The Adventures of Billy and Bobby
Book 3, Chapter 1
The New Kid
by Greg Wright
Music class, every Tuesday and Thursday, Bobby hated it. It wasn't that Bobby hated singing; he actually liked to sing, especially in safe places like his shower at home, where he could pretend to be a budding soloist. It was just that whenever he sang out, people turned towards him and stared. Sometimes they would grin real big and cover their ears. His friend Eric suggested that Bobby might be tone deaf. Bobby had no idea what that meant. Nevertheless, he decided to sing more softly from then on, so as not to stand out.
Bobby's school was not a safe place to stand out. To stand out was to invite the unwelcome attention of bullies and to risk rejection from the other kids for being "uncool", or worse, weird.
In music class, most of the other guys also sang softly, if at all. Some of the guys enjoyed making animal noises while they were supposed to be singing songs, mooing like cows and baaing like sheep and goats. The teacher never could determine the culprits.
This all seemed very funny to Bobby at first. But, he eventually found these actions of disrespect to be very irritating. He felt sorry for his instructor, Mr. Drummond, who really did try to be kind, but who often got very frustrated and resorted to yelling. However, so as not to stand out, Bobby concealed the fact that he liked Mr. Drummond and even laughed at some of the mischief of the other kids.
Sometimes it bothered Bobby that he was so concerned about the opinions of other people and felt so compelled to be like them. While deep down he wanted to do what was right, he often backed down if it attracted too much attention. Then, his conscience would trouble him.
Bobby also dressed like the other kids. At this time, the wearing of baggy clothing was still in style. The guys wore loose fitting baggy pants that stopped just below the knees. For shirts, they wore jerseys, tee shirts, and tank tops, usually a couple of sizes too big, in order to hide otherwise exposed underwear. And, they wore sneakers and sandals.
The girls had their own very casual standards, and although Bobby wasn't really at the age where he would care very much what girls were wearing, he did notice that one girl named Connie seemed to follow different rules.
Although Connie wore shorts, they were usually longer than those worn by the other girls, and they were never dirty or ragged. She wore tee shirts as well, but always wore colors that complemented her complexion, eyes, and hair. Sometimes her tee shirts were decorated with Bible verses.
Some guys enjoy staring at sports cars; Bobby enjoyed watching Connie, that is, except when she noticed. Then, Connie would smile and brush her hair over her shoulders, and Bobby would blush and pretend he was looking elsewhere. Suddenly, Bobby's thoughts were interrupted.
"Class, may I have your attention please!" It was Mr. Drummond, trying for the third time to bring the class to order. "Before we sing," Mr. Drummond continued, "I want to talk to you about famous choirs. Who can tell me the name of a famous choir?"
One of the girls mentioned the Levittown Sign Language choir from Pennsylvania. A couple of guys mentioned the Vienna Boys Choir and the Boys Choir of Harlem. Then, Connie mentioned the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Suddenly, Bobby saw his chance to impress Connie. So, he blurted out, "Is that over on Sunset Avenue?"
First, there was stunned silence, then snickers, and finally very loud, hearty, laughter. Could it be that everyone in the class had heard of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir except Bobby. Even Mr. Drummond and Connie laughed, although Connie tried to cover her mouth.
Now in fairness to Bobby, I must tell you that he was thinking about the Masonic Temple, which really was on Sunset Avenue. Unfortunately, all he could remember was that the name started with an "M".
But, now he just wished he could press a button and disappear, or radio Scottie up in the Enterprise "Beam me up now!" Or, if there was nothing else he could do, he wished he could at least keep from blushing so badly. It was really "uncool" to blush!
Strangely, from the levity of that moment, the rest of the class went very well, with the kids all singing better and cooperating more than usual.
Then, when class was over, all the way to the next class, it was "Hey Bobby, let's go down to Sunset Avenue and hear those Tabernacle people."
Bobby took the teasing gracefully and tried to smile, as he walked on and took his seat in the next class. Looking towards the front of the class, he saw the principal and his teacher, Mrs. Warren, standing beside a kid he had never seen before. Then he breathed a sigh of relief.
"This must be the new kid," he thought. "Now I hope the class will be occupied with him and forget all about me."
"Please welcome Daniel," the principal began, "he is from Atlanta, Georgia."
"So far, so good," thought Bobby. "It's cool to be from a big city."
She continued. "I've been told that Daniel is a very accomplished musician."
"All right!" Thought Bobby. "Electric guitar, drums?"
"He plays the violin." The guys groaned and snickered. Bobby looked around worriedly.
"He's also known to be quite a cook." Again, they snickered.
"But, Daniel's favorite hobby is training his dog, Gizmo, who has won many ribbons in competition."
"What kind of dog do you have?" One of the kids asked.
"A toy poodle," Daniel answered.
"Does it have blonde curly hair like yours?" One of the girls teased.
"Wow," thought Bobby, "will even the girls pick on him?"
Finally, Daniel was assigned a seat, where his golf shirt, khaki pants, and red sneakers contrasted so sharply with what the other kids were wearing, Bobby was convinced that Daniel was the first kid in his school, ever, to completely flunk the "cool" test.
Class before lunch was uneventful. However, during reading everyone noticed that Daniel could easily pronounce big words that they had never heard of. It was obvious that Daniel was a bright kid, and this made some of his classmates jealous.
At lunch, everyone looked after his own interests, and no one noticed or tried to accommodate Daniel. They all sat at one of two tables. But, when there wasn't room for Daniel, he sat by himself at another table.
Bobby started to get up and go sit with him, but his friend John distracted him with a joke he was telling, thereby making Bobby forget.
About halfway through lunch, Reggie, Ross, and Ronald walked over to Danielís table. These were the class troublemakers, and Bobby knew that this was not good news.
"Hey poodle boy," Reggie taunted, "or should we call you Fifi." The three laughed. "Are you Atlanta boys too good to sit with the rest of us?"
"The tables were full," Daniel responded. "Stop; what are you doing?"
Bobby started to get out of his chair, but John grabbed him, saying, "Easy big guy, sit down."
Bobby watched in disgust as Reggie poured ketchup all over Daniel's chocolate pudding. "Look at what those guys did! This isn't right!" Bobby complained.
"Believe me, you don't want to get involved in this," John challenged.
"That's right," Eric agreed, "if you get on the wrong side of Reggie, Ross, and Ronald, they'll make your life miserable from now on. Besides, that's what the new kid gets for being so weird."
Finally, to Bobby's relief, the three bullies went away, leaving Daniel staring at his ruined pudding. Then, the bell rang and they all returned to class.
At the end of the school day, Bobby was relieved to see Daniel get into his mother's car. At least there would be no further harassment for Daniel, today. Bobby decided to stick around school for little while, before starting for home. His conscience was troubling him, and he wanted to be able to pray alone.
After most of the other kids had left, he walked down into the woods and sat on a large rock beside a fast moving creek.
"Dear Heavenly Father," he prayed, "I know I didn't do right today, but I'm confused about what I should have done. I really do want to do the right thing."
As Bobby sorted out the day's events, he remembered how he had been taught that one of the ways to avoid problems with bullies was to avoid being isolated. Now, he deeply regretted that he had left Daniel alone and asked God to forgive him.
Then, Bobby's thoughts moved on to the days ahead. He wondered if the time would come when he would have to stand between the bullies and Daniel, and he was very concerned that the bullies might be armed. In fact, he wondered whether he should take a knife to school just in case.
However, Bobby knew that taking a knife or any other weapon to school was against the rules and that if he were caught with one, he would most certainly be expelled. As he thumbed through the Gideon New Testament he carried, Titus chapter three caught his attention. He read the first couple of verses out loud. "Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men."
There, he determined that if he was going to obey God's word, he had to obey the authorities over him; he could not take a weapon to school. So, he decided that he would not sin, but rather, he would trust God. He knew that sin was the opposite of trust, while obedience was trust with feet on it. Whether or not he actually trusted God, would be demonstrated by how he lived and what he did.
Next, Bobby considered what to do if the bullies went after Daniel when a teacher was close at hand. Everyone hated the label tattle-tale, but thatís what you got pegged with if you went to a teacher for help. Then he remembered the Golden Rule, "treat others the way you want to be treated." If he were in danger, he would certainly want someone to seek assistance on his behalf. So Bobby chose to reject the idea that you never go to authorities for help and decided that if a teacher was around, he would seek assistance there, rather than take matters into his own hands.
But then, Bobby remembered that bullies often strike when teachers are not around. They especially love hallways, restrooms, isolated areas on ball fields, and those times when teachers are out of the classrooms.
"Heavenly father," he prayed, "I want to do what is right. What should I do when it's just Daniel and the bullies. Is it ever right to fight? If I do fight, will you give me the strength I need? Will you give me the wisdom I need?" Bobby turned through his testament but couldn't find anything that seemed to answer his question.
Bobby decided to study the matter further at home. Standing up to leave, he suddenly heard a splash in the water beside him. He looked down just in time to see the black tail of a snake as it disappeared into the water, about six inches from his right foot. Then the snake turned around towards Bobby and hissed, revealing the triangular head of the poisonous pit viper family and the white cottony mouth of the water moccasin.
Bobby turned and ran. When he stopped to catch his breath, his heart pounded as he considered what could have happened. All it would have taken was one casual movement of his hand in the wrong direction and the snake would have nailed him. He stopped to thank God for keeping him safe. Then, his thanksgiving turned to praise, as he reflected, that just as God had saved him there, God would protect and guide him in the days ahead.
So there, in the deserted schoolyard, with renewed courage, Bobby stopped to pray once more. He had made his decision, that he would trust God by doing what was right, regardless of what other people thought, and regardless of how it affected him personally.
Little did he know, how his heart would be refined and challenged in the days ahead.