When we used to tease my 4-year old sister she would always calmly but firmly remind us that she was adopted from an alligator family and that if we continued to antagonize her she would call them to come eat us all. Jessica was a power-player from day one. She never made good on her threats which is great because I never really watched Animal Planet so I wouldn’t know how to deal with that at all. Are alligators like sharks where you punch them in the nose and then they go away, or are they more like bears where you punch them in the nose and then they eat your fist and claw your eyes out? Either way I don’t know how to throw a punch because I never really paid attention during our high school self defense classes because I was pretty sure that by now I’d have discovered some kind of X-Man superpower within myself and wouldn’t have to worry about it. (Still have my fingers crossed that it’s telekinesis so I can stop having to get up when I’m thirsty.)
By the time I was in high school I was spared from most of the teasing people normally go through. Not necessarily because I was cool but more so because I stopped showing up unless I was surrounded by friends. (Power in numbers. I did learn that in self defense.) Gulsah was in the same academically sinking boat as me, which was comforting because it’s like how on the Titanic everyone was mostly okay with sinking because they were with their good friend who totally agreed that Florence Welch was secretly a forest elf that accidentally side-stepped into our dimension and now has to pose as a human woman even though we all know something’s just a little too magical about her. Wait, you don’t remember that scene in the movie? Huh.
The only people that really made fun of us happened to be this group of boys that were friends with all of our theatre friends and thus were always around, which was super convenient for when you wanted your low self-esteem express delivered. We never fully understood why they hated us either. Sure we were anti-social, too anxious to speak to anyone we didn’t know on a middle-name basis, believed we were more creative than anyone we’d ever met, and rarely joined in on group conversations. But we were lovable all the same. From afar, at least, because Gulsah hated to be touched and I’m one of those people where if you move too fast I flinch and end up knocking something over. Or knocking myself over. One of the two. (...okay, usually both.)
One night the boys surprised us and, probably themselves too, when they invited Gulsah and I specifically out to play a fun game called Alligator, which is essentially playground parkour while someone tries to catch you with their eyes closed. It’s a game that’s great for when you haven’t discovered drinking or the full cost of medical bills yet.
Now I know what you’re thinking and no, this wasn’t a Carrie situation. Except at this point I was still hoping that telekinesis thing would pan out, but that’s unrelated. This wasn’t some trick to get one over on us, it was a genuine olive branch. Not a very sturdy one, granted, because they ended up using a thinly veiled excuse to ditch us and go to a different playground about an hour in, but an olive branch all the same.
Gulsah and I handled being ditched very maturely, and we only floored it out of the parking lot before them screaming obscenities a little bit. After all, they had the numbers on their side so we didn’t really want to engage in any actual confrontation. Thank you, self-defense class. But she and I learned a valuable lesson that day. Which was that not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay, because at the end of the night the person you’re speeding down the highway with that genuinely wants to be around you is the only one that really matters.
Ryan C. Robert is the writer of multiple comedy blogs, most of which are satirical and self-deprecating. He writes about his life in his personal essay series "Before Color," parodies cooking blogs in "Trish's Dishes" and posts writing prompts every single day.