I am 24 years old and I have never been bullied. Sure, there were probably kids who said mean things to me when I was in grade school, but it was harmless and it didn’t impact me enough for me to remember it.
By age 24 you assume that you’ve gotten past the whole bullying phase. You’re an adult for goodness sake!
But today, for the first time in my life I was bullied. It happened on the train ride home from work.
I was sitting and reading like I always do, when 2 girls came on the train with the hoods of their coats zipped to the point that you could only see their eyes (kind of like Kenny from South Park, except the coats were black with fake fur around the edge). The seemed to be my age but could have been an older looking 18. Anyway, certainly old enough to know better.
The girls didn’t pick on me immediately – they started by screaming at people who were getting off the train. Of course they were screaming in French, but it would translate to something like this: “Haha look at him walk – he looks like a retard! You’re a fucking retard!”
I didn’t really notice at first because the metro is often filled with loud people. I honestly didn’t even look up. They picked on some more people as they got on the train, but left them alone once they had sat down.
After about 5 metro stops they must have spotted me. I could sense them staring at me but I ignored them just like everyone else was doing. The teasing started because I blew my nose. Not loud like I usually do (people who know me well enough know that I have a tendency to honk haha) but since I was already in their radar, it was enough to set them off.
The started screaming that I had a booger. Kind of funny actually, at first. I knew for certain that I didn’t so I kept reading. This pissed them off more so they started screaming to everyone in the train carriage “Look!! Look!! The blonde girl has a booger!! A big nasty booger!!”
Of course no one answers them. This ticks them off. One of them throws their gum at me, and it hits my shoes. I pick it off and throw it to the side. I don’t react more than this so they stand up and pick on some other people right behind them… no response.
Now a new guy gets on the train. He is blowing his nose too. The girls start laughing and screaming that they found my husband. They tell him he has a booger too but he ignores them.
Annoyed that no one is responding to their game they come over and close in on me. An inch from my face they tell me I’m ugly. That I’m gross. That I’m just a fuck-toy. And then they stick with calling me ugly.
A guy behind them sticks up for me. He says “No she’s actually really pretty.” The girls turn, happy to have someone engaging them. They fight with him for a bit but turn back to me. The guy gets off the train and I’m still trapped.
Finally, a few stops later the girls get off the train… but not before one of them walks up to me and spits gum in my air. The other one spits gum at me too from outside the wagon. They stand there and stare at me until the doors close, laughing.
Now, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t change carriages on the train…
The first (and probably biggest) reason is I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of winning. I thought that they were assholes but basically harmless. If I were to have gotten off the train then they’d see that they had gotten to me and they’d win.
The second reason: after they threw their gum at me the first time, I highly considered leaving. But they were blocking the door and the aisle, making it impossible to avoid a conflict.
I really wanted to punch their faces in but the ultimate conundrum of being 2 vs 1 prevented me from it.
Out of everyone on the train, only one person stuck up for me. And I ended up coming home with a wad of chewing gum stuck in my hair.
Anyway, I bet you’re thinking “what does this have to do with the Parisian Dream?”
Well that’s just it… Nothing.
To any of you reading this who has thought how lucky I must be to live in Paris, remember: Life is not a bed of roses. For every beautiful moment I have discovering the French culture, seeing new sites, and meeting new people, there is always a negative experience in there too.
Paris is no more romantic than Boston or London, or even the small town of Hopkinton, MA. It’s all what you make it : )
Paris is a dream come true to me, only because I have great people around me to share the good times and help me through the not so good.