Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In My Younger Days

I was a rapscallion alright. A regular trouble-taker mischief-maker. If it didn't include bangs, whistles, and the possibility of grounded-for-life without the possibility of parole, then it wasn't me.

That said, I also dealt with a lot of shit as a kid. I was a victim of anti-Semitic bullying, on a level most people will never experience in their lives. Prejudice in the 21st century is subtle -- the kind I was subjected to was blatant. Hatred 1.0. The original bigotry.

This is a story about the earliest memory I have when someone bullied me over being Jewish.

I was in 3rd grade. My parents had put me in a Montessori private school near our house. Our class was small, mostly White, but some Hispanic too.

I remember our teacher, Ms. Dolores. She was old. And by old, I mean, this bitch was a time-fighter! She made Mr.Rogers look like a knobby-kneed kiddo.

Anyhoo, one day we got a new student in our class. I can't remember his name, but right away I knew he was a douche.

At the time, it was common knowledge I was Jewish. (I mean, nobody ever had given me a reason not to discuss it, and I always opted out of the X-mas assignments.) It had never been a problem before with any of the other kids, but this dude, for this dude it was apparently a Big Problem.

He started off small, with little sniping remarks. "Oh are your parents super rich? I bet you're like a genius, right!? Are you related to Einstein?"

It got to be a daily occurrence, and for whatever reason my teachers and school administrators never noticed. They seemed so completely ignorant of it, that when I began to complain they told me I must be "making things up."

All the while this kid kept pushing at me. He started making fake Hitler mustaches, doing a duck-walk and Nazi salute. Then he made jokes like, "Wanna go fly a kike? Oops! I mean kite!"

Eventually over three weeks had passed, and it was coming to a head. By nature I was shy and introverted at that age, very passive -- but this dude was beginning to fuck with my cool.

Finally, during free activity time in class, he said to me, "Hey, did your parents die in the Holocaust? I bet all you Jews are lying about all those stupid kikes dying. You just want attention."

Now, growing up I listened to stories of the camps, the Nazis, and the Shoah like other kids listened to their parents talk about the boogieman. Except what I heard had actually happened.. It was scary, and more importantly, I was told to always remember what happened, and how lucky I was to be here.

So when this motherfucking little poxy shit played the Holocaust denial card TO MY FACE, I snapped.

I grabbed his shirt and rammed by head into his face. Broke his fucking nose. He fell back, hands covering his eyes, and suddenly everyone was looking in our direction.

The teacher, old as she was, hobbled over and started rabid-fire questions to figure out what happened. But for some reason, I wasn't listening. All I could hear was this kid, now taunting me behind her back with cries of " I'm a Nazi! I'm a Nazi! Whatcha gonna do chicken kike? Whatcha gonna dooooooo??"

Well, I'll tell you what I did. I picked up one of those plastic chairs with the metal legs and threw it right at his torso.

Only, he dodged it... by hiding behind Ms. Dolores.

The chair struck her right on the side, and she collapsed instantly. The room went deadly silent; everyone thought I'd killed her!

Someone must've called another teacher though, because the 2nd grade teacher What's His Name came in with the janitor Javier. (Javier and I were tight. At recess, he'd tell me dirty stories and let me help him clean-up so I wouldn't have to go back to class right away.)

Javier gave me a nod, and grabbed Ms. Dolores while What's His Name held the door. They rushed out of there.

Meanwhile, the principal appeared like magic and before I knew it I was sitting in front of her desk with my Mom looking at me with hawkish eyes as I was forced to silently accepted punishment without even getting to tell my side of the story!

They just assumed I had done it because I was being a bad kid.

Okay, maybe I was a being bad kid, but I'd had my reasons!

Turns out I had broken Ms. Dolores' hip, and she was in the hospital. The anti-Semitic kid also had his parents come by, who yelled at my mom and the principal about my breaking his nose.

He spent the whole time sticking his tongue out at me in attempts to get another rise.

I barely stopped myself from grabbing his tongue and tying it around his big fat head.

In the end, I was expelled, and my mom decided no more private schools for me. I finished the semester out with home-schooling, but went to public school in the spring.

She never asked me about what happened that day, and after a while I just buried it down in order to forget.

But now that I think back on those times, when I was constantly under attack from bigger, meaner, angrier kids, I remember the kind of rage I could have. I remember that despite the names, and slurs, and other things, that I could still make a fist and fight back.

And I also remember that my anger can hurt the innocent as much as it can hurt the ones who've hurt me.

These are the lessons I carry with me to this day. They are why I am the way that I am. Because I've been down the dark roads since I was only 7 years-old.


8 footnotes:

Student of the World said...

Why didn't your moms ask you why you fought the kid?

Zek J. Evets said...

@SotW: I think she was just too pissed off at the time for it to come up. Maybe later on she wondered -- I have no idea. But certainly she never asked me, and so I never told her.

Mira said...

What a story. But it's typical, in a way. Bullies have their own methods. And good kids - who just can't take it anymore - are the ones who have to suffer.

Zek J. Evets said...

@Mira: Yeah, and the problem often is that the bullied kids grow up to become bullies themselves, perpetuating the cycle.

Anonymous said...

I believe that America and Jews have a love-hate relationship. Americans support Israel and Americans bully Jews--how ironic.

Zek J. Evets said...

@Serpentus: Hah, indeed! But I'm not about blind support for Israel myself. I just wish anti-Semitic bullying wasn't so common. Do you know there's such a thing as "Kick the Jew Day"? I read an article on about it. Totally random.

Mira said...

I had no idea it's still like that in the US. True, the support of Israel sure makes it seem WASP Americans support Jews. But I guess this is yet another case of politics vs real life.

My culture wasn't anti-Semitic in the past (I believe we were even listed as one of few people who were never anti-Semitic and pro nazi), but I am sorry to say it's rapidly changing for the worse. There are almost no Jews in my country, so why then? The answer: American administration. Apparently, some of the Americans in charged for NATO bombing of Serbia were Jewish Americans. Plus, my culture is getting more and more xenophobic. We were not like that before and I am ashamed to see that happening.

(Well, I wouldn't say anti-semitism is the number one problem here, because there are many other groups people ahte, starting with Croats, Albanians, Gypsies and homosexuals. I live across the street to Belgrade synagogue, and it was always calm out there, but that shouldn't be taken as a sign anti-semitism doesn't exist. I am sorry to say it exists, and there is even Serbian section on storm fucking front. Yes, people whose grandparents were killed by the nazis and whose parents were socialized to see themselves as, first and foremost, the enemies of nazis (because there are things that should not be forgotten!), support nazis today. Go figure. )

Zek J. Evets said...


The places in Eastern Europe as having a lot of anti-Semitism are Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus, Slovakia, but I base that on how many Jews fled from these places during WWII, and especially after WWII when they came back and their neighbor's started with the mass pogroms.

Xenophobia is definitely a reason for rising hatred of various groups, and I'm sad to hear that it's happening in your country too, although I can't really talk since America has the same problem.

But as far as Europe goes, the one group I feel the worst for in that region are the Gypsies. They're really getting hammered by every country.