BE A CLOWN

I love the perspective, The Red Headed Authoress, shares with us today.  This girl was all smiles when I met her, so really, I wasn’t surprised to get such a wonderful contribution from her.  Please give her the warmest of welcomes and check out her website and say hello!


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Be a Clown
By The Red Headed Authoress

Bullying is everywhere. Be it on the playgrounds, in school, at work, or in the boardroom, this is a part of the human experience. It’s unfortunate, but there it is. Everyone is bullied, even the bullies. For that matter, just about everyone bullies at some point. Bullying is a terrible part our personality, and I would guess that the vast majority of people wish it didn’t exist, including me. However, it does exist, so the next part to tackle is how to deal with it.

I’ve been bullied. Who hasn’t? I’ve fought back, I’ve hidden behind authority, and I’ve finally come to the thing that I feel works the best. Just be a clown when you have to.

Let me explain. I come from a large family who pick on each other constantly. Some would say we bully one another at times. Since I was born, I was surrounded by a huge group of loving people who also poked fun at me when I do something stupid. One of my aunts who married into our family called us the “the hate family” for the longest time because she didn’t understand why we picked on each other so much. Basically, we told her, “If we don’t pick on you, we don’t like you anymore.”

Did that mean school was a breeze for me? No. I was bullied for a multitude of reasons like any kid. Mostly, I physically fought back, which helped cement a reputation of being mean that I didn’t really want to have. If I told an authority figure, they either did nothing or when they did something, I got a big target painted on my back. Eventually, I learned to take the course I learned from my own family. Own your shit and make a joke about it.

That doesn’t sound terribly politically correct, but by the time I hit high school, I had friends in all clicks. I knew just about everyone, and no one really bothered me about my weirdness (and trust me, I was weird). I was an unusual person, but I owned it, and I was funny. Often times, if someone is picking on you for being shy, fat, awkward, or strange, you probably are, but why is that bad? That’s just who you are. Own it and stop hiding from it.

Bullies often pray on those who are different and want to hide it. Confidence in who you are leaves them nothing to work with, and if you add in a joke that makes them laugh, they are no longer your bully.

My father was five foot three and a gymnast in a small town in West Texas. Seriously, that is true. How did he survive high school in one piece? He was really funny. If there is one major thing he taught me, it was laughter is something that spans across countries, cultures, and sexes. Make someone laugh and see them soften toward you immeasurably.

It works with adults too. I worked at a place that employed hundreds of people, of which maybe ten percent were female. I often found myself in a meeting with all men, some on my side and some who were gearing up to try to put me in my place. Bullying exists everywhere. The air was so thick with tension before conversations even started you could eat it with a spoon. This was about to be a playground shoving match among adults. What could you possible do here?

Well, I asked if anyone had ever been to West Texas before and when they said no, I started doing my impression of my grandmother’s thick Texas accent.

“Well Hell, it’s a good thing I got outta ther cause I weren’t never gonna get a man. According to my grandma, I was too skinny, I didn’t like football, I didn’t like coffee, and I was just like my muther. I was gonna be an old maid forever.”

Everyone laughed and the air calmed. Those guys who were going to put me in my place, never got to. In fact, they stopped wanting to. Instead, they started listening to me. Everyone left that meeting happy.

As the immortal Cole Porter once wrote…

Be a clown, be a clown
All the world loves a clown
Act a fool, play the calf,
And you’ll always have the last laugh.


Michelle_054_twitterThe Red Headed Authoress is the creator of two published novels as well as short stories. I Once Knew Vincent is by her Michelle Rene pen name, and Vicious is by her Olivia Rivard pen name. When not writing, she is a professional artist and all around odd person. She lives with her husband, son, and two ungrateful cats in Dallas, Texas. Learn more at http://redheadedauthoress.com/.
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19 thoughts on “BE A CLOWN

    • Actually, I remember a kid like that at school (I’ll call him Parvos.) He was short and got teased a bit, but then he started making these hilarious comments that even the kids he insulted were laughing at. It became a badge of honour to be singled out for an insult from him. Being a mousy, studious kid, I never thought he’d notice me. Invisibility was my special talent; however, I also had a reputation as a braniac, so it could be difficult to hide when a teacher read my paper out loud in class. In a way, being singled out for such dubious honour made me feel more invisible because it gave me an identity I felt was false.

      Then… I was a bit put out one Valentine’s day when, being too old to exchange Valentine’s, our teacher made us tape a piece of paper to our backs and write good things about each other on them. When Parvos was writing on my piece of paper, my best friend gasped and tried to scribble it out. Curious, I stopped her. There, amongst all the inane comments about how “smart” I was, Parvos had scribbled, “You’re the flattest girl I’ve ever seen.” Like most of his insults, it was simply obvious and undeniable. I laughed in delight that he had found something to comment on other than my grades. I blushed, too, of course. But, hey, I wasn’t quite so invisible as I felt!

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      • I had a talent for words before I grew to be a more… formidable size. So I fought back with words. The thing is you can get carried away, and one thing many bullies share is an inability to put their frustration into words. I enjoyed the feeling of being able to dance around jabbing at them with my verbiage… I felt like Cyrano during the dueling scene. Unfortunately, their pent up frustration often boiled over. I had my moment of victory, but invariably I got scalded when the pressure cooker exploded.
        Later, I found I had a real taste for leaping into any fray where someone else was getting picked on… a la Don Quixote… but this often left me facing the rage of the bully when the original victim took the opportunity to flee.
        In the end, I grew… and became fairly good at defending myself. The upshot is that I never keep hitting anyone once they are down, no matter how much they deserve it.

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  1. Yah. I definitely needed to develop a sense of humour to stay alive while growing up. It’s a lesson I learned far too late, but I use it now while working with a seriously high volume of douche bags. Another great thing it can do to start joking is dissolve our own growing anger. If we have a temper, we can control our anger by deliberately forcing a joke. If we take things a little lighter, and even intentionally falsely interpret attacks and abuse, we can subvert the authority the attacker has and turn it on itself. Indeed we do rob him of his power. We can then take control of the situation any way we wish. Fighting without fighting. Laughter then becomes a form of influence. It gives you social power.

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    • I have a friend who is a lovely person but very witty with a putdown. She likes to stir things up a little but can sometimes miscalculate and be cruel. She says I’m no fun to bait because I always agree with her critical comments quite cheerfully, providing humorous examples of whatever flaw she happens to be pointing out. I didn’t even realize I was ruining her fun. I think it helps to have a sense of humor about oneself. I’ve never considered it as a means of taking control or gaining social power. I guess if she were a real bully, and not just a bit miscalculating in her jibes, I’ve feel differently. I’ve seen her mother hurt many times by her, though, and I wish this friend would realize her mother doesn’t get her sense of humor. The temptation to show off her cleverness, however, seem too strong to resist.

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  2. I’ve always used humour as defence. I’m often HILARIOUS when I’m feeling particularly unsteady or out of water. I used to try to make my dad laugh, to diffuse his anger. I wasn’t so successful at school.

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    • Sorry about your Dad. Bullies can be rude and hurtful, but they aren’t angry generally. In fact, they can be quite gleeful when hurting you. (Bad joke.) Anger is something I have trouble dealing with. I cringe when someone raises their voice, even if it’s just because they’re excited about something.

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      • Yes, this was much more abuse than bullying (elements of both, swirled together in glorious melee) and the situation at my home led to me being an obvious victim at school, and that was that. The schoolkids were malicious but I don’t think it was from anger particularly, so much as just that they COULD, if that makes sense.

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        • Yes, there’s a theme throughout many of the stories of being bullied I’ve been reading that the victims are often those who are vulnerable.

          The earliest bullying I recall witnessing was that of a boy in Grade 3. He was targeted as a “sissy,” although I didn’t know him well enough to determine what made students draw this conclusion. I learned from my sister, who remained in our hometown, that he had “come out” as being openly gay and told her that his life was much better. I sincerely hope so.

          Whether or not behavioral traits of any type to indicate this would be manifest, let alone be cognitively recognized by the other students at that age is dubious. I do recall, however, that although he and I were in different classes, we changed classrooms during math based on ability. My homeroom was used for remedial math, so I had to use another student’s desk in the second Grade 3 classroom. This boy sat at my desk during math class.

          I recall returning to my desk one afternoon to find him red-faced and in tears. Confused, I looked up to see the teacher approach and gently tell him to go to the washroom to clean up while she called his mother. It was then that I realized he’d urinated at my desk.

          With the teacher gone, I tried quickly to wipe the seat with paper towels, but students who’d been in the classroom when the incident occurred were already aware of what had happened and were quick to tell the rest who were returning to our homeroom.

          I recall there being a terrible cacophony of of children jeering until the teacher returned and told them to behave and that such an accident could happen to anyone. I acted as though nothing had happened and sat quietly at my desk. I was afraid of germs, but the incident had unnerved me and I didn’t want to call any more attention to the situation.

          Although I wasn’t the target, I distinctly recall how horrible the kids sounded, as though they’d become lunatics howling at the moon. In retrospect, I wish I’d made a point of speaking to him at some point afterward, but I was horribly shy at the time.

          Like many students who were victims of bullying, the school board’s solution was to transfer him to another school. I don’t see how that wouldn’t have seemed punitive to him, but it was easier than trying to control the hyenas that smelled prey. Whew! Hard to think of that again.

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          • Good grief, that’s awful! Poor boy! I hope that at his new school he was able to start again, and I’m sure he would have found it punitive, but perhaps it was a saving grace which allowed him to start again with a clean slate.

            I don’t think children can sense these things but they are VERY quick to pick up on anything which can single someone out. I got called all sorts, and some was based on my appearance, some on my demeanour…I do know that not one other kid ever took the time to get to know me or to appreciate me as much more than something to be borne with. Which is all I felt I was at home, so i assumed the role well.

            I’m glad the boy in your story grew into a man who is more comfortable with himself though. That’s one good thing.

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              • As I got older, I did begin to speak out. For some reason other kids did sometimes listen to me. I recall one time a group of girls I was with were gossiping rather harshly about a fellow student who stuffed her bra (or so they said). I told them that it really wasn’t any of their business and asked them why they cared unless they were jealous. “She’s a nice person, so who cares whether or not she stuffs her bra?” They blushed and conceded that they’d been being cruel. After that, she was included in that group girls.

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              • Ohhh good for you 🙂 You’re bound to have made a huge difference every time you did it 🙂 I’m glad you were there to make the objections to their bullying. That’s awesome. I wish more people would do that, rather than submitting to bystander syndrome.

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