I never had a hit list.
But we all probably knew people who did -- even if the list was just in their head.
Michelle and I met in seventh-grade music class.
We weren't friends, but I was sympathetic.
Our classmates were brutal to her.
She had scoliosis and wore a back brace. She wasn't that smart. Her sense of humor was way off -- and frankly, she was kind of annoying to hang around.
I thought of Michelle this week when news surfaced about a 16-year-old Norwalk High School student who was expelled because of creating a hit list, which included the names of seven people she wanted to kill.
I couldn't help but wonder if she had been teased.
Plenty of people who are teased grow up to become functional, well-adjusted and happy adults. Others don't.
I just finished reading "Nineteen Minutes," by Jodi Picoult. She doesn't have answers for bullying either. She tells the fictional story of a boy who killed classmates as a way to protect himself from bullying. It was them or him, he reasoned.
I escaped being teased as a child. I tried to reach out to those not so fortunate.
Sometimes it was really uncomfortable doing the right thing -- being in junior high was hard enough.
I sat with Michelle at lunch -- even though all of my friends thought I was crazy.
I hung out with her during our free period, too.
I vividly remember sitting on the bleachers and a classmate walking up to us, and without provocation, starting poking fun at Michelle. She didn't let up, flinging one random insult after another.
I tried to stick up for Michelle, but it didn't help.
I wasn't influential enough to stop the bullying. But I was cool enough to not get teased myself.
All I could do is sit by Michelle as she took the blows.
I could feel them.
Maybe that's what we all need. To feel the pain. Or maybe that's why we bully. We are in pain.
I hope the Norwalk girl gets the help she needs before it's too late for her or others.