Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

“Hey, Old Man!”

with one comment

“Hey mister, what’s your name?”

The voice came from the direction of the school playground that makes up the last part of the Nature Trail around Little Lake. Out for a walk this bright spring afternoon, I was curious to see if the sun’s warmth had any major effect on the stubborn ice covering the pond’s surface.

“Hey, mister walking man, what’s your name?”

When I turned around I saw two young girls –  no older than 9 or 10. They were hanging over the rubber-tire seats of the swings. One of girls leaned over staring at the ground, her momentum carrying her lazily back and forth. The other was twisting in a deliberate circle. When she lifted her feet off the ground the tightly wound chains released themselves and she spun quickly as they unraveled. More annoying than joyous, her high-pitched squeal cut through the spring afternoon.

“Hey Mister, your name. What’s your name?”

I smiled at them and kept walking. It is, after all, a tricky thing talking to young girls these days. Especially in school playgrounds. I spotted a teacher looking at me looking at them. My decision not to respond was, I admit, partly motivated by his presence.

Anyway, there was something in the children’s tone of voice that told me nothing would be gained by answering. Each time they asked for my name they would point and laugh as if it were a joke. They’re teasing me, I thought. As the trail took me closer they suddenly ran up to the chain link fence.

“Hey, Old Man…what’s your name? Old Man…Old Man…”

Their chant stopped when I stopped.

“What’s your name, little girl?” I answered. The teacher approached. I turned and walked away.

A sadness followed me home that beautiful, sunny afternoon under an unbelievably blue, cloudless sky. The reason was simple…a child had mocked me for no reason…a child who had a world of experiences yet to live.

Then it struck me. I was the victim of bullying.

Looking back at the girls, I shook my head and wondered about the loss of childhood innocence and how life in that school yard could be so unforgiving.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

April 9, 2011 at 6:45 PM

One Response

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  1. Perhaps sone of the sadness is the recognition that we are witnessing the erosion of civility in our culture, particularly in the presently acceptable behavior of children. Ill mannered is apparently the new norm amongst parents hereabouts.

    Dan Ostler

    April 9, 2011 at 7:27 PM


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