Last Friday an episode of CBS’s Without a Trace aired. The story revolved around a group of kids who, though they didn’t intend it, drove another to an attempt at suicide through their actions. The boy, who was attempting to impress a girl, called another girl in the class a dog. In return, he was lured to a stable, convinced to strip, tied up, and then ridiculed and photographed.
For about an hour after the episode, I tossed and turned in bed, trying to go to sleep so I could wake up early. Sleep couldn’t come because the episode renewed my own guilt. I know what kind of person I am now, and I know what kind of person I used to be, and I wonder how or even if I’ve changed, matured, or learned anything.
When I was in fifth or sixth grade in Hebrew school, I wasn’t exactly a popular kid. There aren’t very many kids in a Hebrew school class, so I figure I was at the bottom of the food chain. I think I’m mentioning that because it’s an excuse for my actions, or even because it, in some small way, qualifies them and puts them in perspective. Regardless, I don’t think my popularity has much to do with the story.
In class one day, another boy stood up to answer a question, or perhaps to make a comment. I wish I could remember his name. I feel as though I should be even more guilty for forgetting his name than I should be for my actions. As he rose, I glanced down, staring at the orange seat of his chair. I’m not sure what I thought, but it was likely something in the vein of, “it would be really funny if I stuck a tack on his chair. Then when he jumps up, everyone will laugh, and he’ll be a little angry, but it’s only a tack. They do it all the time on TV.”
That’s what you call flawed logic. If I place a tack on his chair, it will stick in his ass. I didn’t have a tack anyway. So I substituted a pencil. A newly sharpened, full size pencil.
He sat down and in screams of pain immediately rose back up. I don’t remember if I was laughing or crying, and the rest of the experience is pretty much a blur. I remember being yelled at. I remember feeling terrible. I remember breaking into tears as I sat in the stairwell waiting for my ride. I remember going to his house a few days later and apologizing to him and his family. I remember he never came back to the school.
I don’t remember who told me, but the graphite tip of the pencil embedded itself into his butt. He spent nearly an hour in surgery getting it fully removed. He had to sit on one of those pillows for people who use large amounts of preparation H. He was ridiculed for it.
I know I didn’t intend any of it to happy. Not like that. For my mistake, my misdeed, my injury to his person, he was forced to suffer far more than I’d ever wish on anyone. I want to say it’s all because I was a stupid kid who watched too many cartoons, but I can’t blame TV, ignorance, or even age. I can’t even imagine how I could’ve done such a thing.
But I did. And I will wear the scars of it like an albatross around my neck.