“What!” I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. “You really think that?”
“Yeah, course you did,” he grinned. “You fucking loved it. You laughed as much as we did. You kept coming back for more. You never complained. You were a great sport Elena. More kids should be like you. Have a bit of fun now and then.”
“You have got to be kidding me!” I was stunned. I wasn’t sure how to respond to this. They really thought it was harmless fun.
“No I didn’t fucking love being tormented by a bunch of older guys who thought that everyone was their play thing and they could treat people how they like. Do you know how much I hated that place because of you? How much more self conscious I became because of the way you singled out every little thing about me that I was already insecure about? How many nights I went to bed in tears because all I wanted was for people to like me?” I was really angry now.
“You say I kept coming back. Sure I did, I kept hoping that one day something would change and people would see I was a good person and would be nice to me. I wanted people to like me. I wanted to have some friends. But you guys treated me like dirt, everyone else followed you, because that’s what kids do, and no one wanted to be friends with me. I hated high school because of you and your mates. And now I find out you’re a school principal! That is so fucked up it’s not funny.”
“What happens to nervous overweight redhead grade 7s at your school Mick? Are they accepted into your community or are they allowed to be target practice for the cool guys in grade 10? Do any of them speak up? Does anyone listen to them if they do?”
“Hey, chill out sister,” he scoffed. “You’re way overreacting here. You really think that a few kids saying stuff about your boobs turned the whole school against you? Ruined your life? You look fine to me now. You have a big chip on your shoulder baby.”
I wanted to scream and smash my fist into his face. How dare he dismiss his treatment of me in the past because I “looked” fine now. I gritted my teeth.
“Listen you fucking bozo,” I replied, as calmly as possible. “If you said the stuff you said to me back then in a workplace, I would report you for sexual harassment, and I would have a case. You know that. So why would you think that because we were kids it’s ok to have said those things. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now. You were older than me. You were supposed to be setting an good example for other kids, not bullying and teasing them. Can you seriously not see that?”
“Take a chill pill mate,” he said. “Sexual harassment? Really? It was a bit of harmless schoolyard teasing. That’s all. And if you’re still hanging onto that 20 years later, maybe you need to let it go and move on. Do you think I thought about you one little bit after I left school? Not once. You were nothing to me, but it sounds like you’ve made me into this monster that’s been haunting you ever since. Let it go darling.”