The First of Ten Things You Don't Know About Me, Queerly Dearest
Here's the first of ten things you don't know about me: I was taught, when I was a child, not to stand up to bullies, but to smile serenely, no matter what they did. "Turn the other cheek and rise above them," my mother told me, "otherwise you become like them." Of course, this only made it worse.
Next, set on my being above these other kids, my parents taught me to pull a face, which was about as successful as waving a kipper at a cat and shouting, "Don't eat this!"
A couple of years into this lousy bullying, I was sent away to boarding school. There, determined to never be bullied again, I quickly pinpointed the meanest of the bullies, K, who was two years older than me and hostile.
"You're a bully," I told her, that first week, as we were about to enter the common room. "And I won't take it."
She laughed a hard laugh. Her eyes flashed daggers. Leaning close, she said, "You little joke. I'm. Gonna. Stamp. On you."
I thought I'd made a huge mistake. And my friends agreed. "I can't believe you said that to her," they told me. "Now, she's never going to let up. Ever."
And for two whole weeks, she didn't.
But after that, K suddenly lost interest in me. Unlike some of my friends, she actually left me alone. Sometimes, she'd snipe, but most of the time, I was free.
And that, queerly dearest, was the first time I'd done anything my parents told me not to.
Follow your instincts, queerly dear,