Bully McMully is dead.
That’s not his name. His name has been changed to protect the living–mainly me. His name was something that didn’t rhyme, but we changed it so that it did. We thought it was clever, the “we” being me, my brother J and my two cousins K1 and K2.
Bully McMully had a strong presence in our lives in the late 1970s. If I was anything like Angie Z, I could tell you a blow-by-blow account of our dealings with Bully McMully and provide photographic evidence, but my memory is just a giant sinkhole of bits and pieces of things I likely made up or saw on after-school specials, and should not be trusted. It took a lot of therapy to realize I had not grown up in a little house on a prairie. The only way I know for certain that Bully McMully existed is because his obit ran today in our local newspaper.
It’s an odd feeling to see a childhood bully’s name in the obituaries. But there it was.
And it was so sparse. No mention of what he did or what and whom he loved.
He lived in a house that bordered a section of my grandparent’s backyard. J, K1, K2 and I would play there unsupervised. Where were the parents? It was the 1970s. No parents, no car seats–heck, no seatbelts. Halloween? Go wherever. Take that candy from strangers.
Bully McMully would yell things at us. His bratty little sister Bully-in-training would yell things at us. He appeared to be 100 years old, but was likely in his teens. As anyone knows, for a child, anyone older is 100.
He looked like this:
One day, we yelled back at his little sister. He was nowhere in sight. Possibly we felt protected by the invisible barrier of the yard or the fact our grandparents were somewhere in the same city if not the same vicinity as us–when suddenly Bully McMully appeared behind us, and grabbed my much younger brother by the throat and hurled him through a tree. That very last part might not have happened.
I asked my brother today what propelled us to yell things at Bully McMully’s sister knowing full well we could be in for an ass-kicking. He had no idea. Nor any memory of the throat grabbing. He’s more useless than me.
I think the main reason we did it is because we were odd. We invented strange games like “Drug Dealers.” I pushed weed, and had a hefty supply since maple samaras were the stand in for my chronic. I collected fistfuls in my sweaty hands just to get one eensy weensy black beauty, the red, likely poisonous berry found on a yew tree, which was hawked by my cousin K2. Let me be the first to say that none of our parents were actual drug dealers.
We played “Slaves,” a game that consisted of me and K2 doing whatever our older siblings ordered. “Stay on the back porch.” Why? “Do it slave!” We spied on the Baptist church that also bordered a section of the backyard. My familiarity with church was as such: It happened on Sundays. It lasted 15 minutes. You got there late, stood in the back and left early. K1 & K2 didn’t attend.
These people went to church all the time(!). Obviously something was afoot. It’s a cult, announced K1. Being the oldest, K1 knew everything so we decided her plan to infiltrate the church made sense. We lied down in the grass to conceal ourselves, and waited until the people entered the church. Then we ran to the door, gave it a half-hearted tug, and ran shrieking back to the grass.
So we likely thought taunting a bully’s sister was a good idea in the same vein a worm circus is a good idea. It seems to make sense to throw a bunch of worms on a slide on the hottest day in July and leave them be so they could “practice” their circus act, but really it just gets you shriveled or choked by someone much bigger and stronger.
I guess now I will never know the cause of our cantankerous relationship with Bully McMully, but one thing’s for certain.
It is never too late to investigate a church.