Chapter 3 – To Call A Spade A Spatula

Chapter 3 – To Call A Spade A Spatula

A Chapter by Oscar Blomqvist
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I was told to “Go pick on someone my own size.” The only problem was that if they did that, I would never have had to straddle their torsos while repeatedly burying my fists in their little faces.

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I don’t really know how to tell you about what happened next. How it all changed, slowly but surely. Initially, it wasn’t that slow, there was quite a change from fake school to real school. There was a change in rhetoric and most of all in body language. 


It seems petty and attention-seeking telling you about it now, but it’s affecting who I am to this day, so if I write it down it might give me some perspective on my own self-obsession. I don't think I'm a narcissist because I don't like to talk about myself. 


Reuben, the little British man I lived with during my second year of university in London, always talked freely about his private life and then asked me to tell him everything about mine. And I never had anything to say. Mostly because nothing happened in my private life, but also because I didn’t want to talk about my private life. It made me uncomfortable. I felt judged. 


People are always surprised by the way I do things. I don't like it, having to justify doing things the way I like doing them. People tell me things because they need me to listen. I don't want people to listen to me. Not if they’re gonna force me to talk about my private life anyway. Lukas was my best friend during our year of fake school, the only time I can ever recall having a so-called “best friend” in my life, although if you ask me, it’s a heavily outdated concept. 


There was a guy called Jon, not the guy who would make me equal the name “Jon” to “stubborn a*****e,” in elementary school, but another guy who would come to redeem the name in my mind over the three years we spent together in high school, but he was my best friend because he was my only friend, at least the only real one, whatever the f**k that means. Having a best friend should mean that you have other, lesser friends and one superior one. 


During my first two years of high school, I had my basketball team from whom I was rapidly drifting, despite desperately trying to find some kind of comradery. I didn’t. In school, I had Mikael and Jon. Mikael disappeared, then it was just Jon and me. He was my friend. Not in any way better than any other friend, because there were no others. But he was f*****g fantastic. 


He was silent like a rock, but this only meant that during our train rides and walks as we tried to get as far away as possible from school during breaks, he would listen to my rants about other classmates, Swedish politics, Harry Potter, American politics, YouTube, and Top Gear, without interruption and with unfaltering agreement. It became boring after a while. I tried to get him to talk, to have opinions of his own. 99 percent of the time, I failed. 


But back in my first year of school, I had spent a significant amount of time during the previous year of preschool with Lukas. We played video games, shot things with stuff, and generally just messed about. We used to be inseparable. But over the coming years, we would come to grow into very different people and that development started early on in first grade. And as Lukas was turning on me, it felt like the rest of the kids in the class turned with him, in unison. 


They all most certainly remember it differently or don’t remember it at all, but because of individual spats that were discussed on a class-wide basis, many of them, on repeated occasions, came to reveal where their allegiances lay, which gave me the lasting impression of a group at the very least attempting, with the most feeble but at the same time the strongest of actions, using few words and plenty of body language, to shut out a person from being part of the whole, or at least from feeling like he was. 


To be honest, it probably wasn’t a cohesive, covert, calculated series of actions, because I don’t think they would have been capable of that, it probably just was a series of gut-reactions to me as a person, and I can understand why as a child I wasn’t terribly appealing to other children. To quote Albus Dumbledore: “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” My opinions also tend to be not-so-humble, however, I’m not a 150-year-old wizard, at the time I was a seven-year-old boy who would grow to be in great need of some humility at times. I haven’t found it yet. Not that I’ve looked for it.


Non-physical communication makes more of a lasting impression unless of course, your kind of physical communication is killing 8000 boys and men by firing squad because they happen to be Muslim. There are so many examples of genocide to choose from to complete this faltering analogy, I chose to use the one that took place in Srebrenica in 1995 because you know, Slobodan Milosevic is one of the great buttfucks of the 1990s. Also, the holocaust is a classic, but by now a bit unoriginal in the category of referential mass killings. 


However, if we go down a few notches on the scale of physical communication, it quite quickly becomes almost equal to the possible damage done by the triggering of over-analytical activity in the targeted mind over the coming years of that of non-physical communication, essentially meaning that the old adage, first published in The Christian Recorder in March of 1862: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me” is a bunch of f*****g bullshit. Much like the rest of Christianity. 


According to Wikipedia, the greatest source of human knowledge ever known, the sentiment of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me” is “reflected in the common law of civil assault, which holds that mere name-calling does not give rise to a cause of action while putting someone in fear of physical violence does.” 


This would come to f**k me right up the a*s on a number of occasions as I got blamed for many a kerfuffle, started verbally by someone else, most often Jon, the stubborn little a*****e I was unfortunate to have in my parallel class for six years, and finished physically by me. In my opinion, you need to stunt an uprising at its roots, sadly I’ve never had the chance to put this strategy to use on a bigger scale.


To be honest, no disagreement or argument was ever finished, because no matter how much of a pummeling I delivered to those who picked on me, they never stopped, they just kept pushing and pushing and pushing. It really was never-ending. 


When I later explained what had caused my physical action to a teacher who had been alerted to that the Bruce Banner of Härnöstuna had gone off again, the little b******s would lie through their teeth, because they knew I had no proof of what they did, nor the public opinion of the children who had witnessed the event on my side, therefore relying on the goodwill of the teacher leading the discussion to take my side of the story into account. 


Veronika would, I always felt like we were two adults trying to talk sense into a crying baby during those talks. A baby in the shape of an annoying little schoolboy I had physically assaulted, but a baby nonetheless. If anyone but Veronika was leading the discussion, I was wholeheartedly fucked. Fairness? Don’t be silly, we don’t hold with such tomfuckery. 


The fact that there are no laws when you enter any school grounds, it’s basically a free-for-all fight for power, survival, the coolest Beyblade/pokemon/gogos/Digimon/other-commercial-bullcrap-marketed-to-children, and for me, to be first in line at lunch, was in the end beneficial for me, since if the law had been applied to seven-year-old boys, I would have been in and out of jail several times before the age of ten. Never longer than a week, I’m not a f*****g murderer, I just shove people to the ground and elbow them in the stomach, I wasn’t a monster. I hope. Desperately.


I don’t want to call it bullying, because that word carries connotations that just aren’t representative of what was going on. I wasn’t pushed into lockers, I didn’t have my head shoved down toilets, and my backpack wasn’t stolen and passed around as I ran around in the middle of the pack pleading with them to give it back. Although I did get a banana peel thrown in my face once. Archie Russell did it. One of the class’s two Americans. No manners. Or foreskin. 


Although, he did get what was coming to him. Several times. I was sitting across his chest, punching him in the face on more than on occasion. But I wasn’t punching him very hard at all. I just couldn’t, it was too easy. He didn’t even try to stop me. None of them did. I didn’t enjoy punching them. It was horrible, I only did it out of pure desperation. 


They would call me names, push me in the back and run away laughing, talk to me in a way that was clearly mocking, and just act like I wasn’t part of the group like I wasn’t supposed to be there like I didn’t belong. And I didn’t know how to deal with it. Does anyone know? Has anyone ever solved the problem of kids feeling free to be complete and utter c***s? 


This problem has always existed and it has not yet gotten a solution. I doubt it ever will. Once the fun of me chasing them wore off, they usually just fell down on the ground and lay in the fetal position. I threw a punch or two for good measure, but always stopped quite quickly, because what was I supposed to do? Punch someone lying on the ground? Only like... twice. Then it just feels wrong. 


I was always the one doing the physical bullying, or rather the physical retribution for whatever had caused my outrage at the relevant occasion. Most often something that from the outside probably seemed insignificant, but something that was for me incredibly disheartening as I repeatedly tried and failed to simply be a child. And sometimes just because someone was in the way, more often than not it was Peter, and I was having a bad day, which for the first twenty or so years of my life, was most days. 


At times, I was told to “Go pick on someone my own size.” The only problem was that if they did exactly that, I would never have had to straddle their torsos while repeatedly burying my fists in their agonized little faces. Ironically, it was easy for them to pick on someone much bigger than them simply because we had accountability, and that meant that the biggest guy always carried most of the responsibility regardless of what had instigated the fight, to begin with. 


The only time the roles were reversed was when someone chose to bring their older brother and his friends to teach me a lesson for trying to shut someone up for being in my face. That was always so much fun. I can still remember Christian’s older brother Jonny walking towards me across the soccer field with his friends. I can’t remember what happened next. 


Just them walking towards me, and me feeling my stomach turn over. I can’t remember what I had done, but most likely something in response to Christian being an annoying little s**t. Not that that matters. We hung out a few times, Christian and I. We played video game soccer on the TV in his room and floorball in the street. I was the goalie, he had some good pads. The glove would make my hand all black when I took it off after we had been playing in the rain for hours.


After a few years at Härnöstuna, they built a building across the soccer pitch and put a bunch of older kids in it. They liked to mess with us. Especially me. Because why the f**k would you turn into a slightly decent person once you’re a bit older? That’s just silly. However, it never seemed to occur to anyone, except maybe Veronika, that bullying could also be something other than physical abuse. 


Psychological abuse, teasing, consistent, never-ending picking and poking, was never deemed a sufficient reason to hunt someone down and take out your childhood aggressions on those who thought it entertaining to make your life hell, or at least rather s****y. Here is where the line was drawn on an individual level. There were only a few who chose to pass the time making my early school days seem endless in a proactive manner, but collectively they all put up a wall through sighs, turned backs, and looks I might have overanalyzed, but still think I didn’t. 


It all amounted to a heavy dose of ostracism you would have to be pretty dim not to notice. Of course, my memory from when I was between seven and twelve, or any age I’ve ever been for that matter, will not be objective. It will be inaccurate and skewed into a point of view that fits some sort of lone-wolf self-image. But this is not a news article or a memoir. I’m not going to claim it’s all real. This is simply an account of what childhood and adolescence can be like when creating a hopeful, optimistic, nihilistic cynic.

 

I probably overestimated the value of body language, since some didn’t even get it. Samuel was one of those kids. His face gave the illusion of being wide because of the cheek-to-nose-and-eyes-ratio. His cheeks won that battle quite easily. He had fluffy hair, it was wavy just like mine, and less blonde than the norm. He had a bit of a temper and could hold a grudge. He wasn’t very verbal, he just showed his anger by narrowing his eyes and looking angrily at whoever had aggravated him, which actually looked quite funny. 


Samuel once told the story of his father starting a rock-war at this very school when he was our age, years and years ago. A rock-war as in all the kids throwing stones at each other. I felt that Samuel’s father really enjoyed telling his son stories of things that never happened. 


While I chose to rather be alone than to force myself upon those who made it clear that they wished that I would go f**k myself, Samuel had no idea that he was rarely fully welcome, or maybe he chose to ignore it for his own social survival. For six years I saw him at it. Seems like an odd thing to do. He even forced himself into the group of Lukas, Tommy, and Arlo who would perform a rap song from an animated TV show during the annual school talent show. 


People mostly danced to songs they weren’t singing but mouthing, and once they actually sang, you needed a pillow of shame to cover your face. Lukas even drew on and cut out some paper to make it look like he was actually spinning the vinyl. There was no real vinyl, just a sound system and a few guys jumping around on a stage. Samuel forced his way into that performance. And I acted as some sort of director slash manager until I realized they didn’t want me there. Samuel didn’t seem to have that ability. If he did, he’d be out the door in two minutes. 


That same year, a few of the older girls from the building across the soccer pitch danced to a song in a language I couldn’t understand (French, I think), but later I would get to know that the lyrics roughly translated to “touch me here, touch me here, touch me here” which would explain why they were wearing quite short dresses and dancing in a way that made me realize how a libido works for the first time in my life. As if a mid-two-thousands sexual awakening couldn’t become any more stereotypical.


Samuel looks great now by the way. I see him every now and then when I’m home for Christmas and we exit the same bus in the middle of the night, walking through the slush, soaking our shoes which are far from made for the climate, vanity keeping the Wellingtons away. We never say anything when we pass each other, but I hope my sideways glance tells him that “Damn boy, you look like you get a lot of p***y.” 


But if he didn’t understand body language when he was seven, why would he now? This is unfortunate because if he didn’t understand that he was often unwanted during recess, he could more than makeup for that now by seeing all the girls that are glancing over at him, playing with their hair, deteriorating into fits of giggles as soon as he says something even remotely representing a joke. They want his dick, and he’s not even realizing it. 


This is all speculation of course, but my skill in evaluating people’s attractiveness to the opposite sex is unrivaled by anyone in this room. (I’m writing alone in the dark, I really should go to sleep, I have to get up in the morning to do… something).


As urban dictionary puts it, “The only reason bullying is not called abuse is because adults are too damn chicken to call a spade a spade.” I’m going a step further. I am actively taking the decision to call a spade a spatula. Because a spade could be used to kill someone. Have you ever tried to kill anyone with a spatula? It's f*****g difficult.


That's not to say I didn't deserve all of this. After all, I was a f*****g weirdo, I acted differently, laughed at different things, talked in a different way, used different words, made different jokes, liked to do different things, disliked things that others liked, looked differently. And when you're in school, none of that is okay. I was a f*****g bullseye. 


To quote Mustafa Mohamed, the Swedish long-distance runner, “I was black and talked with a weird accent, of course, I was gonna be bullied.” Although in his case, it was probably also to do with racism. Probably quite a bit of it.


My early experiences of interpersonal relationships with people my own age at school quickly made me a cynic, sometimes even unaware of the existence of sincerity. I was protecting myself by assuming everyone was always at least a little bit insincere all the time. I would battle the constant picking and teasing with my ineffective, violent, and questionable methods for six years before I finally gave up and switched schools. 


I feel like I’m painting a picture of complete loneliness here, and while it often felt that way, especially towards the end, it’s not the truth. I managed to build relationships that could resemble friendship with several people at that school, if only for a shorter period of time. But it would have been a lot worse had it not been for Veronika. 


To be honest, she probably made it worse. Since I liked her so much, I stayed at that school way longer than I should have. Had she not been there, I probably wouldn’t have lasted for more than a few years. What solidifies this belief is the fact that after a few years, she started to feel unwell, and had to decrease her working hours, leaving us on Tuesdays with a number of replacement teachers. 


There was Hilda, who left to become a train conductor (good decision), Marianna from Poland, who spoke with an accent and always wore a fleece with nothing underneath. Liv, who had diabetes and had to stick a needle in her stomach every lunchtime. Then there was Agnes, who was the closest thing to Veronika in terms of actually being a good teacher. She left, leaving us with Maria, who I hated more than anything. 


Veronika was adamant that we were a beautiful group of kids, the best class in the whole wide world. The Tuesdays begged to differ. Veronika liked to use the phrase “You’re in third/fourth/fifth/sixth grade!” to get us to behave when we were being rowdy. I didn’t hear anyone use that argument in high school or at university. 


Looking back, being in third/fourth/fifth or indeed sixth grade would be an argument for acting like children. Because that’s what we were. It became clear that this class only was this beautiful group of kids when Veronika was in the room, as when they all moved on to seventh grade and the class was split up, all hell broke loose. 


People started dressing in all black and everything. Veronika’s next class was apparently also the most beautiful group of kids. I doubt that’s true. I just think that Veronika is a f*****g magician. She told me a few years ago that she considered switching careers because of the low pay. That would be the biggest loss of talent a profession has ever suffered since Michael Jordan started playing baseball. 


We actually had to write an essay of sorts on why we thought the Tuesdays didn’t work. I remember writing that Maria dealt with any issue by calling in the cavalry, the cavalry being Karl, the man on the block, to deal with any rabble-rousers. I ended my stint of scholarly brilliance with the sentence “I don’t know how to fix this unless Agnes can come back. In any case, Maria can go to hell.” Luckily in the years to come, I would learn to practice a certain level of diplomatic self-censorship.


When I returned to Härnöstuna for the first time, six years after leaving it, I was interviewing the principal for the local paper about the fact that the schoolyard had turned into a building site as they were increasing their number of students and expanding the age groups. 


The principal was the same lady who was principal when I left. I think she recognized me, but she didn’t say anything because the last conversation we had before I left the school was quite an awkward one. More on that later. 


By that time Maria had become the deputy principal, she was in the office right next to the principal. She had one of those height-adjustable standing desks because Sweden in 2012 couldn’t accept that you’ll grow old and fat because you spend your days sitting in front of a computer. Or as in my dad’s case, sitting down becomes painful as f**k because you have had lower-back problems despite constantly working out since the age of twenty-four. So, you stand up in front of the computer instead. Problem solved, health crisis avoided. 


Maria and I walked past each other, we didn’t say anything, but my heart rate picked up considerably. I was either irrationally worried she had read that thing I had written almost ten years previously, or my hatred for her was still there, one of the two, I don’t really know which.


The obvious answer to why the Tuesdays weren’t working was staring everyone in the face. We were only that beautiful group of kids when Veronika was there, and in my personal experience, often not even when she was. Veronika believed we were a great group even when we couldn’t shut up and pay attention. 


Then there was Berit, the older teacher who taught class 1A across the hall. I possibly hated her even more than Maria. She was the most stubborn old woman I had ever met, which I guess is a good quality in an elementary school teacher. 


I base this assumption on one singular situation, which after a few quick, fiery exchanges, ended with me taking my math’s book and going outside to finish my work because Berit was more of an obstacle than a helping hand despite the fact that she was supposed to be the f*****g teacher.


Veronika taught us almost everything, except physical education, woodshop, and sewing. But every single subject you could teach in an ordinary classroom, she taught us. Math, geography, English, history, social science, science-science, we even brought our fathers’ old shirts which we put on over our clothes so we could splash around with watercolors during art lessons. 


She was two years younger than my mom, and therefore also twenty-eight years older than me, although it never quite felt that way. We could almost talk like equals since I was an old little gubbe trapped in a child’s body.

 

Here, at the end of this chapter, I just want to make something clear: I don’t wanna say that I was bullied because, as previously stated, that implies that I was pushed into lockers and had my head shoved down toilets, and that’s just not true. I was teased and ostracized. There were a few guys who were always picking on me and the others ignored me, I was a ghost to them. A ghost they avoided. 


Sure, that is a kind of bullying, but when you say “I was bullied” it just… paints a false picture in people’s minds. In later years, it just turned into a mutual understanding that I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with the normal kids. Normal being drunk, cigarette-smoking retards. 


Okay, that’s harsh, but it’s kind of true. It would have been more or less impossible to physically bully me because I was always twice the size of everyone else. I did the physical bullying, trying to get them to stop, the adults would tell me to use my words like that’s ever worked for anyone. 


Just ask Neville Chamberlain. Conflict is almost always solved with violence, that’s how the world works, if you want someone to shut up, punch them in the face, don’t ask them to quit it, then they will know that they are bothering you and they will just dig deeper trying to drive you crazy. 


So, violence was the path I chose, which always got me in trouble, except with Veronika because she actually had the brains to see what was going on. Or just because she liked me. Teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites, but I guess I made it difficult for her by being so f*****g adorable. I mean for f**k’s sake, my pupils dilate when I look at myself. 


Here’s the thing though, loads of people get picked on at school, I just waited six years to get out because I’m a f*****g idiot. I was picked on at the next school as well, but I didn’t really expect anything else. I jumped up a year, so I was a year younger than everyone else and still at least a head taller and I actually studied for tests in a school full of people who could play hockey or soccer but basically had s**t for brains. I was basically a giant bull’s-eye. 


And I mean, people have parents who hit them, their home isn’t a safe haven which is a whole other level of fucked up. I never felt completely comfortable at home, but that’s an entirely different story that we’ll get to later. 


If anyone was gonna hit anyone, it was gonna be me hitting them and not the other way around. I had some anger issues. As I switched schools, the psychological warfare at home with mom was ramping up. She seemed to think that she wasn’t a part of it and that I was going through a “phase.” To some extent I was. But it wasn’t a one-way street.



© 2021 Oscar Blomqvist


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Added on February 5, 2021
Last Updated on February 5, 2021
Tags: novel, coming of age, young adult, teen, friendships, school, mental health


Author

Oscar Blomqvist
Oscar Blomqvist

Charlottesville, VA



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I wrote a story. I think it's actually rather good, or at least okay. I thought I would post it here. Let me know what you think - [email protected] more..

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