This is a matchbox painted with a still from the film ‘Reservoir Dogs.’ I’d like to present it to someone who has done something to stop an incidence of bullying.
In 1994 I was 14 and at boarding school. Reservoir Dogs had just come out. About eight senior boys called me out of bed one night, took me into a small room, and surrounded me. They accused me of stealing a green bottle of Andrew’s ‘Polo’ eau de toilette. Andrew was in the First XV. When I wouldn’t admit to it – I’m not sure I’d admit to stealing preppy perfume even if I had – Hadleigh asked me to put out my hand. He poured lighter fluid onto it. He then pulled out a box of matches. I started crying. They started laughing, and let me go back to bed.
Cut to ten years later, I was pursuing a career in advertising in Amsterdam. I’ve heard advertising described as the chosen profession of former high school bullies, so it made sense when I discovered that Hadleigh had worked at the ad agency I was at. Incredibly, he emailed my online ad to sublet my shoebox apartment, a week later. I wrote back asking if he remembered the lighter fluid incident. Or the time he made me recite the Lord’s Prayer with my eyes closed next to a wall – he slammed my head into it on ‘Amen.’ He replied, saying that he hadn’t poured lighter fluid on Me. Rather he’d poured it on David R., another boy in my year group. David R. also had brown hair and a slight frame. We met up. Hadleigh is much smaller than he used to be, now, or perhaps I went through a growth spurt.
Anyway, I recently realised that my lighter fluid attack was inspired by the torture scene from Reservoir Dogs. It ends when Mr Blonde (the torturer) is shot by Mr Orange. Which is why Mr Orange features on this anti-bullying award. I figure that he’s shooting Hadleigh aka Mr. Blonde, metaphorically. The full scene is here:
FUCK bullies. They’re everywhere, perhaps because people who know how to stand up to them are rare.
David B., a boy we bullied when I was twelve stabbed me in our Home Ec class — I’m sure that stopped me bullying him. But the Headmaster confronting us about bullying him was equally as humbling, and I’m sure we stopped f cking with him.
My older brother was an enormous bully, when we were growing up. I really appreciated it when he apologised a couple of years ago — although I noticed his girlfriend comforted him when he said it, not me.
Apparently kids are such bullies because they haven’t developed a sense of empathy yet, but there are plenty of examples of it when we’re older, at work or wherever else.
If you’ve stopped an incidence of bullying, or know someone who has, tell me about it: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can’t think of anyone to nominate, feel free to intervene next time you see some a*hole attacking someone weaker than themselves, and make yourself eligible. Evil prospers when good people do nothing.
In the end I sublet to Hadleigh and his girlfriend. Our landlord had said we could sublet, when we were signing the lease, but then changed her mind. We sublet it anyway, we needed the money, and hoped for the best. The landlord brought her husband, ‘Rock’, to the meeting at the apartment about if Hadleigh could keep on subletting. We were having a civilised conversation when Rock just shouts ‘I WANT MONEY. I WANT MONEY . . NOW.’ Rock’s a big guy and this was a small room, just like the one I’d been in with Hadleigh in 1994. I started sinking lower in my seat, aiming to sink into it, if possible. Hadleigh asked Rock to chill out, which I appreciated – he tried. Hell, Hadleigh might qualify to win the matchbox for that. Rock to Hadleigh, ‘I don’t have a problem with you . . he’s the F CKING SHIT.’ I had always thought it was good to be ‘the Shit’? Apparently, resoundingly, not. Anyway, Rock decided to keep our 1500E bond, and gave Hadleigh and his girlfriend half an hour to check out. The End.
The matchbox is painted by Alex Scott, matchbox painter extraordinaire.