Good Math, Bad Math

This comment thread has gotten long enough to start causing some server
load problems. As a result, I’m closing the comments here, and I’ve added a new
post where discussions of this past can continue.

If you’re not interested in completely off-topic personal rambling, stop reading now. This is very off-topic. But I wanted to say this once, and I wanted to do it in a way where I had some control over the publicly viewable responses. I will not be following my usual commenting guidelines here – anything which I consider to be abusive will be deleted, with no warning.

I graduated from high school in 1984. Which means that this year is my graduating
class’s 25th year reunion. As a result, a bunch of people from my high school class have been trying to friend me on facebook, sending me email, and trying to convince me to come to the reunion.

I don’t feel like replying to them individually, which is why I’m writing here.

As pretty much any reader of this blog who isn’t a total idiot must have figured out by now, I’m a geek. I have been since I was a kid. My dad taught me about bell curves and standard deviations when I was in third grade, and I thought it was pretty much the coolest damn thing I’d ever seen. That’s the kind of kid I was. I was also very small – 5 foot 1 when I started high school, 5 foot three my junior year. Even when I shot up in height, to nearly 5 foot eleven between junior and senior year, I weighed under 120 pounds. So think small, skinny, hyperactive, geek.

Like most geek kids, I had a rough time in school. I don’t think that my experience was particularly unusual. I know a lot of people who had it worse. But I think that it was slightly worse than average, because the administration in the school system that I went to tolerated an extraordinary amount of violent bullying. Almost every geeky kid gets socially ostracized. Almost all get mocked. In fact, almost all face some physical abuse. The main determinant of just how much physical abuse they get subjected to is the school administration. And the administration at my school really didn’t care: “Bruises? He must just be uncoordinated and bumps into things. Broken fingers? Hey, it happens. We’re sure it must have been an accident. What do you want, an armed guard to follow your kid around?”

In high school, I didn’t have a single real friend in my graduating class. I had a
very few friends who graduated a year before me; I had a few who graduated one or two years after me. But being absolutely literal, there was not a single person in my graduating class who came close to treating me like a friend. Not one.

Like I said before, the way I was by my classmates in high school was pretty typical for a geek. At best, I was ignored. At worst, I was beaten. In between, I was used as a sort of status enhancer: telling people that you’d seen me doing some supposedly awful or hysterical thing was a common scheme for getting ahead in certain social circles. In the most extreme case, someone painted a swastika onto the street in front of my house with gasoline, and lit it. (In autumn, in a wooded neighborhood.)

I’m can’t even pretend that I wasn’t an easy target, or that I didn’t respond in a way that encouraged my tormentors. I was a hyperactive geek. My social skills were awful. I don’t think that I deserved the way that I was treated; but at the same time, I do think that my hyperactivity and my lack of social skills both helped make me such a good target, and discouraged anyone from intervening on my behalf.

But I don’t think that that excuses anyone who abused me. It doesn’t excuse the
bastards who made up stories about me. It doesn’t justify the people who threw me against walls. It doesn’t explain the guy who broke my fingers, because he wanted to know what it would sound like. And it doesn’t absolve the people who watched, and laughed while that happened.

Now it’s twenty five years since I got out of that miserable fucking hell-hole. And people from my high school class are suddenly getting in touch, sending me email, trying to friend me on Facebook, and trying to convince me to bring my family to the reunion. (It’s a picnic reunion, full family invited.) Even some of the people who used to beat the crap out of me on a regular basis are getting in touch as if we’re old friends.

My reaction to them… What the fuck is wrong with you people? Why would you think that I would want to have anything to do with you? How do you have the chutzpah to act as if we’re old friends? How dare you? I see the RSVP list that one of you sent me, and I literally feel nauseous just remembering your names.

The only positive thing that ever came out of my time with you people is that my children are studying karate. My son will, most likely, have his black belt by the time he finishes fourth grade. He’s a hyperactive little geek, just like me. He’ll probably go through some social grief, just like I did. But when some fucker like one of you tries to lay a hand on him or one of his friends, he’ll beat the living crap out of them. One of the mantras that his karate school follows is: Never start a fight, but if a fight starts, always be the one to finish it. And that’s what he’ll be able to do. To definitively finish any fight that anyone starts with him in a way that will teach his abusers and their cohorts to stay the fuck away.

And that’s all that I want from you. Stay the fuck away from me. I don’t want to hear about your lives. I don’t want to know how you’ve changed since high school. I don’t want to hear about your jobs, your spouses, your children. I’ve got a good life now,
and I cannot imagine a reason in the world why I would pollute that world with contact with any of you.

Comments

  1. #1 khan
    July 16, 2009

    I understand completely.

    I was the fat, ugly, girl geek with Asperger’s.

  2. #2 usagi
    July 16, 2009

    Good for you on all counts, Mark.

  3. #3 Chris
    July 16, 2009

    You don’t think you got it worse than others? A burning swastika? Broken fingers? What school did you go to? Where was this in the states?

    I was a geek in school too, and was fortunately not beaten up strictly on account of my size, but even the kids that did get beaten up didn’t have anything that bad happen to them (that I know of). That’s crazy!

    Of course, you can’t stop the verbal and emotional abuse, which I did have to put up with.

    Good for you for telling those assholes to stay away from you.

  4. #4 John Moeller
    July 16, 2009

    I was lucky enough to have good friends in high school, but I definitely took my licks, for the same reasons as you. By 9th grade I was lucky to be tall and broad, but the social aspects sound chillingly familiar. Thanks for writing this.

  5. #5 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 16, 2009

    Re #3:

    I went to school in suburban New Jersey.

    And no, I don’t think I got it worse than others. Most of my friends are people who were also outcasts in high school, and the stories that I’ve heard from them are pretty similar to what I went through. Like I said, the main difference is that my high school’s administration tolerated more than most other schools would. But still, I know plenty of people who’ve been through worse than me.

    The swastika was horrible. But to be clear, it really wasn’t so much an antisemitic act as it was an anti-me act. That is, I know who did it, and in general, he didn’t have any problem with Jews. But he knew that a swastika would really get to me – and he did it for that reason.

    (In that case, he wound up getting a well-deserved punishment. My older brother, while as uncoordinated as I am, happens to be a *big* guy – a little over 6 feet, and not fat, but build big – broad shoulders, etc. The asshole who did it was walking by our house laughing at one point, and my brother threw a fit… Beat the living crap out of him. My brother was certainly not a skilled fighter by any stretch of the imagination – but if you’ve got reach and mass, you can do a damned good job of pummeling the crap out of someone smaller who also isn’t a skilled fighter.

    Of course, he took it out on me later.)

  6. #6 TonyC
    July 16, 2009

    Bravo Mark

    I had similar experiences – although I was ‘large’ (beached whale) I was similarly bullied. Although I never suffered broken bones, I was often forced into fights (more often than not, three or more versus me). Being the ‘bigger kid’ no-one took seriously my complaints of being bullied. I was labelled a bully by the administration, and almost suspended – despite being a straight A student.

    I had some other ‘geeks’ whom I spoke with – but no friends. I don’t think I’d even recognize any of them (30 years later). I feel pretty certain none of them would recognize me.

    I too have made certain my kids are equipped for life in their own fashion, and able to deal with the assholes they’ll find without compromising their ‘selfhood’.

    My son is a self proclaimed ‘geek’ – he also plays in the marching band — but he plays in a rock band too, and is generally a very cool kid, just not a ‘cool kid’. My daughter isn’t old enough for the politics yet, but we have similar hopes for her.

  7. #7 William
    July 16, 2009

    My 30th reunion was this past weekend and I ended up not going either. My high school experience was not as bad as yours, but I did suffered my share of ostracizing. I had a few friends in my class, but none of them ended up going either. So I’m glad I didn’t waste my time with a bunch of people I have no interest in. I am also glad to have gotten back in touch with a couple people I haven’t seen in a long time.

  8. #8 Erin
    July 16, 2009

    I can totally relate to this. I moved to a new school in New Jersey for my senior year. I was picked on and treated like dirt. I was kind of geeky, but I tried my best to fit in. There was one kid who just wouldn’t leave me alone. He broke into my locker and destroyed my stuff. He lifted my skirt up (unbelievably embarrassing)in the hallway. He also, slashed one of my tires at the mall. This guy was the meanest person I have ever met.

    I have no desire to see him or anyone I went to school with. I still remember what happened, but I am having a great life now and I won’t revisit those years any time soon. Mark, it sounds like you’ve got it together. Great post!!!

  9. #9 Luke Zapart
    July 16, 2009

    Mark, get out of my head :)

    I got the same story, except once, something snapped in me and I thought I needed to fight back. So I figured out various ways to control the unwashed masses and channel their idiocy to something else other than me. All in all, that was one of the most interesting experiences of school for me.

    And I think I had it worse most nerds. With all my skill and intelligence, I was put into the class that had the most idiots in primary school (a school with around 1000 pupils). So naturally, they formed a gang where whoever’s mother was the biggest drunk or crackwhore was the ruler.

    And I feel your pain on the ‘invites’ thing. Throughout my school life, I had people convincing me I ‘should’ go to the prom, that the school trip is something I ‘will never forget’, etc. etc.

    Luke

  10. #10 Comrade PhysioProf
    July 16, 2009

    Dude, I totally hear where you’re coming from. In relation to your son, however, I would counsel caution that you do not live out your own totally understandable fantasies of retribution through him.

  11. #11 Matthew Platte
    July 16, 2009

    Haa! You had me at “standard deviations”. Well said. My high school’s main building was destroyed by a tornado last year. Sadly, the death of one of the school’s neighbors tempered my glee at the leveling of my own private hell hole.

  12. #12 Martin
    July 16, 2009

    Mark, what are you doing in my head? I graduated in 1985 from a high school in suburban New Jersey. I didn’t experience the degree of physical abuse that you did, but I came in for an extraordinary amount of psychological abuse. To this day I’m convinced that the only reason I didn’t dope myself numb was that I was too socially inept to score drugs, and the only reason I didn’t kill myself was that I was sure I’d just screw it up and bring even more trouble my way.

    What IS it with these people? Do they just not remember what they did? Did they truly not understand what they were doing at the time? Or (I suspect) they remember perfectly well AND they still think it was no big deal?

  13. #13 Noadi
    July 16, 2009

    I similarly didn’t have a great experience at one of the highschools I attended. I was lucky enough to get out and go to a science and math highschool for a year and a half that was full of geeks which I credit for getting me out of my shell, I was very shy prior to going there.

    I did not have it as bad as you, I think being a girl and the fact my mom was a teacher shielded me from the type of physical abuse you went through. Girls rarely physically attack each other and the double standard about boys hitting girls has it’s benefits, but they can be very cruel in other ways. My appearance was constantly mocked because I wasn’t dressed in the latest styles, had frizzy curly hair, and wore thick glasses up until the end of senior year when I got contacts (for vanity of course but imagine my shock when I can see better with them than glasses).

    I haven’t decided if I’ll go to my highschool reunions, 10 years is coming up soon. The couple good friends I had in highschool I’m still in touch with so it’s not like I never see them and the rest I don’t care to see again. On the other hand I have my immature vindictive streak and would like to show them what my life is like now since I’m happy and have had some modest success with my business.

  14. #14 Ruziklan
    July 16, 2009

    Geek do you say? In former Czechoslovakia we were more “diligent pupils” than geeks. As far as I remember, I was slightly bullied in grammar school (till 14), but then I fortunately enrolled a class with extended mathematics – there were about 5 such classes in secondary schools all over Slovakia (to get a picture, there are just about 5 million citizens). And although I was still bigger geek than my friends, overall it was very good. Pity we missed the last reunion.

    Also perhaps in socialist times there was less bullying in schools than now. My friends teachers complain a lot about the behaviour of pupils, it has deteriorated considerably.

  15. #15 Matt
    July 16, 2009

    Facebook needs another status than “Friend”. Perhaps “Keep Track of This Person so I Can Avoid Them”?

  16. #16 Rev Matt
    July 16, 2009

    Bravo! I had a similar experience (sans breakage) all through Jr High and a slightly reduced level of trauma at my first high school. I have gotten friend requests from some of the perpetrators and my reaction has been the same as yours: WTF is wrong with you, moron? I think they genuinely don’t realize what assholes they were back then and have never considered how miserable they made my teenage years. Which doesn’t excuse them in any way, it just strikes me as a little bizarre that they can look back on those days and think we were friends at all.

  17. #17 Dave M
    July 16, 2009

    Good post, even if it wasn’t really meant for us. I went to school in suburban NJ as well, and while I was never beaten up, and quite a few people were perfectly decent to me, there was never any chance that I would even consider going to a reunion. So I can well imagine what your own attitude is.

  18. #18 xebecs
    July 16, 2009

    Wow. I need to recalibrate my position on the “how bad could it get?” scale.

    As far as I’m concerned, the number one problem in our schools is the bullying problem. Fix that, and a lot of the other stuff falls into place. Well okay, it doesn’t do much to fix CRAPPY TEXTBOOKS, but that’s another story.

  19. #19 D. C. Sessions
    July 16, 2009

    There but for the grace of being the biggest kid in the class two years ahead of me …

    What’s really funny is that all of them have totally edited their version of those years. Seriously — today they’re undoubtedly totally sincere, and their memories are of a wonderful time. They’re sure that you were as happy as they think they were.

    At my 30th (which I attended on behalf of a very dear lifelong friend who’d just died) I was damn near swarmed by women who would have crawled through ditches to avoid me back in the day. (In fact, I’m pretty sure some did.) Hearing what they remembered was amazing — but at the reunion, they had daughters in high school, and the values of a 50yo mother aren’t those of a high-school girl. In their totally-fictitious memories, I was a great guy.

    Creepy.

  20. #20 cambrico
    July 16, 2009

    I agree 100% with you. I felt like I left prison when I graduated from an all men catholic school where the worst people were the ones with most participation in mass activities. You couldn’t win ever. If a complaint was made, everybody judged you as a cry baby coward or a stool pidgeon. If you figth back, they just have a perfect excuse to beat you. If you do nothing, that was almost all the time, they destroy your selfesteem.
    I hate all that but it made me stronger: now hardly anyone can affect my selfesteem in any way and I don’t yield under peer presure if I don’t agree. I raised my kids, succesfully, to became good students with high social skills, and allways teach them to show respect to any one without those skills. I don’t want revenge nor I will make anything against any of those bullies if I ever have the opportunity. That is now ancient history, but Mark spoke for all us that suffered through high school.

  21. #21 Ben
    July 16, 2009

    I didn’t notice much in the way of bullying when in high school. Hopefully it’s more of an indication that the problem wasn’t there than luck on my part.

  22. #22 Cricket
    July 16, 2009

    Thank you for posting this!

  23. #23 Aaron Erickson
    July 16, 2009

    One of the biggest reasons people don’t trust their government is because, for many, school is an early and meaningful formative experience in demonstrating just how ineffective the government is at protecting the vulnerable – even in a highly controlled situation compared to the world at large.

    I too went through this experience, complete with the physical abuse that would probably not be tolerated in most prisons. Which is why public school feels like you are leaving prison when you graduate for many.

  24. #24 jim
    July 16, 2009

    Great post Mark. Sorry you had to go through such a horrible experience. You have every right to feel the way you do. Glad you have a good family life now.

  25. #25 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 16, 2009

    Re #10:

    PP, I would have thought you knew me better than that.

    What’s past is past. I can’t go back and undo what people did to me. Having my kid attack someone else’s kid won’t help me in any way. I’m not living out my fantasies through him – I’m just making sure that he has the tools to defend himself.

    His Karate dojo is wonderful, and he loves doing it. It’s actually a very gentle dojo… They really stress the “never start a fight” thing, and mean it. Fighting is an awful last resort, to be avoided if at all possible.

    I hope he never has to actually use his karate. But if some bully decides to use him as a punching bag, he’ll be able to stop it. If no one ever does, the karate will have taught him coordination, discipline, and focus, which are great things to have – particularly when you’ve got a tendency towards hyperactivity.

  26. #26 Spaulding
    July 16, 2009

    Broke your fingers on purpose!? That is criminal and psychotic.

    I don’t know about that guy, but consider that many people reach a stronger moral perspective (one less subservient to peer status concerns) after high school. There’s a reason “Lord of the Flies” was written about school kids.

    I suspect a lot of the people who reveled in doing nasty things to classmates nevertheless grew up to be ok people. Maybe they’re appalled at their past behavior, or maybe they’ve conveniently forgotten.

    You’re certainly under no obligation to offer your absolution or to play along with their whitewashed memories, or even to acknowledge them at all. But don’t assume they’re the same people they were then. Luckily, some people grow up.

  27. #27 geek
    July 16, 2009

    It’s funny how people grow up, and you might actually like some of them now.

    (Says the former geek who really enjoyed his 20th.)

  28. #28 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 16, 2009

    Re #27:

    Yeah, they might have grown up. Most of them probably have. Yeah, I might like some of them if I saw them again. By why would I *want* to?

    There are plenty of people in the world who I might like if I did something that gave me the chance to meet them.

    Why should I waste my time on this particular group?

  29. #29 Deen
    July 16, 2009

    Someone broke your fingers just for fun? Wow… I really hope you are wrong that you didn’t get it worse than others, because that’s pretty extreme in my book.

    Hearing this, I’m glad I didn’t have it this bad. I think I was lucky that I was always one of the tallest in my year, because I hardly suffered any physical abuse. There even were some other cast-outs I could be reasonably friendly with. Still, I have no urge at all to ever go to any high school reunion (and have in fact skipped some already).

  30. #30 Michael
    July 16, 2009

    Good for you. Why spend money on a hotel just to bring back bad memories and/or give people a chance to feel better about themselves for being friendly with you now?

    In my case I ultimately was lucky enough to be able to get out of public school and entered an “adult high school” at 16. These are the places people go to get high school equivalent diplomas but in my case I went there for a real diploma. Day and night classes. What that school lacked was: No prom, no real cliques to speak of, no rules against smoking, and no rules about attendance except for the fact that you’d simply get dropped from your classes for lack of attendance. In my state (FL) enrollment in school until you’re 18 was required for a driver’s license so the first day of class most classes were full. After week 2, classes were left with just the 5-10 who actually cared.

    That said, from around sixth grade through tenth grade I could not have been less happy and my story sounds just a small percentage as bad as yours. Again, good for you. You’ll have more fun staying home.

    Send a link to your blog (and this post) to a few people so they are sure to see how you feel.

  31. #31 Spaulding
    July 16, 2009

    When I was in HS, my friends and I would frequently insult each other and beat on each other (without intent to injure). It’s a weird male thing.
    One of our friends took this more personally than we realized. Maybe the lack of siblings or the mother/grandmother household meant he hadn’t learned the social pattern we were following.
    But we really were (are) his friends and never intended more than the good-natured ribbing that we exchanged with the rest of our group. It would have been unfortunate if he never figured it out and left with bad memories.

    That said, some of you are talking about pretty damn unambiguous bullying. My anecdote is not relevant to such situations, and is not meant to be patronizing.

  32. #32 D. C. Sessions
    July 16, 2009

    For those who missed John Katz’ essay on why high school is designed to suck the first time around:

    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=99/04/25/1438249

  33. #33 Hillbilly Scientist
    July 16, 2009

    I had essentially the same experience in suburban SoCal.

    A couple years ago I accidentally crossed paths with one of the guys who tortured me decades ago. His memories of our time in high school was completely different than mine. He honestly believed that we had been friends. He had “fun” with me. Apparently, asymmetrical interactions produce asymmetrical perceptions. Although his current feelings seem to be genuine, I still don’t like him.

  34. #34 Uncephalized
    July 16, 2009

    Wow. Your story makes me really glad that I went to a small private school where academic achievement was actually valued (by teachers and students both), and abuse of that sort was not tolerated. If I heard of someone getting their fingers intentionally broken by another student at my old HS, I would be shocked. And that student would certainly be “told on” by other students and “asked to withdraw” immediately. What you went through is fucked up, Mark, and for the sake of everyone else, I hope that is well outside the norm even in large public schools.

  35. #35 Luke
    July 16, 2009

    Awesome.

  36. #36 Yetow
    July 16, 2009

    Well it’s not like it interfered with your future prospects, mr. PhD google computer scientist. I would love to trade high school experience with you – broken fingers heal, but some some things never do… That’s not to say it’s okay or anything, of course, though.

    Also, I think the karate thing is in a way silly. That time could be spent learning social skills instead, and in my experience karate is not very useful in practice, I used to get in fights with my brother (during high school) that knew karate and still win. Also, you get hit in the head quite a bit with the sparring they do.

    It’s a sport, though, fine for exercise, but soccer builds social skills in addition to that….

  37. #37 JRQ
    July 16, 2009

    My experience in High school was similar qualitatively, but not as severe. Still, I skipped my 10th reunion for exactly the same reason — I’m not the least bit interested in seeing those people again.

  38. #38 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 16, 2009

    Re #36:

    So what, the fact that I managed to turn out OK makes everything all better? I’m fine now, so I should forgive and forget, and be best buddies with the fuckers who abused me? Bullshit.

    I happen to be very lucky that I have a very supportive family that kept me together through high school, and that I made some very good friends in college that helped my work my way through the emotional scars of those years of abuse.

    None of that takes away from the fact that the abuse I was subjected to was inexcusable. Nor does it change my argument the least bit: I don’t want to see those people ever again.

    (And as for your parenting advice… You don’t know my kids, so mind your own damn business.)

  39. #39 Steve
    July 16, 2009

    I had a similarly miserable experience although I can’t help but blame myself for not fitting in well enough and not being more out-going. The conversations (basically any social interaction) where I was made to look foolish and embarrassed replay over and over again in my head as well as the insults and abuse. Although I moved around to much for people to really get to know me well enough to want to physically bully me. Lunch/break was the worst for me and I typically hid from everyone else by finding an isolated spot to sit alone.

    PS To have someone break your fingers to find out what it sounds like is *really* disturbing.

  40. #40 Chanan Carroll
    July 16, 2009

    Sorry, but no way am I as uncoordinated as you. lol.

    The karate is smart, though!

  41. #41 Intelligent Designer
    July 16, 2009

    No man. No man. No man … Say Yes

  42. #42 Anonymous
    July 16, 2009

    I was lucky enough to go to a magnet high school with a group highly intelligent and gifted nerds, so I didn’t have this problem. I’m sorry to hear that you had such a bad time in high school, and I hope that your children have better experiences.

  43. #43 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 16, 2009

    Re #40:

    Hey, I didn’t say you were as uncoordinated as me. I said you didn’t know how to fight. You didn’t. But you were lucky enough to be big,
    good looking, and to actually have social skills. Between those three, you did a whole lot better socially in high school than I did.

    And it did me a world of good to see you pound that little shit into the street. I’ll never forget it. It was worth the revenge that he took on me later.

  44. #44 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 16, 2009

    Re #39:

    Yeah, the finger breaking thing was really disturbing, not to mention painful. But honestly, the reaction to it from the school was more disturbing. What I said in the post was really their response. My parents were absolutely hysterical when it happened, and went to meet with the principal and assistant principal. There response was really to first insist that it must have been an accident, and when my parents wouldn’t let up, to say that there was nothing they could do about it. They literally said the “What do you want, an armed guard to follow your kid around?” line.

    My parents fought, but they really didn’t believe in things like lawsuits. Personally, in that situation, I would have hired a lawyer and sued the shit out of the school system. If you’re running a school where kids are getting away with breaking other kids bones for fun, and the only way to stop it is to hire armed guards, then you should damn well hire armed guards. If you’re so damned incompetent at maintaining a minimum degree of safety and discipline, then get another fucking job.

  45. #45 D. C. Sessions
    July 16, 2009

    Mark, it still happens.

    (Fairly) recently, the local bully beat another kid bloody (eyes swollen shut) at school. Witnesses all agreed that the victim didn’t do anything other than try to cover his face.

    The school’s response? Suspend them both, since being in a fight is against the rules.

    It was that way 50 years ago for me, it was that way 20 years ago for my kids, and it hasn’t changed.

  46. #46 Saint Gasoline
    July 16, 2009

    I was a bit of a social outcast in high school, mostly by my own choosing and because I have a sort of a-social personality, but I was never really mocked or bullied. In fact, in grade school I hung out with a kid who could be described as a bully (nothing like breaking fingers or doing physical violence, though), and later in life I happened to come across one of the kids he used to bully and I apologized profusely to him, but he didn’t seem to care too much. Adding you on Facebook may be your old tormenters’ way of trying to apologize, maybe, or get into a position to apologize. I can guarantee that most of them are probably embarrassed and ashamed about it.

    I also wonder if maybe bullies were more violent in the past. I graduated in 2001, and like I said, there wasn’t really any violent bullying. It also seems as if nowadays its “cool” to be nerdy. My younger cousin was a bit of a nerd and he was quite popular. Of course, this also probably depends on the socioeconomics of the school district and all that, as well.

    Make sure your kid knows wrestling, too. With the popularity of MMA nowadays, you almost have to learn all the fighting styles (ground and standing) to be adequate.

  47. #47 Ahistoricality
    July 16, 2009

    My HS experiences weren’t as bad — more isolating than abusive, thanks to a critical mass of the geek/nerd populations — but I really do understand the lack of desire to reconnect. And it is surprising what schools and kid-oriented programs will tolerate even after decades of study and litigation on bullying.

  48. #48 Katherine
    July 16, 2009

    Good call. I’ve excommunicated my highschool and university for far less.

  49. #49 Barn Owl
    July 16, 2009

    First of all, what jim @ #24 said; my sentiments exactly. What a horrible experience, and you have every justification for eschewing contact with your former classmates.

    Second, I just don’t accept that people who physically and emotionally bully others in high school genuinely forget the torments they inflicted. Sure, your brain is still developing well into young adulthood, but it’s not as if you were lacking a frontal cortex or hippocampus during that period. A young person who would deliberately break a classmate’s fingers is a sociopath, and hey, guess what, sociopaths are known to lie on occasion. On most occasions, in fact. Even people with milder personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder, lie about past events on a routine basis, directly and baldly to other persons who were present at the very same events. If some of Mark’s former classmates are pretending that they don’t remember or remember differently, or acting as if such events never happened, then I think they’re pathological liars with personality disorders, and best avoided completely, if at all possible.

  50. #50 Janne
    July 16, 2009

    Our equivalent to junior high (7-9th grade) was no fun at all; I ended up with a concussion once after one tormentor beat me up for not giving him my place in the cafeteria line.

    But in Sweden, once you hit high school, you all split up into separate courses according to what you want to study. Arts students, social science, economy – and, yes, natural science. And a whole class of 20 geeks together is a whole different matter from a lone punching bag; we could sit in the hallway and argue the value of RPN calculators over infix and nobody would ever try harassing you.

    I have heard a bit about the people who made my junior high miserable; two of them were bouncing in and out of jail a few years ago at least, and one has apparently OD’d. Choking on your vomit on a toilet floor – could not have happened to a more deserving piece of c**p.

  51. #51 Marc
    July 16, 2009

    You would have better off just telling them to fuck off and let it go.

  52. #52 Aaron
    July 16, 2009

    I wouldn’t say that I had it anywhere NEAR as bad as you did — but I can certainly empathize. I’m sorry you had to go through it.

    On the other hand — look who’s got the PhD, working for one of the most well-known companies in the world. They may have tried to keep you back by breaking your fingers, but it wasn’t enough!

    It’s really a shame that geeks get mistreated just because we’re socially awkward. What will it take for that to change? Better education system in the US?

  53. #53 Hank
    July 16, 2009

    Fascinating and disturbing (the finger breaking, what the hell!) post.

    I have nothing to add but that ground work martial arts (judo, jiu jitsu, submission wrestling etc) are tons of fun as well, if your kids ever get bored with karate.

  54. #54 Feynmaniac
    July 16, 2009

    Yikes, sorry you went through that.

    People, especially at that age, can be extremely cruel. While my high school experience here in Canada was definitely not a picnic, it was nowhere near as bad.

    You’re probably making the right decision by skipping the reunion.

  55. #55 Carlie
    July 16, 2009

    That is terrible. I had something similar, although many degrees less severe, when a bully from high school tried to friend me on facebook. I went ahead and did it, thinking that I was being mature, putting the past behind me, people change, yadda yadda… then looked at their page, and what kinds of things they posted, and no. Same kinds of rude, mean comments, same basic attitude the person had at 14. I left it for a day, but it bothered me so much I defriended them the next day and thought you know, this is one of the nice things about being an adult. You don’t always have to pretend to be friends with people you don’t like, especially on the internet.

    Facebook needs another status than “Friend”. Perhaps “Keep Track of This Person so I Can Avoid Them”?

    It does – it’s called a block. If you block a person, you become completely invisible to each other. They can’t find you in a search, if you post on a mutual friend’s board they can’t see your post and you can’t see any of theirs. I’ve used it. It works well.

  56. #56 stillwaggon
    July 16, 2009

    I know how you feel. I was seldom hit, simply because girls didn’t get hit so much. But 49 years after graduation, I still don’t want to be reminded. Someone said once, your high school years are the best years of your life. Wrong wrong wrong. Never go near my home town. Never yet been abused by a book. When my feline overlord is on her worst behavior, she’s still better than my old classmates. That problem is washable.

  57. #57 daedalus2u
    July 16, 2009

    The people who bullied me were my 3 older brothers. I still have PTSD from that. Yes, asymmetrical interactions produce asymmetrical perceptions. My oldest brother feels like he can take credit for how I turned out. That it was his “prodding” that stimulated my cognitive abilities (no it didn’t) and can’t see the 40+ years of depression and suicidality it did cause. I haven’t initiated contact with them in decades. I didn’t go to my mother’s memorial service with the extended family because it would be too stressful. I am close to my younger brother and sister. I protected them from the abuse of the older ones and didn’t abuse them myself. I usually talk with him multiple times a week. Going back to the house where I grew up (where he lives now) brings flashbacks and I have to severely limit how much I do it.

  58. #58 Jackal
    July 16, 2009

    Wow. I’d be tempted to go and bring a nice big batch of egg salad… that had sat out in the sun for a day or two. But even knowing that most of the people who attended would be vomiting and shitting themselves for hours wouldn’t make up for the time I’d have to spend looking at their hypocritical faces again. The nerve, to pester you now after what they did then! I’m glad I use an alias on facebook. As far as I’m concerned, the people I went to high school with are dead, and I’d prefer if they stayed that way.

  59. #59 Doug
    July 16, 2009

    It’s interesting that you basically think these people haven’t changed with respect to how they would treat someone like you in 25 years. I wouldn’t respond that way (or have skepticism towards such a response), but of course there’s no right or wrong here, that’s your choice. Then again, bringing up memories again wouldn’t be fun, so even if I had believed those people had changed, I wouldn’t go to my high school reunion if people had treated me like that.

    I didn’t go to my reunion myself, but for other reasons.

  60. #60 Paul
    July 16, 2009

    After going through that, it’s perfectly understandable that you have no desire to go anywhere near the place again. (someone broke your fingers and the administration of the school just shrugged it off – what the …. ?!) I was a geeky kid in high school who was fortunate enough to not suffer much from any physical bullying, just a lot of emotional and social problems, which were partly self-inflicted. I’ve never gone to a reunion, and I still live in the same town that I grew up in. I might go back someday, but unlike you I was lucky enough to have some friends and quite a few people who treated me decently.

  61. #61 Kyle Szklenski
    July 16, 2009

    Doug, are you serious? Are you freakin’ kidding me? Those people did criminal acts toward him – that’s not something you just decide to ignore. Who cares if they’ve changed? That does not change at all what they did to him in the past, and to think that they then have the gall to try to get him to go, it’s fucking sickening. Pardon my language, but gah!

  62. #62 george.w
    July 16, 2009

    Thank you for posting this. Every parent, every teacher, every school administrator should read it, everywhere.

  63. #63 HP
    July 16, 2009

    Never been to a class reunion; never intend to go. Good for you. Let the bastards wonder.

  64. #64 ktbug ladydid
    July 16, 2009

    I’m so sorry to hear that you had such a horrible experience at school. But I know too well how cruel kids can be at any age. I was picked on for most of my childhood and teen years, but was able to fend off at least some of it by growing a mouth and learning to use it. After I realized I couldn’t do the whole “popular” thing, I had a tendency to pick up the misfits/outcasts in middle school and high school. They ended up being some of the best friends a girl could hope for.

    My five year reunion is coming up, and I haven’t yet decided if I want to go. Most of the people I care to stay in contact with I am; most of the others I could care less about. I do have a few friends who want to go purely to laugh in their bully’s faces. But I have a feeling it’s not going to be as satisfying as they’d like.

    And if I have kids some day, they will all learn to defend themselves.

  65. #65 DRK
    July 16, 2009

    You have my sympathies. I went through a similar experience in junior high, and still thank God we moved before high school. Nowadays, parents sue for stuff like finger-breaking, and kids are charged with assault, so hopefully schools don’t just blow it off as they used to.

    You are absolutely right not to go. Because that will be giving these people even more space in your thoughts then they currently occupy. They do not deserve you. That said, for that reason, you should do your very best not to let them in your head at all. I mean it. Every time you think back to that time, just think, you know, that’s done. I don’t ever have to think about those people again.

    Doing that really helped me get past my experience… Not forgiveness — I don’t really know how that forgiveness stuff all works, to be honest — but just a decision to keep those people out of my head, just not allow them space. Any time I would start thinking about them, I would remind myself that it was OK, I didn’t have to any more. It has been a great relief.

    Maybe this would work for you. Unless you’re still having major PTSD intrusive thoughts about your experience, in which case therapy would not be a bad idea.

    And poster #36 –doing karate IS also a social experience.

  66. #66 TomJoe
    July 16, 2009

    When it came time for my HS’s 20th anniversary, they solicited donations to dedicate a new computer lab in our classes name. I thought so much of my classmates that I sent a penny taped to the donation sheet.

  67. #67 Miss Outlier
    July 16, 2009

    I was fortunate to be homeschooled all the way through highschool, which (although doing nothing to help my social skills) let me avoid the nastiness in highschool until college, where people have somewhat chilled out.

    I feel for you.

  68. #68 Dave
    July 16, 2009

    “And that’s what he’ll be able to do. To definitively finish any fight that anyone starts with him in a way that will teach his abusers and their cohorts to stay the fuck away.”

    I took martial arts for years, and I absolutely loved it. But this is a dangerous attitude. Certainly it’s good that he will have skills to defend himself — but be aware, the cohorts have ways to even the odds. Surprise attacks trump martial arts almost every time. Not to mention sheer numbers.

    Again, I’m all for self-defense, and I think martial arts can be great for a number of reasons. But be aware, real life fighting isn’t like the movies.

  69. #69 jdac
    July 17, 2009

    Good on you, Mark. Disturbing as those friend requests are, consider this; they need you more than you need them. Enjoy your revenge.

    Also feel free to skip the rest of this comment.

    I was indifferent to nigh-everyone, and didn’t receive much abuse, in HS. Partly I was good at hiding; I betrayed nothing, committed to nothing, kept cognizant of my personal “security.” Also, I acquired some skill at projecting sociopathic “vibes,” so in some ways I think I was considered too crazy to fuck with.

    Most importantly, my school was very clique-bound, which made the HS subcultures insular. I did hang with the goth crowd as a freshmen though. They were good people, and a “dyin’ breed” as it turned out.

    My senior class left high school broke from the senior prom; we joked that we’d be having the 10 year reunion in the gym. Probably will; I’m not going. I had no investment in the place to begin with, and my friends from there are my friends still. I doubt they’ll go either.

    Live well, Mark.

  70. #70 TGAP Dad
    July 17, 2009

    I totally get this. I was the socially imbecilic latin(!)/math/band/computer nerd. Although I don’t think my HS administration tolerated it nearly as much as yours. It was more of a boys-will-be-boys attitude. Unlike you, I was the short, fat kid who arrived late to the puberty party. Showering in the HS locker room while your equipment still looks like a fifth-grader’s was torturous.

    Like you, I also went on to get a degree in Computer Science, although I stopped with my BA. So I certainly feel your pain, although not to the degree you do.

    BTW, You COULD show up at your HS reunion and pull a Richard Norvik on them. Just sayin’. It’s an option.

    FWIW, we live in a very diverse neighborhood in the shadow of MRU, and the schools here have a fairly aggressive anti-bullying policy. So hopefully, the times they are a changin’.

    One more thing: I found your blog via Isis the Scientist. H/T to her for linking to your post. I plan to become a regular lurker.

  71. #71 Skemono
    July 17, 2009

    I just don’t accept that people who physically and emotionally bully others in high school genuinely forget the torments they inflicted.

    Really? I can. To quote one good line in a very bad movie, “For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tuesday.” The experience of bullying and the experience of being bullied are very, very different. I believe people more easily remember events with an emotional, uh… “oomph” to it, since I can’t think of a better way of putting it. Being violently and traumatically bullied would qualify. But the act of bullying itself? Eh. It seems as though it were just routine for them.

    Plus, of course, there could be cognitive dissonance at work. “I’m a good person, and I was also a good person in high school. Good people don’t harm other people, therefore, neither did I.”

  72. #72 Paul Murray
    July 17, 2009

    @26 “but consider that many people reach a stronger moral perspective (one less subservient to peer status concerns) after high school”

    No, not really. It’s just that after High School, they face actual jail time should the do the stuff they use do to day in, day out when they were there.

    The reality of school is that it is one of the few places in the civilised world where you can be remorselessly victimised year after year and have no recourse whatever.

    I’m 40 now, but the hatred doesn’t fade. I wish I hadn’t read this – it’s made my stomach knot up.

  73. #73 James
    July 17, 2009

    Great post and I totally agree with the way you feel.

    I didn’t experience anything near as harsh a bullying as you did Mark, but did experience a high level of social isolation due to my geekiness and ethnic background.
    My parents tried to help but couldn’t really understand what I was going through as they were both very popualr when they were at school. “Why can’t you just be normal?”
    Great. Thanks for that dad.

    I so releived to leave my home town for university. Twenty years later I now finally don’t feel oppressed whenever I go back home (but I keep visits to a minimum). However I still pretty wary with new people and it takes me many years to develop friendships.

    Over the years I’ve bumped into others in my school who seemed delighted to see me, but who made my life miserable as a kid. I’ve tended to be polite, but I’m always surprised that these people don’t seem to recall what assholes they were.
    It would seem then that I was of such little consequence that they could torment me relentlessly and that the activity wasn’t even worth remembering.

  74. #74 Dinosaur Teacher
    July 17, 2009

    I was tormented in middle school. High school seemed fine, but the weird thing was, the one tormentor I confronted didn’t remember what he did a year later.

    Now, as a middle school teacher, I look very hard for those signs. Surprisingly, unless its at a gratuitous level (like yours, for instance) it’s hard to see from outside; harder than I’d expect.

    You realize you need to send your classmates a link to this entry, right? It might start some interesting self-analysis.

  75. #75 Ron
    July 17, 2009

    Mark,

    My sympathies for a horrible experience. As with many other respondents, my own HS experience wasn’t as bad as yours – but it still left me frustrated, disgusted and angry. When I left HS, I didn’t let the swinging door hit me on the butt on the way out, and I never looked back. My class had its 40th reunion a couple of years ago, and I haven’t bothered with that or any others.

    I wouldn’t know any of these clowns if I ran across them, but if one of them introduced him/her-self to me, I suspect I would take the simple pleasure of ignoring them.

  76. #76 ML
    July 17, 2009

    Congratulations for being able to write such a level post about that kind of experience. I don’t think I could have. And to the people who say that the bullies could have changed: so what? Why should they make contact for *any* other reason than to apologize.

    My experience (in scandinavia) was nowhere near as bad as yours, there was mostly no physical bullying. The inability of one school to handle it was staggering though. When they found out about the bullying (through side-channels) they had repeated sessions with the bullies to tell them that what they had been doing was wrong. So far so good. But they never actually talked with me or informed my parents! I only thought I’d become better at sneaking away from school during recess until quite some time later… Anyway, this was just a few months before it was time to change school and then it all started over with new people. OTOH, I was definitely not a very nice kid back then so I fully understand that I had few friends.

    As for the Karate, very good idea. If one is in a risk-group, knowing self-defense is a must. As others, I would agree that learning close-up fighting (wrestling, judo, jiu-jitsu, etc) is a good complement. A friend of mine was robbed at knife-point when he was a teenager. He gave away his wallet, but when they tried to stab him anyway he sent the punks running with bruises and some broken ribs. Most importantly, his Dojo took very good care of him afterwards so he didn’t get any hubris or invincibility feelings.

  77. #77 Roadtripper
    July 17, 2009

    Thanks for posting this.

    I had similar experiences in high school, and I’ve avoided my so-called class mates ever since. In 2000 I ended up back in my home town during the 15-year reunion, and inadvertently met up with a few of them.

    To my surprise, they had somehow turned into decent human beings while I’d been away. Oh, and all of a sudden they respected me. WTF?

    Does that make any difference, after what they put me through in high school? Not really. Okay, I’m glad they’re not a bunch of sadistic morons any more, but we still don’t have a damned thing in common, and never will.

    Mark, if you met them today, some of those old class-mates might have got their shit together, but you sure as hell don’t owe them anything. Or maybe you do…are you referring any former class-mates to this post?

    Rt

  78. #78 anon
    July 17, 2009

    Who was in charge in NJ public schools in 80s and why did anyone think they should be allowed to work with children?

    Middle school, suburban New Jersey 1985-1988. Similar story without the actual physical violence because girls usually go straight to the mental torture and boys hitting girls was not tolerated. Although, the worst sexual harassment I’ve ever had to put up with and some of the most obscene things I’ve yet to hear said.

    To be fair, I don’t think my school administrators were so dismissive, just clueless. The moment I decided they were truly clueless was when I got dragged into a group session with the school psychologist with no warning with all the problem kids who were primarily responsible for making my life miserable and as an adult I can say clearly acting out in lots of ways, but then I just saw them as screw-ups who were kind of dumb. Not to address anything they did to me, but because someone decided we were all unhappy. I’m not sure what happened but I never had to go back.

  79. #79 Joe
    July 17, 2009

    Blah blah blah, everyone is a victim…and so is everyone else. I grew up in the southeast (USA) as an (obviously) gay kid (still going strong!) and I’ve barely heard whining like this. Get over it. Kids are kids, they will always be, and you will never convince a 14 year old to believe that everyone is equal. It’s happened for eternity and it will continue to happen. It’s what those contacting you are like *now* that really matters today and in the future. Most people change as they grow up but you’re the one left holding the bag…i mean grudge.

  80. #80 jp
    July 17, 2009

    Mark, your decision to avoid the typical brag-fest BS is admirable, and I only hope your post was cathartic for you. Since I moved far enough away from my hometown, attending my 20th reunion would have been difficult. I did, however, get roped into my wife’s reunion, and it clarified every worst expectation. Everyone was “successful” to some degree – Lie #1. The former jocks were now mostly fat and balding, yet, according to my wife, still retained their boorish and overconfident behaviors. The one-time pretty cheerleader types were either on their second husbands, or pining for their high-school figures. In all, it was more dinner theater than substantive reestablishment of old friendships.

    The thing that you should realize is that these reunions are classic examples of people whose lives peaked at age 18, and how badly they need to recapture those glory days. When the party is over, they go back to the reality of their unhappy lives. I never needed a reunion to stay in touch with my true friends, and I don’t particularly enjoy discussing my lifetime achievements with what amounts to strangers. I understand your anger, but let it go… you’ve already won.

  81. #81 Nordic Avenger
    July 17, 2009

    I too was a geek in high school. I never moved, and my town is not big enough (about 80.000 inhabitants) to avoid running in to familiar people now and then.

    The nice thing about being a geek is that you get a decent education, which leads to a decent job, earning decent money and in general, can choose to have a decent grown-up life pursuing your interests.

    You are also, if willing, able to hack the social codes if you try. Read a bit of psychology and just study the everyday interactions around you.

    Suddenly, three years ago, for reasons totally unrelated, I decided to lose some weight and start some workout. After a year and a half, I was relatively well-built and slim.

    Now, slim, well-built, still young, and with hard-earned money, women are coming on to me every now and then. For the last year, I have had the wife of a former high-school bully classmate as a mistress. I might try some more of those.

  82. #82 G
    July 17, 2009

    See… I attended my 5 year reunion a couple years back (yes… those cool kids on class council have so little going on in their lives they plan a reunion before getting a real job), and I’m glad I did. I was neither a cool kid nor a geek, I too had no real friends to speak of at my HS. Many of the popular kids showed up, and they were exceptionally decent, many of them were humbled by their college experience. But most exciting, was that nearly all of the geeky kids showed up. I knew many of the geeky kids, we were never really friends, but we had the bond of being outcasts in the past. The geeky girl I always flirted with in HS despite her bad glasses, and lack of social grace had grown into a confident, attractive, intelligent woman. Paul, another nerdy guy, grew into his lanky frame, and developed a certain coolness that he never had the confidence to share when we were 16.

    Even better, that star fooball player? He got fat. That superstar lacrosse player? He got fat, and got kicked out of college, and got the school bicycle (everyone had a ride… well, not me, but everyone cooler than me did)pregnant. Many of the popular kids did ok in life, but there was a common theme to the ones that did, they were decent people. The kids that were popular, but didn’t feel they were better than anyone.

    It was quite an interesting experience. I’m not sure I’ll go to another, but I’m glad I went to one.

  83. #83 Giovans
    July 17, 2009

    Hi Mark,
    here different country (Italy) but same story across every school class.
    In some Hollywood movie, the geek come back and get his revenge – Phisical, whith some elaborated prank, or moral, making fun of the former bully becomed now a sewer cleaner.
    However, I think it’s a good thing to not come back to the reunion. Sometimes remember can be too painful.
    Karate is a good Idea. Shotgun a better. Just kidding. ;-)
    Engioy,
    Giovan

  84. #84 Mr. X
    July 17, 2009

    I too, was this nerd. I am now a successful CEO of a very fun company. My life is pretty much awesome. It goes to show, if you apply yourself you can rock it. Most of those idiots from HS and junior high are running the cash registers at my local stores.

    (Deep Breath)

    HAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAaaaaaaaaa…….

  85. #85 Faff
    July 17, 2009

    I’m wondering if things have changed a lot in 20 years. Graduated 2003 m’self. I don’t really recall any of the geeky kids in highschool getting picked on much. Geeky and nerdy as I was, no real teasing or BS ever really occured. Hell, the geeky crowd and the ‘cool’ kids meshed quite often. Even the white trash and the geek crowd had some overlap.

    Or maybe it’s just a Canadian thing.

  86. #86 ML
    July 17, 2009

    @79 Joe: There is a huge difference between whining and talking about abuse (willfully breaking someones fingers can not ever be anything other than a criminal act, whether it is in school, in a bar fight, during a sporting event, or as torture of prisoners).

    Shared experiences are a good way to process abuse. It makes people feel less isolated, and puts it in perspective. While I commend you for your obvious ease dealing with what probably was not a very easy school time, it does not seem to have helped with your capacity for empathy as an adult.

  87. #87 HG
    July 17, 2009

    High school was miserable. I was five feet tall through much of it, and probably had undiagnosed ADHD. The seniors were huge, and they spat, pushed, punched, tripped, threw things, called nasty names, etc. I was so happy to graduate and get away. Ten years later, when I was invited to my high school reunion, I replied “You know those reunions they have for people who have been in the state penitentiary? You don’t? Why don’t you think they have those? I was institutionalized with you for a period of time and didn’t enjoy it. Never call me again or I’ll get a restraining order.” They have left me alone to my quiet happy life since then.

  88. #88 MarkW
    July 17, 2009

    Wow. “But I think that it was slightly worse than average” Broken fingers only slightly worse than average? Dude… I thought I had my time at school bad.

    Let me tell you something. One of my first reactions back when I heard about the Columbine shootings was sympathy for the shooters — I’m sure one of the main reasons for that was that they were bullied; I certainly remember having those kind of violent revenge fantasies while at school.

    Indeed I sometimes wonder, if I’d been able to find a gun, whether I’d have done something similar myself. For that reason if no other, I’m glad for our gun-control laws (I’m in the UK). I certainly took knives to school, but fortunately never used one.

    The fact that the guys who bullied me probably don’t realise now what they did then doesn’t really help. The only thing that helps is knowing that that time is in the past, and it’s damn-well staying there. I certainly won’t be going to any reunions.

  89. #89 ReallyEvilCanine
    July 17, 2009

    You too, huh? It was at my 20th reunion (which I happened to be in the country and same city in time for) that the shittiest of shitballs apologised, and quite sincerely. It was some weight off and there were others who, while hardly friends, were nevertheless interesting enough to spend a night with.

  90. #90 MissPrism
    July 17, 2009

    Holy fuck, this post is heartbreaking. I hope your kids have better classmates and memories. I was hugely lucky in that there were enough geeks at my high school that we formed an ignored but tolerated clique of our own. Primary school was pretty shit though.

    If you want to hire some land upwind of the picnic site and cover it with manure, I’ll chip in.

  91. #91 ngong
    July 17, 2009

    Do ANY non-Americans have it as bad as described above? Here in Thailand, this sort of stuff is almost unheard of.

  92. #92 tobias
    July 17, 2009

    I went to an inner city school, here the line was not geeks vs. everybody, but turks vs. kurd vs. albanians vs. russians and so on. It came out to much more even fights and nobody had the time to bully geeks.

    But more interestingly, about your son’s karate:
    I recently had a chance to talk to some of the top martial arts guys in the japanese police force. They don’t do karate.
    The reason is that if you hit someone, it looks more brutal than breaking his collerbone with some aikido or judo. It is much easier to get accused of excessive force if you use a hard MA.
    If there is a serious chance that your kid will have to use force to defend himself, you should think about this sort of thing.

    Also, you might want to check, if your dojo really offers good legal advice on self defence situations, most don’t. Mark Mcyoung’s page has a very good primer here:
    http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/zerotolerance.htm

  93. #93 VentureFree
    July 17, 2009

    I was lucky in that as socially awkward as I was, I was so purely analytical that it was no fun to torment me. I was told by someone years later that the few times they tried to mess with me, instead of getting worried or upset like many, I just got this look like I was trying to solve some puzzle, which frankly I was. I had no real fear, I was just trying to analyze the situation to figure out how I could avoid it in the future. Maybe I did well in my analysis, or maybe the simple boring act of analysis made me no fun to mess with. Either way I wasn’t tormented much. Lonely, sure, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

  94. #94 Kris
    July 17, 2009

    I respect you for publishing this.

  95. #95 Anonymous
    July 17, 2009

    Anyone that thinks it’s no big deal should look at the broader picture. Several years ago at the Barnes & Noble, I saw a book titled “Hitler’s Gift: The True Story of Scientists Expelled by the Nazi Regime”. The basic rundown is that by driving out many Jewish and anti-Nazi scientists, they enabled the US to complete it’s nuclear bomb program before the Germans could.

    Regardless of the ethics of developing “The Bomb” in the first place, the fact remains that Germany stayed behind in the race for “The Bomb” because most of the scientists working on the bomb were European refugees from the Nazis. Where Germany lost, America (a much more open society) GAINED.

    Furthermore, it’s often said that San Francisco got such a headstart in the personal computer revolution precisely because it proved open to “different” people (Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs looked like a hippie-druggie-bum type when he presented his idea to venture capitalist Don Valentime). Can you imagine Jobs, looking like he did, trying to get a loan in Cleveland or Nashville 30 years ago? I didn’t think so (interestingly, Austin and Raleigh-Durham, the high tech capitals of the south, also are well-known as HIGHLY openminded places).

    The point: Hating and persecuting “social inferiors” is simply bad social practice because it drives away talented, creative, gifted people – and therefore not good for your society’s long-term well-being

  96. #96 Vinnie
    July 17, 2009

    I hope every single cunt rag who gave you shit in high school reads your message. It would be even better if it drives at least one of them to suicide. The world would be a much better place without trash like them.

  97. #97 duckling
    July 17, 2009

    Reading this makes my eyes tear up. This is exactly why I’m not going to my highschool reunion. I was a scrawny gawky geeky girl- thankfully I’ve filled a out a bit since- but I still have anger and frustration over what was done to me throughout elementary, junior high and high school. The people from that era I want to speak with, I do. The rest I never want to see again.

  98. #98 Michael Chermside
    July 17, 2009

    No, Vinnie, it would not. It would be better if they realized what they had done and felt guilty; it would be better if adults in schools made sure this kind of behavior no longer happened. But your reaction is awfully extreme. Is there some reason in YOUR past why you react this way?

  99. #99 Imagist
    July 17, 2009

    I was a geek too, and I was bullied pretty severely in elementary and middle school. I was bullied a bit into high school as well, but in my freshman year I started taking karate lessons. Karate was the best thing that ever happened to me. You’ve made an excellent decision in helping your kids to end the cycle of abuse and I hope it can help you to find peace about your own experiences.

  100. #100 Dave
    July 17, 2009

    I agree with EVERYTHING you just wrote. I graduated in 93 and have never looked back. From middle school to junior year was one long nightmare I never want to relive again.

    And the facebook thing makes me laugh. I was on it for about a year. All of these people who I really never talked to or were dicks to me suddenly wanted to friend me and ask about my family. Holy shit I wanted to puke.

    And I am the same way with my daughter. Any form of martial art she finds interesting she WILL be enrolled. 2 reasons.

    One, if she says NO to a boy and he ignores her. I want to get a call telling me she broke his arm and hospitalized him…

    Two, if someone physically bullies her, like you said in your comment, I want her to finish the fight.

  101. #101 Steve
    July 17, 2009

    Hi Mark,

    Sorry to hear your story, but glad to hear your response.

    Like you though, I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if the verbal abuse I suffered wasn’t in part due to my own problems. I was the athletics champ and the senior scholar in my final year. I had ADHD and couldn’t control my mouth. I must have been a real pain in the ass.

    That doesn’t make it right though – like wearing a short skirt doesn’t make it ok to rape a woman.

  102. #102 Katherine
    July 17, 2009

    Wow – I’m so surprised that this happens in real life. I guess it’s just something that I have seen on TV. I’m from Malaysia, and have never been bullied. In fact, I was one of the popular ones in school.

    Scoring 100% in a Math test makes you a mini-celebrity and getting high grades and scores makes you more popular, not less. I don’t understand why people would be ostrasized for being intelligent?

  103. #103 Hellahulla
    July 17, 2009

    I don’t blame you, you had a hellish time. Don’t bother going to the expense and effort of meeting people who probably mean less to you than people you see on the bus every day.
    Instead, hang out with your real friends and get wasted (or whatever it is you do for R&R).
    Take care.

  104. #104 Marty F
    July 17, 2009

    Experience was not as bad as you, but not great. I simply removed all references to my high school from my FB profile. The person I want to stay in touch with, I do stay in touch with. The rest? Maybe a tornado will get them. Hopefully.

  105. #105 Alan
    July 17, 2009

    The simple reason why the bullies contacted you is that they don’t think they did anything wrong. Anyone in their right mind would not physically assault people for fun. They did. They didn’t see a problem with it then, and they don’t see a problem with it now.

    As the other commenters have noted, these people do not change, and they do not learn.

    It’s best to avoid abusive psychopaths.

  106. #106 J.R.
    July 17, 2009

    I have to say I was fortunate to go to a magnet high school so I was surrounded by other intelligent people (1420 out of 1600 average SAT score for my graduating class). This really allowed me to have lasting friendships from high school. Prior to this I was in a small town school and could see how this experience past middle school would have been undesirable to say the least.

    It is a failing on our education system to have divergence from mediocrity persecuted instead of being encouraged…

  107. #107 Leonardo
    July 17, 2009

    Like the French say, The better Vengeance is Living Well.

    I think you should go and be the party crasher. They’ll probably be embarassed if you shows up and remember all of this. And will be awesome if one of the bullies’ son bully your son, and get beaten in a picnic.

    :)

  108. #108 Peter
    July 17, 2009

    Not to sound like a jerk, but I think it’s pretty screwed up that you turned around and had kids after that. You really think the horrible time you had in school could have been avoided just by knowing karate? Life is more complex than that.

  109. #109 Pádraig Brady
    July 17, 2009

    Very eloquently put Mark. There is some evidence that the empathy centers of the brain don’t form in lots of males until after high school age, and so they grow up to be more normal. I’m just glad I went to a school with 94% females.

  110. #110 amk
    July 17, 2009

    MarkW @88: Dave Cullen’s recent book “Columbine” dispels a number of myths about the massacre. The killers were not bullied by their schoolmates; they were both mildly popular and in fact had bullied other students a few times. Judging by his writings, Eric Harris was simply a psychopath.

  111. #111 Neolithic
    July 17, 2009

    Hey I’m class of 1984 geek from a suburban NJ high school too! I

    had my share of crap, not as bad as you though, but at the same time, another geek in my class was so bullied that he threw himself in front of a train during senior year. Although I wasn’t his friend it was traumatic and terrible to know someone so young could be treated so badly that they thought suicide was their only option. Years later I also realized how his actions were also a sad commentary on how much the school’s administration sucked for not intervening before it was too late.

    I too felt like i was paroled from prison at graduation and returned every HS reunion invite form since then with the “no thank you” box checked (mailed my 25th back a month ago).

    That’s the problem with Facebook- not enough granularity in privacy controls. It should let users block “sets” of people (like HS classes) if they want to.

    Thanks for the post!

  112. #112 Jim March
    July 17, 2009

    Another one here. Main difference, I was tall, lanky and uncoordinated (typical low-to-midrange Asperger’s) and was THE school bully magnet at every school I ever went to. Not quite to the point of broken bones, but an ulcer at one point, literal torture sessions out back of the school, quit over a year early, tested out and got into a community college instead. NO problems whatsoever there, by the way, which was worth doing if only to prove it wasn’t me.

    Well…mostly not me. By early high school I was pretty screwed up and I think the weirdest part was how I just couldn’t understand their motivations. It didn’t make any sense at the time…that’s part of what made it such a bitch to deal with.

    Now here’s the funny part. I’m still hunting bullies…not the high school kind, the very worst of the worst as I see it. See also:

    http://www.wired.com/politics/security/news/2004/11/65674

    http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/Currents/Content?oid=104509

    I’m the “Jim March” in both.

    And understand, I realize full well where my head is at, why I do what I do and I’m OK with it.

    The other thing is, I’m in Arizona now. Screw karate, I pack a 357Magnum daily, with permit, training, background check, etc. And I know for a fact I’m not the only one…mention guns anywhere on Reddit, Digg, etc. and the pro-self-defense-rights folk WAY outnumber the “ohhh, icky!” crowd. Yeah. Because us geeks know for a FACT there’s some really sick barsterds running around off-leash, at least the ones that managed to avoid prison and/or overdosing.

    (Comedy note: the hardware lives in a fanny pack decorated with a peace sign. Because that’s where I keep my “piece”. Yeah. Ghastly geeky gun-nut pun. Sigh.)

    The good news is, while reading something like this page still knots my guts up, I’ve thoroughly and consciously adopted Libertarianism not just as a political party, but as a personal philosophy (it’s both). The core principle is simple: “I will not initiate force against another person or hire somebody to do so on my behalf”. You might not like where that takes us on issues of, say, the income tax, but as the core principle of somebody seriously armed to the teeth (and a damned good shot), it works quite nicely.

    Now with that said, guns aren’t the answer in high school. Pepper spray might be, with a permit system to keep it only in the hands of those unlikely to attack. This might form a kind of “trainer system” to help the transition to a gun carry permit later if their interests take ‘em that way. The pepper permit would entail getting competent training in legal use of force, “verbal judo”, understanding the bully mentality, etc.

    American schools aren’t ready to go there, yet.

    Another alternative is to set up a program to spot when this is happening and divert the victims into some other route, a “geek school” or something. Vouchers that parents can use to pick the school type would have a similar effect, if the parents are smart enough to use them that way and I suspect most would be – a LOT more information is available today on how bullying works than there was 20+ years ago.

    What’s going on now isn’t working.

  113. #113 APic
    July 17, 2009

    Reunions: A place to meet all those people you haven’t seen since graduation. And realise why.

  114. #114 Martin Romero
    July 17, 2009

    Let me start by saying that my only interest is that you read this, regardless of whether you delete it from the comments or not. So please, read it till the end.

    While I can understand why you’re not going to the reunion, I can’t agree with your reasons.

    If you didn’t have any friends back in high-school it wasn’t because the world is a very bad place, it was because you made a choice of taking it all in and not stand up for yourself. Broken fingers? I can’t imagine a situation where someone would allow that to “just happen”

    It’s been 25 years, you cannot push guilt into the people that made high-school a living hell for you; they don’t care… And if they do, doesn’t that say a lot of who they are now? I’m pretty sure that even 25 years later you haven’t come to peace with your own weakness, and choose to tag those people as cynical, when in reality they didn’t do anything else but what you allowed them to do.

    And even now, you’re denying them the opportunity to apologize and show you that they’re not the same people as they were 25 years ago, even when you yourself claim to be a changed person. Way to keep the wound open for the world to see.

    So, you’re back to your high-school years, hiding and not letting anyone touch you. If you still feel so sore about it, why not go and punch them in the face? Sure, not going and writing a post about it on your blog feels more self-righteous, as I’m sure secluding yourself and not having any real friends in high-school did 25 years ago. I guess even smart people can’t learn from their own mistakes.

    Get some closure… Don’t run away from things because they hurt.

  115. #115 ~A!
    July 17, 2009

    @Peter

    You do sound like a jerk. Why should he not have children, not enjoy the completeness of a full family life, simply because of things that happened to him in high school?

    Your comment strikes me as both arrogant and ignorant. Of course life is more complex than simply knowing a martial art to defend yourself, but it is a start. I was fortunate enough to study the martial arts from Junior High on, and that was when the beatings stopped. The first time I put a classmate who was trying to shove me in a locker on the floor with a bloody nose and breathing difficulties, all of the beatings simply went away.

    It may not be that simple, but it sure as fuck helps.

  116. #116 ha ha
    July 17, 2009

    lol

  117. #117 Danny
    July 17, 2009

    Maybe some of them feel bad about the way they treated you. I bullied some of the weaker kids at school because I didn’t want to be bullied myself. I feel bad about it now though. People do grow up (a little) so maybe they want to make some kind of amends. Who knows, it might set you free?

  118. #118 Ryan
    July 17, 2009

    I would consider sending your kids to a private or magnet school.

    In high school – I was a nerd and treated as such, but I also knew how to defend myself. Eventually, nobody messed with me but I was completely ostracized. That was no picnic either.

    In grade school I was not tormented at all – why? Because I went to a nerd school (a magnet school for kids PK-8). My friends and I would play Stratego, program over recess if we wanted, play D&D, and otherwise go full nerd at school with no repercussions. After school, we would often go to the comic book store about a mile from the school. And we were the COOL KIDS in our class.

  119. #119 MissPrism
    July 17, 2009

    I cannot believe I just saw someone blame a child for “allowing” a bully and laughing mob to violently break his fingers. Just.. whuh?

  120. #120 MarkW
    July 17, 2009

    amk at #110: OK, thanks. That does change my opinion of the massacre, obviously.

    But it’s tangential to the main point really; it doesn’t really change the fact that I was bullied at school, and came damn close to taking violent revenge. I’m glad I didn’t, now, obviously.

    On the whole, I think Leonardo has it best at #107: “The better Vengeance is Living Well.”

    PS. I notice a whole lot of victim-blaming going on in some of the comments. There is NO excuse for bullying. even if you’re the most annoying twat in the world, you don’t deserve to be treated the way Mark describes, or the way any of the other survivors of bullying in this thread describe.

  121. #121 Tahko Tetsujin
    July 17, 2009

    You act like you were the only one it happened to because you were a geek. The rest were getting messed with because they were who they were as well. It’s fucking high school.

    And you still carry it on your shoulders instead of rising above.

    You may be smart but you have zero wisdom.

  122. #122 Ajax
    July 17, 2009

    Two suggestions:

    1-Send him to jujitsu instead.

    Karate is a competition martial art and nearly worthless in a confrontation. You need only look at MMA competitions for proof. Nearly all the top fighters are fluent in some form of jujitsu. Even police you adapted jujitsu maneuvers for unarmed combat tactics.

    2-Even more devastating, give him self-confidence.

    Nothing is more powerful and disarming than self-confidence and personality. Elitists might think twice about berating a kid if they knew he could talk circles around them and make them the fool. Sign him up for a sport, even if only for one season. It breaks down the geek barrier and may even give him jock friends for the rest of his parochial days. But in the event of just a mongoloid knuckle-dragging bully…..revert to suggestion 1.

  123. #123 bob
    July 17, 2009

    i too went to school in suburban new jersey. i too hated 99.99999% of the people in my school and had about 2 people there that i would consider friends.

    the funny thing is, one of the guys i hated the most, the most self-important bullying f—ers in the whole place –

    i saw him a few years after school, and we had a nice, friendly conversation.

    not that i don’t understand where you’re coming from, but damn – people move on. you should, too. it was freakin’ high school.

  124. #124 Anonymous
    July 17, 2009

    delete me….get over it

  125. #125 dundadda
    July 17, 2009

    You sound like a bitch. Go to that highschool reunion.

    Don’t blog about it like a bitch.

  126. #126 Martin Romero
    July 17, 2009

    @ MissPrism:

    There is obviously something wrong with them for trying, I was not implying otherwise. Maybe your definition of dealing with such a situation is letting it happen and cry later, seek some counseling and hope that it doesn’t develop into a mental condition; my definition of dealing with it is NOT letting it happen to me. Is it really that much of a hard concept to grasp?

  127. #127 Meg
    July 17, 2009

    I was also bullied in school. What makes my case different than most was that I wasn’t a geek or a nerd or fat or ugly. Quite the opposite. I was what you would consider beautiful,I dressed in the style (expensive, had a nice body (I actually got voted best body, and it wasn’t sarcastic). I was smart but lazy (did poorly in school). What set me apart was that I never understood my peers, they were cruel, superficial, phony, sheep. I didn’t get it. I preferred to spend my time reading.
    I had to endure taunted, criticized, and pushed around. The worst insult you could say to a guy was that I had a crush on him. And it’s funny because 15yrs later, a lot of guys later confessed that they had huge crushes on me because I was different than the other girls. But that doesn’t erase the hurt and pain and hate that I feel towards all of my classmates and the school. I moved to another country so I could escape the memories and feelings and start all over again.

  128. #128 vassilis
    July 17, 2009

    good on ya mate. that’s a healthy response. (I’m not being sarcastic)

  129. #129 Bobbie
    July 17, 2009

    Dude, you’re my hero. When I have kids, I’m teaching them Taekwondo.

  130. #130 Jeff Self
    July 17, 2009

    I graduated high school in 1985. I never fit into any particular category. I was friends with the “popular” kids. I played football and baseball. I was also in the AP classes like Calculus and Physics. I had a computer although I wasn’t technically a geek. I’m much more of a geek now. I’m sorry for those of you who had it bad in high school. I loved it myself. I just wish I knew then what I know now. And yes, I’m on Facebook and keeping in touch with lots of friends and acquaintances from high school.

  131. #131 Chris
    July 17, 2009

    Whilst I never had it as bad as you clearly did.. I understand completely.
    I still get people who treated me badly at school approach me if I’m out around town talking to me as if we were friends.

    I bet it felt good to vent. :)

  132. #132 dm
    July 17, 2009

    I returned to my 10 year reunion only because I was able to do so 35 pounds heavier in an Army dress uniform. The looks on the faces of the beer-gutted, balding ex-jocks was priceless. They turned out to be a lot smaller than I remembered.

  133. #133 another one
    July 17, 2009

    Thank you… same reasons that I’m not going to mine… minus the swastika incident…. regardless, I wont be going to mine either.. thank you for sharing your story!

  134. #134 David
    July 17, 2009

    I see your point and empathize, less than 2 years after high school I’ve gone through the same thing! Honestly it is just a big social get together and it’s far more important to waste your time and energy getting together with your friends. So have a nice barbeque or something with the people you appreciate instead of the people you were stuck with.

    Two nice things would be to see the people who were so indignant have grown up, or have achieved very little in life. There would also likely be someone who has done neither and is somehow happy and successful.

  135. #135 David
    July 17, 2009

    Thanks for writing that Mark. I agree with you completely, though I’ve never felt the urge to get it into words before. :)

    I’m from Iceland, but I was definately the geeky kid in school. Got lots of verbal abuse and some physical (not quite as bad as you though – the worst was a broken arm, but that was by far the worst, and wasn’t “intentional”)

    A couple of years ago I met one of my tormentors in going to the movies. He came up to me and talked like we were old friends and asked if I was going to come to the reunion that had been planned. I stood there flabbergasted for a few moments before I collected myself sufficiently to laugh at him in a “you must be joking” sort of way. I think he got the message, as he just walked away.

    It was quite satisfying actually. Apparently he’s pumping gas now. Guess maybe being the geeky kid ain’t so bad as the years roll by…

  136. #136 Kevin
    July 17, 2009

    Well said, dude.

    I support you and your decision.

  137. #137 Musashi
    July 17, 2009

    The scum I went to school with certainly don’t deserve the pleasure of my company.
    We were never friends in school, so there is no point to the charade just for the sake of a “reunion”.
    I have nothing in common with them.
    The only reason I might consider turning up would be to run over a few of them…
    If they were real friends, there would be no need for a reunion – we’d still be hanging out (as I do with my friends).

    In short, I agree wholeheartedly with your view.

  138. #138 Steve Holden
    July 17, 2009

    I was a misfit in school for other reasons: I was the poor kid at a rich kids’ school. Left at fifteen, and life finally began. Went to university at 23 (by which time I already had a three year old son) and never looked back. I have no wish to be associated with the place that made my life such a misery. Naturally the school’s only interest in me is trying to extract money. I’d rather burn it! Since I now live on a different continent I don’t get much contact from those days.

    The people who want to “get back in touch with you” are probably letting their kids bully the geeks today. They need to wise up, and learn what “totally unacceptable” really means. There are plenty more fish in the sea, who needs the ones with a proven record of thoughtlessness and cruelty?

  139. #139 Agile Cyborg
    July 17, 2009

    The HS reunion is an exercise in mindless comparative analysis that pretty much fosters the perpetuation of stereotyping.

    The participants are all well on their way to becoming worm hotels so the activity is just one of a few parting shots at connecting the dots of a short and, mostly, unremarkable life.

    I share some of the sentiments expressed here by the author and the more astute and empathetic posters.

    HS and Junior High was a twilight zone for me, as well. I learned quickly that successfully defending my lanky, bespectacled frame equated to being quickest of the two or three (yes, three) at placing the most strategic punch with the right force to the face first.

    A shirt full of huge loogies netted me my first real prize. At some point, a gangly, over-bullied geek has to establish some lines in the playground dirt and loogies on the front of my shirt finally got the brain OUT of philosophy and INTO forming a strategy for optimal physical domination. Speed + power + placement + bully = bully shock and awe

    This could go on and on. It won’t. You’re safe from the mind-numbingly repetitive shit from yet another worthless pounded geek who was pushed to the performance precipice.

    Anyway, cannot state with enough emphasis how much of a total waste of life my schooling was. Learned more on my own utilizing a chain of libraries.

    Literally, the ONLY reason I would even consider crossing the threshold of a reunion is for a single discreet and final look at one of the world’s most fantastic female asses that ever strutted past a dysfunctional geek lusting through the periphery. Then again, maybe I’m better served with the image of that ass at 17. Yeah…

  140. #140 maninwarren
    July 17, 2009

    Public school is for the masses. Those of us outside the 2-sigmas on the human decency bell curve (on both sides) don’t belong there, for different but equally compelling reasons.

    That’s why I homeschool my kids. On the “down” side, my 14 year old son isn’t angry about life, because he didn’t go through the pain of junior high (nor does he have to look forward to 4 more years of it via public high school), so he doesn’t really dig the Who — perhaps the quintessential “adolescence-sucks!” band, and my favorite when I was his age (well, a little older) — so we can’t share in that. A price I’m more than willing to pay.

  141. #141 Jeff
    July 17, 2009

    Kudos from the crippled kid.

  142. #142 Wendy
    July 17, 2009

    I was the lonely, tall, long-haired art girl at school, bullied for four years by a group of girls who left school as soon as they legally could (UK). The only lessons I found peace in were the ones where I was the only girl in the class.

    I married a ‘geek’ (loved ‘geeks’ for their quiet intelligence)from the same school,(now running an IT business) our 28th wedding anniversary is this August.

    The bullying was all emotional/psycholgical and destroyed my confidence and ability to concentrate in school.

    I agree with a former poster who said you have to go back and study the psychology of these types, it can help you to let go of the pain. Realising we were just the easiest/ safest target for them to dump their toxic waste onto…..nothing to do with your worth as a person.

    They are are damaged people, or very immature with dysfunctional home lives. I’m beginning to actually feel pity for some of mine. What kind of ‘nurturing’ did they get which would destroy their compassion?

    PS. I’ve never been to a school reunion yet! I made my friends in other ways.

    Best wishes!

  143. #143 Brian
    July 17, 2009

    Those people are trying to “Friend” you because their lives peaked in high school. Sad as it sounds, their high school years were their glory days. You had to put up with a lot, but I guarantee that very few, if any, of them are as successful as you seem to be.

  144. #144 Jim
    July 17, 2009

    Agree 100%. Shared your experience. Didn’t like it.

    I continue to ask myself why we continue to subject our children to this poisonous environment. What good does it do? I can’t help but think they’d learn more and be happier if this hell-on-earth called “high school” was no more.

  145. #145 Tom
    July 17, 2009

    Thanks Mark. That sounded very difficult to share but something we geeks can all relate to in big or small ways. I attended a very good public high school where I didn’t have many friendships, but did have a few, and more importantly, I had some amazing teachers. One teacher even attended my Wedding eight years after I was graduated! I just wanted to share something positive :-)

    There are other things you may consider with your son in addition to learning how to fight. Specifically, working to keep him out of abusive environments to begin with by exploring other schooling options, private, home, charter, and even community colleges at the high school level.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever talked to a professional about your experiences, but they sound traumatic enough that it may be a good idea. First time I’ve read your blog, now I am going to read some of your math postings!

  146. #146 Eddie
    July 17, 2009

    That pisses me off to no end. I do NOT understand how people can be so cruel! So has anyone from your old school read this?

  147. #147 Daniel K
    July 17, 2009

    Eerily familiar, not quite as violent, but very close. It’s funny you mention the Karate thing, I have two sons and am considering the same option.

    Our school had our 10 year not too long ago. My reasons were exactly the same. Thank you for sharing.

    Screw those bastards, I really hope they have grown as people just so they can feel as guilty as possible.

  148. #148 Craig Espert
    July 17, 2009

    Reading your story and these comments reminds me of my own past experiences throughout school. I suppose I was lucky that in ’72 my parents sent me to music camp for each summer, where I found musical geeks like me (I was an orchestra nerd in school and beaten mercilessly for carrying a violin case on the school bus). Making musical friends and having a lot of success in one area (music), gave me the confidence to stick up for myself. I will never forget confronting one of my tormentors. This was 10th grade. I was coming off the bus as usual, holding my case in my right hand (there were no shoulder straps in those days). Dan Gatti was his name. I saw him coming towards me with his usual gang of hangers-on. This time, instead of running, I walked right up to him. I saw his smirk first, then I saw the switch-blade he had used to strike fear in me for years. He held it out towards me as if to offer me a choice between garroting or disemboweling. I swung my violin case up in an arc, hitting him under the jaw, and dropping him like a stone. I stood 198cm at the time, and even though I was terribly skinny (70 kilos), the hangers-on saw that I was willing to do it again, and I became no longer an easy target.

    From that day on, they left me alone and I actually became quite successful as a student with many friends.

  149. #149 asda
    July 17, 2009

    consider putting your kid at a good Jiu Jitsu class

  150. #150 Brenton
    July 17, 2009

    I didn’t read all the comments above, but I thought I’d put in my heartfelt congratulations, mate.

    I had a rough time for the first few years of high school myself (we start in 7th grade in Australia), with my former best friends abandoning me, and being ostracized for being a chubby, pasty little nerd. Luckily I found a group of mates that have endured the past 15 years, so the rest of school wasn’t as rough as it was for you.

    I just wanted to say, good on you for helping your kids get ahead of the curve on this – I took up Judo after school, and have wished more times than I can remember that my parents had the foresight to get me into it before those few years of hell. Keep those kids geeky – there’s not a better way to be – if you prevent the sort of crap we all went through.

  151. #151 J
    July 17, 2009

    So what you are saying is that while most likely these people have grown up but you havent? Pretty sad that you cant let things go after 25 years. pathetic actually. I was one of the poor kids in school, I also attended FOUR different high schools so by the time I made any friends, school was done. I got my fair share of verbal abuse and threats of physical abuse. I moved on. Get over yourself buddy, there is nothing worth holding onto this long that could have happened to you. I guess you were being partly honest though about why you do not want to go. you do not want to see these people but I think it is caused you are still scared deep down. Does it feel good to STILL not have your manhood?

  152. #152 Mr. G
    July 17, 2009

    I know that the past hurts, but sometimes, as previously mentioned, people change. A lot of these people (who you wouldn’t even want to f*cking know now) may really be nice guys.

    Where’s your forgiveness? Do you not believe in it?

    You don’t know what happened to the bullies in high school. Sure, they beat you up, but some of them may have been molested as a child by their fathers/etc. That’s 100x worse than what you went through.

    25 years later you’re still not ready to forgive them. Wow. That’s pitiful.

  153. #153 Victim
    July 17, 2009

    Thank you so much for your courage.

    I never had any friends in high school, and was always made fun of. They destroyed my life, and all I can do now, is wonder an aimless life alone and depressed.

  154. #154 Andy F
    July 17, 2009

    You know what? I didn’t go to my reunion, either. I can totally relate to what you’re saying.

    My highschool had 3000 students, and the administration was so far removed from anything going on that there wasn’t even the slightest possibility that they would help out. I don’t blame them — I blame the architects of massive “comprehensive” urban highschools that created a prison system within a school.

    Cheers to you, mate, for telling it like it is.

  155. #155 Chuck
    July 17, 2009

    I graduated in 1986. I didn’t have it even half as bad as you did in high school, but I can relate generally to your post. There are about 3 people with whom I keep in touch from high school. By in large, I don’t give a crap about any of the others. When the 20th reunion rolled around, I too was suddenly swamped with email from people I barely knew and certainly didn’t respect. Including the bullies and a-holes. They sounded surprised and even hurt when I rejected their offers (particularly the offer to come to the $50/head happy hour event). I wonder whether these people truly don’t understand or realize the pain they injected. I have to believe that is the only way you could act this way – is if you’re truly oblivious. (I will admit that I do love hearing/knowing that the main jock is a car salesman, and the most popular cheerleader is trailer trash with 5 kids. And particularly love knowing that in light of the fact that I started and run a fairly large business employing hundreds of people, am a leader in many areas of my community, and that most people now would be shocked to know I was even writing this comment. But none of that really changes my memories and feelings toward them specifically, and the public school system in general.)

    The administration at my old school sounds the same. I was specifically told more than once by the principal himself that unless they saw it happen, they can’t be sure who is telling the truth. I suppose in that way they can do nothing and claim it’s policy. It’s no surprise to me at all when we hear about kids snapping – when you force people into those environments, you’re bound to have some kids snap now and then. My son will definitely know how to protect himself by the time he gets into school.

  156. #156 Paul A-Z
    July 17, 2009

    I think you all have forgotten an important reason that people go to reunions.

    To find out how much better you turned out than they did!

    It’s amazing how a couple of years can turn the popular kid into a pauper and a geek into a well off professional.

  157. #157 Rafael
    July 17, 2009

    Well i will say i was never a geeky type. But that doesn’t exclude me from being messed with and bullied at one point in time or another. so i can kind of relate to you mark, but not to the point of broken fingers or something. I just wanted to say that don’t think its just geeks that bullied. everyone gets hurt at one point or another in their life. And i think you should talk to someone about this, Because 25 years is a very long time and what if those people have changed? shouldn’t they get a chance to prove to you that they are sorry and that they were immature and did what they did to prove themselves to the other social circles? Just think about it. I will check back on here soon, and hope you reply and not erase my comment.

  158. #158 Ben
    July 17, 2009

    This is eerie; I experienced the same exact situation when I was in highshcool (about 8 years ago). Except for the finger breaking, I was actually almost run down by bullies in a car when I was walking home. Of course the school did nothing, day after day I ran for my life. Anyways… you’re not alone.

  159. #159 John Stravos
    July 17, 2009

    I was a bully myself and today I regret it. I can tell you that back then I didn’t understand the damage I was inflicting and every time I see someone from high school that I abused I ask for his forgiveness. Some times I get it, some times I don’t, but in general it has been very important for me and the others to go trough this process.

    I know this wont erase all the stupid thinks I did but at least it will let them know that the one with the problems was myself and not them. It is the bully who has the emotional problems. Unfortunately my problems made others lives miserable for a period of time.

    I’m trying really hard to educate my kids to defend themselves but also I’m very clear with them that I won’t tolerate bulling from them. I talk to them every day and try to help them solve their problems without physical or emotional aggression involved in the solution.

    I completely agree with you, there is a lot of people in the world. Why waste your time trying to befriend again someone from high school? There must be a thousand reasons of why you didn’t saw that people anymore after graduation, not only because of the bulling.

  160. #160 Nonya
    July 17, 2009

    Just curious-of those commenting, is anyone willing to identify as a member of Mark’s graduating class and give their side of the story?

  161. #161 Icarus
    July 17, 2009

    LOL, you work at Google and have a PhD. Your bullies are probably hitting their 20th year in a factory or construction job. You win.

    I was never bullied in highschool, probably because I kicked the snot out of them for bullying others on several occasions. I was usually suspended for “policing”, heh.

    Anyways, good for you. Fuck ‘em.

  162. #162 Kathy
    July 17, 2009

    Right on, dude!

  163. #163 Eric
    July 17, 2009

    It’s a shame that you aren’t going. You now have all the material (status) that you need to psychologically torture them. :-) All you have to do is go and tell them how great your life is.

  164. #164 Wait, what?
    July 17, 2009

    “(And as for your parenting advice… You don’t know my kids, so mind your own damn business.)”

    Posted by: Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    …and the bullied becomes the bully, albeit on an internet blog for dorks.

    /golf clap

  165. #165 Wayne
    July 17, 2009

    I was bullied grades 5-9 in a very small town. I was the obese, late-bloomer, socially retarded, geeky kid. Do the math to find my pain.

    My freshman year was passable as my brother was a junior, twice the size of me, and having suffered years of abuse himself, finally got the idea it was better to body slam or knock people’s teeth out (literally) than put up with their crap.

    Life took another direction at that point, and for my sophomore year I ended up at another high school, on an Army base, which was a big change from the hick-town I came from. I was able to blend in as a nameless face, due to the very mixed student body.

    My junior and senior years were at yet another high school. The second half of my school time was attending the local community college, which only made me loath high school all that much more, even though I never had an issue there (found out later that everyone thought I was an undercover cop because I wore khakis and a dress shirt to look good for my college courses later in the day).

    Ugh, I could ramble all day. Doing a search for my name on Google awhile ago turned up my 10-year high school reunion’s website, where I was listed as not having RSVP’d. Why, oh why, would I or you care? I didn’t even attend graduation. Doesn’t that say something to you?

    Thank you Mark, and to the commentators who have shared their stories. This blog post, Mark, is a middle finger for all of us.

    Oh, I visited that small hick town about 5 years after leaving. All my bullies had no future and/or were literal burn-outs from too many bad drugs.

  166. #166 MisterSir
    July 17, 2009

    I can’t believe how many people on here hold grudges from DECADES ago. I was a geek in high school, too. Maybe a mid-level geek, so not super-picked-on, but a geek nonetheless. If you don’t want to go, fine, but man, let. it. go. How are you going to feel about your 50 year reunion in 2034? Are you still going to be all upset about it, venting on the laserinternet? Dudes, the grudges you hold are much sadder than the incidents themselves.

  167. #167 Scott Dalferes
    July 17, 2009

    Screw em Dude. You work at Google…………

  168. #168 Fred
    July 17, 2009

    I experienced something very similar minus most of the physical stuff.

    It did not end after High School, at best it took me 15 years to get my life back on track and the truth is after reading your post this morning and seeing how deeply it affected me its pretty clear i am not over it.

    Part of me wants to tell you by not going you are enabling these people to still hurt you 25 years after the fact but thats BS, if i was in your shoes you would have to drag me to that reunion kicking and screaming.

  169. #169 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 17, 2009

    In response to the many folks who’ve commented on my son’s Karate:

    I fully realize that taking Karate, even Karate with a strong self-defense bias, isn’t a silver bullet. He’s not going to be Mr. Invincible. No matter how skilled you are, it’s always entirely possible for someone (or a group of someones) to find a way to get you.

    But one of the things that I learned over time is that for the most part, bullies aren’t fighters. They’re people who get off on inflicting pain on other people – they want the rush of hurting someone else, of demonstrating the power over someone else of being able to hurt them. They don’t want to fight. They want that experience and rush of power. If they could get hurt in the process, it’s not fun anymore.

    At some point in school, someone might be able to hurt my kid. But if they do, it won’t come free – they’ll get hurt back. And that’s the last thing that people like that want.

  170. #170 blah
    July 17, 2009

    They are trying to reach out to you, probably, because they’ve grown up. Unfortunately, looks like you have not.

  171. #171 Katie
    July 17, 2009

    I was the freak Jehovah’s Witness kid in a rural public school; and my reputation preceeded me into high school. Fortunately, being about 10 years younger than you, my experience didn’t include physical violence (it simply wasn’t tolerated at our schools) but definitely had moments of abject misery. Thanks for speaking up.

  172. #172 Greg
    July 17, 2009

    Interesting article . . .

    Maybe weird coming from an atheist but I think forgiveness is a pretty powerful thing. Martin Luther King once said “The old law of ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind”

    Here’s a better story: a young monk was traveling with an older monk when they came to a river. On the bank was an atractive, finely clothed young woman who could not cross the river without ruining her gown. The young monk heeded his vows to avoid contact with the opposite sex, and he looked away. But his elder walked directly to the woman and offered his help. He carried her across the muddy river and put her down. After thanking him, the woman and the monks parted ways.

    The young monk was shocked. He silently stewed about this until hours later when he couldn’t hold it in anymore and said “How could you do that? It is a violation to even look at a woman and you spoke with her. YOU CARRIED HER!”

    The older monk thought about this criticism and smiled. “I put her down on the other side of the river hours ago, but you are still carrying her”

    Letting go can be powerful also finding good friends can be hard. I think you have an oppotunity to find someone that can make your life more enjoyable. I have found one of the greatest things I have done in my life is to constantly find new friends as I get older and try to keep my old ones too.

  173. #173 k8
    July 17, 2009

    You are wonderful for posting this. I will refuse high school reunions for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, I have to go back to my hometown to see my mom and dad. I told my mother that if anyone appears to know me and wants to talk to me, she is to tell them that I was in a horrible accident and have amnesia. I have no desire to talk to anyone that hurt me.

  174. #174 Marc
    July 17, 2009

    What strikes me the most is how absolutely incompetent the people running your school were. They had no business being in charge of children. They shrugged off violent behavior, ignored it, and looked the other way. THAT needs to be corrected.

    Your childhood abusers deserve pity and contempt, and it’s fine to ignore them, but the adults who enabled their behavior need to be confronted. They’re the major bad guys in your story.

    To those of you who say to let bygones be bygones — matters of justice should never be forgotten unless amends are made. He had his fingers broken, and his school did nothing about it. How would you like it if I came over to your house, broke your fingers, then made you feel absolutely and utterly powerless about it? Then, to add insult to injurity, I burned a giant cross on your lawn? You’re lack of empathy is disturbing: you are the type of people who make the world a more terrible place. You forgive those who haven’t earned the right to be forgiven, thereby tacitly encouraging them to continue being abusive. You are enablers.

  175. #175 Nathan Smith
    July 17, 2009

    While it sounds like you certainly had it rough while you were in high school, it’s pretty unfair to think of people with the same eyes you had 25 years ago. People change.

    To the people saying “they probably work in a factory so go torture them with your job”, what makes you think a PhD and a job at Google is going to impress a factory worker? It would not have impressed my grandfather who was a welder and if he was still alive would tell me to stop this computer stuff and get a real job (just kidding)

    Anyway, I’m glad you got this off your chest sir, but you need to stop living in the past. Ignore people that want to get in touch with you that you don’t want to talk to, but the psychological toll has to be paid at some point so that you can move on.

  176. #176 Vincent
    July 17, 2009

    It’s an interesting post to read, considering I’m currently in the process of organising my own 10-year highschool reunion. I was teased myself at school, but I also made some great friends and, while I certainly don’t feel I need to see everyone again, I’m think why not go and have a party anyway.

    Personally, I think it’s always best to face your demons, to grow “more up” as it were, than to imagine how hellish it’s going to be. If you don’t go, “the terrorists win.” :)

    P.s. some of the people that teased me back then are now nothing more than losers in life.

  177. #177 GB
    July 17, 2009

    Columbine was the Best thing that ever happened to us.

  178. #178 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 17, 2009

    Re #108:

    Not to sound like a jerk, but I think it’s pretty screwed up that you turned around and had kids after that. You really think the horrible time you had in school could have been avoided just by knowing karate? Life is more complex than that.

    Why would I not have kids?

    Like I said in the post: my life is good. I’ve a wife that I’m crazy about. I’ve got a job that I love to do. I’ve got good friends. I’m an incredibly lucky, happy person.

    High school was hell. It was a horrible four years, the worst four years of my life. But I’m almost 43 years old. The vast majority of my life has been damn good.

    I don’t believe that my kids will go through as much misery in school as I did. Partly, that’s because they’ll be able to defend themselves. Partly, that’s because I’ll go to the ends of the earth to defend them. If either of my kids winds up dealing with a principal like the one who made the “What do you want, an armed guard” comment, I’ll sue the living shit out of the school system, and move my kids to a decent private school.

    But even if they do wind up with as horrible a high school experience as I had – they’ll still have the rest of their lives. And like me, they’ll have the chance to have a great life.

  179. #179 JJN
    July 17, 2009

    Wow. I guess I was somewhat lucky. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I have ADD – the inattentive type. So between that and my jean jacket I just kinda fell in with the ‘stoners.’ People thought I was stoned all the time. But I only ever smoked pot at school once.

    I did see some other kids get beat on though and I did (and still do) feel guilty about not doing something about it.

    I also had some fun and good times. There are some people who I would like to see again but for never enough to actually attend a reunion.

  180. #180 Phil
    July 17, 2009

    Much respect from Canada; I think you should be proud this essay is striking a chord with thousands of people!

  181. #181 John McDonald
    July 17, 2009

    Hey man,

    Read your post, and it resonated. I don’t know why this isn’t talked about more, because it seems to be a somewhat common experience to just about every interesting adult I’ve met in my life. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a quasi-evolutionary way of making you stronger. Of course, I know that’s somewhat bullshit because I’m told that it’s not “the lord of the flies” in other countries.

    Two things:

    I’m about ten years younger than you, and at some point, I found real friends in high school. They were all older then me, and many of them were completely fucking crazy. This is what a lot of the punk youth culture was about originally (at least for me.) You tend to get fucked with less when your standing next to a brilliant poet with a 1.2 GPA and a 1540 SAT score who carries a knife, doesn’t give a fuck, and thinks of you as family. I’m sorry you never found any genuine human connection in high school, but I would have been your friend. :>

    Second, I’m as agnostic as they come, but maybe it would be good for your soul to forgive these people. They were just kids. Stupid kids naturally, but people is people. The guy that broke your fingers.. what are the odds his dad abused him at home? I’m not excusing anything; I’m just saying – people is people.

    Now, the administration, I can see harboring some ill will. It’s amazing to me how grown adults can be so vindictive against little children. I remember many, many times where teachers singled me out and fucked with me just because I was smarter than they were. And this was actively; who knows what they allowed to happen passively.

  182. #182 Kay
    July 17, 2009

    For those who are saying to just get over it: We have gotten over it. We have moved on, built successful lives, and now have the ability to choose our peers, rather than have them thrust upon us. I agree with the comment about why there are no prison reunions; why would anyone want to revisit a time/place of extended unhappiness, abuse and/or trauma?

    Thanks for posting this, Mark. I had been concerned by the fact that thinking about high school and most all the people there did nothing but make me a little nauseous.

    Also, I think the martial arts instruction is a great plan. And I would imagine that in a properly run dojo, it would build better social skills, not to mention social conscience, than those acquired during traditional team sports.

  183. #183 Seth
    July 17, 2009

    My 10-year reunion is this month, and people have been doing the same thing on facebook and asking me why I’m not going. During middle school I was bullied terribly because of my small stature (46 pounds in 7th grade) and smart ass mouth, and by high school I was a nerd but had developed enough social skills and friends that I didn’t have to worry about being picked on physically anymore. Also, my high school class was relatively tolerant and liquid and for the most part people floated among the stereotypical cliques without looking down on each other, but there are several reasons I have decided not to attend. I had friends who, like you, were ostracized all the way through high school and hated it, so I don’t blame you at all. In my experience public school systems are tailored to meet the needs of the stupidest students and generally don’t have much to offer the accelerated, intelligent students.

  184. #184 Anon
    July 17, 2009

    You don’t need to go back to your reunion, but you do need to let that anger go. I’m sorry to hear about your experience.

  185. #185 Johannes
    July 17, 2009

    *standing ovation* Bravo.

  186. #186 Anon
    July 17, 2009

    You don’t need to go back to your reunion, but you do need to let that anger go. I’m sorry to hear about your experience.

  187. #187 Daniel Berns
    July 17, 2009

    I am a nerd, also. I was bullied during a very long time (seven years) by the same person. However, one day he pushed me to the edge and I exploded. I am skinny, but very tall and strong (I worked chopping and carrying wood sticks after school), so he got several harsh strokes as retribution.
    Time past. The harshest stroke for him was the high school reunion. Why? Because these 25 years gave me peace and confidence, and he is the same old bully, repeating the same old jokes and the same old ideas. He lost the last 25 years. He doesnt grow.

    You have a nice family, and a fantastic work. You write a blog with 2796970 readers (as sitemeter wrote below this box). I am sure there are other happy facts in your current life. These facts are your life justification. Your old fellows abuses are nothing compared with your life now.

    I am not saying you must go the meeting. I only said you must discard fear and rage, because these feelings are the last abuse your fellows inflicted upon you

  188. #188 barbarismi
    July 17, 2009

    right – if you haven’t been in touch for 25 years there is a reason – why should you waste your time w/those hypocrites? – james bond: live and let die…

  189. #189 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 17, 2009

    Re #113:

    You’re out of your fucking mind.

    You think I passively let someone break my fingers? That I stood there with a smile and let it happen?

    I don’t think that the world was or is a rotten place. If you bothered to actually read the post, you’d see that, very clearly.

    As for the whole “you’re denying them the opportunity to apologize and show you that they’re not the same people as they were 25 years ago”… I can’t quite wrap my mind around the reasoning behind that. Someone abused me years ago, and therefore I owe them something? No. That’s just insane.

  190. #190 Robert Taylor
    July 17, 2009

    Hey Mark, I know you’re probably exhausted of reading feedback, but I want to give you mine for what its worth:

    I was a social outcast in high school. I had few friends, and no best friends. I was a geek, but the difference for me was that I wasn’t exactly bad looking. So I became an outsider. I wasn’t beat up but I was definitely not accepted in any circles.

    What happened to you was TERRIBLE. Jesus you really had it bad. I had a bit of unique situation and I hope you can reflect on this: I was hated by faculty. I was intelligent, insubordinate and with the power of Wikipedia was always pointing out the lies they teach in school. This made me in many aspects more of a threat than you. I’m very lucky I made it through school. Not once did I have sex, and not once did I even have a girlfriend.

    So I feel for your story.

  191. #191 Darw1n
    July 17, 2009

    Hey man, fyi karate is pretty much useless in a real fight. I would teach your kid how to box and maybe jujitsu (sp?) or wrestling. Boxing is a great workout and a HUGE advantage in a fight. Also as a fellow geek I find having a sport and or something to train for not only gets you in great shape and keeps you healthy but it also focuses my mind in a huge way. I can accomplish pretty much anything I put my mind to (or at least I feel like that most of the time). Anyways good for you man, keep fighting the good fight!

  192. #192 300baud
    July 17, 2009

    Judo is more appropriate for what you are after. It is non-injurious. Rather than striking and hurting, it is about controlling and rendering harmless.

  193. #193 Mark Richards
    July 17, 2009

    Am I the only one here who had a great time in high school? I was lucky (or smart) enough to go to Stuyvesant- one of NYC’s public specialized math and science high schools. It was an entire school of geeky people fascinated by anything and everything- biology, chemistry, physics, math, computers, history, foreign languages.

    If you have a geeky kid and want them to be happy- find a school like that.

  194. #194 DJ
    July 17, 2009

    Preach it brother! The only thing that saved me was a bulking up in my last two HS years. At that point most thought of me as too risky a target. But I do know your pain and loathing. Hopefully you are experiencing a success they will never know.

  195. #195 Anonymous
    July 17, 2009

    I feel sorry for your children.

  196. #196 bongozap
    July 17, 2009

    Great post.

    I graduated in ’81. High school wasn’t as bad for me as my tormentors were in elementary and middle school. I was always a new kid (dad was in the military – mom was in grad school) and as my birthday was in the summer, I was always the youngest and smallest kid. So I got picked on a lot. Once, some kids broke my arm pushing me into a pit in school.

    I was also a geek and I was constantly teased and ridiculed.

    Near the end of my 8th grade year, we had a school picnic with a baseball game. The one thing I had done early on was little league so I looked forward to playing so I could hopefully show them all that I wasn’t a complete loser.

    I sat on the bench the whole game waiting for an opportunity that never came. My aunt made a point of ripping the coach and the principal a new one over it. The class leader pulled me aside and apologized. But a small part of me still hurts over it.

    Early high school was marginally better, but by my junior year, I discovered music and band and friends. But I carried those elementary and middle school hurts for years.

    As a father of 2 boys, I can relate. My oldest is a jock but he’s sensitive and a pretty cool kid. My youngest is more like me and, in his own way, is cool too. In later life I picked up some karate and I’ve already started teaching the little one.

    Anyway…thanks for this. Reading the posts makes me understand I how much I have in common I have with so many people I’ve never met.

  197. #197 Ewicki
    July 17, 2009

    I, too, attended school in suburban NJ. I did not suffer from much physical abuse apart from one bully who was about a good foot taller than I am (I’m a towering 5’4″). I remember one day when I stood up for myself. He was following behind me with his friend and he kept poking me in the back, telling his bully cohort that I wouldn’t do anything.

    I turned around and punched him in the neck. Didn’t phase him. “See? I told you he wouldn’t do anything” he chortled. Brought me down a lot.

    I also got a lot of flack because, somehow, word got out that I was mentally ill (I live with bipolar disorder). You can imagine how lovely that was.

    I remember a time when, in graphic design class, some people dumped pencil shavings on my head. The teacher didn’t do anything.

    I had so many problems at home with an alcoholic father that I eventually got to a point where none of the verbal or physical abuse phased me anymore so the bullies all gave up. Wasn’t until I went to weekly meetings within the school for kids with alcoholic fathers that I saw ALL of the bullies there and they tried to be nice to me. Screw them.

    I’m right there with you in a way, but I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you to go through all that you did. You must be an incredibly strong person.

    Stay strong!

  198. #198 Henry
    July 17, 2009

    Any black belt awarded to a 4th grader is a fraud; you should beat up the kid’s karate instructor for ripping you off – financial bullying.

  199. #199 Aarfy
    July 17, 2009

    it takes a big man to forgive people. time to let things go.

  200. #200 BrianG
    July 17, 2009

    Re: #160:

    LOL, you work at Google and have a PhD. Your bullies are probably hitting their 20th year in a factory or construction job. You win.

    +1. Congratulations on your success despite your miserable experiences in high school.

    I suspect that guilty feelings motivate some of those attempts at Facebook friending. If they want to step up as the gentleman in this thread has done and say “I bullied you in high school, and I’m sorry,” that might be a different ball of wax, but I think they’re in that other category of bullies don’t have a clue about the damage that they caused.

  201. #201 ted
    July 17, 2009

    wow, so you’re raising your kid to be just like you, that’s awful.

    btw a black belt in karate won’t help anyone do anything are you kidding? that stuff’s not really about fighting, you don’t get the practice you need. try brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing or muay thai any of the above are actually legit. some gay mcdojo won’t help.

    and anyways why not help him get a black belt in social skills? that’s much more important.

  202. #202 Paul
    July 17, 2009

    Kay @181 makes a good point. Some people are saying that it’s wrong/sad/self-destructive that Mark still “holds grudges” from things that happened 25 or more years ago. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that he still spends a lot of time in his everyday life dwelling on things that happened in high school. It’s just that invitations to a high school reunion, and having former bullies send messages to him talking like they are old friends, brings up bad memories. Even if people have changed a lot in the last 25 years, and even if you have forgiven them, that doesn’t just erase the pain – which in this case was a lot worse than verbal taunting or the occasional trip or shove.

  203. #203 Johannes
    July 17, 2009

    *standing ovation* Bravo.

  204. #204 Alex B
    July 17, 2009

    It was really great to read this. While I was the sibling with social skills, fighting ability, and was an all around bitch, my brother who was two years older than me didn’t. Where I had friends he had intelligence, where I had sports he had computer games. But what I lacked in being a good person, he made up for in his pureness of heart.

    I fought his fights for him many times, but I remember clearly one time some assholes pushed him into a trash can during lunch. I was unbearably livid, I’m starting to tear up now thinking about it. I just remember going to town on the asshole, who wasn’t expecting my brothers little sister to flip out like I did. Even though “fighting isn’t the answer”, I don’t think my mum had been more proud to pick me up from school for being suspended.

    My brother and I had our differences growing up, and it wasn’t exactly pleasant. But I love my brother and wouldn’t stand for anyone degrading him. Who the fuck did they think they were? They didn’t know him and how dare they think that they can judge his quality based on their inferiority complex based judgments.

    Even my grandmother last week tried saying that he wasn’t going anywhere in life. And yet again, I found myself explaining that he is smarter person and a better person than I will ever be.

    In a longwinded way I am saying that even as someone who didn’t experience the kind of experiences you went through, what you are saying still give me a sense of contentment. So I say, GOOD ON YOU.

  205. #205 Andy Nonomus
    July 17, 2009

    I can understand your emotions when dealing with people that have wronged you. I too was treated poorly by others while growing up…..but I, while being geeky, also had some social skills and tended to hide out in the middle of social stratification.

    My great error was that I fell into a pattern of abusing others as recourse for being abused. The old….well I was hazed so now that I am in a position of some power I shall haze others…approach to life. I have to state that I feel terrible for some of my actions. It is not that I expect anyone I have wronged to forgive me or accept that I have changed, but I do want them to know that They were not really the targets of my abuse. I was. They were merely an extension of the trauma in my own life. They were victimized because I did not know how to handle my struggles…..social wise, depression wise, image wise, dysfunctional family wise, etc etc. It was easier to lash out than to try and fix what was broken in my own world….Misery loves company.

    So, I sometimes wish for the opportunity to speak with kids I once abused. I want them to know that they were really much cooler than me in a lot of ways. They were treated incredibly harshly and I can not apologize enough. For many of them I would go wildly out of my way to make amends. Their youthful anguishes are some of my only adult regrets, their pain from the past is my present pain.

    Maybe it is self centered for me to think this, but I feel that if I could tell them how sorry I am, and give them a little background on some of the shit I dealt with in life during that time in life when I least understood life, it would relate us a bit more and possibly uplift them. Your image of them could be all wrong. School may have been the one place in the world where they had power. In the rest of their life, they could be just like you….abused, under appreciated, and continually harmed. They learned their patterns of behavior somewhere.

    There is no need for hate in this world…..what I would hope to bring to the table is understanding. Your kids don’t need to beat kids up to be protected…..they need to understand others more. Perhaps the bully taking his shit out on your kid is beat regularly at home from an abusive alcoholic parent….why add to his or her troubles with a public ass kicking in school. Peaceful resistance and understanding may be a better tool to get that kid to just stop attacking others….violence may only beget more violence.

    Go to your reunion if for no other reason than to gain knowledge and perspective on the world. You ask why give these people a chance and not just start fresh with new people….well, cause you have seen these people in their dark times and now perhaps you can see them in a new light. Redemption fosters hope. Maybe it would bring you a sense of hope in others….you are passing on some of your neuroses to your children under the guise of equipping them with tools for survival….your giving them the tools you thought you needed while growing up….maybe through facing your past you will see that there are other tools just as important for your kids as Karate…..maybe confronting your childhood will give you a better perspective to help shape the lives of your children. Maybe?

  206. #206 MissPrism
    July 17, 2009

    I agree wholeheartedly with Paul @ 202.

    I mean, Mark, if you’d converted your basement into a purpose-built hate-shrine with voodoo dolls and picture-frame dartboards, then you probably would do better to take some of the “get over it” comments to heart. But since all you’ve done is tell the bullies to piss off when THEY contacted YOU, it sounds like you’ve already moved on very well indeed. Congratulations.

  207. #207 Oh brother
    July 17, 2009

    Simple. They let it go. You didn’t. They moved on with their lives, you convinced yourself that a pony tail with a bald spot in it was a good addition to the hockey jersey.

    Seems like the only one still holding onto the crap is you.

    Maybe put some of that google money to good use in therapy to get the last of that scar tissue off your psyche. I did.

    Maybe they’re opening up to you because they feel bad? I’ve been apologized to 20 years later for getting picked on, and it all comes down to the fact that kids are jerks. We laughed. I was a nerd, he was a jock. We don’t divide by those lines anymore. We’re all grown up.

    Perhaps they’ve become adults? Unlike you they’ve come to grips with their childhood and want to move on.

    But hey who cares! People were mean to you in school and since you were the only one out there in the history of the world it’s a good thing you blogged about it.

    Lastly, this is the kind of pathetic, passive aggressive behaviour that made you so few friends in the first place. If you could have told any of them this directly you could have dealt with the issue head on and not have had to blog about it and most importantly I wouldn’t have to have read it.

    Buck up little soldier. We’re all going through it. I just refuse to blog about it.

    HIGH SCHOOL IS NOT LIFE.

  208. #208 Stan
    July 17, 2009

    Schools suck bad and are getting worse.
    The best students are treated like crap and the jocks are put on a pedestal.

  209. #209 Johnny Goodman
    July 17, 2009

    You are strong to post this. I thank you for doing it.

    I was middle of the road in high school. I didn’t abuse but I didn’t seek out friends or protect the vulnerable either.

    I will be thinking about this post, and your broken fingers, for some time.

  210. #210 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 17, 2009

    Re #151:

    I know that the past hurts, but sometimes, as previously mentioned, people change. A lot of these people (who you wouldn’t even want to f*cking know now) may really be nice guys.

    Where’s your forgiveness? Do you not believe in it?

    You don’t know what happened to the bullies in high school. Sure, they beat you up, but some of them may have been molested as a child by their fathers/etc. That’s 100x worse than what you went through.

    25 years later you’re still not ready to forgive them. Wow. That’s pitiful.

    They might be nice people now, but that doesn’t mean that I should want to spend time with me.

    As for forgiveness… I’m not a christian. No, I don’t believe in that kind of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a process with two sides – the person who does the harm, and the person who is harmed. Real forgiveness isn’t one-sided. You don’t forgive someone who doesn’t even believe they have anything to be forgiven *for*. If one of the assholes who did all that shit to me were to get in touch with me and apologize, then genuine forgiveness would be possible. But one-sided? No. Like I said, you can’t forgive someone who hasn’t admitted that they did anything that needs forgiveness. You can let it go, let it not be an active part of your life, but you can’t forgive it.

    I’m not “holding a grudge”. I haven’t spent the last 25 years sitting and stewing about how much I hate the people who were cruel to me. For the first couple of years after high school, yeah, I did do that. But then I moved on. I’ve been living my life, with that awful time as a dark period in my memories, but a dark period that’s long over with.

    I haven’t forgiven them for what they did to me. But I haven’t held on to it and made it a focal point of my life, either. I moved on, and built myself the life that I have now.

    But I don’t owe them anything. Not forgiveness. Not my time. Not contact with me or my family. Nothing.

  211. #211 papa zita
    July 17, 2009

    I had a few friends (and a lot who weren’t unpleasant), but being terribly fat in H.S. was a limiting factor to how many people would speak to me. Plus I mistrusted a lot of my classmates (been burned too many times), and had a lot of stress in my life (having to help take care of a dying parent is awfully stressful), so H.S. kinda was a place I had to be, but didn’t find pleasant. One year later, after everything changed (I went to college, my parent died, I lost all the excess weight – it was like it was symbolic of the burden I carried), all these people from H.S. came out of the woodwork and suddenly were very friendly. Luckily I changed colleges soon after. I never forgot that lesson.

    I went to my 10 year reunion, just to tweak a few people and make a point. I first pretended to be part of the hotel staff the reunion was in, until someone recognized me, amused myself at other people’s expense (I made a point of flirting with the married women and avoiding the single/divorced ones) and then left after the class reunion photo was taken. To this day, I haven’t gone to another reunion.

  212. #212 Trent Hamm
    July 17, 2009

    I understand the desire to not want to go to a reunion because you have nothing in common with these people. But rage because of adolescent hormone-fueled immaturity that happened 25-30 years ago is a little, uh, questionable.

    Don’t go if you don’t like the people. But they’re not like they were when they were fifteen, without worldly experience and swimming in hormones. Showing rage at them now? Why?

  213. #213 Geoff K
    July 17, 2009

    My 25 is this year, getting hounded, on FB, I was like the king of the geeks, I had enough physical strength, agility and karate to stop a lot of the silly bs I saw going on. High School is a very artificial world, full of forced social contacts on totally arbitrary means…

    I went to a pre-party for my 20th (not the reunion, they have horrid formal events, ick)and the far and away the best part was the two most abused geeks, I felt horrible for the way they where treated, had gone on to be very, very successful and happy. Meanwhile, many of the complete alpha-male knuckle dragging silver back flesh-apes, where gaping holes of suck, tainting everything around them with their negative attitude.

    That one evening did much for restoring my faith in kindness and goodwill.

    Also I would like to say I think that having your fingers broken, is criminal, and having no action taken in reaction is worse.

  214. #214 Ken
    July 17, 2009

    I remember the same thing happening to me. Except I did play sports, Baseball, and 3 guys in particular picked on me so much during my freshman year. I was so miserable. My 15 year reunion came to my wife in Facebook (I hate that site) and she said we should go. Till I told her how miserable it was for me.

  215. #215 lufft
    July 17, 2009

    Clearly you grew up in the wrong suburbs of New Jersey. Maybe if you grew up in West Windsor, Plainsboro, Tenafly, Princeton, Millburn, etc. you would have had a much more enjoyable high school experience. (These towns have high schools that always have plenty of geeks… to the point where geeks are cooler than jocks)

    That being said, perhaps you should raise your son in one of these towns.

  216. #216 Alex B
    July 17, 2009

    Ted @ 201, there are many things wrong with your comment.

    1) How is encouraging them to stand up for themselves raising his kids to be just like him.
    2)Also, from what I have read, Mark sounds like a headstrong and successful guy, so who says that that is a bad thing anyway?
    3) And unless you know Mark personally and know how he raises his kids, who the fuck are you to judge how he raises his kids based on a paragraph?
    4) I also didn’t realize you were trained in Karate, Jiu Jitsu, Boxing, and Muay Thai, that’s really impressive! (Obviously in order to really judge them and make that kind of
    outlandish statement you must be, so I made the assumption.)
    5) It is physically impossible for a concept or sport, like Karate, that doesn’t have a thinking mechanism to have a sexual preference towards itself. So if you want to actually make a valid statement, how about you don’t use a description incorrectly-for example, “gay”-and actually use terms that relate to what you are trying to say.
    6) I believe that you take a CLASS for Karate, and in that class, you have to interact with OTHER PEOPLE, so the most logical assumption is that his son will have to interact with the other students socially…so he actually IS encouraging social skills by taking his son to a Karate class.

    Next time you try to make a comment, please think beforehand. Thank you.

  217. #217 Angie
    July 17, 2009

    I have a similar issue. I was the fat, nerdy girl in highschool and people treated me like crap. It hasn’t even been ten years since I graduated and alot of the people who tormented me in highschool are trying to friend me.

  218. #218 Darw1n
    July 17, 2009

    Hey man, fyi karate is pretty much useless in a real fight. I would teach your kid how to box and maybe jujitsu (sp?) or wrestling. Boxing is a great workout and a HUGE advantage in a fight. Also as a fellow geek I find having a sport and or something to train for not only gets you in great shape and keeps you healthy but it also focuses my mind in a huge way. I can accomplish pretty much anything I put my mind to (or at least I feel like that most of the time). Anyways good for you man, keep fighting the good fight!

  219. #219 Weaksauce
    July 17, 2009

    “I’ve got a good life now.”

    Care showing it to us? With all your math smarts you’ve failed in the life department.

  220. #220 Jud
    July 17, 2009

    Hey Mark, first off it’s good to see you posting again (after reading re-posts of archived material about your depression, which concerned me a bit to the extent it might refer to your current state of mind).

    I made some very good friends in college

    Yeah, that’s really what saved me in junior high and high school. Some other kids introduced me to Dan as a “You think you’re so smart, here’s a kid that’s smarter than you!” type of thing, expecting me to be as bothered by Dan as they evidently were by me. For me it was completely wonderful – I did then and do now like nothing better than to be around people who know lots more than I do, from whom I can learn, and who I can just enjoy being around. Dan and I were inseparable for 6 years, until we went to separate colleges.

    Not only was Dan smarter than I was, he was (and is) a much better person. I literally never heard him say a bad word about anyone. He truly lived (and from everything I know continues to live) by the proposition that you should treat everyone else the way you would want to be treated. For this, Dan was just as much a social outcast as I was, perhaps more. When I saw how everyone acted toward Dan, it made me realize I wasn’t an outcast because there was something terribly wrong with me (there was pretty obviously nothing wrong with Dan), but that’s just the way smart non-jocks were treated. It was too late to change the opinions of all the people who already knew me in junior high and high school (unlike Dan, I’d already responded to the other kids by acting obnoxious and being a jerk right back to them, which didn’t win me any friends). But the experience enabled me to take some understanding rather than a chip on my shoulder to college, and helped make my life in college and since then one that’s had its fair share of good friends and joy.

    I’ve been to a couple of reunions (the 20th and 30th, might hit the 40th – every 5 years would be a little too often ;-) just to say hello and talk to a couple of folks I thought were nice and remain curious about. Somewhere along the line my outcast status back then and the kids who enforced it lost its emotional importance for me, and I can treat all my classmates as just folks. Considering the entirely terrible way you were treated, it would take a superhuman effort for you to do the same, and I’m not suggesting you try. (For all those who said you should “just get over it,” the record number of comments on your post says all that needs to be said about how important these formative experiences remain for most of us.)

    But I do wish for you what you already seem to have in some measure, a life with enough satisfaction, love, friendship and happiness that you don’t happen to have to think about the tough times more than once in a blue moon.

  221. #221 mbe
    July 17, 2009

    School is a prison and you were the prison bitch – that sucks but people ought not be judged by their behavior in an institutional environment, a lot of it is panic, fear and misdirected anger. You had no social skills and you still have none, but sitting behind a computer at Google you make big $! Good for you, that’s where you belong! But your son doesn’t have to be such a punk – try helping him understand why people act the way they act – you may discover some things about yourself too – he may not have to fight so much as you think and live out your lingering adolescent fantasies of retribution. Most kids face more than one bully at a time, if he’s going to be face them down without becoming a bully himself he might actually have to learn to make “friends” …. I know, terrible stuff but no man is an island. Best of luck.

  222. #222 John McDonald
    July 17, 2009

    I find the undercurrent of “my martial art is better” to be hilarious. Geek habits die hard. :>

    In my experience, if you talk to any martial arts instructor, they are, in essence, surrogate male role models. (This is not at all a slight against anyone as a parent; I’ll be sending my own kids to whichever local school seems to have the least sociopathic instructors.) It’s not so much about breaking your metaphorical attacker’s arm, but more giving you confidence and grace and allowing you to be comfortable in your own skin. A quiet dignity that comes from knowing you have some small — albeit unreliable and unpredictable — element of control over your own environment.

  223. #223 Hman
    July 17, 2009

    This HAS to be one of the greatest things I read in a long time, thanks for sharing, and keep ignoring those f*ckers!

  224. #224 steve
    July 17, 2009

    Mark

    I graduated from high school nearly 10 years ago and i will be the first to admit that I was a bully. I hope I never reached the level that you suffered through and I never physically abused anyone outside of stuffing them in a locker here and there. My point here is that I am debating skipping my 10 yr reunion out out shame.

    I was one of the “popular guys” captain of the football team and basketball. Dated the pretty girl and all of that junk but since I have finished there I have come the realization that I just wasnt a good person back then. I still have many many dear friends from my high school days and I cherish those frinedships but after reading your post it makes me feel that I couldnt even look the people I treated poorly in the eye.

    On behalf of all bullys I apologize, I realize it does no good at this late point but still the same I am sorry to all of you who suffered at the hands of assholes like me.

    S

  225. #225 paul
    July 17, 2009

    I am teary eyed. Bravo. Amen. I wish this was a podcast so I could turn up the volume and play that again.

  226. #226 Not a Geek
    July 17, 2009

    Nice. :) I’m not smart enough to be a geek but I can definitely relate to your experience. I also cut all ties to the people I knew in high school.

    Although sometimes I can’t help looking back, I have no interest in talking to any of the people I disliked back then nor do I care about their lives.

  227. #227 Anonymous
    July 17, 2009

    I fully support your decision to not attend. Given the hardcore anti-intellectualism rampant in society today, it is probably very likely that you would face the exact same abuse if you did attend. Disdain for the knowledgeable, rejection of the rational, and militant defense of self-righteous idiocy is the prevalent theme today.

    Just look at the last comment before I’m writing this, an imbecile calling themselves Weaksauce feels confident enough to insult you and point out your math skills as a detriment. That is the soul of society today.

    Find the few that still have the brains to appreciate intelligence near you and go out for dinner that night. Toast your knowledge and dedication to reason while those at the reunion will be marvelling at how little any of them have changed, since none of them are likely to have matured at all.

  228. #228 Michael B
    July 17, 2009

    Sympathize with all of your remarks. I was picked on steadily until I grew to about 6 feet, and then mysteriously most of the physical abuse ended…

    Karate is a great start, but it is difficult to apply in street fights. Which isn’t to say Karate practitioners are the first people you want to mess with, simply that it’s more like how you need to be an expert light saber user to compete with an average grunt with a blaster. Black belt doesn’t imply mastery either, all it represents is commitment to the art, which while being nothing to sneeze at is still a long way from being a force to be reckoned with. It may even backfire since if his black belt gets out all of the jocks are going to hunt him down to prove their status.

    I highly recommend adding Aikido (Japanese) or Hapkido (Korean) to his skillset *immediately*. They’re much easier for non-professional fighters to apply in a tense situation and both reinforce the same self-defense aspects found in Karate and Taekwondo.

    The only reason Aikido/Hapkido aren’t common in, say, UFC, is because most of their techniques are against the rules despite being very effective; small joint manipulations can end many fights quickly. As you know, there are no rules in school fights.

    Best wishes.

  229. #229 Kevin
    July 17, 2009

    Well said Mark, fuck them. This made my day.

  230. #230 Perspective.
    July 17, 2009

    Look people shouldn’t hurt other people period.

    That being said pretty much EVERYONE has been emotionally scared by somebody else hurting them. I got picked on and beat-up just like everyone else, it sucked, but it also taught me valuable lessons about restraint, pain, and courage.

    Meanwhile, people are being tortured and killed in places like iran. Our suffering as outcasts when we were young seems totally self-centered in this light. I may just be kranky this morning, but publicizing the oppression of geeks as youngsters seems to take away from the people who have /really/ suffered. Thankfully, I can only imagine what that must be like.

  231. #231 Surfer
    July 17, 2009

    Hey, I understand. Been there, Done that, was in same position.

    The core difference: I moved past that bitterness. Hell, if nothing else, I can go back and look at all the people and go, yeah, I’m better than that. Sure, we may have almost nothing to share but I don’t have to let my memories be tainted by bitterness and anger, hatred and despair. Just like you, it was my fault for causing that situation. But you know what? Kids will be kids. That DOES happen. The adult thinks differently from children.

    I was the geeky little shit that wore big glasses, hair trimmed close to the head, loved his calculator, programmed computers, didn’t have money. Now, I have long hair, wear contacts, have a lovely wife, drive a mustang convertible, and I still program computers. I doubt they’ll be doing anywhere near as well. And all I want is for just one person to go “How did that happen to you?”

    It’s because I used my mind, not my emotions.

    Start there and get past that bitterness. And in case you need it said another way: That crap they did to you in high school was a form of control. Why let them continue to control you and your emotions now? Decide you don’t need that and move past it.

  232. #232 Dennis
    July 17, 2009

    Paul Graham has a great essay on why high school is so horrible: http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

  233. #233 Geoff K
    July 17, 2009

    @224, Mark your shame is precisely why you need to go, and face it and grow from it, in my opinion, you can never fix what you did, only change what you will do, and fully facing those wronged with honesty will help. Just an opinion.

  234. #234 anniet
    July 17, 2009

    I have to agree with the person who said it’s unfortunate that you’re not willing to forgive. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you condone or accept the behavior; it means you’re moving on for your OWN sake, and deciding to let the past stay in the past. It doesn’t mean that you have to like or even talk with those people, honestly. You can forgive and they’ll never know it. It seems that you are indeed holding on to what those kids did to you, and if anything, that causes YOU more pain. (FWIW I am an atheist so this has nothing to do with WWJD or anything like that.)

    I had it pretty rough in high school as well, and I didn’t go to my 10-year reunion. Just didn’t feel the need to see those people. And it’s OK that you don’t want to go to your reunion, too, but I worry that you carry so much rage and hatred that it can still affect you. So forgiveness, in this case, isn’t about approving the horrible things that were done to you. It’s not about being Facebook friends with those people. Instead, it means letting go of the bitterness, leaving those events in the past, and finding peace for yourself.

    Conversely, it may be worth simply saying to those people, “I’m not sure why you are Facebooking me. You did XYZ to me in high school, and that made my life a living hell. I’m sure you can understand why I’m not eager to befriend you now.” Some people may give you heartfelt apologies (I’ve received some) and others may tell you to get over it. But either way, you’ll have expressed yourself, which is key.

    I wish you luck!

  235. #235 Fred Clausen
    July 17, 2009

    “Almost every geeky kid gets socially ostracized. Almost all get mocked. In fact, almost all face some physical abuse.”

    Well, that doesn’t sound very scientific at all.

  236. #236 Marcus Ward
    July 17, 2009

    My experience in high school was similar to yours, minus the broken fingers (holy crap wtf!!). And my feelings towards these assclowns friending me on facebook is the same. I typed up a horrible rant about it, haven’t published it yet, but I may. It’s less civilized than yours and uses the f-bomb liberally, but the point is the same. One thing about high school – when I heard about columbine, I knew how those kids felt, and I knew why they did it. That’s how bad it is, dealing with bullying. I feel for you, brother.

  237. #237 Rob
    July 17, 2009

    Good stuff Mark.

    You toughed out some really rough stuff in HS and still came out a champ.

    I don’t think many people could have endured so much without wavering in their goals in life.

    I actually think it’s worth while to go to the reunion. Not because you’re their to show them up. Not because they asked you to.

    But because you can go and show them that despite _all_ of that shit they put you through.

    You still stand tall and you’ve made it but more importantly that you made it with a smile. And when that facker who broke your fingers steps up to you to say hi. You say “hey, how’s it going”. Introduce yourself to his wife. And say, yea your husband here is a great guy, he decided to break my fingers in HS because he wanted to know what it sounded like. Smile and walk.

  238. #238 Word
    July 17, 2009

    Amen. That is all.

  239. #239 Ryan
    July 17, 2009

    Although I didn’t share your experience due to honors classes, an excellent school, and social aptitude, you still have my sympathies. I saw some crazy shit happen at my HS and felt awful for the kids on the receiving end, but I liked my nose how it was so I didn’t get involved. I wish I had.

  240. #240 Fred Clausen
    July 17, 2009

    “Almost every geeky kid gets socially ostracized. Almost all get mocked. In fact, almost all face some physical abuse.”

    Well, that doesn’t sound very scientific at all.

  241. #241 Jack Wilson
    July 17, 2009

    Mark, you are an intelligent person who probably solves complex computer problems with ease but can’t face and deal with relatively simple human relationship issues.

    There are plenty of ways for geeks and other outcasts to deal with bullying, but it takes creativity and some spunk.

    By holding a grudge for decades and training your kids in martial arts rather than using their wits to combat bullying you may be setting your children up for the same sort of abuse.

  242. #242 Let it go
    July 17, 2009

    Bitter much?

  243. #243 TL
    July 17, 2009

    You sound bitter.

  244. #244 Never Hazed
    July 17, 2009

    Hey, great post. I was lucky in that hazing was relatively low keyed at my school. I had hearing aids and was quiet. It was a small town. There was only one jerk with one encounter. What made him not do it again was a girl (not a cheerleader but on some kind of dance squad) came over and apologized for him and hung out with me. She was nice.

    I can only imagine how it must feel to have these people actually try to ignore the past. You are right to tell them to fuck off. You have every reason to be proud of where you are at.

    One thing I do recommend is having your kids do something in addition to or alternative to karate. I personally ended up grappling and doing jiu jitsu. The karate classes I took didn’t have regular sparring. Maybe yours does. In any event, grappling and jiujitsu incorporates sparring into their training so one gets used to actually having others grab, kick, choke you and how to respond. One more art that I haven’t tried that seems pragmatic is krav maga.

  245. #245 STAN
    July 17, 2009

    Not only did the kids at school pick on me too, but my father was abusing me also.

    Personally, I would not even give them the pleasure of a rebuttal!

    Stan

  246. #246 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 17, 2009

    “I’ve got a good life now.”

    Care showing it to us? With all your math smarts you’ve failed in the life department.

    I’ve failed in the life department? How exactly?

    I’ve got my dream job, doing something that I enjoy for one of the coolest companies in the world, and which pays really well. I’ve been happily married for 15 years. I’ve got two wonderful, bright kids. I’ve got friends who I love dearly.

    My life isn’t perfect, but it’s damned good, and I’m happy with it. I’ve been ridiculously lucky, and I’ve done my damnedest to take advantage of the opportunities that life and luck have offered me. And it’s worked out well so far. I don’t know what the future holds. Things could fall apart tomorrow. But for today, life is good, and I’m happy.

  247. #247 Martin F
    July 17, 2009

    Great post, Mark. It´s not easy writing these things but you did an excellent job.

  248. #248 Anon
    July 17, 2009

    I never saw this blog before, was linked to it from reddit.

    I’m really sorry to hear about all that. I too was an outcast in high school but I never got beat up. Almost..this one time in freshman year, this dumb fat fuck pushed me up against the wall and he was going to try to do something, but people stopped him. That was about it.

    You know why I never actually got beat up? Funny story..I was really quiet so everyone thought that I was going to shoot up the school one day. People were literally asking me when I was going to do it. Hahaha. So I was the outcast but I was not one to fuck with!

  249. #249 Sarah
    July 17, 2009

    School reunions make me feel the same way. I was so glad I was overseas when the 10 year one came around. My non-attendance apparently took me off the list for any future reunions. Thank God! Why those people would even invite me is a mystery.

    To all those who have commented with “let it go” or telling you you’re holding a grudge.. obviously you were either not one of the bullied kids or you were the bully. I most certainly have never gotten over the bullying I suffered. I sure as hell am bitter and you would be too if you’d suffered it.

  250. #250 WR
    July 17, 2009

    Have any of them contacted you to apologize? Ever? In 25 years?

    For the people saying he sounds bitter – after 4 years of abuse many people turn on their tormentors. Bitter isn’t much

  251. #251 Jack Wilson
    July 17, 2009

    I just looked at your section on politics and see that you are liberal; you think John Edwards is a swell fellow while Republicans are severely flawed.

    The bullying may have done some permanent damage to your ability to judge people.

  252. #252 andy
    July 17, 2009

    I think you’re missing the fact that some people may show up that you don’t remember that you liked. My 10 year I ended up babbling to kids I hung out with in elementary and middle school.
    Pay no attention to the ones you hate. You’re 25 years older and it’s a good time to grow up.

  253. #253 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 17, 2009

    Re #200:

    wow, so you’re raising your kid to be just like you, that’s awful.

    Yeah. It’s absolutely awful of me to teach my kids to be like me. After all, the last thing I would want for my children is for them to grow up, get a good education, find someone they love to share their lives with, and be happy productive members of society.

    btw a black belt in karate won’t help anyone do anything are you kidding? that stuff’s not really about fighting, you don’t get the practice you need. try brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing or muay thai any of the above are actually legit. some gay mcdojo won’t help.

    and anyways why not help him get a black belt in social skills? that’s much more important.

    Right, because making sure that he knows how to defend himself means that I’m not doing anything to help him develop social skills.

  254. #254 billy
    July 17, 2009

    I’m 55 and I didn’t do prom or reunions.
    I look back on most things through rose colored glasses, but I can still remember going to sleep at night full of dread thinking about my next day at school.

  255. #255 Aaron
    July 17, 2009

    I feel the same way but have a different spin. I to was a geek, no social skills, few friends. I finished all the advanced classes the high school offered by my junior year.

    I wanted to go to my last reunion for the express reason to see how much better I was doing than them. 90% of my class has not left the area we grew up in. The biggest bullies are nowhere as successful as I am now.

    I feel it a delayed justice for all the crap I lived through in HS. Karma has a way of correcting a lot of things.

    Great article

  256. #256 ginosuave
    July 17, 2009

    After all these years, the bullies still have this kind of power over you? They’ll notice that you didn’t come to the reunion and they’ll know why–because you’re scared and embarrassed. This vitriolic BS about your kid taking karate is ridiculous and doesn’t make up for your own lack of gumption. What separated the ‘cool kids’ from you in high school is still very much real–emotional over-reaction and personalization of slights. Grow up already.

  257. #257 Zone5962
    July 17, 2009

    We graduated 10 years apart on completely different sides of the country but dealt with the same stupid shit. It just never changes.

    My educational experience was like convicting an innocent person of a crime and giving them a twelve year sentence. Knowing every damn minute you didn’t deserve this shit & there is no way out.

    Glad to hear you have made your life better.

  258. #258 Jim
    July 17, 2009

    That finger-breaking thing is insane. And I thought I had it bad.

    About the karate – it is not likely to help in a fight. Also, I think you should be very wary of a school that gives black belts to fourth graders.

    Boxing or some form of grappling that gives your son a chance to actually see what it’s like to deal with a resisting and attacking opponent will help him more.

  259. #259 andy
    July 17, 2009

    —”Yeah. It’s absolutely awful of me to teach my kids to be like me. After all, the last thing I would want for my children is for them to grow up, get a good education, find someone they love to share their lives with, and be happy productive members of society.”—

    The problem is that you sound like a bitter asshole

  260. #260 Adrian
    July 17, 2009

    Amen. Bravo. Standing Ovation. Cheers. Don’t know what else to say that hasn’t been said before. I’ve seen my school life through your words, in in Argentina during the 80′s The only difference being that instead of football it was soccer (of course); but the situation was the same horrible one. Thanks.

  261. #261 JR
    July 17, 2009

    You don’t owe them a thing.

    I’ll never understand the mentality that suggests you would owe them time, an audience, etc. The acts they committed were criminal and morally bankrupt. I had a great high school experience myself, but if I had been in your shoes I would write them off completely too.

  262. #262 Jon
    July 17, 2009

    He’ll end up getting made fun of for making karate sounds…

    Put him in Jiu Jitsu and anyone who fucks with him will be silent for sure. He can utilize some of his karate skills, but move him into Jui Jitsu ASAP.

  263. #263 sean
    July 17, 2009

    i was going to write exactly what jim wrote 2 posts before this. i took taekwondo, it was worthless. its more of a sport than anything you could use in a fight. if you really want your kid to win these fights(and i definitely want him to, i hate bullies), bring him to a boxing gym.

  264. #264 Emma
    July 17, 2009

    I got targeted and bullied by people in high school as well, for being the “weird” girl with Asperger’s Syndrome. For the first 2 or 3 years I had no friends, but was lucky enough to fall in with a good crowd by my 4th year.

    Nobody beat me up, but I was often the butt of jokes and people would make nasty comments all the time – especially the boys, but sometimes the girls too. They would tease me as though I actually WANTED them to like me, which I couldn’t have cared less about. Just seeing them with their inflated egos was the maddening part. I wasn’t the most attractive person.

    The friends I made in high school I still keep in touch with. The others… well, what’s the point of a reunion? You didn’t keep in touch with these people for a reason, so reunions are a waste of time in my opinion.

  265. #265 andy
    July 17, 2009

    I wasn’t a cool kid. I got picked on but I was funny and on of the honors kids. I had my clique of friends and my friends told me I made fun of the asshole jocks that couldn’t read and whatnot. I don’t remember that unless they remind me. Regardless, I’m probably 15 years your junior. You sound a bit like my old best friend. As years progressed he became more and more rude to me and I finally had to part ways; the last straw was when he killed his own brother. I don’t know the details and I don’t want to because it never failed that he concentrated on the worst of things. I think he has always been scared of society. I just couldn’t have him in my life if I wanted to move forward.

    So maybe it’s that you feel you are the one that will bring up old problems that you feel warrant confrontation. I don’t think you’ll ever get closure unless you are ready.

  266. #266 papa zita
    July 17, 2009

    Well, that doesn’t sound very scientific at all.

    Scientific or not, being the smart, introverted kid in class makes you a target whether you like it or not. It happened to me from elementary school onwards. Mostly, I ignored it and considered most people (even adults) just irritants to be tolerated. Strangely, even though I grew very fat, High School was the least bad, mostly because there was a haze of pot all around the school which seemed to mellow out the worst of the bullies. Still picked on and shunned, but I had bigger things to worry about than that.

    Mark,
    You’re probably right not to go. At least half my graduating class didn’t for their 10th either, and many were intellectual misfits like me. I went to prove something not just to those who came but also to myself. I don’t see that you have anything to prove. 25 years is a long time, and with no good memories, I’d just ignore them.

    As far as Facebook, I got conscripted onto it (someone who’s a good friend gave me an invite to join accidentally) and I’m not much for it. I connected with one childhood friend, but people who I don’t know from Adam keep asking to join my friend list. It’s a PITA.

  267. #267 alisun
    July 17, 2009

    Oh man… this story brought back memories. A lot of people have given feedback though so I’ll be brief and get to the point.

    On the topic of karate, an observation from my own brood of 4 (yes FOUR, thank you twins) absolutely adorable and (thanks to their father) geeky boys. We have a rule in our household that each child must try out one physical activity every school semester (to promote physical fitness, get them out the house and away from the computer/tool bench, etc). By middle school of course each boy usually had picked 1 or 2 things they really enjoyed and stuck with it, but we went through karate, judo, tennis, t-ball, soccer, you name it. If I could go back and do it all again, I would balance my boys team sports (basketball,etc) with individual sports (like karate). I have found that team sports do a far better job of preventing against the geeky ostracism that occurs in high school, simply because they develop social skills, which are a preventative measure, rather than defense skills, which are last resort, you know?

    Of course you already know this, and your child is in elementary school, so they have plenty of time to experience lots of things. And of course the team sports are very enjoyable for the adults once you get past team snack and all that. I must say, from a parent’s perspective, don’t miss out on t-ball. Those games are hilarious to watch, you just can’t let the little ones see you giggling while they’re up to bat. :)

  268. #268 KT
    July 17, 2009

    Wow. I am sorry to read about the absolutely horrible high school experience you had. Having just had a wonderful 40th high school experience I was, at first, thinking “aw, go, give it a chance; at least you will have the revenge of having succeeded beyond most others.” But as I read more of your story I must agree with your instinct to stay away. Some hurts just need to be laid to rest, unopened.

    From what I’ve read in psych and health journals, bullying seems to be part of the human fabric. It just is. It is especially observable among pre-adolescents. It seems to have persisted in your high school. The truly criminal element is that the adults in your environment did not rise to their responsibility to correct and protect – to educate. That is the saddest part of your story – you were surrounded by incompetent adults.

    This whole “reunion” thing has obviously revisited the hurt and alienation you felt as a young man. And, obviously as well, you have grown to find position and family attesting to your value to the community. That’s speaks to your inner strength and to the warmth and insight of the people who now surround you.

    I hope you can spend some time reflecting over how that hurt is affecting you now. If you still carry it around as baggage maybe now is the time to get ride of it. Perhaps you could reply to some of the invitations to attend with a straightforward story of your experiences, as you shared above. Perhaps you could let your classmates, now adults, know how crushing their bullying was. Keep it rational, factual, let them know how you felt at the time – you have now moved beyond it, but no thanks on the reunion. Some, those who cannot see their own behavior, will reply that “oh, can’t you take a joke.” But others will take the opportunity to reflect on their behavior and may actually apologize to you. This would be a good thing for them and for you. After all, they were just children then too. And they did not have proper guidance. If it is all still too sensitive however, then don’t get into it.

    I congratulate you on your current success and the insightful guidance that you can offer your children and the other children of your community.

  269. #269 James Sweet
    July 17, 2009

    To those who are saying Mark is just bitter, you are missing the point: Why would he want to hang out with these people? If they weren’t his friends, what’s the point? Even if they didn’t beat on him, why would you want to reconnect with people you didn’t like and who didn’t like you?? That doesn’t even make sense…

    I most likely won’t be going to any of my reunions, either, though the reasons are slightly different. I was teased pretty bad in elementary school and junior high, but I had mostly found my stride by high school — though I still was anything but popular. However, this paragraph from Mark really hits home:

    In high school, I didn’t have a single real friend in my graduating class. I had a very few friends who graduated a year before me; I had a few who graduated one or two years after me. But being absolutely literal, there was not a single person in my graduating class who came close to treating me like a friend. Not one.

    Now, it’s not quite the same for me. I had a few friends in the same year as me. I had a lot more in the class two years younger and in the class one year older (for some reason, I barely new anybody in the class one year younger… funny how that works sometimes). But there’s just not really anybody I am burning to see in my graduating class.

    So why would I go?? It’s not bitterness. It’s just a complete lack of interest. For those of you who had the time of your life in high school, or who have old friends you want to reconnect with, that’s great, more power to you. For me, even though I didn’t have nearly as bad a time as Mark did, I just don’t really think back that fondly on that time period. It’s not a time in my life I particularly want to celebrate or revisit.

    It’s so weird people talking about “forgiveness”… Okay, but… What? When a friend harms you, then hopefully you find a way to forgive him or her so you can reconnect. When someone who’s not even your friend harms you, and then wants to “reconnect” 25 years later… I dunno, it just doesn’t make sense. Even if Mark forgave them 100%, why would he go to the reunion??

  270. #270 Erica
    July 17, 2009

    Can I ask why, after all the abuse you’ve endured, you’re going to put your kid in public school knowing that they’re likely to endure the same types of abuse that you did? Not to mention the less-than-stellar education. There are a lot of educational alternatives that you might want to consider; it certainly sounds like it may benefit your child.

  271. #271 Gary
    July 17, 2009

    Yes, this is a very real problem, and little has been done to address it. I had experiences similar to yours in the late 1960s, though perhaps not quite as physically violent. Minor attempts at intervention by one or two school staff only aggravated the problem. The bullying followed me in reduced intensity through college as well, and for the same reasons. The kid who didn’t drink or use drugs, or go to wild parties was “weird” and deserved to be abused. One contrast worth mentioning, though. I did go to my high school 10 year reunion, and some of the perps apologized to me for their actions. Even so, I haven’t gone back again, and have no contact with anyone from that era.

  272. #272 Ray Ingles
    July 17, 2009

    I got plenty of physical abuse in my high school, too. Actually dragged into a bathroom and tied by my arms to a couple stalls once. No major injuries, but the administration did nothing about it.

    The only time I ever heard of a bully getting in trouble at that school was when a football player knocked some random new skinny geek into a wall. Turned out he was a fresh college grad who looked young for his age… and the new science teacher.

    For ‘spirit’ days, a few friends and I would find an unoccupied classroom, lock ourselves in, and play cards. A few times the schmucks actually banged on the doors to come in. We just stared and asked why they thought we would ever do that.

    Things got better after I got into a fight with one of the worst. I didn’t hurt him much, but I kept getting up. Mostly got avoided after that – it wasn’t worth it to mess with me.

    No, I haven’t attended a reunion there. They used to ask me for contributions (private school) but it would seem the letter I wrote convinced them to drop me from their contact list…

  273. #273 Agreed
    July 17, 2009

    I have some good memories of high school but as the LD (Asperger’s?) kid transferring into a small town grammar school, life was not easy going through the school system. There were those who thought they were leaders in HS but had none of the characterstics of leadership. Showing weakness was a good way to get picked on, I usually just settled for being ignored and being different is usually seen as being weak in junior/senior high school

    Although there were one or two that I would not mind seeing at 25 years (next year), for the most part though if they were real friends then they would have kept in contact. I did not suffer the abuse** that you did but I also have no desire to re-visit high school.

    **one classmate was picking on me in class, after the 2nd or 3rd time of his hitting me on the way to the trash/pencil sharpner I put him up against the wall (he was barely touching the ground) and told him to stop it … we ended up in the hallway with the teacher … who said he didn’t know what happened but it had better not happen again although he knew I was provoked …. I credit that little scenario with not having much grief in high school or the rest of my 8th grade year.

  274. #274 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 17, 2009

    Hey, I understand. Been there, Done that, was in same position.

    The core difference: I moved past that bitterness. Hell, if nothing else, I can go back and look at all the people and go, yeah, I’m better than that. Sure, we may have almost nothing to share but I don’t have to let my memories be tainted by bitterness and anger, hatred and despair. Just like you, it was my fault for causing that situation. But you know what? Kids will be kids. That DOES happen. The adult thinks differently from children.

    I was the geeky little shit that wore big glasses, hair trimmed close to the head, loved his calculator, programmed computers, didn’t have money. Now, I have long hair, wear contacts, have a lovely wife, drive a mustang convertible, and I still program computers. I doubt they’ll be doing anywhere near as well. And all I want is for just one person to go “How did that happen to you?”

    It’s because I used my mind, not my emotions.

    Start there and get past that bitterness. And in case you need it said another way: That crap they did to you in high school was a form of control. Why let them continue to control you and your emotions now? Decide you don’t need that and move past it.

    What I can’t quite figure out in this comment stream is why people like you think that I haven’t moved past it. I’ve made a life for myself where I’m happy. I don’t want to have any contact with the assholes who I went to school with. That doesn’t mean that I’ve got some kind of overwhelming guilt, or unresolved bitterness or shame.

    I spent a few years in college where my life was really dominated by what had happened to me. At the time, I probably could have used some counseling, but I didn’t know how to get it. But I found friends who helped me, and over the space of a few years, I worked my way through it. I learned to appreciate my skills, and to accept my weaknesses. I learned to get past the emotional scars. With a lot of help, I put myself back together, and got on with my life.

    It wasn’t an easy thing, not by any stretch of the imagination. I dropped out of college for a year to get my head together. I had some awful times. But I did work through it, and move past it.

    That doesn’t mean that I forgot it or forgave it. As I’ve said multiple times now, forgiveness isn’t one sided. I don’t believe that you can really forgive someone unless they’ve admitted that there’s something to be forgiven for. But while you can’t forgive, you can move on.

    But just because it’s past, and I worked my way through it doesn’t mean that I’ve got any obligation to go back and see them again. I’m not avoiding the reunion out of fear, or out of shame, or anything like that. I just can’t imagine any reason why I would want to spend a weekend going to spend time with those people. They weren’t my friends 25 years ago; and in those 25 years, I haven’t had any contact with any of them. Why would I want to go socialize with them now? Seriously, I can’t understand why anyone thinks that I should want to spend my time that way.

  275. #275 Fun Times For All
    July 17, 2009

    While I haven’t decided whether to attend our first HS reunion, all I will say is that as someone born with facial deformities, school (HS especially) taught me that Frank Herbert was right: most people are not human.

  276. #276 Lea
    July 17, 2009

    Hello,

    Good move sir! Why on earth would you want to catch up with people you wish you hadn’t met in the first place?

    My best friends 11 year old son is in the chess club, she told him that when she was at school people were picked on for playing chess. He said that only cool kids play chess now. Oh how I hope this is the way of the future!

    When I was at school I was violently sexually assaulted, had my bra snapped, my dress flicked up, people spat on my belongings, tripped me up, made up stories about me, sang unpleasant songs about me, put hate mail in my locker, called me names and told boys I liked them because it was insulting to them (like #126). Eventually I went to admin to try and get placed in another home room, their response was “pray to Jesus, he will provide you with a solution”, and that is when I knew I was on my own. So I wrapped myself up in books and never made it back out. 3 suicide attempts and 12 years of drugs and counseling later I am able to venture forth into face-to-face society on a semi-regular basis. I don’t much like it, people are still cruel it just isn’t as direct as when I was in school.

    I wouldn’t go to a reunion for any reason, vengeance or otherwise.

    Good luck to you sir! I admire your response.

    Lea – the fat, freckly red-head in the gifted program.

  277. #278 Cortlandt
    July 17, 2009

    I almost stood up and cheered at the end of your post. Thank you so much.

  278. #279 Vic De Zen
    July 17, 2009

    I feel social networking has it’s good and bad points, but mostly bad…especially when people from your past try to reinsert themselves into your life when they’re entirely unwanted. Good on you for doing this.

  279. #280 BrianM
    July 17, 2009

    Wow, I mean, not to become person 200-something to say the same thing, but I had a similar experience in my pre-college days.

    I’m still quite young, graduated High School in 2007, but even from elementary school I experienced a life along the same lines. I’ll admit, not quite as…extreme as yours, however there was both verbal and physical abuse.

    It was especially bad when I was in middle school, I’ll never forget it. Day after day, I woke up wondering how I’d be attacked. There was one guy who was relentless in his attacks on me, and the fact he was a big wrestling fan didn’t help. “Hey Brian, guess what. I learned a new wrestling move!” Ugh, that phrase will never leave my head, since he would the proceed to show me the move…as I screamed in pain.

    One specific event REALLY stand out though, which went to show how little my schools cared for the safety of their students if they didn’t throw a football. It was after gym class, we were all changing when a group of 4 or 5 guys thought it’d be funny to stuff me in a trash can…

    …which happened to have several tubs of ketchup thrown out in them.

    They shoved me in and kicked over the trashcan and everyone left the room. By the time I got out, with ketchup covering my hair, the room was empty. Not a single person cared.

    Obviously now that I’m in college, this no longer happens, but I shudder whenever I think of this.

    I had 2 more classes after that, and I had explained to my teachers what happened and asked if I could go wash my hair out, and the didn’t allow me to. So there I sat, ketchup in my hair, wondering how the hell people can be like this.

    And much like yourself, at my graduation I looked around and realized that I couldn’t call ANY of these people “friend”.

    So I’m with you Mark. I decided long ago that the moment I graduated High School, I would never see or talk to any of these people again. The students, the teachers…none of them. I’m not going to any of my High School reunions. The 5 year reunion, 10 year, 25 year…none of them.

  280. #281 Tepid Ballsack
    July 17, 2009

    This was worth the reading.

  281. #282 Carrie
    July 17, 2009

    Go, Dude.

    You never know what hell you can raise.

  282. #283 James Sweet
    July 17, 2009

    The people who enjoyed their high school experience and are now saying that Mark is “bitter” or has something wrong with him… would be analogous to someone who likes Gorgonzola going around being imperious and condescending towards anyone who doesn’t like strong cheeses. Or, if I had a blog post talking about all the reasons why I hated Gorgonzola (which I don’t, but this is just a thought experiment), and then a bunch of people showed up on my blog saying I was bitter towards strong cheeses and I had to find a way to forgive the dairy products that had tasted bad to me in the past.

    Except it’s even worse than that, it would be like if I had had a powerful allergic reaction to Gorgonzola that caused my fingers to break and a gasoline fire to break out in my street. How dare you show up on my blog after that and tell me that I should give strong cheeses another try?

    Not everybody likes everything, and we all have our reasons. If you can’t handle the fact that somebody hates a thing that you happen to like, then you need to grow up.

  283. #284 bobby roberts
    July 17, 2009

    While I don’t blame you for not wanting to attend (who would go to a reunion…talk about “geeks”)….I do think you let your experiences effect you WAAAY to profoundly. It’s actually kind of pathetic.

    Let me tell you something about your kids; don’t fill their heads with stories from your life and your experiences. Let them find out on their own.

    There was a kid in college that was a geek amd had his “black belt” in two different disciplines…..I learned very quickly that, all martial arts aside…NOTHING makes up for being a “whole lotta mean”. I had a friend bounce him around the campus pub like a rag doll (while half in the bag, as well). If your kids aren’t fighters, they’ll get their asses handed to them on a plate by ANYONE that is simply tougher than they are….martial arts or not. Don’t lead your kids to the slaughter like that, it’s not fair.

    In short…times have changed. Bullying is being cracked down on a lot more. Don’t waste your kids time with “Karate”…that just makes them more “geeky” in the eyes of regular kids. I mean, who needs Karate, except nerds that can’t fight, right? Let them focus on school and when they get to where they’re going, they can look out the window of their Benz as they see their former tormentors sweeping the streets.

    Just my two cents.

  284. #285 Icelander
    July 17, 2009

    I suppose I was lucky. Our administration didn’t tolerate bullying too much, kids in the advanced and AP classes weren’t were almost admired by the rest of the student body, and I was over 6 feet tall and 200 pounds by the time I started 8th grade.

    Then again, I went to school in a small district (my graduating class was about 250) sandwiched between what was apparently your experience and a typical urban school district, with drugs and shootings and stuff. There weren’t enough people in any one clique to risk alienating another.

    I am worried about my daughters. They’re both highly gifted (my two year old can count to 18, knows her alphabet, and loves watching NASA TV with me) and I know that girls can be a lot more cruel than boys when it comes to being different. I only hope that I can create a home environment where they feel safe and comfortable enough to talk to me and my wife about things that bother them.

    And I’m planning on taking both of them to father-daughter karate classes.

  285. #286 Anonymous
    July 17, 2009

    Do not feel your old high school folks want a reunion, they just want to sell you funds or to rob you.

  286. #287 Amanda
    July 17, 2009

    Hey there,
    I think you are completely right not to contact anyone from HS. I also think you’re right to get your kid some athleticism/training, although in actual fighting, karate will do him almost 0 good, try boxing or honestly even soccer. However, dude, you gotta let this go, no matter how impossible that seems. You can’t be getting all hot under the collar at your age over anything that happened in HS. These are exceedingly SMALL people, and should not have to power to make you this angry after this many years. I’m not saying you have to look back and smile, or even look back at all, just move on emotionally. goodluck

  287. #288 Daniel Haran
    July 17, 2009

    Hear, hear!

    If I ever have kids, they’ll learn karate. Great idea :)

  288. #289 Broggly
    July 17, 2009

    I’m a first year uni student, and I’m planning on attending my highschool reunions. I decided to enroll in the International Baccalauriate program, so I was surrounded by people who were at least a bit nerdy. I don’t know what the American educational system’s like, but here in Australia it’s the best option if you’re smart and want an interesting HS curriculum. The annoying thing for me is that as a private school student, my bully from middle school will very likely (from his surname) have wealth fall into his lap so the only way I’d be able to hold success above him is if he utterly fucks up. Ah well, finding myself taller than him once highschool started was pretty sweet.
    Funnily enough, I’ve been sent primary school reunion invitations. I don’t think I remember anyone from primary school who didn’t go to my highschool too…

  289. #290 Cheryl
    July 17, 2009

    Absolutely fabulous.

    I have an attention span of about three minutes and you had me readung until the end.

    Oh, how this brings back memories.

    I was doormat girl. The quiet one in the back of the room who nobody talked to.

    I hope the assholes I went to high school with have matured but, like you, I don’t care to know either way.

    Cheers,

    C

  290. #291 MikeN
    July 17, 2009

    I was a tall, good looking kid in High School with a hot girlfriend. I also was a national merit scholar and captain of my math team. Anyone that raised a hand to my geek friends got their asses handed to them. Anyone that raised a hand to my geek non-friends got the same.

    Sure, it was a macho John Wayne attitude but no real man stands by and watches weaker people get abused.

    Make sure your son understands that too. Get an adult, do it publicly, and if all else fails stand up for weaker people.

    NOTHING made me happier than sitting on a beaten and demoralized jock’s chest and applying my girlfriend’s lipstick to his lips.

  291. #292 Keri
    July 17, 2009

    You are very kind to send your kid to karate class. I sometimes struggle with the way my memories of high school and junior high hit me. I am normally a fairly mature, even-headed kind of girl, but when I think back to those times, I keep having fantasies of physically confronting certain people. It didn’t help that my home life wasn’t much better. It’s hard when you don’t feel safe anywhere. Something like that would have given me a sense of control and security that I couldn’t achieve on my own.

    That being said, I would like to echo the sentiments of some of the other comments. The broken finger, the mental attack of the swastika, etc, these were definitely a 9 out of 10 on the severity scale.

    It isn’t that I haven’t moved on from those times. I have to say I have run into classmates that went to one of our reunions and most of the obnoxious pricks don’t change much. It was, indeed, a reflection of their true nature and not their lack of maturity. I think you made the right choice. It’s the choice I made for myself.

    Good luck to you and your kids. I hope they find an easier path than we had.

  292. #293 Jason Osgood
    July 17, 2009

    Hi MarkCC. Thanks for posting your story.

    Daylighting this stuff educates and maybe society will eventually address it.

    Very briefly, I was getting my ass kicked both at home and at school. Whereas my brother became an introvert, I became an extrovert. And tired of being beat up, I hit the weights and got pretty buff.

    A couple of things saved me. Foster families, switching schools (a fresh start), computers (worked after school), and being regarded as crazy (a few times, when a bully jumped me, I went ape shit, word spread).

    I think back and can’t believe how fortunate I was to survive all that. The self-hate, the low esteem, the self-destructive behavior, it’s wonder I didn’t end up on drugs, in jail, or worse.

    Given my experiences, I’m very aware of the plight of other social outcasts. I still get very pissed off by the strong terrorizing the weak.

    The thing is, as bad as I had it, I think our society and the public school experience is much, much worse today.

    There’s a constant drum beat preaching fear, hate, and intolerance. Society (popular culture) has become dangerously anti-intellectual and far more conformist. (Our saving grace are the rise of numerous pockets of subcultures.)

    Post Columbine, the schools got so much worse. The stated efforts to address bullying and hostile environments, when translated into action, made the daily experience of most non-comformists a living hell.

    We actually now know why some (very small percentage) of kids snap and lash out. Sadly, the “anti-bullying” measures have made the problem worse.

    For instance, violence in schools, particularly rural areas, has increased since my time.

    Also, given the shining role models of our unelected leaders, kids see by example that proactive violence is a perfectly reasonable means to taking whatever you want. For constrast, the kids raised under Clinton, what Atlantic Montly’s James Farrow labeled “The Organizational Kids”, generally had a very positive view of government and sense of optimism. (Note that we grew up under Reagan/Thatcher. In hindsight, which exlains the punk phenomenon.)

    My son is 17. His highschool experience in rural Montana was surreal. Columbine made everyone nuts. The new schools look like institutional lock down facilities. There’s fights constantly. Anyone a little bit different is harrassed. They have regular lock down drills, which I guess is the new fire drill. Just more fear and hate.

    Some last points: The stress on our kids today is incredible. What little awareness they have of the major challenges facing humanity has lead to despair and them shutting down (apathy). Similar to how the Gen X became antiestablishment under Reagan, I think it’s perfectly reasonable (and predictably human response) for today’s kids to become hedonist and party like it’s 1999.

    So, again, thanks for relating your personal experience growing it. I’m sorry it sucked. But talking about it furthers our discourse

    Cheers, Jason

  293. #294 Blake Stacey
    July 17, 2009

    Mark, geeks with martial arts skills are Teh Sexy. I hope your son is ready to be on the receiving end of some swooning when he hits the right age bracket! :-)

    (Also, some people commenting in this thread really need to take a Voight-Kampff test, stat.)

  294. #295 Vendetta
    July 17, 2009

    Broke your fingers for fun? If I were you, I would take some submission wrestling classes, find that fucker and break his knees.

  295. #296 planetmcd
    July 17, 2009

    Thanks for the post, I really enjoy your on topic posts, but this one is particularly relevant as a dad with young kids. I was a geek from an early age but had the fortune to be relatively coordinated and a similarly foresighted father who had me take Karate as well. By late grade school the physical bullying stopped and I learned to deal with the verbal/mental.

    One thing you might look into for your kids, depending on where you live, are magnet high schools. I commuted from North Jersey to one in NYC (Regis High School) and it was the best experience for high school I could envision. Literally everyone was a “geek.” Of course social strata develop, but there was no ostracism for intelligence (at least that I saw) and I think most folks found their own niche.

  296. #297 Fun Times For All
    July 17, 2009

    @294/Blake Stacey:

    Yea, the Voight-Kampff test is precisely what I mean.

  297. #298 d00d
    July 17, 2009

    These people who were bullies are probably pretty similar today — vapid, incurious, narcissistic, phonies. They’re probably christian republicans. I would have to agree with your decision.

  298. #299 NIk
    July 17, 2009

    Makes me realize how lucky I was to go to a school where geeks were cool because almost everyone was one. Either way, I think it’s better to focus on positive change in the way schools are run and how kids learn to deal with people who are different from themselves.

  299. #300 Shawn
    July 17, 2009

    I think this is a good reminder that high school abuses aren’t a necessary rite of passage, and they don’t always fade with years. In my school, I was a geek who got his share of abuse.

    My youngest brother was a bully (on all the sports teams, etc.), and he was merciless in high school. Years later, one of the people he’d bullied relentlessly died of meningitis. My brother had already changed dramatically – into one of the most compassionate people I know – but this really really affected him.

    People can change, and forgiveness is a powerful thing.

    In any case, thinking about your kids, and the karate training… It’s obvious why you would want to equip them to defend themselves. And karate is a wonderful thing to learn anyway.

    However, my sense is that the nature of school and childhood has changed over the last 20 years, and this type of bullying is not as common or accepted as it once was. Kids today seem understand and experience diversity more (and better) than they used to. Computers and video games used to be for geeks only, but these are just part of life now, and geeky kids often have the best stuff (which in turn makes other kids want to be friends with them – in a genuine way).

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like today’s bullies and outcasts are further out on the fringes, and the middle has gotten bigger. That doesn’t mean the outcasts don’t need protection (maybe they actually need more), but it’s encouraging.

  300. #301 Agreed
    July 17, 2009

    Interesting, the thoughts on forgiveness.

    For myself, I can forgive but that doesn’t mean the other individual has changed. I’m open to interaction with them but it is not something that I’m going to seek out. Why would I seek out the person, if they haven’t changed then more pain is likely for me.

    And actions speak louder than words, a mass mailing to a large gathering means very little to me.

    Instead of concentrating on what I can’t change, I’m going to concentrate on what I can control. Choosing friends who help me to grow and are willing to accept me the way I am.

  301. #302 John
    July 17, 2009

    Wow Mark, what a powerful, poignant essay. I just wanted to be among the many to write in support of you and to say how horrified I am of your past experiences.

    It pains me to read that anyone would have to go through such a nightmare situation as yourself. My only suggestion would be that you learn to forgive and forget these beasts in order to truly attain peace in your life.

    Peace.

  302. #303 Dwight
    July 17, 2009

    Yeah, I just had a couple of the people who made my life hell in junior high try to friend me on facebook (after 25 years). They weren’t the ones who used to bully me, but I remember them standing around while the bullies did their thing. Does it really not occur to them that some of their “old friends” have bad memories of what happened then? Am I just supposed to forget about the humiliation and start exchanging cutesy pictures with them? I’m sorry, but I have a good life now and I don’t care to be reminded of all the crap that happened.

  303. #304 Eric
    July 17, 2009

    This comment may be a leaf in a vast comment forest, but I just wanted to say thank you for your post.

    So, thank you. =)

  304. #305 Jach
    July 17, 2009

    Just wow. I’ve grown up in Utah, so my oddness was tolerated in my younger days (a few small incidents but my size let me defend myself) and I was fortunate enough to have a high school whose majority admired intelligence. (Unfortunately many had the wrong attitude of “I could never be that smart…”)

    I don’t understand the criticisms of you living in the past. Aren’t the people who actually go to the reunions the ones living in the past? As for those who try to say “let it go”, you have! But more strange is others’ urging you to actually talk to them and accept some possible apology.

    Forgiveness is good, but you don’t have to talk to them to forgive, and the true nature of forgiveness is not sanctioning what they did in the past, but admitting that they might have changed now and might actually be decent people. But those who say “give ‘em a chance, go to the reunion!”… I don’t know, would a female rape victim, 20 years later, want to associate at all with the rapist? She can forgive him in the proper sense, but there’s no reason at all to go near him. There are over 6 billion people in the world, you don’t need to waste time trying to forge a new friendship with someone who previously abused you.

  305. #306 James Sweet
    July 17, 2009

    A comment that I am sure is on its way to deletion had this pricelessly-spelled gem:

    dont blame ur high schl problems on other ppl.

    Wait… so if somebody breaks my fucking finger, it’s my fault, not theirs?!?

  306. #307 mad the swine
    July 17, 2009

    Attention, certain commenters (you know who you are): quit fucking blaming the victim. It’s not ‘holding a grudge’ to refuse to deal with the people who abused you as a child. This applies to physical and emotional abuse as much as it does sexual. Some of you creeps sound like the MRAs who show up when women blog about their experiences with sexual abuse to demand they ‘get over it’ – it;s just sex, after all, it’s just a few bruises or cuts or broken bones, right? That’s no excuse for refusing to get back together with an abusive ex or cutting ties with a family member, and it’s unfair and malicious to reject them if they’re sincerely regretful and want to get back together with you (he writes, with utter sarcasm). And yes, I’m using the rape analogy deliberately, not to minimize the experience of rape victims, but to emphasize that the you’re-wrong-for-being-angry, get-over-it mentality expressed by certain commenters is exactly the same – and exactly as vile – in this case as it is when targeted at rape victims. It’s disgusting, it’s coming, by and large, from self-serving assholes who want to think that they did no lasting harm to anyone they abused in high school, and it needs to stop. You assholes don’t get to decide how victims should react to their victimization, and you don’t get to call other people immature and weak and pathetic for remembering and holding abusers responsible for abuses they committed. Assholes.

    “By holding a grudge for decades and training your kids in martial arts rather than using their wits to combat bullying you may be setting your children up for the same sort of abuse.”

    Yes, and by training women in self-defense you’re just setting them up to be raped. Better to teach them to dress modestly and not to be alone with men outside the family, right? I actually agree with much of the advice re learning an art other than karate, but the crap about teaching them social skills instead (as if martial arts and social skills are mutually incompatible!) veers well into victim blaming. If you had social skills, if you just fit in with everyone else, you wouldn’t be bullied, right? It’s your own fault for being different and not getting along. Fuck that, and fuck all you assholes who think that trying to protect one’s children from bullying makes one a bad parent.

    … Jesus, looking back at that last sentence I can’t believe it’s not satire, even though it’s exactly what a bunch of commenters here are arguing…

    “To all those who have commented with “let it go” or telling you you’re holding a grudge.. obviously you were either not one of the bullied kids or you were the bully.”

    This. And I’d bet on the latter. Especially from the people who are trying to claim that Mark ‘owes’ his high school tormentors an opportunity to apologize and be forgiven. It’s like the Amish – it’s all well and good to talk about how they publicly forgave the bastard who shot up an Amish school a while back, but they also require women who are raped to stand up in church, forgive the person who raped them, and (if that person is a family member) return to living with the person as if nothing had happened. Creepy as hell.

  307. #308 planetmcd
    July 17, 2009

    bobby roberts, you are a misguided at best.

  308. #309 Kenny
    July 17, 2009

    Thank you for sharing this.

    I came here to point out that you’ve sparked quite a big discussion on reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/geek/comments/91zjk/why_i_wont_be_at_my_high_school_reunion/

  309. #310 Blake Stacey
    July 17, 2009

    I just can’t imagine any reason why I would want to spend a weekend going to spend time with those people. They weren’t my friends 25 years ago; and in those 25 years, I haven’t had any contact with any of them. Why would I want to go socialize with them now? Seriously, I can’t understand why anyone thinks that I should want to spend my time that way.

    That’s basically my reaction to the thought of my pending reunion, and I had a pretty easy time of high school. The handful of people I wanted to keep in touch with, I’m still in touch with; why the Hell would I fly thousands of kilometres out of my way to waste my time in a boring town full of cookie-cutter houses and two dozen chain restaurants all offering the same fried chicken fingers?

  310. #311 Anonymous
    July 17, 2009

    I did not share your experience. I was an athlete and overall really enjoyed my high school years. But I absolutely love your post. How dare these delusional jerks try to pretend you are another one of their “buddies” after the way they treated you in high school. I hate (and I do not use that word lightly or out of context) hypocrites. Why would you want to spend a day with, much less expose your family to, these people.

  311. #312 mad the swine
    July 17, 2009

    “when your dickhead 10 year old son gets into a REAL fight, see if he has the courage to throw a punch. i hope he gets fucking mauled.”

    … what the hell? How in God’s name can you read about children who are learning martial arts for self defense and come up with something like that? Or are you upset because this kid (hopefully) be a helpless victim for your own children to bully? What the hell is wrong with you?

  312. #313 Eric
    July 17, 2009

    I’ll never go to a High School reunion for the same reasons, why would I want to see a bunch of people who never cared about me before? I was picked on all through jr. High and High School, joined the Marines after graduation and was never picked on again.

  313. #314 Me
    July 17, 2009

    Well, to break the rutine cry baby answer Ill tell you a little success story.
    From 7th to 9th grade I was bullied all the time, I was in a samll school and in a small class, so I got all the Love.
    Being that the school was not demanding, I decided to switch to a larger more demanding onee for my senior years, and besides wanting to take the academic challenge, I felt I needed to switch my social attitude. I played it cool, dressed in a more fashionable manner, and carried myself with more confidence (even though I was shaped like you). I didnt need to beat up anybody, and was able to befriend both the popular as the “rejects”. In one year I went from being a bullied geek, into a sort of Ferris Buller. It all about your attitude.
    Behaving like a victim is exactly the wrong one!!!

    From what you show you have everything to be proud of, you have a Phd, you are an expert in your field and you work in google!! You have a nice and happy family! Heck, best you can do is go there and be a little smug for change, and display that way back you had it straight and not them.

  314. #315 Khuram Malik
    July 17, 2009

    I went through very much the same, and to top it off, i was from a different cultural background. I was very positive and happy go-lucky kid when i first started school and finished being this miserable and nervous wreck. It affected me for a VERY long time.

    I know how you feel.
    I’ve had quite a few people contact me recently on Facebook, and i’ve just ignored them. I dont need any of that rubbish, and as we say in the UK. “Good on ya”.

    All the best.

  315. #316 someone
    July 17, 2009

    You should teach your kids mma. You should teach them a contact martial art where they can get hit and hit back. Much more useful.

  316. #317 Valhar2000
    July 17, 2009

    Seriously, I can’t understand why anyone thinks that I should want to spend my time that way.

    Because Americans are obsessed with certain psychobabble bulshit tropes, and this forgiveness thing is one of them. Why this particular one takes their fancy is anybody’s guess; I suppose, though, it is easier to “forgive” wrongdoers than to get off your butt and do something about them.

  317. #318 Dr. Steve
    July 17, 2009

    Wow, that’s a terrible story.
    I was a geek and also young for my class (born in November), a late bloomer and short anyway. In 9th grade at 4 foot 9, 87 lbs, a scheduling snafu put in gym class with juniors and seniors – guys with beards. I was mostly used as the ball.
    I have to give those guys and the rest of my class credit. Despite being a painfully socially awkward geek the only ostracizing I experienced was passive (no invites to cool parties, etc) – never any direct violence.
    I kind of look forward to my 25th – since, based on my 10th, I may be the only slim, wealthy, athletic man who still has hair. Living well is the best revenge.
    Take that, girls who wouldn’t give me the time of day.

  318. #319 Broggly
    July 17, 2009

    Please don’t feed the trolls. At the very least, don’t feed the one-liners. If we don’t reserve attention for only the trolls who show they’ve put some effort into it, the quality of idiots on the internet will plummet.

  319. #320 Valhar2000
    July 17, 2009

    I’m pretty sure that even 25 years later you haven’t come to peace with your own weakness, and choose to tag those people as cynical, when in reality they didn’t do anything else but what you allowed them to do.

    Ah! Pyschobabble and blaming the victim! “The Secret” has an adept pupil in this one: his mouth is wide open to swallow bullshit, and his ass wide open to spew it.

  320. #321 Postal
    July 17, 2009

    In my case I was the semi-cute guy, new to the area, that the creeps labeled as gay so that they wouldn’t have to compete with me. And to my utter dismay the local girls were eager to show they believed them. indeed everyone believed them without any evidence whatsoever and that in turn prevented me from getting laid with a girl to prove I’m not gay. It was like McCarthyism. Americans are awful sadists.

  321. #322 Broggly
    July 17, 2009

    Please don’t feed the trolls. At the very least, don’t feed the one-liners. If we don’t reserve attention for only the trolls who show they’ve put some effort into it, the quality of idiots on the internet will plummet.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDXiHnK9Jhw, just to keep on topic

  322. #323 Tsu Dho Nimh
    July 17, 2009

    Mark –
    I don’t blame you for not wanting to go! Azkaban revisited, with dementors, would be about as much fun.

    I recommend your kids learn something in addition to karate that is more of a grappling close-in thing.

    My judo classes were not only fun (wrestling and rolling on the floor with guys!) but they kept me from having the crap beat out of me for messing around with someone else’s boyfriend. She had 4 inches and at least 40 pounds of muscle on me, lettered in all the girl’s sports, and cornered me after school in an isolated area. I just kept throwing her on the ground and letting her get up and try it again … eventually she gave up because she wasn’t able to do any damage.

  323. #324 st271
    July 17, 2009

    Your post reminded me of my high school years. One incident out of my past comes to mind that I thought I would share.

    One of my classmates -someone who was a year ahead of me and who I actually thought of as a “friend” – left a box for me on my front porch. Inside the box was a fake but very realistic looking bomb.

    This happened about thirty years ago. I will never forget it. And I will never forgive it.

  324. #325 st271
    July 17, 2009

    Your post reminded me of my high school years. One incident out of my past comes to mind that I thought I would share.

    One of my classmates -someone who was a year ahead of me and who I actually thought of as a “friend” – left a box for me on my front porch. Inside the box was a fake but very realistic looking bomb.

    This happened about thirty years ago. I will never forget it. And I will never forgive it.

  325. #326 Nate B
    July 17, 2009

    My nightmare started in second grade, with a teacher who mocked and harassed me for pointing out mistakes in the book. When research proved me right, she went into revenge mode, and I had no idea what was happening except that I went home crying a lot. I went to a lot of different schools after that.

    I hope I never meet her on the street.

    Reunions are organized by and for the popular kids. I’ve never attended one of mine, and I don’t plan to. The few people I cared about, teachers and students from all various grade levels, I’ve stayed in touch with.

    Thank you for posting this. I’m bookmarking it and may use it as part of my reply, next time I get a reunion invitation.

  326. #327 Broggly
    July 17, 2009

    Please don’t feed the trolls. At the very least, don’t feed the one-liners. If we don’t reserve attention for only the trolls who show they’ve put some effort into it, the quality of idiots on the internet will plummet.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDXiHnK9Jhw , even if it is one of Monkeydust’s weaker sketches.

  327. #328 Nate B
    July 17, 2009

    My nightmare started in second grade, with a teacher who mocked and harassed me for pointing out mistakes in the book. When research proved me right, she went into revenge mode, and I had no idea what was happening except that I went home crying a lot. I went to a lot of different schools after that.

    I hope I never meet her on the street.

    Reunions are organized by and for the popular kids. I’ve never attended one of mine, and I don’t plan to. The few people I cared about, teachers and students from all various grade levels, I’ve stayed in touch with.

    Thank you for posting this. I’m bookmarking it and may use it as part of my reply, next time I get a reunion invitation.

  328. #329 ron bueno
    July 17, 2009

    I was also a social outcast in many respects from grade school on. Yes, I had problems, Yes, I was tormented and beaten.. and yes I had destructive things done to what I owned
    including having my car trashed, broken into and torn up for the stereo but to also have the words “fag” written on it for my parents to read. Guess it was the worst word they could think of.

    But I worked up the courage and although it was difficult I attended my highschool reunions.
    Yes there were some interesting moments but there were also many powerful redeeming meetings where those that tormented me pulled me aside for a private moment and gave me a apology for their actions as “a child that did stupid and mean things now that I’m an adult I’m going to ask for your forgiveness… for what I did because I’m very sorry. I can’t undo what I did but as a man, I’m asking another man for forgiveness. ”

    It was a heartfelt and sincere apology that made it all worth it that evening.
    It may not happen to you… but it did for me… there was a lot of redemption for the different sides and social circles that used to exist as kids.
    We didn’t have everyone show up.. I’m sure others felt as you.. everyone has fears about these things no matter who they are.
    But I **strongly** encourage you to go through with it.. it will in all likely hood be better than you imagine. IF people are reaching out to you.. they’re doing so for a reason… It’s a test of character to just go through with it in many ways as it is with them. I’m sure that everyone will be showing up with a list of things to say, do and hopes of making up for past wrongs. IF someone is a jerk.. then guess what.. everyone KNOWS it’s because they are … in the adult world nobody likes a asshole (unlike highschool).
    last thing.
    You have to let go of your anger that child experienced and be the adult that’s not held down by childhood memories…. because even if you don’t realize it, as long as you harbor the feelings you expressed… those are going to handicap you and that child that hurt you.. wins.

    Note: For months afterwards I had some of those girls that tormented me back then
    ask me out for dates. :) (I’d rather remember that than of her and her friends picking on me and threatening to beat me up at lunch). Things change.

  329. #330 Curt
    July 17, 2009

    THANK YOU!
    My 30th is coming up next year. You described my HS years exactly. In a graduating class of 500 (regional school) I had zero friends and went through all 4 years without ONE SINGLE ‘friend’ ever visiting my house. Hearing all of this ‘they were the best years of my life’ crap makes me sad. Like you, the school I went to didn’t pay much (if any) attention to bullying. I was a punching bag or worse every single day of all four years. Whats worse, the one time I hit back (when somebody actually punched me on my broken arm!) *I* got detention.
    I’ve spent the last 30 years trying to overcome the effect of those 4. Perhaps in another 30 I’ll start to forget them.

  330. #331 Bob Durtschi
    July 17, 2009

    Wow. From the number of comments I can see that you hit a chord with your fellow geeks/nerds. You certainly did with me. I think you would appreciate this essay by Paul Graham “Why Nerds are Unpopular” at http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

    Best
    Bob Durtschi

  331. #332 Blake Stacey
    July 17, 2009

    You have to let go of your anger that child experienced and be the adult that’s not held down by childhood memories…. because even if you don’t realize it, as long as you harbor the feelings you expressed… those are going to handicap you and that child that hurt you.. wins.

    Nonsense.

    How could going out of your way to attend a reunion imply that memories from a quarter-fucking-century ago have no hold on you? That’s one metric shitload bigger of an investment than writing one blog post about it and then moving on with life.

  332. #333 Thomas C
    July 17, 2009

    “What I can’t quite figure out in this comment stream is why people like you think that I haven’t moved past it. I’ve made a life for myself where I’m happy. I don’t want to have any contact with the assholes who I went to school with. That doesn’t mean that I’ve got some kind of overwhelming guilt, or unresolved bitterness or shame.

    I spent a few years in college where my life was really dominated by what had happened to me. At the time, I probably could have used some counseling, but I didn’t know how to get it. But I found friends who helped me, and over the space of a few years, I worked my way through it. I learned to appreciate my skills, and to accept my weaknesses. I learned to get past the emotional scars. With a lot of help, I put myself back together, and got on with my life.

    It wasn’t an easy thing, not by any stretch of the imagination. I dropped out of college for a year to get my head together. I had some awful times. But I did work through it, and move past it.

    That doesn’t mean that I forgot it or forgave it. As I’ve said multiple times now, forgiveness isn’t one sided. I don’t believe that you can really forgive someone unless they’ve admitted that there’s something to be forgiven for. But while you can’t forgive, you can move on.

    But just because it’s past, and I worked my way through it doesn’t mean that I’ve got any obligation to go back and see them again. I’m not avoiding the reunion out of fear, or out of shame, or anything like that. I just can’t imagine any reason why I would want to spend a weekend going to spend time with those people. They weren’t my friends 25 years ago; and in those 25 years, I haven’t had any contact with any of them. Why would I want to go socialize with them now? Seriously, I can’t understand why anyone thinks that I should want to spend my time that way.”

    I think the mere fact that you call them assholes shows that there is still bitterness and frustration between the lines. Why else, would you want your child to beat up anyone who dares pick a fight with him? Why on earth would you wish violence upon someone, even if he or she is an “asshole”?

  333. #334 anonimous
    July 17, 2009

    wow,
    NJ high schools are scary. I have experienced cultures/societies where something like that happening was out of question! And we casually declare these societies as not as advanced as “standard, modern society”… take for example ex. communist block, south east Europe … I went to these schools…. Jesus on a bike… something like that was socially unacceptable (even today)… we had geeks, a bit of mobbing pattern, but in a such extreme form, no way.

    Not trying to say better or worse society, I am just frozen from scary story you told us.

    PS: please be careful not to put your kids into “overdrive” mode. It is just so easy for them to get your message wrong and develop some character features you didn’t want.

  334. #335 Broggly
    July 17, 2009

    @332
    And when it seems like he’s not “moving on with it”, just remember that it’s us who’re making it a 300+ post thread not him. Don’t feel disappointed in us Mark, I think most of us are reading this blog because we’re ignorant about mathematics, and so we don’t have anything to add to your post, but not many of us would be ignorant about high school.

  335. #336 James Sherry
    July 17, 2009

    I used to fight the bullies; I was a big guy though. I know somebody who slapped a bully and got an assault ticket in 7th grade. Times are changing.
    Also, I spent 7 years in a Karate type school (a very good one). It’s great for multiple opponents, but Brazilian Ju Jitsu is where it’s at for one on one fights. It’s also a lot of fun and great for stamina. You should sign him up for that, if he’s interested.

  336. #337 Caustic
    July 17, 2009

    I went ahead and forwarded this to the planning committee and several of the attending guests for the reunion. I really just guessed for the bullies; however I am pretty sure I got the right people.

  337. #338 Sounds all too familiar
    July 17, 2009

    I had similar bullying experiences in high school as well and have been debating going to my 10 yr or not and I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in hell I will go either.

    All the physical abuse sounds pretty familiar (I was pissed on from a balcony, shoved into lockers, tripped, etc…). The social awkwardness sounds exactly like my experience. I would say I “asked” for it a little more than you because not only was I skinny, geeky, and awkward, but I also carried a briefcase. Except when asked I didnt call it my briefcase, I referred to it as my “valise”. Oh boy, did that not go over well in my high school….

    Anyway, I have zero interest in ever spending time with my high school classmates ever again.

  338. #339 Peter
    July 17, 2009

    This is great!

    Thank you for sharing as I feel the same way about high school. It was a nightmare even though I played a few team sports. After finishing my senior, I never looked back and found it bizarre that people I never spoke to in school would be trying to contact me years later about reunions. I finally asked them to take me off their list.

    I just want to say that my grade school and college days were happy ones, but high school is something I prefer to forget.

  339. #340 Mike
    July 17, 2009

    I had similar experiences, though not as bad. Probably I was just a slightly less attractive target. I may be sweet, kind, and virtually a pacifist, but three decades later I still occasionally flash back and find myself fantasizing about flaming death for some of these people.

    But hey, you’re a computer scientist working for Google (speaking as a computer scientist who *would* be working for Google if they had an office in my city). That’s gotta be reasonably sweet revenge…

  340. #341 Marcus Ranum
    July 17, 2009

    Other animals younglings kill and eat eachother. We’re different, but not that much different – I don’t know why anyone expects that putting a bunch of kids in an enclosed space is going to result in anything but dominance displays and heirarchy formation. There’s zero effort expended on socializing kids toward other behaviors; christian cultures have this idealized notion of kids as sweet little innocents that sometimes go wrong but I think the reality is the opposite – they are horrid little monsters that need to be taught not to hurt eachother.

    With respect to learning karate or whatever, it’s a waste of time. What you’re really learning is to be scary and demonstrate dominance behaviors. Being “over the top” ferocious works better than the more measured violence of a martial artist.

  341. #342 Dave M
    July 17, 2009

    I was a popular jock (and closet geek) and did a little bit of bullying in middle school. Your experience sounds horrifying and it really sucks that that happened to you. Just imagine the awesome times and incredible personal and intellectual development you missed out on as a teen because you were stuck in that environment around those people. That is just a crime.

    People change and yes you might enjoy chit chat with some now; but, I agree with you. Why should you make the effort after suffering that kind of damage as a young person? Good for you for writing this too. And taking care of your son like you are.

    I vote that you take the reunion weekends and do something awesome, special, and geeky with your family that honors the man you managed to become.

  342. #343 dorothy
    July 17, 2009

    Fat girl here.

    I only had one finger fractured because toes were the popular target. (the first pair of shoes I ever bought- steel toe)

    After getting beat up by gangs of boys (5 to 15 at a time) in middle school, I knew I wouldn’t survive high school if I didn’t do something.

    The first day of my freshman year I showed up with a bright purple mohawk found the worst one in the group and took him by surprise,pushed him against the wall, let out a full throated bellow then picked him up almost over my head by the shirt and belt and threw him against a railing.

    I trained for that all summer.

    The look on his face.

    They didn’t physically attack after that, just beer and soda thrown out of fast moving trucks.

    I knew every telephone and power pole in town.

  343. #344 Blake Stacey
    July 17, 2009

    I think the mere fact that you call them assholes shows that there is still bitterness and frustration between the lines. Why else, would you want your child to beat up anyone who dares pick a fight with him?

    I’m tempted to say, “Man, you really are thick”, but that would be rude.

  344. #345 DTE_Mac
    July 17, 2009

    Who cares….u get old…u get wise…let the past go and stop acting like the punk lil geek u was back in the day….Show some balls

  345. #346 SpongeBrainMadCowPants
    July 17, 2009

    I went to high school in Orange County, CA in the early 70s. Was also a geek, and was also politically radical in a notoriously right-wing place. Like you, I was a skinny kid. I had grown up in a violent neighborhood so by middle school, I knew how to fight and was a good runner, and some of the tough kids from my neighborhood kept the bullies off me because I had helped them with catechism class or bonehead English. But I still experienced a lot of verbal and occasional physical abuse (including on various occasion being hit with a bottle, threatened with a knife, and shot with a pellet gun), and was socially ostracized. The school tolerated a high level of violence, and almost invariably took the “blame-the-victim” approach when confronted over it. The star athletes were some of the worst perpetrators, and nobody seemed willing to tell them anything, much less hold them accountable.

    Fortunately I was able to make a few friends in high school. We were collectively referred to by the other kids as “the rejects.” Interestingly, some of us (though not me) later became core members of the Orange County hardcore punk scene. That should tell you something.

    I take some comfort in the fact that the popular kids ended up working in car washes and Taco Bell. A friend sent me a newspaper clipping about one of the kids who had bullied me getting arrested for being wasted in public and wandering out into traffic. The intoxicant he had abused was gold paint in a sock.

    I haven’t attended a high school reunion and am not likely to. I’m already in touch with everyone I’d want to see. At least those who are still alive: the mortality rate from overdoses, AIDS, motorcycle accidents and suicide in my peer group has been appallingly high. Nearly half of my peer group didn’t make it to 30. At least some of that was the result of the damage that was inflicted by the high school experience, and the virulent insanity that is Southern California suburban society.

    I was also interested in your comments about karate. I did boxing in my early teens, which helped, and later did karate through second dan before stopping due to an injury from a cycling accident. It was great for my confidence and greatly reduced my social anxiety as well. My older son has been doing karate since age 8 (he’s 18 now) and it’s done him a world of good. He’s also a geek but he’s definitely not a soft target. He’s doing well. He’s to the stage with his karate where fights never really start: the worst it’s gotten is that he’s used some pressure-point technique or joint-lock and it has ended there. He’s proud to have never hurt anyone: the best fight is the one that never happens. It also helps that we live in a much less brutal part of the world, Marin County.

    The big lesson I carried away from my own high school nightmare was that you can’t let it embitter you. The best revenge is to live well. And it’s better that your children be survivors: there’s no nobility in being a victim.

  346. #347 TSK
    July 17, 2009

    I haven’t read all comments, but I want to add two things which happened to me: a good and a disturbing one.
    The good one was that *shortly* after my departure I met one of my classmates who apologized. Little as he was and coming from the rural he was scared to be bullied, so he
    did not intervene nor tried to contact me. Knowing well how that feels it was easy to forgive and I must say I was impressed that he mounted the courage to admit it to me.

    The disturbing part is that a girl who was bullied initiated
    the reunion and tried to convince me for participating. I asked her why she does this and her answer was that she wants to show her tormentors that she is *really* likeable.

    I felt disgusted: Why the hell should I depend my
    self-worth on the judgement of people who exactly tried
    to undermine it ? I feel exactly the same way when people here are posting that they are going to display their status symbols in the reunion: They have never escaped
    the need to impress their tormentors: I have a pretty wife,
    5 children, a Ferrari and I have come to hope that you will
    now adore me.

    Exactly as bad was the tone she used: I felt that she was speaking to an contorted image from the past. Do you know
    these greasy stereotypes from people who simply haven’t an idea and after demonizinig one are reverted this in
    idolization ?: I was so *gifted* and uh, the teacher has now explained bla bla bla. Urgh.

    Some remarks to comments:
    “They are reaching out for you”.
    I can tell that I lived several years in the city and everyone knew where I was living. But the “reach” coincidentally occured only then when the reunion was
    planned. So it’s pure bullshit. They are not reaching out
    for you, they are trying to cope with the past and any
    concession improve their self-image “It wasn’t so baaad, else he/she wouldn’t come”.

    “One should go”.
    Depends. If you have some dear friends from the school which
    you would like to meet, I thinks it’s good to go. The key
    question is:

    If noone liked or disliked you in school, would you go ?

    If you are introverted and the answer is no, there is simply no reason to go because there is nothing to gain.
    If you want to know how your former tormentors are now,
    don’t meet them in the reunion where everyone is trying
    to project an image.

    In Mark’s case I see no point at all to go and I find the
    behavior of the former pupils disgusting and beyond
    redemption.

  347. #348 Blake Stacey
    July 17, 2009

    I wonder if there might be some kind of limited mental horizons thing going on here. Looking around the thread, I see a lot of new faces; the “grow up and get over it” and the “learn the way of forgiveness” responses seem to be coming from recent arrivals. Hi, everyone. I hope the weather is nice at Reddit, or wherever you came from. It might be interesting to ponder the possibility that just because the first thing you’ve ever heard about a person is his unhappy high school experience, that doesn’t mean his entire life is fixated upon it. You’re working with a very small, biased sample, which is not a way to get good statistics.

  348. #349 Kamal Mishmish
    July 17, 2009

    Well now, look who has the PhD?

  349. #350 Anonymous
    July 17, 2009

    100% with you, I’m a geek and proud to be one.

  350. #351 Nomen Nescio
    July 17, 2009

    I think the mere fact that you call them assholes shows that there is still bitterness and frustration between the lines.

    calling an asshole an asshole is not a sign of either bitterness or frustration, it’s simply being honest. mind, if you had some reason to believe the person(s) so labeled are not or were not, in fact, assholes, then you surely would present it, would you not?

    Why else, would you want your child to beat up anyone who dares pick a fight with him?

    has anybody here said anything of that sort? what seemed to me to be proposed was that children be taught how to defend themselves from physical assault and how to end a fight that some attacker persists in bringing to them. that’s just common sense, as well as being the only known, reliable way of stopping a bully from bullying.

    Why on earth would you wish violence upon someone, even if he or she is an “asshole”?

    who here has wished that? violence is occasionally necessary in self-defense; that doesn’t mean it is desirable. sometimes people have to do things they really wish they wouldn’t have to — even kids.

    and FWIW, i’m another guy who’s never attending his high school reunions. i never had it anywhere nearly as bad as Mark, but i had it bad enough for my liking. i ended up moving clear across the planet from my tormentors, and just as happy am i to never see their faces ever again. they were assholes to me then, and even if they perhaps aren’t assholes any longer, i’m quite content to not find out what they might now be. i don’t need them, i delete their invitations unread.

  351. #352 john
    July 17, 2009

    i just want to say that is neither normal nor acceptable for any geek or person otherwise to be physically abused in a school setting or any environment.

  352. #353 Ev M
    July 17, 2009

    I doubt the people who have been contacting you and acting all friendly even remember their behavior, much less feel guilty about it. Bullying tends to have a much larger effect on the bullied then the bullier. It might be worth forgiving them and moving on, holding a grudge for years isn’t very constructive/valuable.

    I had a pretty rough middle school (nothing like broken fingers, though), but my high school wasn’t so bad, for a variety of reasons (improved social skills, mostly). It’s more important, I think, to learn to ignore the tall tales and jibes, and know how to finish any fights that start (although fights in my high school weren’t all that common, and rarely were started just for cruelty’s sake). Learning some social skills helps, probably more then karate: a team sport, any sort of community based thing (church? hackerspace? anything that involves other kids/etc.), or the like goes a LONG way towards making it nearly impossible to bully someone. Any time someone has friends/etc. present or nearby, their chances of being bullied drop drastically.

  353. #355 beyond hope
    July 17, 2009

    I won’t be going to my 20th high school reunion this year either. The 10th year one, I wasn’t even invited. It was as if I didn’t exist. And this coming year? Lookee what shows up on facebook – one of those idjits who ostracized me in school wanting to be my friend. Fine – I’ll stick you in the limited profile section. I have facial scars from one girl who beat the shit out of me. And I was raped by one of the guys there who offered me a ride home and instead of a ride home, took me so far away from home, I had no clue where I was. The teachers didn’t care what was going on until the provincial government enacted anti-bullying laws that even to this day aren’t really working. I was the geeky artsy kid with the wrong religion. Everyone else was judeo-christian-muslim and I wasn’t so I was beaten on for that too. I also had the biggest bust in school so was an easy target for sexual jokes and worse. I will not go to my reunion. If I did, I would be giving those jerks a piece of my mind.

  354. #356 Ryan
    July 17, 2009

    As for the guy who broke your fingers, if it were me, i would go to the reunion, maybe try to meet him before he goes in so I dont have to, and fashion a glove with razor blades pointing out, so when the doofus shakes my hand, he’ll need 160 stitches to sew the multiple long deep gashes. The pig will be squealing and pouring blood everywhere, Then toss a cup of my piss on him (I would try to make sure it got on his cuts) and say: “What are you gonna do??? Awww, are you gonna go cry about it!?!?”

  355. #357 Mike
    July 17, 2009

    Very well said. 95% of the people I went to HS with were ass holes that I really don’t need to see or hear from for the rest of my years.

  356. #358 mediajackal
    July 17, 2009

    I read through post 150. I’ll read the rest, but it’s nearly time to go to work.

    I’m enjoying this post enormously, because it’s helping so many people cope with the crap they endured.

    I graduated high school in 1967. I was bullied through my junior year, when I fell in with a small group not afraid to not care what others thought. It took years to recover from the mental trauma — and then, through a sequence I’m still not clear about, I became a volunteer firefighter. Yay me, you think? Well, in a way: Because I had never believed I was physically courageous, you see. I equated being thumped by people who were stronger and more skilled as meaning they were superior to me. Running into burning buildings can be amazingly cathartic — if you’ve got the proper training — and does wonders for one’s self-image.

    Just as becoming a PhD in computer science, then landing a job with Google, should do wonders for your self-image. Have you ever thought, honestly, just how damn impressive an accomplishment that is? You’re a fricking genius — and you have more courage than any of the losers who tormented you, because you perservered.

    Martial arts are helpful — I wish I’d known self-defense techniques, back then — but they aren’t the key; self-confidence is the key. If your kid believes in himself, he’ll be fine. He’s damn lucky to have a father like you.

    Hey, Mark? You won.

  357. #359 Nomen Nescio
    July 17, 2009

    I don’t know why anyone expects that putting a bunch of kids in an enclosed space is going to result in anything but dominance displays and heirarchy formation.

    i clearly remember reading Lord of the Flies in the original English while in, um, roughly senior high. my English teacher told me the book was supposed to have some moral, some message to be got out of it, but i couldn’t see it at the time.

    only much later did it occur to me that childrens’ instinctive cruelty to one another might not be as obvious as the air we breathe to at least some adults. to the me of that period, Golding might as well have pointed out that the sun was only above the horizon during daylight hours.

  358. #360 Anonymous
    July 17, 2009

    Seriously…

    I am pretty sure I got smacked once or twice at high school, definitely had my nose broken more than once. But you know what? I don’t care. I don’t really remember specifics, it was a long time ago. Since then, I’ve learned not to give a fuck what people think about me – I think it’s called a little earned self confidence.

    I’ve occasionally seen people I used to go to school with around when I visit where I grew up, they don’t remember high school in any great detail either. They don’t care. They’ve not mentally saved it like you seem to have done.

    I have a good job and a pretty awesome life now, some of them might do as well, some of them don’t (which if I don’t or didn’t like them may occasionally raise a dry smile I am not to proud to admit) but I honestly cannot believe you have been harbouring such deep resentment over the actions of CHILDREN for TWENTY FIVE YEARS!

    Damn dude, move on. You’re obviously doing great for yourself now; why not go and show them that, and perhaps one or two dry smiles at some of the complete failures who are sure to be hanging around at the reunion?

    Are are you -still- afraid of what people think of you?

  359. #361 cirquelar
    July 17, 2009

    I here ya. Didn’t suffer that much physical abuse, but plenty of verbal insults and the like in highschool. You’re a professional software engineer at Google and have a PhD…I think you can be happy knowing that you succeeded despite all that b.s.

    My kids will learn martial arts too (as I have now) and do other outgoing activities so they never fall into the trap of being bullied (or becoming bullies). I never understood why it was so, important?, for some to push others around and why teachers tolerated that crap among students.

  360. #362 Blake Stacey
    July 17, 2009

    Damn dude, move on. You’re obviously doing great for yourself now; why not go and show them that, and perhaps one or two dry smiles at some of the complete failures who are sure to be hanging around at the reunion?

    Revisiting the past is moving on?

    Are are you -still- afraid of what people think of you?

    Given that he wrote a public blog post in which he called aforesaid people hypocritical fuckers, probably not.

  361. #363 Shodan
    July 17, 2009

    I’ve been taking Karate for many years and I have to say that yes it is a social sport, I have made more friends through it than any other one thing in my life. That is one of the reasons I have stuck with it so long.
    I do believe it to be a very effective MA, and I’ve had cracked ribs, black eyes, broken bones and many other bruises to prove that. But I also train in a very hard, traditional style which isn’t typical of most dojos in North America. I am worried about your son being given a black belt in grade 4, that goes against everything I believe in. Even if he has the skill to back it up (and I wont say that he doesn’t, as I havent seen him train) I dont believe any child is old enough to grasp the responsibility that comes with that rank at such a young age. I would do some research on your child’s dojo, the style they practice, the ranks of the instructors and the governing body they fall under. I know many karateka who have wasted many years under bad instructors and were given “fake” black belts only to find out down the road that official organizations would not recognize that rank and that it would take many more years of training to undo the bad habits they were taught.
    That’s just my two cents.

  362. #364 Lindsey G
    July 17, 2009

    I used to feel the same way. Why should I mingle with fuckers who made my lie a living hell and, even worse, thought what they were doing is fine? I went to a Lutheran gradeschool/middleschool and Catholic highschool. I’m a bisexual atheist. Problems definitely arose, let’s put it that way…
    I’m not sure if I will go to my reunion or not. On the one hand, maybe there are people who HAVE changed and want to make amends as best they can. But on the other hand, once the wounds finally close, why pick at the scars?

    and major props to teaching your children karate. That is the one thing I WISH I had learned… being able to defend yourself is a real confidence boost, and as you say it will make them no easy prey.

  363. #365 bob
    July 17, 2009

    I was the fat kid that played the big bass drum and baritone.
    Always got picked last.Etc.
    Do what you want, and to hell with what anyone thinks.
    You have the right to choose. Kids forget how messed up they can be to each other, and the A listers never remember how cruel they can be.

  364. #366 Geo
    July 17, 2009

    G Gordon Liddy (the watergate guy) wrote a book called “Will” which I enjoyed reading becuase of his stories of how he handled bullies when he was a young small guy..

    One day he made wrist bracelets of tape with thumbtacks sticking outward. When the bully grabbed him one last time Liddy pulled away as hard as he could. Brilliant I thought.

    My suggestion? You make a virtual quake or fighting game with the textured faces of the people who messed with you. Virtually taking them out would probably be similar to good psycho therapy of helping people deal with fear of heights through VR immersion worlds.

    The only other thing I’ll say is that you have to remember that kids in grade school and jr high and less so but also in high school really do stupid things they genuinely regret later. Sometimes giving them the opportunity to show it will really be good for you too.

    But sometimes – a lot of times – assholes remain assholes – especially high schoolers where people’s adult emotional minds are pretty well formed.

    TIVO the show “high school reunion” which puts old classmates in a house together for several days to see.

  365. #367 Aleksandar Matijaca
    July 17, 2009

    I was a quiet geek in my school. Didn’t get bullied, just ignored, and that served me just fine. I have absolutely no interest or even a positive memory of my high-school years, or people that went there. Wrote my first Fortran IV program on punch cards on an IBM 1130 in grade 10 in 1976.

    Cheers, Alex.
    Toronto

  366. #368 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 17, 2009

    Re #333:

    I think the mere fact that you call them assholes shows that there is still bitterness and frustration between the lines. Why else, would you want your child to beat up anyone who dares pick a fight with him? Why on earth would you wish violence upon someone, even if he or she is an “asshole”?

    (A) Just because I managed to get past the damage that was done to me doesn’t
    change the fact that it was done. It doesn’t make the people who abused me
    into nice people. They were assholes – that’s an accurate description.

    (B) There’s a huge difference between wishing violence on someone, and wanting someone to be able to defend themselves if they’re attacked. I don’t want my kids to be violent. I hope that they never have to use the self-defense skills that they’re learning.

    As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I’m Jewish. My Rabbi when I was in high school
    was a tiny old guy – about 4 foot 11. He was an incredibly smart, kind, gentle guy. He’d been a chaplain during the D-day landing, and talked about it a lot, about the horror that’s caused by that kind of violence, even when you’re right.

    He used to give a talk on the Jerry Lewis telethon every year. One year, I think my sophomore year in high school, three kids with sharpened screwdrivers tried to mug him on the subway.

    He beat the crap out of them. Since he was so small, his father had made him study judo and boxing. When he was fighting them, he was brutal. One of the kids wound up with a broken kneecap. My rabbi had deliberately aimed for that, even though it’s a crippling blow – you’ll never completely recover from that without a joint replacement.

    He told us about this. I was shocked. And I asked how he could do that: how could he deliberately try to cripple someone? His answer was: when someone attacks you,
    you defend yourself. Your first goal when attacked is to end the fight: to stop your attacker from hurting you. You don’t worry about being nice. You do what it takes to end it, once and for all. With three kids trying to hurt him, breaking one’s knee would eliminate him from the fight – he’d be on the ground, with no way to get up.

    Attacking someone is a deliberate choice. If you make that choice, if you decide to initiate violence against someone else, that other person is morally entitled to do whatever is necessary to stop you. No more than that – it’s never right to deal out additional injury to someone once you’re safe. But to do what you have to to protect yourself from an attacker is not wrong.

    That’s what I want my kids to understand. That’s the point of what their karate teachers keep telling them. Never start a fight. But if a fight starts, be the one to finish it.

    One more story, and I’ll shut up about this. I was watching my daughter’s karate class a couple of months ago. The kids were doing sparring for the first time. One of the kids in the class got really upset about it, and was crying. The sihuan took the kid aside to talk to him. At the end of the class, he brought him to the front, and said “I want to share with all of you what we talked about. Son, can you tell them why you were crying?”. The kid very meekly said “I’m scared of fighting, I don’t want to hurt anyone or get hurt myself”. The sihuan gave him a hug, and then told the whole class how proud he was of that kid. Because you should be afraid of fighting. Fighting is awful. Hurting someone is an awful thing. Being willing to admit that you don’t want to hurt or be hurt is a sign that you’re a good person. But the world isn’t always a kind place. Even if you don’t want to hurt anyone, you might wind up in a situation where you have to in order to protect yourself. Being afraid of that is good – as long as you’re able to get past the fear to do what you need to do to protect yourself.

    It made a hell of an impression on the kids in the class, and on the parents watching. Honestly, I think it was the first time I’ve seen an authority figure praise a kid for crying. And he turned it into a very effective message.

  367. #369 Paul
    July 17, 2009

    I really can’t complain about being bullied in high school, but I really don’t understand the concept of reuniting with a bunch of people you don’t hardly know, and you’ve had limited or no contact with for the past X years. We attended the same mandatory institution, let’s all get together and put up a front about our successful careers and families!

  368. #370 Anonymous
    July 17, 2009

    You feel nauseated, not nauseous.

  369. #371 Gray
    July 17, 2009

    Brilliantly written.
    Kudos to you sir for coming out of this the better person and I applaud you for your stance in your parenting with your kids.
    Raising them to stand up and no take crap from these kind of people is one of the best gifts you can give your child.
    I hope for you that your position and stature(Phd) ensures that the rest of your life will be a great one!

    Take care!

  370. #372 bi -- IJI
    July 17, 2009

    Blake Stacey:

    > Revisiting the past is moving on?

    Aye, indeed, and if someone’s bullied, it’s somehow the victim’s fault for not forgiving his tormentors after 25 years! It all makes so much sense now.

    [insert Liberal Fascism joke here]

  371. #373 Edward
    July 17, 2009

    (previously)Skinny hyper-active geek here. I passed on my 25th reunion a few weeks ago for much the same reasons as you. I turned 41 today, and you know what? After 25 years, there are still people from my high school that I wouldn’t trust myself not to shoot if I saw them face to face.

    You’ve received a lot of sympathy here and advice that is good, bad and mediocre. But the bottom line is this; High school is nothing more than a poorly supervised Stanford prison experiment of cruel, thoughtless children seeking peer approval through any means possible. Some survive it with pleasant memories, some trudge through it and count themselves lucky. Some, like Charles White at my high school, snap and attempt to burn it down.

    As for myself, I learned other methods of dealing with my issues.

  372. #374 ron bueno
    July 17, 2009

    # 329 Nate B

    “Reunions are organized by and for the popular kids.”
    Not always true. Certainly not in my case.
    We had some very active organizers (half) that were most certainly NOT popular in either grade or high school. Two were certainly picked upon at different times that I can remember. One thing is for certain… many of those “popular” as kids are just normal people as adults in the real world… many if not all carry the weight that they aren’t performing well in the real job market as what they were told to expect. You might also be shocked to learn that they view highschool as being a difficult and abusive place as well.
    As someone that “chined up” and attended my reunions I can speak with some experience that short changed yourself.

  373. #375 dorothy
    July 17, 2009

    This post doesn’t mean he’s got huge issues about this, a little carthisis is good.

    Considering the response, very good.

    I think some commenters here and on reddit show more issues in their responses than he did in his post.

  374. #376 Rich
    July 17, 2009

    I got pushed to the point where I lost it and chased a bully with an 8″ hunting knife. Good thing he was faster than me, I’m not sure what I would have done had I caught him before my step dad caught me. I still faced plenty of abuse, but there did seem to be the understanding that I probably shouldn’t be pushed too far.

    Worst I faced physically was getting hit in the back of the head with a rock, but that was rare, and no broken bones. It helped that my one real friend (who remains my dearest friend today) was well liked. And I was 1984 too.

  375. #377 marly
    July 17, 2009

    It appears quite clear that Mark isn’t looking for anyone’s advice regarding going to his reunion or not. He is not going, he doesn’t want to and he wrote a blog about why. End of story. He is not bitterly thinking about those people from high school on any sort of regular basis. It came up again because HIS reunion organizers (and some past abusers) contacted him. Therefore it has brought this to his mind again, the past episodes of abuse he went through in high school.

    A bitter memory does not make for a bitter man. He clearly explained that he did work past his anger long ago. Now he blogged about it and was flippant and funny, while tragic and horrible. He’s just letting out his emotions on the subject. You can’t read it line by line and analyze the man, particularly when you don’t know him from Adam and just found him via Reddit today like me. (I’ve spent a great deal of time checking back on the comments today, I need to get a life!)

    For the people that think he ought to go to “show them” how successful he is now? Who gives a damn what they would think of him now? He does not need nor seek their approval.

    Most of us attended high school. I did in the mid eighties. At that age I had enough common sense to know it is fucking 110% wrong to abuse, harm or make fun of anyone, or to stand there laughing like an asshole while someone is being tortured. What bullshit to say the bullies came from this or that dysfunction. Who cares? Why should Mark care? We are talking high school 25 years ago! People don’t usually change that much and if they do? Good for them. But why should Mark give a crap about their lives? Life is too short to prove ourselves to anyone. He has plenty of self esteem – he doesn’t need to show anyone anything. Except for his blog which is spot on. And of which you have a choice to read or not, but he did not ask for your advice. I’m amazed he even took the time to respond to some of the comments.

    The world is full of psychic vampires. Life is too precious to waste on the past. Reunions, while they could be fun for some are not even a desirable way to spend one hour of someone else’s life.

    He wrote a blog about it! Like to read it? Here it go!

  376. #378 bi -- IJI
    July 17, 2009

    Guy Hurst:

    But do so in humility, and in fear of losing an even greater good due to presuming you won’t ever need forgiveness for an equally heinous crime seen from a higher plane of existence.

    So in short, you’re saying that I should forgive someone who’s done me wrong, because that’ll somehow give me leeway to commit other unrelated crimes?

  377. #379 just another post-child nerd
    July 17, 2009

    I read about 100 of the comments then decided to give up trying to read them all. My story starts very similar, but ends completely different.

    I was on a 286 when I was 3, got my own first computer when I was 4, started programming (BASIC, shudder) when I was 8. I was homeschoolled for grade 2 and 3 because my parents had to move around a ton for work (telco/IBM). Then grade 4 hit. A nerd that has been homeschoolled for 2 years is probably the least socially adept creature on the planet. I got beat up almost every single day. Not just pushed around, beaten to a pulp. I was (and still am) a believing Christian, and I would continually “turn the other cheek” to no avail.

    The only one in class that would talk to me was the mentally challenged kid and the kid that lost his mom to cancer and had stopped showering as a side effect. I was tall and lanky, but good at sports. The hacker/individualist that I am, I hated every team sport, so the only things I liked were track and field and cross country.

    Anyways, one day, about a year and a half after I started getting bullied, I was getting picked on by a group of people that were my age to 3 years older than me. They pushed me down and I hit my head on a rock.

    I finally snapped.

    I picked up a 30-40 lbs rock and smashed it over the head of one of the older guys, then ran. Best thing I ever did.

    Doctors said the kid could have died if the rock were any heavier and the administration FINALLY started listening to me. “Boys will be boys” turned into “ok, what the hell is the problem here everyone?”

    No criminal charges against me because it was “self defense”. I never got beat up again. I soon had tons of friends, girls calling my house. I still did nerdy things like circuits and programming, but I was never ostracized again, in fact some of my new friends got me to teach them this stuff and one of them later pursed a very successful career in engineering.

    I truly think that if I didn’t snap then, I would have snapped later, and knifed or shot someone. Not trying to scare anyone, it is just what happens when someone gets no justice for years and years. If a 25 year old punched me in the bar he would get charged with battery. Why do we protect our children the least? Why is it “ok” to break a kids bones? It isn’t. We are going to continue to have bullied nerds snap until we stop this nonsense about “boys being boys.”

  378. #380 Edward McCain
    July 17, 2009

    @179 – John McDonald “The guy that broke your fingers.. what are the odds his dad abused him at home? I’m not excusing anything; I’m just saying – people is people.”

    In all seriousness, thanks for the epiphany. In 25 years, I had never considered that as the reason that motivated my personal tormentors. Thinking back, I know for a fact that Darrel and Gerald had alcoholic asshole for a father, Bruce had a father that was in jail, and Michael turned into an asshole after his father died.

    Things are in a different light now, thank you for giving me something to think upon.

  379. #381 Variable
    July 17, 2009

    My story is simalre but in 7th grade I fought back, and kicked the crap out of the school bully. Your kid will be better off if he does the same thing when and if the time comes. I did not start the fight but I sure ended it, and he ended up with 14 stitches on his cheek after “falling” onto a metal sprinkler head and it piercing his cheek and knocking out a tooth. God I felt good going home (with 3 days suspension) and telling my parents what had happened. I was never picked on again (and I became friends with his older sister)
    On a side note: please fix your spelling/grammer “I’m can’t even pretend that I wasn’t an easy target, or” I think you wanted to put “I can’t even pretend that I wasn’t an easy target”
    Good luck to you and your kids.
    From a skinny geek (with a trophy wife)

  380. #382 Caz
    July 17, 2009

    Good post, dude.
    I was skipped up two grades and didn’t go to public school until the eighth grade. I’m a small fry, 5’6″ NOW, and I went to high school between the ages of 12 and 15.
    I got lucky, met a freaks ‘n geeks type of crowd as a drummer, and didn’t suffer much. I was respected by enough people to make it bearable. My people skills were really bad, but I knew how to avoid conflict, which remained with me as a habit for years afterward. I never felt that people respected me, though.
    Now I’m an Iraq combat vet that’s going career military as an officer, and life is good. I’m still not the social type, and will probably never marry or have kids, but I like who I am. I don’t let people push me around anymore, and while some thinks that makes me a prick, I don’t forget how I used to feel about myself. I’ve earned my pride at least.
    I’m glad to know that you have kids and a life that you like. Lots of people need to hear from guys like you who have sucked it up and come out doing well, because it feels like there’s no end to it when you’re a kid. Be a good dad, and make sure your kid knows that, while he has to respect you, you will always be in his corner. Everything else will work itself out.

  381. #383 Jay
    July 17, 2009

    What’s most amazing or perhaps what sucks the most if that all this still affects you to a grave extent. Shit that happens to us in our adolescent years really sticks with us forever. It really messes us up and it’s hard to move on and let go. You must be doing alright now: nice job, cool kids… And still when you think about HS it brings back all the nasty motions you had to go through, all the bullying, all that crap.

    I know you don’t care about any of these people, but I think you should go to the reunion, mate. And when all those assholes walk up to you and ask how you’ve been, you can look them in the eye and say: never been better, you piece of shit. Then they’ll see you’re no longer a scared kid and there’s nothing they can do to you now. Nothing! Not even make fun of you because you are so much smarter and achieved so much more than any of them ever will.

    I guess it might be easy for me to suggest that you do, as I was never bullied in school. I was the smartest kid in class but I was also quick to embarrass anyone with my witty jokes and comments if they ever attempted to make fun of me. And no one liked to be embarrassed in public. I was also athletic which made me popular and able to defend myself. But I never bullied anyone unless they were younger siblings of my friends – sort of have to, right? :0) I guess in my school though most popular kids wouldn’t let others bully smaller or geeky kids beyond a certain extent. It just wasn’t cool and there would always be a bigger kid around to slap you in the back of the head if you tried to step beyond reasonable boundaries. One could count on older kids to protect you. And one would be called a coward if you bullied someone smaller or weaker than you. So it’s hard for me to understand how not even one kid stood up for you.

    I think you should also consider the possibility that these kids have grown up and have become not only aware of how stupidly and cowardly they behaved towards you and others like you, but also that they might have become good, decent, interesting people. It’s been 25 years and in 25 years one can expect a whole deal of change and evolution. Some will have turned into failures, some into jerks, and some hopefully into cool folks. I often think about how people I meet on the streets, at work, or who I eventually become friends with, behaved in the past. What are their stories, how was their upbringing, what were they like in school. At least one of them must have been a bully, and at least one of them must have been a geek – considering I am a biomedical scientist, chances are there are more geeks than bullies in my circle of acquaintances and friends. Yet somehow, they are now interesting people or interesting enough that I want to get to know them and befriend them. Good people who are now capable of thinking about the world and the consequences of their actions. I could bet that in your 25 years later class of 84, there are some of those cool folks too. The question is, does that matter anymore to you?

    Take care,
    J.

  382. #384 cambrico
    July 17, 2009

    I don’t think Mark needs to close anything, or to grow up or let the anger dissipate, or whatever some people are advising with a condescending attitude. I think he has got over it, like many that have written their stories here. But we had to endure several years of bullying, with nobody to go for help. We needed years to overcome the low life sensation that those people instilled in us. So, unless you get amnesic or lobotomized, those memories will be there for ever. I am sure many of us are not interested in revenge. That advise of showing up to make them feel inferior due to Mark’s Google job or PhD, or with the objective of making the reunion a mess, sorry, that not goes with balanced people. But we learned many lessons, among them, don’t waste your time with morons, social skills are of the utmost importance, and any way of self defense should be as compulsory an item as learning a second language.
    This blog has stated what we think and feel and we are gratefull with it. It has said what has to be said and let the morons of this world take notice.
    We remember, we learned, we thrived and please, high school reunion fanatics, you are the ones that need to grow up.

  383. #385 Guy Hurst
    July 17, 2009

    (#378) “So in short, you’re saying that I should forgive someone who’s done me wrong, because that’ll somehow give me leeway to commit other unrelated crimes?”

    No, but rather because it will give us leeway to be forgiven for crimes we blindly think we are innocent of.

  384. #386 chris
    July 17, 2009

    The people criticizing you here are funny, though I suspect they get tiresome to you.

    Kudos on making it through one of the shittiest HS experiences i’ve ever read about (and building a happy life). And nice job learning from it and teaching your kid karate. Can’t believe that dude recommended soccer instead.. wtf?!

  385. #387 johnm
    July 17, 2009

    I do think they’re trying to get in touch now out of guilt. Normally I would say one should accept the opportunity to forgive them, but when I got to the burning swastika I began to understand.

    If you haven’t seen it, do track down the high-school reunion episode of 30 Rock. It’s pretty funny and kind of cathartic.

  386. #388 dustin
    July 17, 2009

    I was thinking about writing up something long-winded and chock-full of inspiring goodness. But why bother?

    Rock the F**k on man! :) No sense spending the money to go somewhere you don’t want to be, seeing people you really don’t want to see, and try to act all “nice” about it.

    Let them get back into their “cliques” and talk about the other “cliques”.

  387. #389 richard
    July 17, 2009

    Small tip:

    Put your son in a rugby team or something similar.

    That way he recognizes to be tough but also learns that it pays to work as a team.

  388. #390 Carl Lumma
    July 17, 2009

    Lovely fellow.

  389. #391 anonymous
    July 17, 2009

    Congratulations! I couldn’t agree more and I feel the same to a lot of people in my school and especially the administration. I also second the idea of teaching your kids martial arts. I just don’t think that Karate is that good, I would prefer Muay-Thai or something similar like Boxing or Kickboxing. Why? If you watch those fighting championships(UFC, pride, etc…) you see that that is what’s effective plus brazilian jiu-jitsu for groundfighting would be a good complement. Why don’t you practice yourself, you would be a good role-model as a dad.

  390. #392 Josh
    July 17, 2009

    Good for you for standing up for yourself, even after all this time.

    Bullying in school should not be acceptable in our society. If you listened to the people who tell you to “get over it,” you’d be like everybody else in turning a blind eye to a wrong. I applaud your bravery.

  391. #393 Interrobang
    July 17, 2009

    I concur, MarkCC, for the same reason I won’t watch certain tv programs. I wouldn’t hang out with the characters on those tv shows if they were real people and I knew them in real life; why would I hang out with them through the tv?

    I still live in the same city as my high school; I see people around from high school from time to time. We don’t talk. We have nothing in common. Most of my classmates were right-wing fundamentalist Christian authoritarians (you never met a more right-wing group of kids), and, as you might expect, those kids wrote the book on bigotry. I heard ethnic and sexual-orientation slurs out of their mouths that I haven’t heard before or since.

    And just to forestall the inevitable “But they’ve probably changed!” comments — I know this town. You don’t even know which town I’m from. It’s superficially very clean and polite in Adult Land, but it’s also very, very white, and forget about trying to mingle with the real moneyfolk here if you’re Italian, let alone Jewish or black… I have no reason to believe that the adult forms of the people I knew then are any different, except that they’ve probably gotten good about not referring to people as “beaners” and “pakis” and “fags” until they’re behind closed doors.

    I was as left-wing as it’s possible to be as a sheltered teenager, remarkably unpredjudiced despite having a white supremacist for a mother (yes, it’s that kind of town, really), willing to hang out with the gay kids and the weird kids, and one of two open atheists in the entire school of 1100. I was also fat, geeky, visibly disabled, and female. I never had anyone break my fingers just for shits and giggles, but I did endure a lot of sexual harassment, physical and verbal abuse, and the odd physical dust-up — sometimes very odd: When I was in grade nine, a rumour went around that I was actually a narc, and some girl pulled a knife on me. Fun times.

    The one time I did try to have a substantive conversation with someone with whom I went to high school, it sort of turned into a mutual contempt exercise — she has turned into someone’s housewife and is busy cranking out kids, has gained 50 pounds since high school and wasn’t thin then, and is still dumb as a bag of hammers. Meanwhile, she was looking down her nose at me because I’m in my 30s and haven’t hooked myself to a man yet and started having babies, and I’m still doing that “intellectual stuff,” and she made a point of asking me what church I went to, so she could sniff at me when I said “You know I don’t go to church.”

    Going to a reunion would basically be a total waste of time. I don’t really want to listen to a bunch of middle-aged Jesus-shouters blathering about their kids, and/or making snotty comments at me because of my (to their minds) “unorthodox” lifestyle. There are people in the world I actually find interesting and worth spending time with; my time is better spent hanging out with those people.

  392. #394 M H
    July 17, 2009

    The sheer volume of replies is enough to validate and substantiate your post. I quit facecrap, myshit, etc because of all the f*cking as*holes that were my tormentors in high school.
    It is very satisfying to watch all the generic, cloned American families that were my schoolmates happily living their conformist, bland, sugar coated lives now.

    Take comfort you are not one of them. Rock on.

  393. #395 Carlie
    July 17, 2009

    Holy crap I can’t believe how many bully defenders have popped up here. That whole “forgiveness” thing sets him up to be a victim yet again – “You have to forgive them and move on!” No, he really doesn’t.I think a lot of that “you must forgive people” pop psychology stems from those very people wanting to be absolved, not from any benefit it would provide to the victim. All of those bullies could walk up to him on their knees, groveling and begging to apologize for their past actions, and he’s not obligated to do one. single. thing. about it. Nothing. There are some wrongs that can’t be put right just by saying “sorry”.

    And as Blake and James have said, why the hell would he spend time, money, and energy to go to those people? It makes no sense. Reunions are for people who want to party with friends they haven’t seen in a long time, not for people to come and deal with issues they’ve buried a long time ago. He owes them absolutely nothing. I’m appalled by the person who wrote this:

    I went ahead and forwarded this to the planning committee and several of the attending guests for the reunion. I really just guessed for the bullies; however I am pretty sure I got the right people.

    It really wasn’t your place to do that. It’s not just his forgiveness to give or not, or his decision to go or not, but it’s his story to tell to whomever he wants to or not. I sincerely hope it won’t result in a flood of emails to him that will be telling him more of what he’s been hit with here, to either forgive them, or they’ve changed, etc.
    I know people don’t like to be ignored, but really. It’s his right. And if the only punishment they get in life is that their former victim ignores them and refuses them forgiveness, then they’ve got nothing to complain about.
    And if he doesn’t want to even privately forgive them, again, that’s his business. Think it will eat away at him from inside? Well, maybe it will, maybe it won’t, maybe he’s made the determination that it’s worth it, maybe he’s really a lot more indifferent about it than you think. It’s just – wow. I couldn’t have imagined the thread playing out with so many bullies actually showing up to try and toss Mark around some more.

  394. #396 td
    July 17, 2009

    It was 25 years ago. I think its beyond time to move on and to be honest it’d likely do you a great deal of good to go to your reunion instead of continuing to be stuck in the same emotional place you were in 1984. People move on, they grow up, some might even apologize to you. Hows ’bout stepping into the wide bright world of adulthood and see how that works for you?

  395. #397 Scott Rogers
    July 17, 2009

    I had a hard time in school as well. Eventually learned to fight back. Meet after school and scream like a banshee, get on top of them and pound their face mercilessly, breaking their nose and smashing their teeth out. Fortunately most bullies are unskilled fighters. I hate fighting.

    Nowadays if a kid defended himself that way against a bully as I did he would be sent to prison and the bully would be put on disability for life to work out his trauma.

    In 10th grade, as soon as I turned 16 and was allowed to, I dropped out of school, took the GED, and started college.

    It sickens me when I read about efforts to force kids to finish high school when all schools are filled with drugs, gangs, drug dealing administrators and coaches. For any gifted person, it is critical they get away from this scene as soon as possible.

  396. #398 Ruth
    July 17, 2009

    I got my horrible treatment in grade school, mostly in 7th grade, although I was in put in the “weirdo” category right from kindergarten. Instead of the physical bullying, though, I got verbal and emotional abuse that literally traumatized me. I have loved to read since before preschool, and the fact that I’d rather read than play with makeup and clothes made me a target. I will never understand why, and I will never fully get over it.

    I hate bullies of any age, but childhood bullies make my blood boil in a way no one else can. Even with my love of reading, I was an outgoing, creative, friendly kid…until I went to school. Now I’m introverted, shy, and scared to speak up in case someone jumps out to point and make fun of me. Yes, I do blame the bullies from my childhood. They ruined me, and I will never forgive them.

    I’ve had a few people from the past try to friend me on Facebook, and my reaction was the same as yours–what the hell is the logic? Oh, it’s the kid we tortured, they’ll TOTALLY want to be friends with us! WTF?! Although it is interesting to see what the psychos are up to. I find it both amusing and horrifying that a lot of the girls that bullied me–some of the meanest, cruelest people I have ever encountered–are now studying to be nurses. I pity the people they treat.

    Thank you for this entry, and good on you and your kids!

  397. #399 Christina
    July 17, 2009

    Stories like this make me very glad I was homeschooled. I had friends who told me about their experiences in high school at the same time I was learning at home. I never felt any desire to go to school, nor did I feel “left out”, just glad that I didn’t have to deal with the uncaring “socializing” that school forces on kids and the emotional consequences for kids who don’t behave in a cutthroat, petty manner. I would have been one of the outsiders, though I can’t honestly say how i’d have dealt with it.

  398. #400 Steve
    July 17, 2009

    Found ur post by accident. I totally agree. My ten year reunion was last year, and there wasn’t a chance I was going. I have kept all of my high school acquaintances at arms length because even my friends considered me a social outcast.

    The transition to college was awkward and a bit rough, but I found my own. Now, I’m a high-flyin’ New Yorker with a great girl and lots of friends. I work as a video producer, and I’m very proud of how far I’ve come from that socially awkward teen.

    One of the main reasons I’m not going to the reunion, aside from my general dislike of people, is the fact that I’ve so exceeded the people who I loathed, that it is embarrassing to be in the same room as them.

    Once when I was home for a visit, I stopped by the local B&N. I was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of an arriflex camera on it. The manager approached me, said one of his employees was interested in cameras, and asked me if I could talk to him. I was like sure whatever. It ended up being some kid from my high school was a jerk and a lacky for someone who was kicking the crap out of me on a daily basis. I talked to him briefly, and he confessed to me that he hates his life, wishes he could leave home and wishes he hadn’t f*cked off so much in college. He e-mailed me a few times later the same sh*t, extolling my accomplishments.

    It gave me no satisfaction whatsoever, just made me feel anxious and unnerved. I can’t imagine what a whole room full of those kind of people would be like.

  399. #401 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 17, 2009

    Re #396:

    I really don’t get that argument.

    How is going back to see highschool people who I didn’t like, and haven’t missed in the 25 years since I last saw them, moving forward?

    Why do you think that re-establishing contact with my abusers is more of a way to move forward than just moving forward with my life?

    Like I said in the original post: Why would I want to see any of those people? I really can’t imagine any reason. Back in my college days, I spent more than enough time getting past the trauma of high school. It wasn’t quick, it wasn’t fun, but it was something that I needed to do. But now, as I keep saying, I got past it, and built myself a damn good life. What could I gain by going back?

    Maybe some shithead would apologize. And what good would that do? Would it undo anything? Would it change the amount of work I needed to do to overcome the trauma?
    Would it make me feel any better about high school? No – it wouldn’t change anything about how cruel they were back then. Would it make me feel any better about my life today? No – I already feel good about my life today, and there’s nothing that some formerly abusive person’s apology that could make it any better.

  400. #402 Jen
    July 17, 2009

    As a lifelong geek myself and the parent of geeks, this post was both heartbreaking and amazing. I’m glad there’s one more person to speak up against the myth that everyone should feel nostalgic over high school. I think, in reality, very few people do.

    To the trolls on the comments: Leave the guy alone. You have no room to criticize, make suggestions, or give “helpful” advice. Just shut the f— up.

  401. #403 Nomen Nescio
    July 17, 2009

    @385:

    (#378) “So in short, you’re saying that I should forgive someone who’s done me wrong, because that’ll somehow give me leeway to commit other unrelated crimes?”

    No, but rather because it will give us leeway to be forgiven for crimes we blindly think we are innocent of.

    as Mark mentioned, forgiveness must be a two-way street. someone who — blindly or otherwise — thinks themselves innocent of any crime does not deserve forgiveness, and would not recognize its utility nor its needfulness were it to be offered.

  402. #404 Brian Siano
    July 17, 2009

    Exactly what I went through in school, and exactly hwo i feel about it.

    I can even match your swastika incident, even tho I’m not Jewish. Kid painted one on my locker. I whalloped him with the lock while he was laughing.

  403. #405 Sp1nz
    July 17, 2009

    You, Sir, are my hero. I am a geek as well, and though I wasn’t picked on, a lot of my good friends were. We went through a lot of stuff… I feel the same way. Fuck those people.

    For those saying “hey, they were just kids”… Fuck you too. I was a kid then, and I didn’t do that god-aweful shit to other kids. Why the hell do they get a free pass? Idiots…

  404. #406 Keith
    July 17, 2009

    Almost exactly what I went through but add being a super-closeted gay boy on top of it. I didn’t actually get my fingers broken or have anything like the swastika incident but I can relate to not having a single friend in my graduating class. My D&D group made up of kids a year younger was my only contact with people I’d call (minor) friends. Not until college did I develop true friendships.

    I’ve said many times “The only way you’d see me at a high school class reunion would be with a high-powered rifle in my hands.” I hate everyone in my graduating class as they were ALL complicit in severe bullying and ostracism.

    If anyone in high school reads this just realize it does get better and that you can flush all those high school “relationships” down the toilet when you get to college.

  405. #407 Mike Church
    July 17, 2009

    Karate is so 1984. Your kid will get his ass kicked by anybody with a decent ground game.

    Your son is well on his way to ending up like you: a 40 year old virgin.

    lol @ your life.

  406. #408 RosieM
    July 17, 2009

    I was thin (due to bulimia), pretty, tall, and completely rejected by the “popular” kids in my schools. I didn’t use drugs or drink, so the stoners and partiers didn’t even see me. I didn’t do sports, so the jocks and cheerleaders, when not assaulting me, ignored me. I wasn’t on the debate team, so the uber-smart ones ignored me. My only friends, and the ones who are my friends to this day, were all much like me. We were all attractive, smart, fun, friendly people, who were also societal rejects.

    I was raped by an antisemitic, neonazi classmate. He graduated and became an officer in the Army.

    I dropped out, got my GED, went to college, lived an interesting life for the last 20 years, but I will NEVER attend a high school reunion. Two reasons: 1. I didn’t graduate, thus, I don’t actually qualify as a member of that class, 2. HE would likely be there, and I can’t guarantee that I would not wreak upon him the same violence the threatened my family with after he raped me.

    Do I forgive him? No. Do I feel bad about that? No. He doesn’t think he did anything wrong, and characterized me to a true friend of mine as “crazy”.

    Am I still suffering from his actions? Yes, I am. Much of my interesting life has been spent as an agoraphobic shut-in.

    It sounds to me like you have a wonderful life, and you deserve every great thing you have and do. Had I witnessed that asshole breaking your fingers, I would have physically assaulted him, and would likely been suspended from school and beat up by my parents. The suspension might have bothered me a little.

  407. #409 Blake Stacey
    July 17, 2009

    Looking over the comments which will probably be deleted soon, I can only quote Tom Lehrer: “The outpatients are out in force tonight.”

  408. #410 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    July 17, 2009

    Re #407:

    You know what’s really funny? That you don’t even see that “Your son is well on his way to ending up like you: a 40 year old virgin.” makes no sense.

  409. #411 Blake Stacey
    July 17, 2009

    MARK CHU-CARROLL’S SON IS JESUS.

    It makes so much sense now.

  410. #412 Josh
    July 17, 2009

    Sorry to hear about your experience. I had neither a good or bad experience, but I just think its stupid how people have to pick on others to make themselves feel better.

  411. #413 Luna_the_cat
    July 17, 2009

    What’s with all the twats who seem to blame MARK for it all?

    Seems like you’re the same kind of idiots who blame rape victims for “asking for it”. If anyone needs to “grow up”, it’s you lot; blaming the victim is the action of a total asshole, and an immature action at that. It is the primary decision and the responsibility of the bully and the victimiser, not the victims; some people choose to hurt others, and that is THEIR fault, no-one else’s.

    As for forgiveness — if a person thinks he/she is better off forgiving those who have victimised him/her, that’s up to them. It ain’t nohow obligatory. And anyone who thinks they have the right to push someone into forgiving the people who hurt them, regardless of whether or not those victimizers deserve it, regardles of what happened to the victim, are bullies themselves and need to be smacked round the head with a clue-by-four.

    Forgiving people who make a practice of hurting others is a way of making that victimisation socially acceptable, as I believe I’ve seen being pointed out upthread as well. It feeds a cultural myth of “you’ll all grow up and be friends and it will turn out fine in the end”; it’s an enablement. It’s bullshit. And for someone to have been absolutely helpless in the face of assault and have no support, and then to be repeatedly told that they ought to forgive the people who did this — that’s just an insult, it’s purely a “your pain doesn’t matter, the experiences of your life don’t matter, conform to our ideals because we think you ought to” message. Nope. The bullies were assholes, the enablers who communicate the message that “it’s ok” are worse, and it is entirely Mark’s life to live as he chooses now.

    And you know what? Mark didn’t ask you. He didn’t ask anyone. He posted his own feelings and his own thoughts and justifications, but he isn’t asking anyone anything, especially you. So you can basically fuck off and get over yourselves.

    …The irony is, I really get the impression that many of you “it’s Mark’s responsibility” types are or were bullies yourselves, and the whole “blame the victim” or “forgiveness” schtick is just a way to avoid facing your own responsibility. Hey, it wasn’t really the bullies’ faults that they made MCC’s life hell! He let it happen! It’s his responsibility to forgive them!

    Yeah, and fuck you too. You and any other bullies are still a bunch of douchebags, and you need to face that uncomfortable fact about yourselves.

    …Oh, and on the martial arts side, Mark: could I pitch a vote for letting your kids try Mixed Martial Arts, if it’s available in your area, to see if they like it? It’s not just effective fighting and really, really good for reaction time and coordination, it’s also hella fun, imo. And if the idea is to be able to make the bully pay if someone else starts something, I think MMA is about as effective as it gets.

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