Lessons learned in public school...

Have you ever played the dozens, or at least just plain got fucking picked the fuck on?
No, seriously...

I mean that to say have you ever been on a school bus, subjected to a barrage of mean-spirited and poor-taste jokes from 50 directions all at one time?
How did you respond? Did you...
  • Cry like a bitch on the spot and watch the onslaught be turned WAAAAAAY the fuck up and used as fodder the next day?
    [Phlip note - or for the rest of your days, like the girl who peed on herself in Kindergarten sitting on the floor in front of David Allen and myself and apparently NEVER lived it down for the rest of school]
  • Laugh it off uncomfortably, then go home and cry like a bitch until your parents got home, then tell them what happened, only to have them tell the bus driver the next morning -- which made for more material to be used that afternoon?
    [Phlip note - yep, I'm pretty sure that happened too]
  • Ignore it in hopes that it would just go away, then cried like a little bitch when you got home.
    [Phlip note - if you MUST cry, this is the way to do it... That way it won't become your albatross, like pissing on yourself, even at 5 years of age]
  • Laugh at the jokes because they happened to be funny, then fired the fuck back with the same?
    [Phlip note - i.e. fight fire with fire... fire burns]
And if "well I never rode the bus to school" is your answer, then you have started out with the road towards a losing hand in this game.
[Phlip note - avoidance of this is why I give my sister's kids such shit... Just giving them the jewels, Gina]

Like most children in this country, I was raised in public school and most of the time from kindergarten through some of 10th grade, I rode a bus to school. Like a great many of the children in this country -- and contrary to many preconceived notions of growing up in NC -- I rode the bus alongside a lot of, um... "urban" kids, though we never lived in the PJ's.
In such, we were witness to DAILY occurrences of either someone being made example of or having a good old time, depending upon how you look upon such things. Yes, as children, we cursed like sailors (mainly because our parents did), every conversation would usually digress into one of these sessions and would last until the victim/subject got off the bus and SOMETIMES would end in a fight.
How this was taken and responded to by the person being joked was always worth noting, though at that age I had no fucking clue, it took me into adulthood to "get it," and I am happier for it now. Pressure busts pipes, but it also makes diamonds. If the person breaks under the pressure, they will either cry (or come damn near to crying) with some "stop picking on me" shit or just strike out and try to fight. If you succumbed to the "stop picking on me"/tears approach or if you lost the fight, then you were soundly defeated. Even if you won the fight, the level on which you lost is only slightly altered, but you still lost on the strength of someone being that under your skin. One of my best friends has 2 older brothers -- all within close enough age for us to have all been in high school at the same time -- who'd mastered putting someone into either of these corners, while remaining equipped enough to kick ass if it came down to it.
[Phlip note - thank goodness we've always been good friends, lol]
Seriously, EVERY day, those two would start in on one person and since she lived on the same street as them, which was 3 stops before mine, it would last the ENTIRE trip home, every day.

If you have never laughed until you had tears streaming down your face, I strongly suggest you just go ahead and end yourself, as this was a damn near daily occurrence that was one of my fondest memories of an overall shitty time spent in high school.
[Phlip note - one of my yearbooks has one of those 'candid photos' featuring me doubled over laughing in one of these exchanges with Roger, Ace and Kufre]
Funny thing, here goes along with it... She -- who I will not name because I will have access to see this when I link it to my facebook -- is no worse for it at this point, seems to be a well-adjusted adult with a job and a couple of well behaved kids (to her credit, both by the same dude). No complex was developed as a result of it all.

Which brings me to why this all matters to me at the age of 30...
Do you know anyone who just CAN'T take a joke if they could even POSSIBLY relate themselves to the subject (butt) of the joke, if they were not the subject directly? No matter how legitimately hilarious an issue at hand should so happen to be, no matter HOW many people happen to find it at least passingly funny, their response is consistent.
"Aw... That's not funny!"
Then comes a soapbox conversation about why it was not funny, which usually sucks every OUNCE of air out of the room. God forbid this person be the actual butt of the joke, as that would be the touchoff of World War III.
[Phlip note - there is one of these in EVERY social setting... If you don't SEE that person, then I have some tragic news for you]
This person is more often than not the last person invited to the function, often begrudgingly at that.

Ever stop to wonder what in the hell kind of shielded life could bring such a thing to pass? In that I have no clue what goes on behind the doors of a home where this situation could be incubated, I will leave that as a mystery.
I will, however, offer that anyone who cannot laugh at themselves has little business THINKING of laughing at anyone or anything else. I guess that is the difference between being raised where bad shit can and actually does happen, compared to growing up and never knowing anything but the 'burbs... Knowing of the existence of shit -- 'street smarts' if you will -- builds an individual's instincts to properly deal with it, or compose themselves when shit does pop off, opposed to EVERYTHING in the universe being taken as a call to arms to just Kirk the fuck out.
In so much, I am sometimes glad I was the fat kid with glasses and last year's model sneakers on clearance for so long. It taught me
  1. To appreciate the shit I now have and can afford for myself.
  2. To take a joke, even if at my expense,

    and, more importantly...
  3. To deliver an equally biting joke in response.

This goes not to mention an eye-level view of how fucked the fuck up people can actually be without being consumed by it...
And here, all this time, peoples' parents assumed that public schools were just teaching kids to be good workers in the American system and not to consider even trying to excel... True as that may be on the whole, that is to be assessed on a case-by-case basis and not applied as a sweeping generalization, accurate as it may be. Stuffing kids away into private schooling without any other good reasoning than their own "protection" from the "bad kids," or whatever other ills should so happen to come along with public schooling also prevents them from properly adjusting to, you know... REAL people. Social ineptitude and hypersensitivity are products of such an approach quite often. That produces this generation's 40 year old virgins.
Or the other side of the just above is the stereotypical "preachers kid," who goes on to be a slore, a killer or a slore and a killer. Not always -- as I know 2 preachers kids who are now in the cloth themselves -- but stereotypes exist with strong fundamental reasoning, as in the case of the one who shot a childhood friend in the mall a few Christmases ago...

***"But Phlip, aren't YOU generalizing?"***
Possibly, but no... More like observing most frequently-occurring outcomes, based upon interactions with family, friends, friends' friends, family's friends and family that moved away and went "Hollywood" the situation is more often as described above than not. Exceptions do exist, naturally, and I will put that 1 million percent on effective and well-adjusted parenting in addition to the edumacation, as opposed to "stick 'em in an expensive-ass school and let the cards fall where they will" or shielding the fuck out of them their entire lives (ever seen what happened when home schooled kids go to public school?).

There again, it was almost 13 years ago that I was out of the kind of public schooling that you got for free, perhaps kids all around these days are pussified to the point where they will never learned to take a fucking joke.


Kousen Tora said…
Definitely some good stuff there, homie. Oh, and how many people do you know are in a frat or sorority?

I might have to do a story about the so-called "Divine Nine".
Phlip said…
I know a few people that are in them, some in spite of themselves.
I was never and will never be into that shit. I have always likened them to gang-banging.
Dez said…
This is your cuz dez, being the youngest cuz out of the first bunch has made me strong because I took a lot of junk from you and preston. I think that we should laugh at ourselves and have fun, even when I am the butt of my jokes, I have a great laugh because I am comfortable with whom I am, especially with the stuttering. Even though I do not do it as often, it is funny when people call it out because I hardly ever do it!

Now, I must admit, even as adults we can take joking too far. My motto is when ever I am joking and I see someone getting uncomfortable, I usally stop and apologize because you never know what is happening to the person you are cracking on mentally. In that case, I have to say be careful. People are very easy to go "postal" or "columbine" because a few people were cracking jokes on them.
Tony Grands™ said…
There's definitely a fine line between guidance & overprotection. That spells the difference between target & victim.

I was never picked on because I learned early that the big mouth is 75% less likely to be "picked on." Throw the first stone, per se. Now, to keep the ball rolling with my kids. Learning how to crack jokes is just as, & possibly more important than learning how to take one. Like you, Ice Cube & millions of Mexicans' tattoos say, laugh now, cry later.

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