Growing up in rural East Texas, we learned the simple strategy of war. We learned that the best way to determine the final score was a good game of baseball. We would gather our allies and challenge the bullies to a good old all American game of baseball. We learned a hard lesson when we played the bullies… we learned sometimes people cheat! We learned we couldn’t get along with these kids not because they lived on the other side of the tracks, or that they taunted us with name calling, and not even that they didn’t go to the same school we did, but we learned they were just plain old bullies and they didn’t play fair!
It seems those lessons learned on the playgrounds of our youth still apply today. I still encounter bullies and they use ugly words and don’t play fair. They play games behind your back. They destroy your confidence and twist your strengths into weaknesses leaving you breathless and wanting to just say, “I will see you on the mound”!
I wish I could challenge the bullies to game of baseball. I always thought baseball was the hardest game to cheat at… because you either hit the ball and run or you are struck out! It’s that simple. I was never that great a hitter, but I was always a great runner! I could manage to get on base with a bump. I would rely on the heavy hitters to run my way home! My favorite thing about the game was the end… whether we beat the rivals or we lost, at the end, we would all form a line and slap the other team’s hands and say, “Good game”. We didn’t always see eye to eye or agree, but in the end, we acknowledged it was a good game. We celebrated the win or we respected the loss. Leaving the neighborhood more peaceful and our walk to the snow cone stand filled with banter either way!
Does it happen that way still? After a “bully challenge” has taken place, are we supposed to acknowledge the win or loss? What is the politically correct way to handle the situation? Do you just let it go, walk way head up or head down? Or do you turn to the bully after the challenge and say, “Good game”. I respect the way you manipulated, twisted or cheated your way into the win? At least the bully would know it was less about your skill being below average but more about your integrity being above average.
It seems no matter the age we keep adding to the clock, there are still bullies in the neighborhood. There is always that one person who thinks it’s ok to badger and push your buttons. The difference between bullies as kids and bullies as grown-ups… now it is less angering and more comical. I guess when they were growing up, there were never able to face down their bully on the mound, throw a ball at them and see if they could bat! They didn’t get to challenge them… They didn’t get to yell the words…”Put up or shut up”! There is something about having the courage to stand on base looking across the infield at your nemesis and hit a ball they were praying to the same God you worshipped you would miss! There is a special place in your memory bank for facing the enemy whether you won or loss! There is confidence that comes and a peace that arrives that is only felt once you hear the crack of the bat and the other kids yell from the sidelines, “You’re not a pitcher, you’re a belly itcher”!!!!! As you approached home plate and hit each side of your tennis shoe, and wagged your bat like you saw Pete Rose do… as you looked straight at the bully and waited for him to throw a ball at your head… and you hop back… whew he missed! I better hit this ball before I give him 2 more chances to hit me! And then you hear it… before you feel it… WHACK… the bat meets the ball and you run will all your might to 1st base… where you give a silent acknowledgement to your enemy and they you… because at least you faced them down!
About The Author: Barbie Driskell (Aunt B) was raised in the shade of pine trees of East Texas. “I am very proud of my roots, just like a pine tree, may not be deep but they sure take over when left to their own devices. I smile frequently, laugh genuinely and live simply.”