Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trying To Fit In

TAIM grew up in a poor family. He wore hand-me-downs and glasses. His mother invented her own style of haircuts. The Pineapple, her personal favorite and her children's least favorite, involved buzzing off all the hair except for the bangs which hung over the eyes. The poorness, the sweat pants - these were all enough for the bullies of high school to relentlessly attack TAIM and his siblings. To make matters even worse, his family was also the one who went door-to-door with copies of The Watchtower. And, TAIM was the fat kid.

His junior year in high school TAIM took drama. He discovered he had a real talent for creating plays and acting in them. He and his brother won an award for creating an original humorous remake of a Shakespearean play. That's when he noticed that he had a talent for humor. He could make people laugh. And if he could make people laugh, they didn't pay as much attention to the poverty, the fatness and the religion. All he wanted was to fit in, to at least not stand out. Humor, through drama class, was his in.

One day at drama class, the teacher had to leave for a couple hours to attend to a family emergency. A girl he had been friends with for ages invited TAIM and his brother to her house to hang out with her and her brother. The kids went to the girl's house and hung out in her bedroom, laughing, talking, having a grand old time until it was time to return to drama class. TAIM knew that if his mother found out he had talked to a girl and been in a girl's bedroom there would be hell to pay, even if he had been with other boys. Even if their time together consisted of good, clean fun. But surely his mother would never find out.

The next day as class let out, TAIM heard the voice of a crazy woman and instantly cringed. He saw his mother running down the halls toward him, yelling his and his brother's names. "How could you do this to me?" she yelled when she finally saw them.

TAIM tried to shrink himself. He wished he had a special Alice in Wonderland potion that would make him two inches tall, because that's exactly how tall he felt. He wished he grew into the Hulk when provoked because then he'd show her. He wished he could sling webs out of his wrists and jump to the ceiling and crawl away.

"You went over to a girl's house! And you were in her bedroom! How could you do this to me?! What the fuck were you thinking?" his mother continued screaming.

The world stopped. Everyone in the hall froze in place and fixed their eyes on the crazy lady and her two mortified sons.

TAIM thought about defending himself. He thought about telling his mother to mind her own fucking business. He thought about punching her in the face right there in the middle of the hallway. He thought about taking off, just running away and never going back. He opened his mouth to speak, to explain why they did it, what they did, and how it wasn't bad, why they didn't first ask for permission. He closed his mouth, knowing it would do no good. Once she started, nothing could stop her. Rationalizations and explanations meant nothing to an irrational person.

"Did you make out?! Did you kiss her?! Did you have SEX?! How could you fucking do this to me?! After all I've done for you, this is the thanks I get? You sneak off to have fun while I'm at home worrying about you. Thinking that I could fucking trust you to be where you said you were."

A locker slammed somewhere down the hall, the only sound in the long hallway as TAIM's mom stood on her tiptoes with one finger in the face of her oldest son.

"It's your fault! You're the oldest. You should fucking know better!" she screamed at TAIM. "Dragging your poor brother along into your little fucking world of SIN!"

TAIM and his brother backed down the hallway and opened the double doors that would free them from the eyes of their classmates as their mother followed, still screaming. She mixed the Lord's name with eff words and ess words, dee words and aaa words. She called her children sinful. She called them ungrateful. She called them Satanic. Right there in front of the whole school - the kids he had tried so hard to convince that he may not be cool, but he could be funny and he was even an all right sort of guy, the teachers who had read his essays and shook their heads in disbelief. At that point they all believed. Belief - that wasn't what TAIM wanted. He wanted acceptance. He wanted a semblance of normalcy. Those things could never be, not after that day.

He returned to school the next day. Some kids looked away as he and his brother walked past. Some kids stared with open jaws and whispered amongst each other, not caring if TAIM and his brother saw people talking about them. Some kids grabbed them by the underwear and continued the cycle of bullying - the cycle their own mother had started.

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