Sticks and Stones
No doubt many of you will remember shouting, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!" It was usually to someone who made fun of or called you a name that you detested.
Back in the fifties, when I attended the one room school, most boys inherited a nickname... usually making fun of their not so perfect anatomy of some unique characteristic they possessed. Here's a few examples: Bugs, Beak, Dog, Purple Tommy, Chinky Chinky Chinaman or the abbreviated version, Chink. (that was mine because my complexion was kind of golden brown), Hooker, Jumping Jack and Skin Flint. Girls for some reason were ignored from name calling, but were categorized as Crow Bait if they didn't measure up to the boys beauty expectations. Big mistake... some so called Crow Bait matured into amazing ladies. Do you think they had the time of day for those guys in later years? Guess!
Even a few adults were branded... like one bachelor near our place who was called, The Serpent. We Fraser kids were all labeled, Bung. Where and how that ever came about is still a mystery to me. And the neighboring communities claimed we were from Hogtown rather than beautiful Glen Margaret.
I'm sure not everyone appreciated their particular brand, and over the years, their tag faded into oblivion. I think mine was the last to peter out. Aubrey, a close friend, convinced me to go back and complete my high school in Oshawa, Ontario. I did, but my two and a half year stay was extended to nine after graduating, finding a job and getting married. After moving back home, some of my schoolmates still called me Chink or Bung. It was always accompanied with a smile and happy greeting after not having seen me for eons.
We cherish some brands like, Hunk, Charles Atlas, (remember him) or Six Pack. Few of us were so fortunate... we received less complimentary names like those mentioned above. Now there's two things you can do if you're unfortunate enough to be branded with a nickname that you detest, get mad (angry) or ignore it. Getting mad will only prolong the agony. That's what the name caller wants, reaction and lots of it. It's like dumping gasoline onto a fire. On the other hand, if you totally ignore the instigator, it takes all the wind out of their sales.
"That's easy for you to say, you're Brain Dead," I hear even to this day. Not so, I simply refuse to let someone else's problem become mine and I look on the bright side of life. Matter of fact, I'm often teased by my wife's family for being an optimist. Her sister regularly comments about how nice it must be to go around with your head in the clouds all the time. I've also been complimented with more creative names such as Dreamer and Fly Brain.
Let me give you an example to prove how you can become immune to name calling and show you it's all in the head. For a number of years, I taught a Bible class to nine to twelve year old boys and girls. In the course of time, bullying and name calling became subjects of special interest. I performed a little experiment. Remember, some of these students were victims of name calling. Here's how it went.
I have a sum of money in my hand and you may have it under one condition. You must let me call you names, make nasty remarks about you... etc, etc. If you loose your cool, retaliate or show any negative reaction, I keep the money. If you totally ignore my nastiness, you get the money. Do you want to participate. Everyone excitedly agreed to be guinea pigs. I began calling them every nasty name I could think of.
Do you know what those Little Rats did? They just sat there and smiled!
- A Lesson in Road Rage
Steps in how a friendly challenge can turn into road rage.