On any given day, high school was either going to be a typical boring blur or a morning of insults and slight physical abuse of the hands of … let’s call him Renaldo. I guess Renaldo is like any other bully at any other school in America. I tried reasoning with him but bullies can’t be reasoned with. I tried avoiding him, but that became real inconvenient. Spending nights picturing Renaldo being torn apart by lions was amusing but it wasn’t improving my situation at school.
Then, one day, things did change. They got worse. Renaldo’s sister Maria was transferred into my math class. Could this be happening? I was two seats behind and to the left of Maria. I found myself staring at her, hating her for no other reason than being his sister. I imagined her eating dinner with my tormentor, laughing at all his lame jokes. Now math is going to suck for being math and because I can now smell Maria’s vomit-inspired perfume clinging to my nostril hairs.
I’m not sure when that rancid smell became the most erotic scent I have ever inhaled. I’m not sure when I fell in love with Maria. She wasn’t beautiful or hot by any magazine’s standards. But she was stunning to me. I loved the tone of her voice, the gentle way she spoke. It was hard to believe that Maria and Renaldo came from the same mother! Renaldo had mean, hateful eyes. You know, the eyes of a bully. Maria had big brown eyes. They weren’t just brown, they were a symphony of colors that captivated me every time I looked at her. Oh yeah, and Maria knew I liked her. And I was beginning to think that she liked me.
I remember the first time I picked Maria up at her home for a date. The paralyzing fear I had of being attacked by her brother and father and possibly even her mother was enough to make me reconsider my love! I guess I loved Maria more than the possibility of being beat up by her brother because I did actually ring that door bell – prepared for anything, but mostly prepared for the worse.
The worse never came. Everything I had feared didn’t happen. I’m pretty sure of this because Maria and I have been married for 6 years now. Renaldo is my brother-in-law and one of my closest friends. He had a party recently to hand out some groomsmen gifts that he had bought for his upcoming wedding. I received a pocket watch that day. On the inside cover it read: “To the brother I never had. Love, Renaldo.”
The bully loves me … and I love him. So I guess that things aren’t always as they seem. People are not always the way you perceive them to be. Go up to Renaldo today and ask him who is his biggest tormentor. His answer would undoubtedly be, “That’s easy, it’s Jack!”