An Opportunity Lost: The Perfect Comeback

It’s always four hours late. We’ve all had that moment. This, in fact, was one of the reasons I originally wanted to be a writer, the reason I preferred writing over speaking- you could carefully work things out and revise, over and over, until you had witty banter, instead of an ashamed girl sitting there blushing and feeling imbecilic.

I’ll set the stage: math class. I was in seventh grade, but I had skipped a grade of math and was in the eighth grade class, along with seven other seventh graders. They were all boys. Guess who worked alone when the teacher said to find a partner or group of three?

I was (am) a quiet, reserved girl, who was (is) easily embarrassed and did not like talking in front of the class or answering a problem out loud. I am exceptionally pale and blush easily, and when I blush my entire face turns red, forehead included. During this particular class session, the (male) teacher and several other outspoken boys were saying offensive things about women in general. For example, “How do you know a woman’s lying? If her mouth is moving.” Funny thing- I’ve heard the same said about boys.

I was sitting silently, attempting to distract myself from my rage and indignation, and my teacher said, “Heather’s just sitting there stewing.” That, my dear readers, is the day I discovered that adults can smirk.

Some guy from the back of the room asked, tauntingly, if I agreed with the comment about women lying. “No,” I whispered to my desktop.

“Which means she does agree!” he crowed, cackling. Oh, the witticisms of eighth grade boys. Out of all the times I have clamped my lips together and kept my fury trapped inside of me, this is the time I most regret not speaking up, not only for myself. I long to have said the words that raced through the minds of several other quiet girls- and boys- in that class who were tired of being picked on, by anyone, ever, but didn’t know what to say about it because no one gave them the opportunity to find the words.

What would I have said? Honestly, I am not really sure. The prompt was asking for a comeback that came to mind after the event, but this post is, sadly, about a moment lost.

Has something like this ever happened to you? Were you a silent sufferer in middle school? Are you still one? I hope I get the opportunity to hear your stories. Also, I’m considering a “series” of sorts (tentative title is Discovering Voices) focusing on my personal school experiences, and possibly some of yours if you’d like to share or guest post, and what I think about the world’s perception of and behavior towards the kids who choose to just listen. People always told me it was important to stand up for myself, but the idea of that was plain scary. I was never quiet at home, so my parents couldn’t fathom, and never guessed, that I was so silent (and paranoid, and made fun of) at school. Let me know if you would be interested in reading such a series, or have any stories you’d like to share. 🙂

-Heather

Drawing a Blank

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8 thoughts on “An Opportunity Lost: The Perfect Comeback”

  1. Girlllll, I’ve had that happen too many times, where I came up with a comeback hours later, still steaming from the insult. You should’ve marched out of the class and to the principal to report that, I would’ve. Oh, and a series would be great!

  2. I have had this happen a lot. Both with the extreme blushing (ginger probs) and the holding in of rage. I am the big sister, so I’ve always had to set the example. I don’t really speak my mind a lot, just to avoid causing problems. I would like to hear the stories that you would be willing to share, and I can see if I can write down a specific occurence that I have experienced, if you’d like.

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