Scene From a Memoir: The Kenny Rogers Code

Too Timid and Squeamish is hosting a blog hop called “Scene from the memoir I haven’t written yet.”  Love it!  This week the writing prompt was to write about a childhood memory involving a playground or mean kids.  I chose to discuss my bully.  I would love for some of you to join us!

“Son, my life is over, but yours is just begun.

Promise me, son, not to do the things I’ve done.

Walk away from trouble if you can.

Now it won’t mean you’re weak if you turn the other cheek.

I hope you’re old enough to understand:

Son, you don’t have to fight to be a man.”

Kenny Rogers

Coward of the County Lyrics


As a child raised on country music, I lived by a code.  The Kenny Rogers code.  I learned to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.  I learned not to take my love to town.  I learned love could turn you around.  I learned to turn the other cheek.

I had one main bully from 4th grade to 7th.  Nowadays people call anyone who makes fun of you a bully but I think there is a hazy line.  Several kids would call me fat or shout “June, June the big fat prune” and it wasn’t grand.  However, none of them came close to the hell my bully rained down on me.

I shall call him Turd for the purpose of this story.  Turd lived on the farm right next to ours which meant we rode the same bus.  For four years, Turd would torment every day he possibly could.  His favorite activity was to dump my backpack out or hit me.  In one incident, he dumped my backpack holding my thermos.  My thermos was the old kind with the glass liner.  When I poured my drink out at lunch I realized it was full of broken glass.  If I had not caught the glass and drank it, I could have died.

One day he brought a butterfly net to school.  When I attempted to exit the bus he put the net over my head.  The metal rim caught on the bridge of my nose cutting me.  Just like Tommy in Coward of the County I kept turning the other cheek.  Turd felt he had the upper hand and kept tormenting me.  My tactic of turning the other cheek was not working out in my favor.

I came home from school crying almost everyday because of his actions or words.  My mother tried to talk to his mother but it was a tricky situation.  We shared a party-line with them.  A party-line was when several houses had the same telephone line.  If their house was using the phone we would have to wait.   It was kind of cool.  My best friend was, also, on our party line.  We could just pick up the phone and talk to each other without dialing.  The downside is anyone can listen in on anyone else’s conversations.  Great for gossip mongers.  It is definitely not a situation where you would want to be enemies with the person you share a telephone line.  Instead, we turned the other cheek.  My confidence in the wisdom of Kenny Rogers was wanning.

The Fall of my 7th grade year my mother went away to a conference and my grandpa came to stay with me.  He knew about the situation.  The first day I came home crying grandpa told me I needed to stand up for myself and fight back.  I could insert a Fighting Irish joke here but I will restrain myself.  I wasn’t sure what my grandpa meant.  My bully was a year older, a boy and a foot taller.  I took comfort in grandpa’s hug but my heart was unsure I could change four years of bullying.

The next day as the bus pulled up to the school, Turd made his way towards the front of the bus by pushing others out of the way.  When he grabbed me to shove me out of the way I twisted around and slugged him.  He hit back and down we went slugging away until the bus driver could pull us apart.

“Twenty years of crawlin’ was bottled up inside him.

He wasn’t holdin’ nothin’ back; he let ’em have it all.”

I will admit at first it felt kind of good.  I had fought back.  There is no way he could pretend he didn’t know exactly how I felt about his abuse.  However, when the bus dropped me off at home with a detention slip in hand I was scared to death.  I just knew I was going to get a spanking for fighting.  Laughter was the last response I expected.  Grandpa was thrilled!!!  He couldn’t have been prouder of me.  I think he was more concerned about my mother’s reaction.

When my mother returned home she did not punish me.  We agreed I did deserve the punishment of detention since I did do the crime but no further punish would occur since he had bullied me for so long and deserved my wrath.  What drove my mother to yell at the principal is I got two weeks detention but Turd did not get detention because he played football.  He walked away scot-free!  My mother was furious and ripped into the principal to no avail.

I, on the other hand, was pleased!  Turd didn’t mess with me again.  He kept his distance.  I had stood up to him and won.  It showed me I had only learned half the lesson when I was turning the other cheek.  The whole lesson is sometimes you have to stand up for yourself.  There are some people who will only respect you after you make them respect you.  Kenny Rogers was right all along.  I should’ve know he would never steer me wrong.

“I promised you, Dad, not to do the things you done.

I’ve walked away from trouble when I can.

Now please don’t think I’m weak, I didn’t turn the other cheek.

And Papa, I sure hope you understand:

Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man.”

10 thoughts on “Scene From a Memoir: The Kenny Rogers Code”

  1. I love your story. I was riveted the whole way through. Good for you for standing up to him! Your story reminded me of something that happened to my son. Another kid started fighting with him, and he defended himself. The principal agreed that the other kid had started it, but my son got a bigger punishment because he got in more hits. What! I agreed he deserved a punishment from the school, but not a bigger one, and we decided not to punish him additionally at home.

    Childhood is so difficult, isn’t it? I think kids are more protected today in general, but there are so many horrible things happening everywhere. I’m glad you were able to get the bullying to stop.

    Thanks for linking up to “Scene from a Memoir.”

  2. Okay, I seriously HATE that Turd asshole.

    I am really glad you punched him back. But I can’t believe the principal didn’t give HIM detention too. That’s fucked up. At least he never messed with you again.

  3. Didn’t anyone learn him you don’t hit girls? I’m speechless that this went on for so long and no one beat the crap out of him. I’m so delighted you stopped turning the other cheek. Good for you!

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