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  • The problem with bullies is that when you tell them, Excuse me, you're standing on my foot, they look at you like you're crazy and then lean in. So, when I was in high school, my treatment for this was inspired by a bully named Julie. She had silky straight, strawberry blond hair and a chubby face with mean eyes, and a henchman.

    What a witch! And that’s how she got her nickname—not terribly original, but highly therapeutic. A song came with the name, the little ditty the munchkins sing on the Wizard of Oz where she's dead, dead, dead, and everybody dances around like it's doughnuts after church.

    Ding, dong Julie’s dead, Julie’s dead, Julie’s dead! Ding, dong the wicked witch is dead.

    She could follow me across campus, henchman in tow, making their snide comments and all I'd have to do was hum a little under my breath. In my mind, she'd go where the goblins go...below, below, below.

    Up until now, there have been five nicknames, strangely fitting nicknames: The Witch, The Problem, Splitface, Blue Skies, and The Prince. They're not cruel, but not compliments either. These names have helped me deal, quite favorably, with a classmate, a coworker, two bosses and an ex-husband.

    Considering how great these coping mechanisms are, I'm surprised I don't have more. I call it Tune Therapy. An important component to Tune Therapy is that each name is born, spontaneously, from above--each thrust upon the persecutor, knighted and titled by royal decree. These names are earned, realized, fated; they are providence. Each is mine from the universe not because I create them, but because I need them.

    But, now there is a new nickname: Peachy. It seems harmless, like the same ironic drivel. It doesn't sound too harsh for a bully.

    Peachy.

    It's like a clown, cheerful and slightly annoying. That is until the clown is suddenly backlit in red and that creepy merry-go-round music starts up. Peachy the Clown, with pointed teeth.

    Then it's scary:
    see-something-out-of-the-corner-of-your-eye-in-the-dark scary,
    bad-dream-where-you-find-someone-to-wake-up scary,
    turn-on-all-the-lights-and-go-find-cookies-and-milk scary.

    The problem with Peachy is that in its center is a rough, wrinkled stone. People have hearts but pink, fuzzy peaches have pits. The problem with Peachyis that it’s sarcastic and strangely fitting. And the big problem with Peachy is that it’s the first nickname I’ve given myself.

    ~~~~ ~~~~

    I was describing my new doctor to my walking partner as we made our way past the Frisbee-golf course,

    He had the most unusual skin, a million freckles all over his face and a beautiful tan to go with it. I'd never seen skin like his. Black hair, black eyes, and too-big diamonds for earrings, which is odd for a doctor, right? But his skin, beautiful...

    Spray on!
    my friend interrupted.

    What? I asked.

    Spray on. He has a spray on tan. That's why he's got weird skin.

    They don't do that to their faces...do they?
    I couldn't believe her.

    Ya, they do it EVERYWHERE.

    Oh.


    He's a cardiologist. He went over every single one of my tests with me including my blood work...all negative. I should be happy or at least relieved, but finally I tell him, Even if you can't figure out what's wrong with me, I can't live like this.

    He doesn't get it. He's just one more doctor who thinks I'm a hysteric or a hypochondriac or something else that means a woman who complains for attention. Here, put out your hand and make a fist, I told the doctor. He did and I gripped his fist in both my hands, not tightly but firmly. My heart feels like this all the time. Pressure. Continuous heart pressure and I don't have a moments peace. Maybe the tests are all negative, but I cannot live like this.

    Finally, he was actually listening to me. So, he wrote me a fourth prescription and ordered another test.

    Though I told him that I can't live like this, I have, and I will. Until I don't. It's the until I don't part that worries me.

    Peachy.
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