“Why are you so dull?”

I debated with myself whether or not to include this, but I think it is significant for reasons that will hopefully become clear to the reader later on.

Jim Field was one of my first assailants. In sixth grade, he would follow me around, bugging me, telling me dirty jokes and asking, “Leah, why are you so dull?” He was considered one of the popular kids, and got the other boys into the teasing, too, at times. Mostly though, it was just him.

Jim’s friends would tell me he liked me. I must have believed them, because somehow he tricked me into skating with him at the Roller Palace on a class field trip at the end of the year. From what I understand, somebody dared him to ask me. Anyway, he called and dumped me shortly thereafter. This was an incident that would follow me years later. Other kids would bring it up just to be cruel.

Here’s the funny thing: I never liked Jim, either. I thought dating him might open doors for me to the elusive world of popularity. And, to be sure, I got lots of attention from that crowd the day he and I couple-skated. It was like my 15 minutes of fame. Of course, it didn’t last.

Maybe it was cold and calculating of me to skate with him just for social acceptance, but it was mean of him to take the dare, too. And I’m the one who paid for it, in ways I wouldn’t even understand until well into adulthood.

That one act of callousness on Jim’s part made me question boys’ behavior and intentions with me for years to come. Does Tony like me or is he just trying to humiliate me? Is this guy hitting on me or making fun of me? It all but obliterated my trust in the opposite sex and planted in me a seed of self-doubt so deep it took years of experience (and therapy) to uproot.

I’m first row, all the way to the right.

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