Monday, April 11, 2011

Mr Small

I remember when it started. My friend, Jason, aged eight or nine, was teased about something small. I confronted the bullies, giants, perhaps aged ten. One of them did the equivalent of a chest bump, but I was too short. I was enraged. Someone was insulting my best friend!

In the tradition of violent people the world over; I swung my fist straight into his smirking mouth. Knocked out his front teeth. Baby teeth, but still, it was a fairly mean punch.

From then on, I stood up for the underdog. I’d been teased as a kid about a skin problem I’d had as a toddler which had left me scarred: Don’t worry, the doctors had said, it should fade by the time you are eighteen. So I spent my childhood being asked if I had measles or some other virulent pox. I knew what it was like to get teased.

Flash forward- a few years later- mid-eighties- I was calling myself a peace-punk- all protest badges about animal laboratory testing and with a proud membership of the CND- campaign for nuclear disarmament. I headed up my school’s chapter of the SPCA (oblivious of the woes of Apartheid whispering under the radar of the State news channels).

But I made lots of friends. The kinds of kids who knew what it was to feel the dismay at being left out of soccer teams, or mocked about their sad attempts at expressing themselves by dressing oddly,. I overdid it. It was the eighties- at my all-boys school, wearing make-up was frowned upon. Screw them, I said, and did it anyway. Got beaten up.

Anyway, another flash forward slides into the nineties- an age of acceptance which I missed out on. Until certain political unrests stirred me. Suddenly, the clubbed seals were people. People being killed or left to die, either by warring factions or a government characterized by neglect. So I marched and volunteered, joined causes. Tried to understand the plight of, say, refugees from war-torn countries trying to make a living in a hostile environment.

Shift a decade. Who knows where it came from, but Facebook appeared. I signed up to causes, groups, commented on pages and places that nobody cared about, and became an armchair activist. Not too bad. One click, and you can appear to give a shit.

And suddenly, I am middle-aged. Wearing a badge on my corduroy jacket, in the words of The Fun Boy Three is no longer a way to indicate my political affiliations. I have done what I can to get involved, but yet not enough to threaten my security.

But maybe, maybe, maybe…

Sometimes, there’s that metaphorical bully. Swaggering with his cock-pigeon chest. In my face, reeking of testosterone. And, despite myself, I feel the pin-prick of tears in the corner of my eyes, and, at that moment, do anything to change the world…

So what’s next? There will always be hierarchies and cool people. How much more power do the underdogs have? I don’t know. I don’t want to be a hero, but, yet again, I do. My version of being a hero is being willing to do what isn’t cool, tough, successful in order to change the lives of someone else. Not someone crappier than me, just someone who has at least as much potential.

And if, in the process, I get my metaphorical t-shirt pulled over my head?

Bring it on. I’m smaller than you. You won’t even see it coming.


  1. awesome post, thank you. i get it. totally.

  2. Call it feeling indignant. Screw pride. Who has that? We all feel indignant sometimes :)

  3. dynamite comes in small packages! nuff said standing beside you all the way!

  4. Hey
    Great freelance writing job in the offing at OM. Let me know if you are interested. Good money involved. Protection of Personal Information project team is recruiting freelancers. KD

  5. HELL YES.


    Brilliant writing. As always.

  6. You are about the best writer I know. Plus, I've actually heard of "Fun Boy Three!"

    And, also, I gave you an award, and mentioned zebras, so that's clearly worth checking out:


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