Recently divorced, his personality was changing, and not for the better. A good one hundred pounds overweight, he constantly engaged in self-deprecation. He told “fat” jokes, very efficiently alerting all within earshot of his insecurities. Students were taken aback by his lack of self-respect. Some were appalled, not knowing how to appropriately respond.
Perfectly secure in herself and her career, she heeded the message of his insult overlooking the intent. She studied herself making mental notes as she taught and how she dealt with her students. Little by little it became obvious to her that the only classes in which she lacked structure were the classes in which he was present. He had always engaged in behavior she did not condone. She ignored it along with the fact that he was positively obnoxious. A careful study of her classes revealed some hard core evidence that he was the reason for the lack of structure in her classes. He was robbing her of her structure. She began to feel belittled, doubting herself and her abilities. He was winning.
He was late for her classes every single day, sometimes by two minutes, other times by five minutes or more. He entered the room as a spectacle to behold, indifferent to where she was in the momentum of her lessons. He threw paper wads at students, who naturally returned the favor. He engaged in off-topic conversations with them while she struggled to teach the class. He made inane jokes about the characters in the literature. A discussion centered on debating Juliet’s age according to her nurse’s comment about having a tooth for each of Juliet’s years was reduced to his aside, “On weekends she worked at Waffle House,” referring to the nurse’s dental state. All efforts to regain her educational momentum were futile.
Openly and shamelessly, he began to ridicule special ed students. A monster with no heart for special ed kids, he in fact, had no heart for education. During the viewing of a clip from the movie “Gulliver’s Travels” in which Peter O’Toole was walking with difficulty, he directed the attention to a special needs boy remarking, “Michael, what are you doing on the screen?” (name changed)
Michael was humiliated, and let him know that he intended to tell his mother. “No, no, I’m just kidding,” the bully replied in an attempt to persuade the student not to tell on him.
“You hurt me right here,” said the boy pointing to his heart.
She had to turn her back and face the wall in order for the student to escape the pain in her own heart she was forced to endure at the hands of her own bully. At this point, she knew that accepting his behavior on her own behalf was one thing, but to allow it to flow to her students was another. She would not allow this to go on any further.
He pitted her students against her, allowing them to leave the room after she consistently abided by her no restroom pass during instruction rule. He was actively playing “good parent, bad parent,” and she was caught in the middle.
Then came the unforgiveable, as if ridiculing special needs students weren’t bad enough. He had always engaged in off-color, sexually charged remarks. They were the kind of remarks that could be considered, “adult humor.” Most of the time the comments flew over the students’ heads. The remarks were ambiguous. Only very bright students who were paying close attention were able to decode his meanings. Not satisfied with the responses from his captive audience, he lowered the tact of his remarks to make sure the students were catching his irreverence and his purpose.
A line in a poem spoke of nature’s “bosom.” Looking directly at a male student, in a creepy, perverted tone he said, “Now, there’s where I want to live. With a motorboat!”
High school boys need no encouragement to provoke their hormones. The remark was heard by all of the boys in the class and the educational momentum was abruptly halted. The boys were excited, laughing and encouraging Bill to continue with his comedienne-like banter; the girls were embarrassed.
In the midst of this upheaval in her classroom, during their shared planning period, she attempted to engage in a humorous anecdote with him and another teacher about a former student. The three of them were in a private room. She was not even in the first few sentences of the story when he stopped her in her tracks, and viciously, verbally attacked her. “SHUT UP! Just shut up!” he verbally accosted her. At first she thought he was kidding. It was a joke. Staring at him in disbelief of the entire ordeal, she felt like she had just been punched in the face. He continued, “Just shut the f*ck up.”
The other teacher, his personal friend, her colleague, was horrified. “Bill! What are you doing? What is the matter with you?” she asked him incredulously. “You are out of line.”
“All she does is talk.” Looking straight at her, he further blasted, “All you do is f*cking talk. Shut the f*ck up.”
Her face flushed with humiliation. Turning to the other teacher with her back to Bill, “I will just talk to you, “ attempting to humorously defuse the situation and save face.
“I can still hear you!” he vehemently continued to blast her.
She admits her reaction to him was wrong, but she just couldn’t help herself. Upon exiting the room, their eyes locked and she was overcome with a flood of pent up anger, humiliation and the effects of his bullying. She is ashamed to admit her reaction to him, “You are a f*cking asshole.”
There was never an apology. There was never even an acknowledgement that he had acted out against her. Several days later he sent her a text inviting her to happy hour with some of their co-workers. They were really his friends, and her colleagues. She went, thinking it might be therapeutic for the two of them to spend some time outside of work together. She reminded herself of abused children who respond to their abusers with a piteous acceptance of any form of attention directed to them.
To be continued…