7 Years a Bully

I was minding my own business one fine weekend, relishing in the bliss that accompanies having one’s squat rack all to oneself, and not needing to share with sweaty know-it-alls who ogle at your butt while ‘resting’ (That is, if you consider those 5-minute intervals ‘resting’).

The thing about public gyms is the uncertainty of it all – Never really sure who life’s about to pair you up with. That’s not to say that private $70 per entry gyms aren’t uncertain, for all you know karma could pull a fast one and pair you up with Sweaty McSweatison who drips all over the bar.

Another thing about my public gym – no, I am not a believer of paying $200/month for a gym membership I’d probably only utilise twice a week, since I have a home gym – is the fact that since it’s made to be so incredibly centralised that you really never know who you’d run in to.

In my case, it was the skinny nitwit from the ‘Prefect’s Club’ in Secondary school. He was 16 and I was 14, stuck doing gate duty (essentially, the killjoy forcing our incoming peers to don their nametags and hitch up their ankle socks – anyone remember folding their socks in half to look ‘cooler’?).

He had rudely remarked in front of the entire prefectorial board:

“How strange that you’re a girl but you have a mustache and one long eyebrow”

2 things happened that day:

  1. I cried all through recess and never stopped bugging my mom to wax those suckers off – Unibrow AND girl-stache included
  2. I harboured an ardent hatred for this tactless tall glass of water ever since

Still, I somewhat kept my cool and smiled (albeit it coming off a little forced) when he caught my eye and said hello. I returned the favour, and in the spur of the moment blurted out (in essence):

“Wow, were YOU mean to me in school. I remember you making fun of my unibrown and my adolescent facial hair.”

I was ready for an apology. I was gearing up for him to do sink into some kind of grand kowtow and beg for my forgiveness. But instead, he sheepishly looked up at me and went:

“Oh, I did? That sucks, I don’t remember. But then again, you were the girl who made me spend $7’000 on my teeth.”

I stared up at him with an unattractive ‘huh’ painted on my face. He continued:

“You used to make fun of me in front of everyone too, calling me a rabbit because my two front teeth poked out. I always remembered you as the only reason why I spent so much on braces to push my teeth in.”

Somewhere at the back of my mind, a faint memory flickered. ‘Rabbit Face’, I used to call him.

I was dumbfounded. I had somehow managed to erase all horrible memories of myself being mean, and dubbed him the bully for close to a decade. I mean sure, it was embarrassing to have any skinny idiot proclaim your ‘stache’ to the entire prefectorial board, but I’m pretty sure being called ‘Rabbit Face’ was no better.

This scenario was the living embodiment of stuff from Psychology books – How people remember things the way we want to remember them, where we’re often depicted the hero as a projection of how we wish to see ourselves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ‘remembered’ myself winning arguments that I never did, or prided myself the belle of the ball (when actually my formative years in networking were a real hot mess).

Skinny nitwit – I forget his name – and I aren’t friends, far from it in fact. But hey, at least I don’t hate him anymore. Well, ask me again in 7 years.