Hark vs Herc

You know you’ve hit on a touchy subject when you get few responses to your blog ON your blog, but you get a lot of Facebook personal messages about it. My previous entry, Thank You, Mister King, was one such. No complaints, thankfully. Only a bunch of people who wanted to share something but didn’t want it displayed for the world to see. I enjoyed reading every one of them. I always appreciate the feedback!

I was wondering, however, why childhood insecurity was a subject that drew so many adults to reply. Surely we’re far enough removed from those days that we aren’t still moved by them? I guess not. More than one person who actually knew me in school expressed surprise that I ever felt so insecure. By the time I hit junior high, I was getting past it. I even did cheerleading for part of my seventh grade year. And in high school I was only teased once that I can recall. I’ll tell that story, not because I need to. It will lead me off track, actually, but I kinda like the story. I’ll put some little asterisks before and after so you can skip it if you want to.


When I entered high school, I looked like I should have still been in elementary. Not just tiny, but baby faced as well. It’s still an issue, though now it’s a good one. I was walking down the hall on day one when I passed a senior boy who was sitting with a few pals against the wall. I don’t recall his name. We’ll call him Hark. I like that name for him because it makes me think of hacking up phlegm.

“What are you doing here, little girl? Kindergarten is that way,” Hark says. (I know. He was crazy clever, huh?) He points toward the KG building.

I was small but already mean, which he had no way of knowing. I walked over to him and leaned down and stuck my lips out, curved my eyes downward and said sadly, “Oh, poor wittle baby. Do you need me to take you over there?” I held out my hand and scrunched my nose at him.

I think he considered punching me. His friends laughed at him and told him I had burned him, which was more praise than I deserved, really. I wasn’t clever either, but what I had accomplished was letting him know that I wasn’t going to squeak and run when he teased me. And he remembered it. Hark was a bully, which I learned later that year when he found me alone in the hall.

I don’t remember what he was saying to me, but it was dirty. He backed me up against the lockers. Don’t freak out or anything. It was during school, so I doubt he had much thought of causing genuine harm. But it was scary, and for a reason I can’t imagine, I didn’t scream. So close to a teacher’s door, but I allowed him to pin me to the wall.

Then came the surprise. There was a huge guy who went to our school, and he was also in the hall that day. He turned the corner and happened upon us. He saw my face. Now, I should tell you that I didn’t immediately assume that I had been saved. My hero was a guy who inspired fear at first glance—not the clean cut jock that you may be picturing. But first impressions are often incorrect, and mine certainly was on that day.

I do remember his name, but I won’t share it. We’ll just call him Herc. Hercules, baby. Not phlegmy at all.

Herc grabbed Hark and backed him up against the lockers right where Hark had been holding me. I’d love to remember what he said so that I could tell you. I’ll paraphrase, because I do remember the meaning of it.

“If I ever see you touch this girl again, I’ll kill you.”

Then he turned to me and introduced himself. “Herc’s the name, and killing bullies is my game.”

Just kidding. He didn’t say that. He told me his real name, and then he said, “If he bothers you again, let me know, and I’ll take care of it.”

Hark never even looked at me again.


I’d like to say that I can write with some accuracy what it feels like to be bullied and tortured in high school, but I simply can’t. Apart from my one experience I saw very little evidence that bullying was even an issue at my school. My husband tells me that it was and that I just happened to be in places where it didn’t show its ugly head. I gave it some thought and realized that I was actually a part of a whole different world of bullying. Our class picked on teachers.

There’s a whole other blog entry in that statement, and maybe even a book. I won’t share it today, though.

I just wanted to let those of you who expressed concern for me know that while my scared schoolgirl former self does still whisper in my ear from time to time, she lacks the power now to persuade me. I admit that I’d probably still be afraid of Hark if he ever found me alone again, but I think I could find Herc if I needed to. I bet the offer still stands.


~ by Rachel McMahon on March 24, 2011.

2 Responses to “Hark vs Herc”

  1. I remember Herc. He was (and probably still is) one of the nicest…

  2. Probably. I’ll never forget him.

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