At some point in time, during my most vulnerable years, our school bus was routed southward down Pennsylvania Route 8 towards Dinner Bell Road. On that route was a stop dedicated to a single family. The family owned a business there and they seemed to me to be prosperous. The family was composed of members who were all of generous proportions. These were facts I certainly noted but they were of no consequence to me – at least at first.
One day, when my usual seat mate was absent, I found myself sitting alone. The bus rolled to a stop before the rotund family’s business and the older son walked up the steps and began his daily unpleasant search for a seat. Today the remainder of my seat was available and the young man plunked himself down beside me. I really had no feeling one way or another about the kid and offered him neither a sign of welcome nor a posture of resistance.
Behind me several of my bus mates instantly broke out in a gale of laughter. It was as if they were waiting to pounce. Their taunts began. Then I heard a song: “Dickie is a friend of mine. He resembles Frankenstein. First he does the jig,jig,jig, then he sits with Porky Pig.”
I was hurt. As the boiling blood was circulating in my veins, I was only concerned about putting out my fire. It took me a few days to consider that my hurt would probably fade but the pain my one-day seat mate would bear was probably an ongoing burden for him to face every day.
Now, half a century later, I can still hear the song. I hope, I so hope, that the song stopped playing in his mind…but I have my doubts.