Between grade 8 and grade 9 we returned to Canada for the summer. My parents wanted to keep my brother and I occupied so we went to sleep away camp. We spent 4weeks at Camp Arrowhead. It was at summer camp that I remember the first time I was bullied. Strangely, I can find something to appreciate in the bullying that occurred. The boys who picked on me were very honest about why they were picking on me. They cornered me one day and 3 or 4 boys sprayed me with deodorant. I was scared and angry and embarrassed. Utterly embarrassed. Nothing had ever prepared me for how to react to something like this nor how to process it. Here’s the thing though, I probably did smell. I didn’t own deodorant and had no idea that I was supposed to. I blame this on Saudi Arabia. It’s a desert. It’s as dry a place as you can find and it’s insanely hot. What this means is that your sweat tends to evaporate off your body and doesn’t hang around to mix with dirt and cause BO. Canada is not dry at all. I just didn’t know. Those boys should never have done what they did, but, as the one bullied, I can look back on it and see that there was something specific that seemed to offended or bothered someone else; that’s a comfort because I can somehow understand it better. I don’t sit around wondering what their motivation was. High school was not the same.
I think I got picked on once during my two years in Saudi Arabia. I was visiting my friend Diana at her compound. (note: Everyone lived on walled compounds. Basically they were neighbourhoods with some stores and amenities but dedicated to the companies that owned them. Diana’s dad worked for Boeing so she was on the Boeing compound. My parents worked for the Canadian government so we lived on the Diplomatic Quarter.) We were swimming and I’d left my clothes and shoes off to the side. Some guys had taken my clothes and moved them and also dunked one of my high tops in the pool. They thought it was hilarious. I, on the other hand, blew a fuse. I remember being incredibly upset. I look back on it and don’t understand why, but I’m sure I had a reason. Maybe it wasn’t the only time I was picked on, but I don’t remember any other times. I’m pretty sure I was a target of opportunity only.
Nothing like that happened in Cairo at all. Maybe one year wasn’t long enough. I remember a few people that I didn’t get along with and we simply stayed away from each other. There was a lot of drinking in Cairo and if you were out at one of the hotel bar/clubs, it often didn’t matter which group of people happen to be there. I remember drinking heavily with the long hair metal guys and getting along with them really well, but we didn’t associate while at school. Even some of the most popular and unattainable girls from school became approachable and friendly when you were out at the same club. This, among other things, was a bit of a shock when I came back home.
To be continued.