My life has been comprised of a series of Big We/Little We assimilations, in which the experience of being bullied as a kid (and getting physically and verbally abused by my father) helped me develop a thick skin, which continues to give me courage to this day – even now as I find myself thrust into a new Little We setting - as a 50 year old student returning to his former college. The following are some of the notable Little We settings I found myself in over the course of my life: 1. K-12 school years
2. Stony Brook University, early 1980s
3. NYC late 1980s
4. California 1990s
5. Return to NY in the 2000s
6. Stony Brook University again in 2013
K-12 school years:
During my childhood I spent every summer overseas visiting my mother’s side of the family in
Morocco, France and Germany. My Long Island hometown of Deer Park is very blue-collar,
NYPD, NYFD, ½ Irish, ½ Italian and ½ everything else.
So returning to school every September – speaking mostly French – was seldom well-received and led to a lot of bullying. Imagine my first day of school in 1st Grade: my mom dressed me up like a European school boy in a brown jacket, brown shorts, knee-high tan socks, hush puppy shoes, white dress shirt with a clip-on brown tie, and un chapeau! Since this was the 1970s, the other kids were wearing jeans and corduroys and no wonder how they reacted to the new kid with the French accent!
Well, eventually by the time I was a teenager; I became friends with some neighborhood kids, played football and became accepted more. By this time my dad eased up on the physical/verbal abuse - which was based on his essentialist views that his methods were the only way he knew to make me tougher and prepare me for the harsh cruel world ahead.
Stony Brook 1980s:
Although less than 20 miles away, I moved to campus when I went to college at Stonybrook because I felt there was more involved with