DISCLAIMER: Personal memories of being insulted and ridiculed in high school coming up…along with what I did to personally turn negatives into positives on handling said ridicule. Should one not want to read about that, no issues and thanks for taking the time to look. Should one want to hear a personal recap of how I handled the negatives of being overweight and used them as motivation to make life changes so I could drop weight and in turn save my life in the process, feel free to read on and also thanks for taking the time to look.
Good evening to all as July is about to end and August is about to begin. Starting here at 8:40 pm….took weekend off from homework and now will be studying every night until this summer class is over with. Writer’s block has also come up because there’s a lot to write about and yet I need to get one topic taken care of before I can move on and actually talk about the good things that came out of my last couple years of being at Sonland USA (aka Noblesville High). After all the Instagram account and blog were established to do that since it’s my 25th anniversary of making it out of that place and being able to go on to bigger and better things (or at the very least being able to get out of that place and live a more positive life). So best to get that out of the way now on this post.
FYI to anyone who actually may read this AND be a member of the Sonland Class of ’91: if one goes back to previous posts, one will see that I wasn’t thrilled with a lot of things or a lot of people back then. Bottom line: I got bullied my first two years of high school because I allowed myself to be bullied and mentally beaten down due to being overweight. No one’s perfect but I don’t condone bullying and (keeping it clean) I sure as f— don’t condone the b—s— that I dealt with. I’m one of the lucky ones out there because instead of getting even more depressed and thinking worse thoughts I decided to make some important decisions back before my junior year of Sonland in the summer of 1989. Those decisions helped me lose 60 pounds and be able to do a lot of great things (see previous blog posts) that I never would have thought possible if I had allowed these next few people I’m going to discuss to ruin my life. I simply call it as I see it because I call it as how I lived it. And the bottom line is I’m going to discuss eight individuals (that’s the polite term to use) who I allowed to make my first two years of high school a living hell. They are important because as I sit here right now and type this sentence I can be thankful that I overcame their petty b—s— to take care of business and in the end become a happier and better person. Most importantly it allowed me to learn something that I need to remember every day for the rest of my life: not only do we all have rights as children of God, but we all rights as human beings and creatures of God.
No, this is not a sermon. In fact it’s going to be a recap of people who were the opposite of deserving to be mentioned in a sermon. They were the people who could have put me down for the count, but again I learned to deal with them and overcome adversity while dropping weight and gaining the confidence to feel like I actually mattered after years of allowing these individuals to do the opposite.
Enough of the dialogue. Time to talk about these boys. Or in my Noblesville vernacular, Sons.
The name for these group of people who I allowed to hurt me before I made some important life decisions to ensure they would not hurt me again. I was the better for it. And now I’m going to address these boys right now. Or again in this case, Sons.
These people who helped get the ball rolling for my weight loss: The Eight Sons.
Quick way to handle this: if you’ve read one of these previous posts you’ll know who one of them is (rhymes with Mowser) but what it boils down to is that these are eight people I had class with who I allowed to treat me like s–t for two years with constant taunts, insults, and ridicule. (Note those words: I allowed them. I’m as guilty as anyone for allowing the s–t to take place.) Irony is most of them had classes with me in junior high school and, well, weren’t really c—s—ers. But once freshman year came around the fatter me (I gained a lot of weight between seventh grade and the beginning of high school) wasn’t so lucky. Whether it be first period frosh honors English, two years of German classes, my frosh gym class (already discussed with a mentioning of a non-Son of this group, The Son Tom Edens) or a honors World History class in soph year…..I basically would have preferred being incarcerated then going to those classes and seeing these Eight Sons. In fact dealing with them seemed to be like a jail sentence.
Again, enough. Time for a quick bio of these individuals. To help out anyone who actually reads this someday from the Class of ’91, you’re going to get their names, the page of the 1991 Shadow where their senior photo, and a little background on what they did that may or may not have led to them deciding to do whatever the blue #!#%! it was that got their jollies for picking on me. Dudes were a Comedy Central roast gone bad. Though in fairness it kind of matched their choice of hairstyles and fashion.
Your Eight Sons:
Chris Hamm (page 162): My code name: “Son of Sweats” as the Sonland gimmick was wearing a long sleeve shirt, sweatpants hiked up to the knees, and carrying a backpack. Long way from the days of junior Sonland band. Once had a collection of Smurfs figures in elementary school. Was offensive lineman for Sonland football team like his older brother was. IIRC was once locked in a closet by his older brother as well during adolescence. Comparison for those who hadn’t met him: Actor Nick Bakay (aka dude who voiced the cat on the ABC sitcom “Sabrina The Teenage Witch”).
If still reading, you’ll see momentarily why at one time this was the perfect example of a term I would use many times when dealing with similar people in college: “With friends like him, who needs enemies?”
Could have been the worst of these eight, but read on.
Mike Foote (also page 162): My code name: “Bowlman.” Look by the Dilton Doiley looking fellow on the top row of that page who, well, quite f—ing frankly was one of the thinnest dudes in that class year if not the thinnest. Then look to your right. Bingo. To his credit a good member of the varsity wrestling team. To his non-credit, he treated me like s–t for years but had an ironic flaw: if he was around these others he was a prick but if he was NOT with said Sons he was actually alright. Comparison for hairstyle: Moe Howard of “Three Stooges” fame.
(BTW, safe to say you know who the Dilton lookalike is.)
Matt Irvin: (page 164): Code name “Hue” as short for first name Hubert. Spent an entire year of German class calling me pathetic and insulting me anytime I opened my mouth or even breathed. You now know who I would have called if I was on life support and needed someone to pull the plug. Comparison for hairstyle: there is no comparison. See photo.
Steve Bowser (page 157): Code name unsuitable for print. Once got involved in an argument with me that led to our gym teacher and girls basketball coach keep us after class and tell us that we were cutting into his preparation time for his games. Great fellow. Oh…Bowser didn’t go this alone as this was a two on one effort towards yours truly. (If you get the hint, these Eight Sons rarely did s–t one on one, which is why I’m at 1400 words and going on how one needs to deal with such bullying). The other individual……
Andy Heiskell (page 163): Code name “Bob” for his real first name Robert. One half of the “Boat Shoe Boys” along with a man who, well, seemed to be his bro-mance until his senior year when (to his credit as I’ll get to this later) Bob kind of saw what I saw with how people were NOT icons because they could gang up and bully people in m—–f—–g Noblesville, Indiana. The other part of said bro-mance:
Jeff Nee (page 168): My code name: Alfred E. Newman for your MAD magazine cover boy. Where Tom Edens was my number one motivator to lose weight, this Nee was my number one motivator to believe most people from the state of Pennsylvania were a–holes at birth as well as proof that there was something in the air that turned decent people from junior high into arrogant, pompous, self-centered f@#^s once they entered the halls of the Sonland. And those were the individual’s good qualities.
Your other two were in my frosh gym class and two people who I allowed to make me want to simply not want to be on this planet. Said Sons were:
Ryan Householder (page 164): My code name is also not printable. This was a swim team member son who was a member of my church. Nice way to say it is I didn’t go to church much in high school because quite frankly I questioned why I would want to be associated with someone who would insult me from the moment I entered gym class to the moment I left. Great quote from dude to me that year: “Why are you so fat?” IMO, if one wants to know why people may question religion or those who follow it, read the second sentence. Sadly he almost bearable compared to the last of said Sons…
David Karrfalt (page 165): Code name: “Blond Bowl”. To his credit, like his fellow Son Foote a good performer on the Sonland wrestling team. To his non-credit, the smaller version of Householder. Read the Householder bio again. Not exactly battling Mother Theresa for the Noble Peace Prize.
Bottom line: I knew most of these people early on and didn’t have too many issues overall in junior Sonland. I played football with the majority of them. I actually sat at the same lunch table with Heiskell and Nee in seventh grade. For an even ironic twist, Hamm’s mother drove me and Hamm to the first Sonland social function I ever went to (one of the early school dances frosh year). And in perhaps an even more ironic spot, thanks in part to some family doings on the final days of tryouts Karrfalt beat me out for the last spot on the city’s travelling elementary/6th grade/Pop Warner football team, the Noblesville Grinders. (That story will make a good future post, actually, as it’s a good one).
For time constraints, best to do this: you’ve figured out the general theme that for the most part individually these people generally were not c—s or rude or outright a–holes during the early years. But I learned that I made a mistake of being overweight because once high school started these dudes were rude, condescending, and the exact opposite of the word “friend”. As said before with friends like them,who the f— would need enemies? Not I as I considered all eight to be hurtful, arrogant bullies who decided to gang up and be complete f—s…and not in the “breaking balls” manner but in a hurtful way. And there was outright stuff that was pretty questionable…as in “these dudes have nothing better to do than THIS?”
Because I’ve got a good memory and it is my blog, here’s a few low lights:
–Hamm trying to get over with coaches by yelling at me for not being a good teammate or not blocking well during halftime of a freshman football game. We were leading by five touchdowns at the time. We would win the game. It was the only game we won. Coincidentally, that helped make it easy to not play football again for the Sonland after that night.
–Hamm (you’ll see a trend) having a cousin who looked like Ron Howard during his stint on Happy Days only with more freckles. For some reason they spent the entire time of a varsity basketball game making fun of me instead of watching said game. They were then surprised that I refused to go to the school dance after the game. My response: “Why the f— would I? You’re going to be there.” Plenty of people to pull the plug on me if the opportunity was there. And yes, Hamm’s cousin DID NOT GO TO OUR F_____ SCHOOL.
–Foote once wrote a poem as part of an English class assignment freshman year that was little more than a two minute analogy of why I was not worthy to be on this planet. While skeptical people would say “Lighten up” or “grow a pair” one should add that Hamm, Bowser, Nee and Heiskell spent the entire class period saying words about me not fit to be printed. That’s five on one. Life may not be fair, but my math’s pretty damn clear on that. That’s bullying. If you want to know why incidents like Columbine happen, read what I just wrote. Thankfully for all, I may not be great but I had enough fortitude to begin to see it was time to make changes.
-for your last and worst low light which showed that I basically was on the verge of giving up, I had an incident with Karrfalt the last day of school frosh year. We were not dressed for gym…we sat in the bleachers and waited to get dismissed for the summer. Karrfalt threw something at me. I threw something back at him and hit him. He proceeded to kick me in the head as he was sitting behind me. I in turn-and this could be put in the regret category-did nothing as I observed the kick (I may not be an icon but I have a decent pain tolerance) and simply said “I’m not getting in an incident the last day of school. I just need to go home.” Why? Because I allowed these people to take my self-respect.
I was not happy, and at 5 foot 4 and 200 plus pounds I was overweight, depressed and quite frankly felt I had little to live for. I no longer cared about school, school activities, my church, or really anything else other than one thing: count down to get out of the Sonland in three more years. To me I was in jail and these Eight Sons were, well, not my friends.
That summer I tried to diet a little. I also decided I wanted to simply make it through the year without incident. I began my two year journey from 1988 to 1990 to drop weight. However, the 15 pounds I dropped didn’t really too much as I was 5 foot 7 and 185 pounds.
(See one of the early Instagram posts of Step 1 on How to Go to Prom With a Hot Chick for what I looked like then. It’s the black and white photo with me admittedly having a haircut that rivaled these Sons in non-greatness).
The proof was there that there was a long way to go. But I also found that not doing clubs or anything else after school (in part because I did not want to get bullied or insulted by the people I just mentioned) meant more time to eat, be depressed, and think about things that one shouldn’t be thinking about at 15….like whether it’s worth living or whether you deserve to be considered a part of the human race. That should NEVER happen to anyone. EVER. Yet I allowed it. And when I walked down the hall one time with the late Eric Sipple (who unlike these eight was actually a friend) and heard someone talking about the two of us before referring to me as “the fat one”…..well, that didn’t help matters. Neither was seeing these Eight Sons in the hall or in the classroom.
Finally though, towards the end of sophomore year, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. I may not be able to control these Eight Sons, but I damn well could start controlling what I thought of myself and what I thought of my life. Plus I found something that was pretty easy to figure out: If I didn’t have class with these individuals, then I was happier and my grades were better. I had two more years of school at this damn place and if I was going to be in a building that I didn’t want to be in then I bloody well better take classes I like with a better chance of seeing or dealing with people I liked.
Oh, and I needed to lose some weight. Like a lot of it.
Changes were made. Out with The Eight Sons. In with One Son that mattered. That was my fat a–. And it was time to make it a thinner a–. If you were going to make fun of me-and because this was Noblesville High School in the late 80’s and early 90’s with people who thought driving a Ford Escort made them the equal of W. Axl Rose, that was going to happen regardless-then you sure as f— weren’t going to make fun of my weight if I had anything to do with it.
Thanks to believing in myself and not believing in the Gospel of The Eight Sons, Crown Princes of The Sonland, changes got made. And damn good ones.
None of these boys were in my classes junior year. As mentioned before I switched from German to Spanish-grades got better. I took Newswriting and did well enough to be able to make the yearbook staff as a senior. I took regular U.S. History and got a 97 percent for the fall semester. I even got elected twice to student government…first as rep for said U.S. History class and then later on as Student Body Treasurer (which had as much importance and rankings as being a restroom attendant at one of the clubs in downtown Indy, but the title was nice.) But most of all I started actually being around people again who-shock-weren’t complete total d—heads and a–holes. All it took was a change of scenery and a change of attitude.
All it took was the decision to not let The Eight Sons be the judge, jury and Alfred E. Newman lookalikes who would determine how I felt about myself and how I lived my life.
With the exception of seeing Foote by my locker (his locker was next to mine), I saw very little of these Sons that year. My attitude improved, my mentality improved, and my motivation to lose weight continued. I was between 165 to 170 at the start of my junior year. And by the summer before senior year I was down to 140. You could call me a lot of things back then…but by senior year “fata–” was not one of them. And I remembered Those Sons whenever I lost another pound or was able to do something positive (see previous posts).
So when senior year came and I had to deal with these Sons, I had a nice refreshed outlook on life. As far as I was concerned they were no better than me because they were also in the Sonland and not regularly dating Playmates or participating in Wimbledon. They were not winning Grammy Awards, drinking on MTV, selling out Madison Square Garden or running the United Nations. (I’ve already described seeing Bowser, and I’ll gladly say this: he wasn’t the one double dating with the future Homecoming Queen and her sister that night. That made up for all the petty arrogant and s—-y remarks from him and his boys right there. Hence once again thank you Trina and thank you Jennie).
And ironically enough, there were two changes of note:
-first I now had class with a few of these Sons. Bowser was on the other side of the room from me in first period Literature and said very little. Householder and Karrfalt were in my second period class and never insulted me at all. In fact they generally borrowed paper and were civil to me. And in the biggest reversal of all, Heiskell was also on yearbook staff with me as he served as a photographer. I saw that he in tune did not seem to care too much for the methods and the arrogance of Nee and Hamm. I also did not have one cross word or one incident with Heiskell that year. So if one can easily figure out who the two biggest bleeps of the time were. (I didn’t see Irvin senior year so as far as I was concerned he could have been in Chattanooga).
For better comedy, when spring cleaning I found two senior photos I did not expect to have. One was from Bowser (see the yearbook page…it’s his senior photo). The other was from Householder. The Householder autograph: “To Jeff from Ryan Householder.” Considering three years prior it would have been “To A Fata– who should kill himself from Ryan Householder”, a bit of an improvement. Which leads to…
-when dealing with the other three I learned to do something: stand up for myself and mouth off if they were going to get in my business. I would see Nee on occasion strut down the hall with his then girlfriend Heidi Illyes. I personally would not look at Nee because quite frankly the high school year version of him was…well, not on my holiday card list. One time he asked me why I would walk by and not acknowledge him. I simply said “Because I don’t want to look at you.” Don’t remember seeing him after that or after talking to him again. (As for Illyes, story on her involving me and Young Adams in future posts.)
As for Foote and Hamm, after they spent many months not having a full conversation with me in the halls they actually tried to talk to me about a rumor went out about me (after all, this is a high school we’re dealing with). I politely told Foote that he shouldn’t be concerned since he was not my friend and that he had treated me like s–t for several years. (Best to my knowledge, he never spoke to me again after that). Hamm was a different story. Hamm came up to me and asked me about a twisted version of said rumor (because again this is high school and a version of the telephone game can always come into play)…which led me to simply use a few curse words and say outright “And why the f— would you care? All you and your little boys ever do is make fun of me and treat me like s—.” I walked off down that yellow locker dominant hallway and knew I was right. Dude didn’t know who I hung out with or who my friends were. Calling him a friend would have been the equal of calling the Olympics a friendly get together…a gross understatement. He was no more a friend of mine than Sadaam Hussien.
Either way I made it through the rest of the Sonland and graduated. Good night (which also will make for a future post). In an irony of ironies, I remember very little about right after graduation because I wanted to GTFO as quickly as possible from that building. Of all people none other than The Original Son himself, Hamm, came up to me. In the last conversation he has ever had with yours truly, he apologized to me for being a d—. So there’s that.
Now that I’ve babbled for 4,000 plus words here, good way to summarize this with a message about how I feel and lastly a message to These Eight Sons:
-first, if anyone ever reads this and asks “why the f— are you talking about this?” it’s simple: This was a big step for my personal growth and future for a s–t load of reasons. It was important because it taught me to stand up for myself, believe in myself, make a goal, achieve that goal, prove people wrong, prove people I was worthy of existing, and show that if you only deal with negative people than you end up with less chance of bringing positive change to yourself and the situation you are in. Don’t let a Ryan Householder be the excuse to keep you from your faith: learn to overcome that and remember that you are important because we are all equals and all matter in the grand scheme of things. (And if you’r a Class of 1991 member, get your Senior Wills out. You’ll see I mentioned Karrfalt on my weight loss. He may not care, but then again he wasn’t the one who needed to get motivated to lose the weight. I did.) In short, don’t let negative people turn you into a negative person. And again with friends like them back then, who the f— needed enemies?
-second and last of all, a message to The Eight Sons (as well as anyone else who is now a grown adult with a family) and the only advice I plan on giving that is not fantasy football or sports related on this blog: You may have families now. You may have children now. If so, congrats and good for you. But as I type this very sentence with God as my witness, I have this to say to you: I hope and pray that your children never, EVER treat any man, woman or living creature the way you individuals treated me back during those first two years of high school. I was lucky enough to overcome it and make something of myself. But not everyone may be as fortunate as I was or be blessed like I was to get the job done and overcome your ridicule. Think about that. Better yet, pray your children aren’t getting the s–t from others that you Eight Sons gave to me.
I forgive. But I obviously don’t forget. And I hope you and any other Sonlander who may actually read this have matured enough to not accept or tolerate bullying in any way, shape or form.
Off the soapbox for now. I’ve said my piece. Now that I’ve addressed this issue I can write about more positive things and good memories from here on out. Plus quite frankly I look damned good in that senior photo…save perhaps for that sweater. Otherwise can’t ever take that away from me even if I did become the Dilton Doiley in a Sonland that seemingly preferred Alfred E. Newman.
God speed, Alfred E.
Thanks to any and all who read this and God bless.