something. On one hand I felt a little bad for his failed efforts, but on the other hand… Erin and I laughed.
His name was Neal. The next year, once I had started attending St Philips, he had become less “friendly” towards me. I knew it was likely because of that occurrence a few months prior, but it probably didn’t help that I was now the 7th grader while he was an all-mighty 8th grader.
Our lockers were near each other and he would hang around there sometimes between classes and wait for me when he knew I would usually stop by. That sounds so much more sinister than it seemed at the time… But he did go out of his way to tease me or bully me a bit. The teasing was also often sexual in nature. He would periodically, especially at the beginning, try asking me out or make other advances to make it clear somehow that he liked me…. The teasing supposedly being a front to hide behind, I later realized. Eventually he stopped with the even remotely sincere compliments and requests. Eventually it was all about being mean to me as much as he could.
One day, I was in the library looking at some books during my lunch break. I picked up a book called “Fatima” which was a YA book in a series about a group of teens and their various life issues. Fatima being about a Muslim girl growing up in the West (I can’t recall now if it was a British or Australian book) and her domineering father not allowing her to be a “normal” teen like her friends. I digress.
I was looking at this book and considering if it would be my next read, when Neal called out to me from a table in the vicinity. He said something about his friend wanting to meet me. I turned and another, very cute, boy was telling Neal to shut up in urgent hushed tones. He then looked at me, waved, and told me I had nice hair.
I distrusted his sincerity, likely given that he was with Neal, and gave him a dirty look. Later he approached me and apologized for Neal’s behaviour in the library – in which I believe I made a snarky remark.
This boy’s name was Sean. I do wish I had been nicer to him from the beginning, because I realized fairly quickly he had seemed to be more sincere, yet when he was shot down he started to act more along the lines of the rejected-Neal had, though not usually as frequently aggressive or predatory. Once I started to try to be nicer to him, he now had the reason to distrust my intentions.
We argued frequently, if not at school, we at least rode the same bus for part of our journey to and from school. Memories are more from the bus depot in that case. I remember once offering him a coke I had bought from the food mart that was right next to the depot, I was actually trying to be nice. Make a peace offering of sorts. He threw it away believing I had done something nasty to it and that I was trying to trick him.
Regardless, this boy too, utilized insults and threats that were often sexual or physical in nature. I don’t recall what the argument was about, but he once threatened that he would rape me several times while we were at the bus depot after school.
One other main incident I recall was during a swim day at the town pool – we were on opposing House teams and there were various races our Houses competed in. Our Houses were grouped on separate sides of the pool and we both were periodically finding ourselves on each other’s sides playing tricks on each other… until I poured some suntan lotion down his back… Then he picked up a piece of wood that had a nail protruding from it and proceeded to beat me across the legs with it while he pulled my hair… luckily the nail rarely making contact, but I had several purple welts across the back of my legs.
While it affected my ability to swim after that (my legs gave out halfway through my next race and I nearly drowned), I for some reason didn’t hold a grudge against him for that.
For some reason I had grown to like him – genuinely – and I felt bad that our dealings with each other had ended up this way.
I made some comment to my mother one day about all of this – I didn’t mention the rape threats or the beating me with that piece of wood – just general comments of meanness and I wished we could get along better or something. I don’t remember exactly what I said. I mentioned his full name – Sean Morrison – not thinking that my mother would know anything about him. Some weeks later my mother went to his mother’s house for some dinner party. My mother hadn’t made the connection as she wasn’t aware that Mrs Morrison had a teenage son.
But he poked his head around the corner to get his mum’s attention and she pulled him out and introduced him to everyone. It clicked in my mum’s head and she mentioned what I said to his mum… Laughing. I believe my mum was thinking it was a matter of young love type mean-because-we-like-each-other teasing etc.
The next Monday at school he ripped me to shreds for telling on him and said he had gotten in trouble and was told to be nice to me. He wanted nothing more to do with me. I tried to explain I wasn’t trying to get him in trouble and that when I said something at home I didn’t realize my mum even knew his mum. I apologized, but he didn’t accept my apology.
For a long time I had wished I wasn’t such a snob to either of those boys when I first met them. For a long time I wished that Sean at least would have accepted my apology if nothing else. On the other hand, I do now realize these events weren’t all my fault. It wasn’t my responsibility to make them feel good either.
And hey, now that I’ve written this all down, even if I had been nice and perhaps started something up with Sean… he clearly displayed anger issues (common in boys that age to be fair) and could very well have ended up the first abuser instead of Wyatt. I mean, come on… he hit me with a plank of wood with a freaking nail in it out of anger.
I have once or twice tried to look him up on Social media to see if contact could be made and a more sincere, adult, conversation could be had. I would assume by now he has grown up and these apparent coping mechanisms and teen hormone fuelled outbursts would no longer be an issue. I know I have changed a LOT since that time. I do regret a lot of what I said and did myself…
Anyway, you would not believe how many Sean Morrisons (and other related spellings) are on Facebook. OMG.
I doubt he’d ever see this. I wonder if he’d even remember me or even half these events. Perhaps he remembers the mean things I said much more clearly than I do myself… Maybe my mean words didn’t even matter that much to him and were forgotten promptly.
I don’t know… But Sean… if you’re out there… I’m sorry for my part in all of this. I would hope you’d be apologetic too. Some of your behaviour was understandable to me, even then, some was not okay.
We were both stupid and young and didn’t know how to handle whatever we were feeling. I actually did really like you, and I was dumb and cocky. I’m sorry. I wish we could have been friends at the least.