Friday, May 8, 2015

The Soundtrack Of My Life, The Buck Stops Here

Well, it's been busy in here. Battle of the Bands. Insecure Writer's Support Group. All the while, I've maintained my Soundtrack posts.

However, I owe you some Battle of the Bands results before we get on to our Soundtrack post for today. The song was I Still Believe. The challengers were The Call vs. Tim Cappello.

The Call: 6
Tim Cappello: 17

 As you can see, the version from the Lost Boys won this one handily. All 6 of you who voted for The Call... THANK YOU. Not just for preventing a shut-out, but for giving the nod to a version of the song that meant so much to me. So, obviously, my vote, though it makes no difference, is for The Call. I simply cannot vote against a song that was so powerful in my youth. This song really helped me through some of those Dark Nights of the Soul. I appreciate the TC version (and like it). I dig the sax and understand why so many of you chose it. But it wasn't  the version of the song that kept my head above water in a difficult time.

Now, let's move on to a GOOD high school story. Yeah, you read that correctly... a good high school story.

I went to one of four junior high schools that fed into one high school. So many problems in junior high were magnified by the economic disparity between the low income kids and the richest kids in town. That all changed in high school. The other three junior highs rounded out the economic situation so that those rich kids now made up approximately 15% of the student body (as opposed to 55% or more of the junior high student body). Instead of money being the thing that divided and conquered, kids now were more inclined to choose their friends based on mutual interests. 

It was a whole new ballgame.

Though I didn't know that YET. 

Date: 1st day of 10th grade
Time: Before school started
Place: Outside looking for home room

My high school was so large that it was laid out college campus style. There were many buildings all labeled by letter. To a new person, it was all very overwhelming and confusing. 

So there I am walking along looking for E building (just passed C and D, respectively) and anticipate that E will be the next one. Out of the blue, my bully (the girl who threatened to pour juice on my head in home economics... you gotta remember her... she was the one who told me I was "nobody in that school") comes up alongside me and starts talking to me. Yep, talking. Not ridiculing, mocking, berating or threatening. Talking. Nervous talking about the buildings. I think she said something like, "Do you know where you're going?" But I can't say for certain because I went into shock. 

Then it dawned on me: My last name began with "R" and hers with "S." That biotch was lost and thought I could help her get to her homeroom. Not only was she lost, but she was lost, scared, and holy freakin' moly... INSECURE.

Since I felt fairly confident about the location of E building, a myriad of things hit me simultaneously. 1) She's not very bright, 2) She's afraid and insecure, 3) She thinks I'm pretty damn smart.

And I looked at her differently in that moment. And she saw me look at her differently. And we both knew that she would never bully me again (and she didn't). I knew her secret. She was more insecure than I was and not half as smart. 

I really wish I'd known that three years previously. But I thanked the Good Lord I knew it that first day. It changed everything for me. I entered E building with a bounce in my step that no one could take away.

It tasted like freedom. Sweet, sweet freedom.

Did you ever have a light bulb moment in high school? When did you realize that bullies are just tiny, scared people trying to make themselves feel big by making you feel small?

If you're enjoying these posts, feel free to share your own Soundtrack. This isn't a hop. No requirements at all, but a suggestion to do it one song at a time. (If you participated in the hop several years ago, you can still do this. Just post them one song at a time, with the freedom to add more songs if you'd like.) I'll link to all participants at the bottom of each of these posts:



  1. Hi, Robin! Thanks for posting the results of your BOTB. I read all of the comments on that post and realized that most people were voting for the version used in the movie soundtrack. Even so, I completely understand how you can be strongly anchored to a specific recording of a song and that no other version will trigger those same powerful memories. I also thank you for sharing a high school story that reminds us that we can choose not to hand over the power to a bully and allow them to influence out thoughts and actions. "We can't let the terrorists win" was a familiar refrain following the 9-11 attacks and that admonishment applies to bullies. You can live under someone's thumb but you can't thrive. If we have the sensory acuity to understand what is going on inside the mind of a bully we can use that insight to our advantage. We can then employ the principle of Aikido, the Japanese martial art that allows us to protect ourselves while also protecting the opponent from injury. I am very happy to learn that you took command of the situation, turned the tables and, by means of your own personal power, nullified that bully's control over you.

    Thank you, dear Robin, and have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Yes, the trick is recognizing that you are dealing with a bully... and then deciding they don't have power over you.

      It only took that one moment to see inside the heart of this bully. But she won't be the last (or the worst).

      However, that's skipping ahead. Let's just revel in this moment!

  2. I demand a recount! Or maybe a rematch! The movie version was good but overproduced and too slick. Agree with how you feel about The Call version. Passionate with rough edges. Anyone who was seduced by the sax needs to go back and listen more closely to both versions. The Call has the superior version here, but that's my opinion and now I know it's yours too.

    I also went to a big spread out high school like you describe. I'd agree about how you describe bullies. Fear and insecurity often brings people together. Down deep I believe that we all basically have the same or similar needs and insecurities. Sometimes we find that we have more in common with that person who we thought was totally different and it can be a very rewarding experience.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    1. I'm afraid that it just doesn't always go the way you want, Arlee. (If Battle of the Bands has taught me anything, it's taught me that!) I also learned with this one not to pit a song I care too much about in one of these things. I've already got a future BoTB set up in which one of my Soundtrack songs collides with BoTB. Instead of using the version I most like, I'm pitting two other versions against one another. That way I'm not emotionally staked in the outcome.

      In some ways I think the thing that could bond us (our overall insecurity) is the thing that hurts us most in school. If all those people who feel insecure knew how to reach out to others with kindness, it would be a whole different place. And now they can hurt each other without opening their mouths from the comfort of their bedroom (on their computer). Does it feel like we're moving backwards?

  3. I once knew a mean girl. She picked on everyone. day, I heard a story about how she was treated at home- not so much physically abused, but emotionally abused and controlled. I never got too mad at her after that. I didn't like it, but I realized she was just lashing out at the world.

    1. Funny that you say that... because I suspect that the people who are the most mean learn that somewhere. As you say, they are treated at home the way they treat others at school. It's a vicious cycle.

  4. PART 1 OF 2:


    Funny how when we see someone else's weakness - someone we thought was so strong - we discover how similar we all really are.

    >>... Did you ever have a light bulb moment in high school? When did you realize that bullies are just tiny, scared people trying to make themselves feel big by making you feel small?

    I really didn't have a whole lot of trouble with bullies in school, but I can tell you one story...

    I was involved with the Police Explorer program during my first couple years of high school. This was a program NOT affiliated with school at all, but extracurricular. However, at a time when everyone wore long hair (1974-1976) I was a guy with short hair and my police associations were known by some.

    My sophomore year I was on the school's football team along with a guy named Ricky, who had come from a different junior high school. (This is not the same Ricky I mentioned in an earlier, recent comment section.)

    Ricky apparently got busted by the cops for weed or underage drinking - I think it was weed. Well, he knew of my police associations and decided he should get even by beating me up. So, next thing I know, I'm hearing this rumor that Ricky is looking for me and he's going to pound me the next time he sees me. Funny thing... even his sister approached me at my locker in the school's main building (History Bldg.) and told me her brother was looking for me and was going to get me.

    Here's my mindset: I don't know if I can beat Ricky in a fight. I think it would be a pretty good (meaning "tough") fight, and I'm definitely not eager to have it. But there's no point in worrying about it because, if it's going to happen, it's going to happen. And here comes the kicker...

    You'd think that a guy on the football team isn't too likely to be threatened, right? Well, Ricky was ALSO on the football team, and his locker was right next to mine. If not immediately adjacent, then separated by not more than one other locker.

    So, I'm thinking: There's no way of avoiding Ricky; we're going to meet each other the next time the team practices, if not sooner. I decided the only thing to do was keep my eyes open (so he couldn't come up from behind and sucker-punch me) and just wait for the showdown.

    Continued Below...

    1. PART 2 OF 2:

      I didn't see Ricky until the next time the team practiced (maybe a day or two later). When I walked up to my locker, there was Ricky at his. I just looked straight into his eyes and said, "Hey, Ricky." His reaction?
      "Hey, Stephen".

      Ha!-Ha! Yep, that was it. Over and done. To this day, I'm not sure if it was that he just had time to think about the whole thing and decided that fighting me over something the cops had done to him was stupid. (Ricky was a pretty dumb guy though, so that might be giving him too much credit for clear thinking.)

      Or, more likely, he had gotten word from his "people" that Stephen didn't appear scared by the threat of a fight.

      But either way, I learned that with bullies, so much of the time they are really cowards at heart, and they are usually more bluster than bite. If you stand up to them, more times than not they will just move on to find an easier victim to intimidate. The last thing they want is a real contest where they have to prove themselves as tough as their yak.

      Ironically, since those times, I've also come to view most cops as just that: Cowards at heart who want to run with a gang and want the arms of the law (and their fellow bullies in blue) around them for protection. Psychological studies have shown that there isn't a great deal of separation between the mindset of the average criminal and that of the average police officer.

      By the following year, I'd had a huge run-in with the police advisers at my post and had quit the Police Explorer program. It was time to grow my hair long (even though I still didn't "bogart" any joints).

      ROBIN, right now I am working on my second TSOML blog bit and should have it up in about an hour.

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

    2. The best thing you can do with a bully is call their bluff. I wish I'd known that MUCH SOONER.

      Or, as you pointed out, just have the appearance that you aren't scared. I suspect that Ricky only backed down because he'd sent out his friends to let you know he was "out to get you" and you didn't seem overly concerned (even if you were). When those reports started rolling back in, he started thinking that maybe he shouldn't start something he wasn't positive he could finish.

      Of course, if you weren't a football player (and somewhat confident of your skills to hold your on in hand to hand), his tactics would have worked. And that is why bullies (like Ricky) do actually pound the crap out of those they perceive as weaker (See Mr. Shady's comment on a previous bullying post). Girls who bully tend not to use their fists... they're more into head games. (Although there are exceptions. See Dixie's story below!)

      But, if the other person decides not to play... well, then it's done.

  5. Tim Cappello's version held good memories for me. I can't honestly say that I voted for that reason or another. How interesting. I liked your battle! And I did think of a bullying memory from seventh grade.
    Oh the bus, a loud-mouth girl was taunting my smallish and timid, male neighbor. I told her to pick on someone her own size. She said she would get off at MY bus stop and kick my tail. I of course said, "why wait, where do YOU get off?" She looked around and said, "right here," and seemed surprised her stop was so close. We stepped off the bus and she's trying to slap me (!) [I have brothers - slapping is a joke.] I balled up my fist and punched here. She ran off screaming like I'd killed her. By the end of the week we were best friends and still, to this day, stay in touch. We laugh at the memory of her looking like a windmill, flailing arms - until that punch! (grin)

    1. Dixie,

      I swear StMC should call you DIXIE BADASS instead of DIXIE POLKA... because you don't dance. You're all about "connection."

  6. I, of course, was happy to see that the version of you BOTB song, that I had voted for won. Let's face it we all like when that happens. I'm sorry if it hurt your feelings in some way that the version that had such a special meaning for you didn't thrill the voting populace.

    I have learned, the hard way, to keep those special songs, or at least the special version closer to my heart and not put it up for a general vote. That way, I'm not inadvertently hurt or offended in any way when the voting goes against my 'special' song or version. Just an idea. I know how hard it can be to not have everyone 'simply love' and find the same meaning in something that is so close to you.

    1. Ironically, after posting this match-up I remembered you saying something in an introduction to one of your BoTB about not using a Mahalia Jackson version of a song (am I remembering this right?) because if it lost it would break your heart.

      As the voting progressed on this one, I admit I just detached myself from the result. If the Lost Boys version won, it didn't change what the song meant to me at the time (or now). Since that's what happened, it was a good thing I figured this out when I did! :)

      I have another BoTB/Soundtrack post lined up for June. In that one, I've decided to take the version I like best out of the running and use two other versions. That way, I'm not emotionally invested in the outcome and can just enjoy the process. See, this dog can learn new tricks!

  7. I'd have to say my "moving to high school" experience went the other direction. Our Catholic school was so small we huddled together against the storm. In high school, we learned about the a-holes public school could create. I have evidence ( a call to enlist me into going to a class reunion) that at least the worst a-holes never changed a bit.

    1. Since we've all met less than stellar people moving about in the world as adults (and we know they went to high school somewhere), it's safe to say that not everyone grows up and gets over it.

      I'm sorry that your school experience got tougher, rather than easier, in high school.

  8. Great song choice! It was kinda like an anthem for our sons, too, and I suspect a lot of people who were young when "Revenge of the Nerds" came out.

    Wow, I never heard of such a huge high school, but I reckon bullies found a place in most schools, no matter whether they were large or small. The closest thing I ever had to being bullied was by a gal who always wanted to copy the answers off of my science tests. I'm almost ashamed to say it, but I let her. That was in middle school, and later, she wrote something in our senior yearbook about "to the girl whose mind I borrowed for science test." By that time, we were able to laugh about it. But she was kind of a toughie. I wasn't. I was a nerdy nerd who made friends with everyone. I was so nerdy, I didn't even realize I was nerdy.

    1. I tend to think that really small schools don't have bullying problems. It's kinda hard to bully someone who's known you since kindergarten. It's when a bunch of elementary schools funnel into middle/junior high school and then again into high school. That's a breeding ground for bullies.

  9. OMG-I thought this post was with yesterday's so I talked about it on yesterday's post. That is how out of it I am. I am needing to go back to bed again

  10. Glad you spotted that bully's weakness, and she never bothered you again! You were a champion Robin, and you still are!


    1. Well, it was a great way to kick off high school!

  11. I'm happy the bully girl met her own insecurities. That was one huge high school you attended. It must have been difficult to find like friends. My son plays hockey in the senior division and a new guy joined them. They started talking and found they both came from Minneapolis, the same suburb, then the same school...... then they were even in some of the same classes but never knew one another. His school was large but nothing like yours.
    My school was so small, we all went to kindergarten together and were still together when we graduated from high school. Like Opy's class. LOL

    1. It was a big high school. I believe there were close to 600 people in my graduating class. As you say, so many people that were in my year that I NEVER met. Not once. It's kinda strange.

  12. A bounce in your step... well, good for you. And anyone who doesn't know you're smart is, you know, not smart.

  13. I don't remember having a lot of light bulb moments in high school. I had plenty after high school, looking back. Guess timing isn't my strong suit. I wonder when I'll figure out my 60s.

  14. Bullies suck and ironically there's even bullying still in the workplace by adults. Young bullies sometimes grow up to be older bullies. Its so sweet when you can stand up to them and they know they can move on to the next person because its not going to be you!


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