I hate being an adult.
It's easy for me to pinpoint the exact moment that I grew up. I was driving my car and remembering an incident from the past, an incident that I liked to think about when considering how unfair the world was to lil'ol me. And for the first time I realized that I was responsible for what I got, that I had been a turd, a great big turd, and others reacted in just they way they should have. I almost swerved off the road. The revelation that I was not always perfect, not always the victim in the story, not always innocent of the crimes I commit ... was harrowing.
That's why I wanted everyone else to shut up.
Just shut up about the kid who got voted out of the classroom. The kid who was shunned by 14 of his classmates when put to trial by a teacher trained under supervision of Adolph. Everyone waxed poetic about the behaviour of this teacher - the damage to the self esteem of that kid - the failure of mainstream education. And they should. These are all huge issues. Issues I'd like to write about. But can't.
Because I don't know if I would have been one of the 14 or one of the 2 who voted for him. God knows I experienced bullying at school, shunned for a thousand reasons by my classmates, made to feel isolated and alone. I can IDENTIFY with the kid. That should guarentee that I would have stood with him, by him, for him. But it doesn't and I know it doesn't.
There was a moment in my high school career, a brief moment, when someone was lower on the social ladder than me. There was a moment, a tiny moment, when I had to decide to be kind or be cruel. I knew, achingly, what it was like to be her, to live on the outside of acceptance - but I longed to have a moment on the other side of the fence. I had a decision to make. I made the wrong decision. I hurt her. Socially stoned her. I have never forgotten that moment, she looked at the others with hurt, at me with betrayal. She knew I knew. I knew, I knew. This is one of the most painful memories of my growing years.
And it's a memory that makes me question myself. But none of the commentators seem to have any question about themselves. The 'experts' on television condemn what happened, they with perfect skin and straight teeth, with an air of superiority that's a little frightening. The two women I heard talking about the vote in the line in Wegman's today on the way home, they were horrified - just after purposely avoiding a woman who tried to catch their eye - a woman less pretty, less thin, less ... you know. Even the disabled guy I talked to in Nashville at the conference seemed to suffer no self doubt as he talked about what should be done to the teacher - with no thought about who raised the 14 others.
I hurt for that kid, but I'm afraid, if I'd been there - that the vote wouldn't have been different. That I wouldn't have had the courage to stand with "the other" against a tide of bigotry. I don't know what I would have done if it were me, then. And it shatters me.
Tobesure I know what I would do now, but that's cheating - we all know the right answer now.
But, then ...
The fat, stupid kid that I was would have been surprised at the 'two votes' after years of empty valentines boxes, after years of hearing about birthday parties on the Monday after, after years of being unable to produce even invisible friends. Two votes would have shocked that kid. Two votes. Two whole votes. Two kids with minds of their own. Two kids with the courage to stand against 14 others. Two kids with the fortitude to look the teacher in the eye and vote her wrong. Two kids ... two little kids ... 2.
Truthfully, they surprise me now.
Don't tell me that you would have been one of the two votes, unless, UNLESS, you are willing to turn around and show me wings.
Because now, at 55, I firmly believe in angels.
That would be 2.