Friday Jun 06, 2003

Formative Years

I was in a Starbucks this afternoon having a cappuccino with Adele, my mother.

The topic of taking a stand came up and the importance of right action. This sparked a memory that took me back to when I was a senior in high school.

“Here’s a story about a bully I never told you,” I said.

She perked up.

Here it is:

I was at a senior dance in high school with some friends, including a tall, lean, amiable fellow. I recall asking a girl to dance and by the time I got back to my tall friend, the school bully, his gang watching eagerly, was ready to beat the hell out of him.

This bully was mean and crazy. He would go around punching his fist through car windows in his rages. I didn’t know what had set the bully off to focus on my friend. I did know that this “tough” guy would definitely hurt my friend.

Some force greater than I came over me. I placed myself between the bully and my clearly scared friend. I had grown up on the mean streets and had fist and firsthand experience of drawing the battle line. Still, I was no brawler.

Without hesitation, I looked the bully in the eye and said in a voice that was adamant: “I don’t think you want to do this.”

Silence among the teenage crowd that had gathered, a crowd eager for blood.

The bully looked at me, his eyes blinking rapidly as if he were having a fit. I didn’t know what to expect. Then, the bully abruptly turned, began muttering to himself, and walked away. His gang followed.

My friend began breathing again and hugged me.

Although the bully could have easily taken me on as his target, he didn’t. I can’t prove it, but I feel the reason he had backed down is that I told him the truth in a non-threatening manner—and the sane part of him agreed.

“I don’t think you want to do this.”

My mother sighed. “I’m glad you didn’t tell me about this then. I would have passed out.”

Nothing is stronger than a steadfast person who is on a mission.»

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