I was bullied when I was younger and lemme tell you, it’s no cupcake party. The fifth grade was a mostly forgettable year for me. I was my own person, even from the time I was a kid. Unwilling to fit in just because it was everybody else’s way of doing business. As it was, there were a couple boys who let me know this kind of independent thinking wasn’t cool with them. We were kind of schizophrenic because there were times when the three of us were pretty tight and then there were times when they’d put their bully caps on and have at it. Larry was in my class and Peter was a grade higher than us, not to mention built like a fire hydrant. It was with great relief that Peter stopped coming to school one day, after which we found out he’d been picked up by the cops trying to steal a car.
It was closing in on the end of the school year, and right smack dab in the middle of peace time when Larry decided he was gonna challenge me to a fight after school. Nothing like a 3 o’clock high appointment with a bully to fuck up your entire school day.
No Peter meant no chance for Larry. After a brief wrestling match in which we took turns calling our respective families every kind of swear word we could muster up, I ended the intrigue with a single punch to his face. He stepped back to reveal a bloody nose, and then he started crying. All the kids started laughing as he picked up his books and ran home, but I didn’t feel especially good about kicking his ass. So I picked up my books and parted the crowd of kids and walked home. Truth be told I was more afraid that Larry’s mother was going to show up at my door than I was about Peter or anything else. But that, became that. It would be the last time I ever let a bully tell me the what’s what.
Fast forward to forever and a day later, and it’s early morning and all I was asking was for an iced coffee and a few minutes worth of alone time with it. And that’s when Larry and Peter came along; well, it wasn’t actually Larry and Peter in front of me, because not even yours truly is that lucky. It was just a couple of douchebags with nothing better to do than nothing better. The conversation taking place between these two sock puppets and the barista had been serving as background noise, until it became apparent this wasn’t playful banter going on.
When I tuned in to the conversation, they were giving the girl shit about her nose ring and insisting they should be getting their coffees for free. The look on her face told me everything I needed to know.
“We have a problem here fellas?”
“Huh?” The one dude said, doing a half turn to check me out.
“Do. You two guys? Have a problem?”
“Do you know this girl?” I asked.
“Okay well . . I do. And if you guys ain’t ordering, you’re holding up the line. This isn’t the free coffee Starbucks, I’m not sure what gave you that idea.”
I call it Verbal Judo, and I use it . . . yeah, judiciously. It’s like you’re karate chopping someone without having to go to jail, so there’s that. It’s the tone that settles the matter, and this one? Done got settled, as they ordered their drinks and got to stepping. They never looked my way again, and as with Larry on the playground, I wasn’t looking to embarrass them. They’d done a fine job of that on their own.
The barista thanked me for saving her job, because she had been holding a couple NSFW adjectives for the two stooges and was dangerously close to launching them. And then, as I went to pay for my drink, the lady in back of me let the barista know she was taking care of that.
Call it playground justice, Imma go with instant karma. It’s free and it’s delicious.