When I was in fourth grade, I was kind of a weird kid. I was made fun of for everything. I was made fun of for being fat. I was made fun of for being a crybaby. I was made fun of for my lunches (an apple and some apple juice). I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do – hang out with the boys, or be girly. I had my first REAL crush. I was good a dodge ball and “wall ball” and foursquare. But not much else. I was easily distracted and was not popular. I discovered music and Atari that year. I also discovered pain. Real pain.
For most of the fourth grade, We had our desks pushed up together in five desk blocks. I sat across from this boy, Dan, who thought it was the most wonderful thing to watch me cry. He would do things and say things, just to, as he put it, watch the tears well up in my eyes. He thought it was fascinating. Other than having to deal with him sitting by me, we didn't really associate outside of the class. He lived in the same neighborhood, so I would see him once in a while bullying the kids smaller than us. But not much more than that. Sometimes, he was actually nice to me.
I wasn't bullied so much as I think people would just do things that would embarrass me or make me cry in some way. They thought it was funny. I once invited my crush to a skating party, and he said yes. But when mom and I went to pick him up, no one answered the door. Talk about a crush from a crush. Another time, I was trying to be a tomboy, and one of the kids got me in a headlock and I couldn't get out, so I bit him. He told on me, and I had to apologize to him in front of the class. Somehow, I agreed to meet a girl from my class “across the street after school” to have a fight with her. It seemed the whole school was in on that. I hit her with my red Tupperware lunch box while she gave me “dead legs.” Eventually our teacher came out and lectured us. We have been friends ever since.
A lot of turmoil happened. I had my first taste of popularity – I was invited to a classmate's slumber party. I had fun for the most part, but of course, I wasn't getting the attention I wanted, so I had a crying fit. Everything was fine the next day, but of course, that never lasts long. As soon as we went back to school, the unpopular ones were shunned. At least I knew now what I had been missing. At this party, I was introduced to The Go-Go's. I've never looked back. I still was able to discuss music with the other girls like I knew what I was talking about.
I learned how to ride a bike that year. I was a late bloomer, but I met some wonderful girls my age in my neighborhood that would not give up until I learned. Luckily, it only took me one day with them by my side. They lived across from the cul-de-sac that Dan lived in. I was always going over there once I learned to ride. I fell once and messed up my leg, and for a little while I was off the bike. But I couldn't wait until I was able to go visit my new best friends. On the next block over was a friend of my parents – he also had the only Atari in the neighborhood. When I went to visit my friends, and then found out they had the Chicken Pox, I had decided to go visit my parents' friend to play his Atari.
This is where things get weird. Riding my bike down the street, who did I run into? Dan. He ran out, like he wanted to chat with me. I just chatted away, like any normal kid. In the midst of chatting with me, he suddenly straddled the front wheel of my bike. I thought that was kind of weird. But, again... chatting away. I was getting a little nervous, because he kept getting closer to me. Without warning, he reached over and grabbed me around the neck with his fingers.
His hands slid around my neck and suddenly he stuck his thumbs into my throat. Both of them. I was amazed that I couldn't breathe. I tried to pull his hands away. I was able to remain standing, but I was choking out “help, help!” I was not able to pull away, his hands were too tightly closed around my neck. I had braced his legs against the front wheel of my bike. It was impossible to get away. At first I thought he was just joking around. But he waited too long and his grip grew stronger and he was laughing manically. I was suddenly terrified. I struggled, but nothing could help me get away from him.
I was about to give up. This boy was killing me. A boy! No more than nine! Killing me! Choking me in the middle of the street of a nice neighborhood, in the middle of a bright sunny summer day! A car drove by. No one stopped. They probably thought we were playing a harmless game. Another car slowly drove by. The person in the drivers side waved at me. It was someone I knew! I was unable to wave back. He stopped. It was the guy with the Atari!
He got out of the car, because he noticed that I had been struggling and didn't wave to him. He pulled Dan off of me, and shook him, yelling at him the whole time. Dan got freaked out and ran home. The man, checked to make sure I was all ok, and threw my bike in the trunk of his car and dropped me off at home. I was a bit shaken up, but more puzzled about why Dan did that. I didn't speak much to him after that, except when I had to, but that wasn't until sixth grade, and we were in band together. For years, there were weird stories about him that circulated the neighborhood. He just kind of disappeared.
I had forgotten about almost all of this until one day, I ran across his picture in the “people you may know” side bar on Facebook. His eyes stood out to me and I felt cold. I recalled what happened to me all those years ago (possibly around 30). I never ever want to see him or talk to him again. Sometimes I am curious as to whether he has tried or succeeded in killing anyone else. But I'm actually scared to find out.