A few weeks ago, I joined Facebook.
Every time I visit the site, I feel like I’m attending a mini reunion. But I don’t have to worry about what I’m wearing or how I plan to avoid people I never liked.
Yesterday, I got a Facebook message from someone I hadn’t spoken to since I got my first training bra. For privacy, we’ll call her Bertha. Shall we?
Can’t tell you how shocked I was to read an apology from Bertha.
Yep, after all these years, she actually told me she was sorry for making my life horrible, every single day during the 27-minute bus ride home from school, for several months of my 8th grade year.
Opening that apology took me back immediately to that afternoon when my temper got the best of me.
After months of being called names, months of being bullied, months of bawling my head off because this girl hated my guts but I honestly didn’t know why, I reached my limit.
“In 10 minutes, I’ll meet you at the ditch,” I said. “I’m going to beat your hind-end for you and shut your mouth. You better show up.”
I said it like I was a boxer in training, like I was in the habit of slugging anybody any time. I said it without the slightest tremor in my voice.
“Oh don’t worry,” Bertha said with a sneer. “I’ll be there.”
I flew into my house, grabbed every single turn-your-finger-green ring I had from my ballerina jewelry box and turned my shaky hands into dime store-value brass knuckles.
Then I raced back up the road, while my mom stood on porch yelling, “Sherri, get back here. Girls don’t fight. You’re not fighting that girl.”
My mind was made up, though. My dignity was at stake here. There was no turning back.
When I reached the ditch, which bordered my aunt’s house and the neighbor’s, I very boldly offered Bertha the first punch, which she gladly accepted. The fight officially began with her right hook clipping my left eye.
We went down, rolling, punching, yelling.
I tried to recall some wrestling moves — maybe a headlock. But you can’t do much when you’re face down in dirt with someone’s knee on the back of your neck, you know.
As we rolled around in the ditch, I tried to stay focused. How exactly does a fight go? Shouldn’t I make her bleed somewhere so I can say I’m the winner? How can I possibly take aim for a vulnerable area — say her big, smart mouth — when she’s yanking my hair out by the roots?
When the fight ended, Bertha’s entire mouth print was imprinted on my left arm, since she had alligator teeth.
I snagged her down the side of the face with my big, gaudy butterfly ring and the gash was bleeding, which, in my book, made me the champion.
Bertha hadn’t said one more tiny word to me after the ditch fight — until yesterday, when I got that apology.
And I simply smiled and wrote back, “How have you been the last 35 years?”
You must be logged in to post a comment.