You Are a Meany Chapter 11

Even with Lori not being able to bring up Luke’s petticoat punishment or call him Luka anymore, the next four years was more of the same for Luke. His mom would fall into the same trap of doing what was easy instead of the right course of action from time to time to bring peace. Appeasing Lori came from the frustrated Mother being on autopilot, and not having empathy for all involved. She only thought of herself and Lori. Little sisters were supposed to get on the nerves of their bigger brothers. Luke’s stoic front did not help Alice to have true empathy for the situation. The mom was not seeing the real damage she was doing to her relationship with Luke.

Lori not being able to bring up Luke’s petticoat punishment only stop her from doing so in front of her mom and making sure it could not be tracked back to her. She made sure her court heard about it. She knew that those loyal to her would disseminate the information as rumor. The Brat Princess knew her underlings would not say where the information came from. When Luke would bring up that the kids were making fun of him wearing dresses Lori had plausible deniability. It was just kids picking on another kid, Lori cannot control them, plus they only said that Luka likes to wear dresses. Alice telling Luke to be strong and get over the teasing only added to his learned helplessness when dealing with his sister.

Being ordered by her father not to use Luka was not a huge deterrent to Lori. She knew that nothing would happen to her if she disobeyed that edict at the right times. The Brat Princess only listened to her dad because of fear of punishment, not out of respect for his authority. Her mom had Lori’s respect and admiration and she did not care if Lori used Luka. Alice saw it as the little Sister just getting under the older Brother’s skin.

Lori knew that Luke would never tell their father. Her mom made sure of it. If Alice thought that her husband would overreact to something she tried to hide it from him. She went with the “idle” threat of putting Luke in a dress if he did tell. Even if Alice was not planning on going through with her word, the threat was real. The reason was she has done it multiple times before and will end up doing it again. Each time Alice used the same excuses, she was stressed out and needed for her kids to behave. That Luke was strong and putting him in a dress did not hurt him. Also, no one else but her and the twins knew. All of these excuses were meat left out of the fridge for a week.

When these idle threats became real the situation always played out the same. Alice would be frazzled from trying to do too much at once and Lori would pounce on the chance of humiliating her brother once again. When the punishment came Alice’s relief was short lived. Alice became a frazzled parent once again when the look came. That look Luke gave were arrows coming from his eyes and as piercing. Luke’s aim was as true as William Tell’s and those arrows hit right into Alice’s heart. That gave her chills. The pain, and disdain along with what Alice thought was hatred in the eyes were too much to bear.

There was no denying by a reasonable person the mom did wrong. Alice could, she was about as reasonable as a sports fan is about their team’s chances of winning in this situation. She was always able to down talk herself from thinking she was wrong in the punishment, to that her tough love just barely crossed the line. The mom was able to lie to herself by even ending the petticoat punishment within a minute. She did so to be as far away from the child she just hurt. Alice would instantly tell her son to change to be able to stick to the lie that she only crossed the line a little. The truth was, there was no way she could stand having her son in a dress any longer. After Luke changed back she told him that he could go outside. Each time after Luke was gone Alice made an idle promise of never making this same mistake again.

Luke would leave the house and get on his bike. He would steer towards the playground and he would pedal without even thinking of his destination. He would almost never make it. On his way to the playground was Tracy’s home. If she was out in the yard she would ask Luke if he was alright. She could tell by how fast the boy she saw as a friend was pedaling, he was not. She wanted to comfort him, after all in second grade she believed he was worth getting the cuties over. This was the perfect chance for showing Luke she was not that bad. Even with being out in the open with Lori and the rest of her court not around, Tracy had cover to show her true self.

Luke never directly answered the question. He did not want to give Tracy the chance to make fun of him being upset. Sometimes he would say nothing, just ride his bike past and act like he did not hear her. Other times he would state how he felt about her. At first he would shout “You are a meany.” Then when he got older he quit using that childish response. He would fully demand by yelling “Don’t talk to me.”

All the responses had the same effect on Tracy, they made her see who she really was to Luke. She was nothing more than a bully in his eyes. His perspective of her was unfair to Tracy. She tried to make amends so many times, but Luke would not let her. Tracy would then make sure she got back at Luke. Teasing him and making Luke feel bad, was why the boy Tracy liked, never took her peace offering. She went too far and needed to do more than words to make up for being mean. Time was also needed to soothe Luke’s feelings.

After the little confrontation with his sister’s henchman, Luke would not make it to the playground. He would veer off when he saw the path to the woods. Luke knew he could not be around people and that first opening in path was the only safe place he had. No one used it during the day. The older kids would go down there at night to drink. They were not brave enough to risk getting caught, yet also smart enough not to drink there during daylight. If a blind eye was turned going into the view of it was a bad idea.

Once at the clearing, Luke would get off his bike. He would sit on either a log or one of the old lawn chairs or sofas in the clearing. After finally not being on the run from his mom, his sister and his sister’s friends Luke could relax. As soon as the stress left the tears came. Those tears were silent. Even with being far away from his mom, her words of “boys don’t cry” were still his companion. Luke was a boy so there was no way a sound was going to come with the tears.

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Luke’s alienation from his classmates became bigger. The more he was called Luka and teased about being forced to wear a dress, the more making Luke being the butt of the joke was accepted by the kids in his class. Making Luke feel bad and an outcast was normalized. Luke’s classmates saw using Luka as just a way to get a laugh while annoying him. Luke taking it personally was not right in his classmates's eyes. The boy needed to lighten up and join in the fun.

Most of them meant nothing by the harmless teasing, yet at the same time they did not want to be associated with him. The kids were too young to see that they were treating him differently than before. They did not understand that the teasing seeped into how they interacted with him, by them not being as open to him being around them. The kids just did not want to be around him because they might also get teased. They might have liked Luke, but not enough to take the chance of being laughed at.

The kids who picked on Luke did start to get mad at the object of their ridicule when he acted accordingly towards them. They could not understand why if they went to Luke for help he would not give it to them. Scott Romano could not believe that Luke would not tell him how to get Shadow Knight in Rodo-Mon. The boy who was stuck in his favorite video game could not understand not inviting Luke to his party was a good reason for Luke not to help him. Scott did not go on to hating Luke, but from that day on he did not like him. Little disagreements and misunderstanding turning into a tragedy of losing a friend played out between Luke and most of his classmates.

The only two Luke did not have a falling out with were Renee and Matt. This was for little disagreements and misunderstanding did not play out the same way between those three. If Luke had a spat with either one of them, the normal course of reconciliation between kids would happen because they truly interacted with each other. Matt and Renee treated Luke how they would like to be treated and Luke did the same to them. Having respect for others was an easy way for little things to be seen for what they truly were, not important in the long run.

The alienation grew even more when Luke would correct one of them and tried to put them in their place, the kid saw the object of their ridicule defending himself as being a spoilsport. The kids would have seen Luke’s side if they did not have a bad opinion of him. Some thought that Luke went over the line the first time he got into a fight over being called Luka. Even with Blake starting the physical confrontation, a lot of the kids blamed Luke for the results. Blake only was only pushing Luke and did not hurt him. Luke should not have punched him back after telling his former best friend to stop. Those pushes were only to get a laugh.

Winning the fight caused other victories to come to Luke. Even with them being only in the Third Grade, the kids in Luke’s class knew even with them calling him a sissy that he was tough. They should have already know this because Luke was resilient enough to withstand being rejected by most of his classmates. All the kids would not tease Luke for a while. Then although Luke’s classmates resumed putting down the victor of this fight, they would think twice on how far they would take the teasing. They would not want to take the chance of ending up where Blake did after taking messing with Luke too far, on the ground.

Another positive outcome to the fight was how Luke’s self-esteem and identity was helped. Even with his mom saying he deserved to be in a dress and put him in one, Alice’s son knew his mom was lying. He proved to himself he was a boy. Getting this reassurance that he was a boy, only made Luke’s resentment of his mom grow. Lying to make someone feel less than they were was treating them unfairly. How could his mom do that to him?

Winning this fight gave Luke more confidence. There is no way a boy who should wear a dress would win a fight against a real boy. This line of thinking might have been the logic of an 8 year old, but to Luke it was infallible. Luke believing in himself made him say no right away when Alice brought up maybe he should be in a dress again. Him standing up to his mom when she mentioned that maybe he should be out in a dress for punishment due to the fight made her rethink petticoat punishment. Lori started to cry to make her mom go with putting Luke in a dress. If there was more time then the crying would have worked. Luke was saved from being humiliated once again because his Lord Protector came home early from work. Fred’s son was in a fight and wanted to be there to perform his duty as a parent.

Alice was so happy that Fred was home. She needed his help in handling this situation. Her husband was a good man, and more importantly a good husband and a good father. Alice could depend on him, but did not want to ask him for more. She did not want to come off as seeming to not be a good woman, or more importantly a good wife or good mother. Parenting was a joint endeavor and she did not understand how much. Parents had to share all the responsibilities, not just make a list of what they did. Being a parent together and working as much as they could together was how Fred and Alice could have truly had a united front.

After hearing that Luke was defending himself from Blake getting physical Fred made sure nothing happened to Luke. At first, Alice objected. Alice was only thinking as Lori’s mom right then. Lori would be even harder to deal with if Luke got away with nothing happening to him. Lori would claim Luke was in a fight and there had to be consequences. No ramification for doing wrong would send a bad message to her brother. Alice did not want to try to explain to Lori why and would have once again went with the simple route. She acted like water and took the path of least resistance.

Alice was looking at Lori as they were having this discussion with Luke and Fred. The mom was paying attention to the wrong audience. Lori’s father noticed that his wife was observing their daughter’s reaction and not his words. Fred wanted his wife to be in this conversation so he sent Lori out of the room. Fred’s daughter objected and he calmly told her this had nothing to do with her. Alice agreed with her husband. This was true and Alice wanted to pose as a united front with the love of her life.

After the Brat Princess was gone Alice was more open to hearing her husband. She understood Luke did nothing wrong by standing up for himself. A punishment would send the wrong message to Luke. Alice wanted to make sure that Luke knew he was in the right. She hugged her son and said “I am proud of my little boy for sticking up for yourself. I was just worried that you would start to start fights. I don’t want you to think that might is always right. You did good.”

Luke’s heart swelled up as much as Blake’s black eye hearing his mom saying she was proud of him. Alice calling Luke her little boy vindicated him. He was right and the other kids were wrong. The hug from his mom was the first time in months that Luke really felt cherished and loved by his mom. The resentment Luke had for his mom rescinded some. She saw him as who he was, her little boy.

Luke’s fight with Blake became a rite of a new school year. Each year before the end the first semester Blake would cross the line and become physical with Luke. Each year there was the same result of Blake ending up on the ground with a black eye. Each Year Blake’s hatred of Luke grew. Each year after the fight Blake would not tease Luke until the healing of his wounded ego was healed. Each year most of the kids blamed Luke for the fight. This misplacement of blame came from Luke not being as popular as his fallen foe. The blame also gave Luke the reputation of being a hot head.

Mike kept on being the perfect henchmen to Blake. He was a loyal retainer and soothed his master’s ego from losing the fight. Mike also made sure to remind the other kids why Luke should be an outcast every time he had the chance. Mike was making sure Luke stayed in his new role because he knew that hate was not the opposite of love. If somehow Luke was able to regain his old standing with their following classmates Blake would drop Mike for him.

During this time Tracy kept awkwardly trying to make amends with Luke. Each time she was rebuffed Tracy would fall into the easy way of making herself temporarily feel better, she would pick on Luke. Each time it worked in the short run but damaged her in the long run. Putting Luke down to lift herself up led to Tracy starting to think that maybe she was that type of person. Thinking that she was that type of person who hurts others made her act even more in that manner. In showing her true self she was just protecting good people from becoming too close to her.

Tom was by far the most civil out of the main tormentors of Luke. This was only because of the stipulation to the race he lost to Luke a long time ago. Calling Luke Luka to his face was worth not hearing about losing that race to him. Tom wanted a rematch more than a retail worker wanted the Holiday Season over, but would not pay the price. Each time Tom asked Luke to race again, Luke demanded that if Tom lost then he would have to quit lying about him liking to wear dresses.

Dealing with Tom at the bike park was a little part of the highlights of these 4 years. Being able to stand up for himself gave Luke the strength to withstand the onslaught when he was outnumbered. He knew the only reason the kids kept on picking on him was because they felt safe. Knowing that those who were putting him down were not as strong as they acted made Luke feel good. This fact lessened the sting of their words and also the pain of not being friends with most of his class.

Luke was also so strong because of where the confrontation happened, his sanctum and a place of power for him, the Lincoln Park Bike Park. That place was great and he felt so free there. He did not have his sister trying to undermine him so Luke could try new things. He also started to skateboard there. Luke with his balance and core strength was a natural. Him being open to taking advice made him a quick learner. Luke being so ready to help others made him welcome by the other skaters.

Of course his friendship with Matt and Renee was a highlight. The Saturday Morning Bike Club formed a tight bond. They were a modern day Three Musketeers. Just like those three swashbucklers all for one and one for all were not just words but how they lived their life. The three of them together were better than them being apart. The three of them also gave each other strength when on their own. Luke by standing tall when people were trying to put him down. Renee by having the strength to start to BMX race. Matt by taking the initiative and getting his parents to sign him up for science competitions.

The club still met in the winter. Instead of going to Lincoln Way Bike Park, the meeting was convened at the Trafford Lanes. Wanting to have the bowling alley as the new meeting place was logical. They remembered how much fun they had at Luke’s party the first week the weather did not cooperate with going to the bike park and asked to go. All of their parents said yes. Staying even a little active in a manner which was interactive with others was better than just sitting around playing their video games.

Earl Webber, the man who gave them tips at Luke’s Birthday party, was so happy to see those three. Having more young blood at the lanes helped his hobby. Also those three’s close friendship touched him. The comradery between those three kids was why he bowled. He was good at bowling and that made it enjoyable, but being around his friend every week was what made bowling worth it. Being on the same team with his childhood friends made them stay close even after so many friendships drift apart from time and people changing.

Another highlight to Luke was when Aunt Bridget and her husband would come back home to visit. His mom's older sister was his favorite aunt and Luke in turn was by far her aunt’s favorite niece or nephew. Luke reminded his aunt of her older brother, Tony. They both were open to feeling their positive emotions and made sure they were right feeling their negative ones.

A huge positive which accompanied Aunt Bridget’s visits was that Alice would start to be on her best behavior a month beforehand. This meant that the petticoat punishment would have a temporary reprieve. Alice wanted to show her older sister the perfect family. Luke being distanced to her and having that disdain in his eyes would show otherwise. Just like Lori wanted the approval of the Nostalgia Queen, the original Brat Princess wanted the approval of her queen.

Unlike Alice, Bridget was not a Nostalgia Queen. Her kingdom was over family bonds. Bridget felt that the most important part of someone's life was their family. Family to her was who you choose it to be. Family was people who cared for each other and treated each other as equals when they could be. To family the spotlight would always be big enough for everyone so no one needed to monopolize it.

The difference in how the Tribalinni sister saw how family treated each other led to Alice trying to be more like her sister. Bridget was just so cool when they were growing up. Alice’s older sister made sure that Alice knew all about the latest fashion trends. She was the one who taught her makeup, and introduced her to so much new music. They shared The Cure as their favorite band of all time. Bridget was the one who made sure that Alice knew she and not society, was the one who decided what was femininity.

The change in Alice made Lori hate her Aunt. There was no way she could push further away from her mom when a visit from her dear aunt was upcoming. Even when Bridget called on the phone there were negative consequences to that. Alice would start being almost as nice to Luke as she was to Lori. This treatment of a commoner was as uncalled for as an ex-boyfriend crashing a wedding and just as appropriate.

Enjoying the company of Maurice, Bridget’s husband, was a good enough reason for Fred to look forward to their yearly visit. Them spending hours talking about landscaping and garden care would have made seeing his brother-in-law great. That was just an added bonus. What made the visit the best was the change in Luke.

Fred was a great Father. He knew something was up between his wife and their son. He could see it in Luke’s eyes, the tone in which Luke addressed his mother made Fred hear it. The tension between mother and son made the concerned father feel it. The only thing that was missing was what was causing the strain between the connection between his wife and their son.

He did catch his wife playing favorite with Lori all the time, but Fred knew there was more. His wife would just accuse him of being silly when he brought the rift between her and her son. She blew it off casually by saying that Luke was just acting like her older brother Dom did. Alice’s deflection was as true as a frat brother stating he was only going to have one beer at the bar. He knew his son was a hugger and he almost never hugged Alice. Luke gave out hugs to everyone he cared about: Matt and Renee, his grandparents, all of his aunts, and uncles, the cousins he got along with. The reason why Luke was a hugger was that he needed to boost the connection he felt with those people. They helped him be strong when Lori with the help of her friends were doing everything in their power to make his life as miserable as his twin sister wanted it to be. Luke learned a valuable lesson from those people, when someone has your back they do not need to be there physically to keep on giving you support.

Even with asking Luke, why the distance between him and his mom being no use in getting an answer, Fred kept on asking. Not getting an answer did not mean the question was useless. The question made sure Luke knew his dad was going to be there for him. The question made sure Fred showed he loved and cared for Luke. Fred did not think the distance was caused by anything major so he would not push the issue. If he knew about the petticoat punishment, Lori being given and going to birthday parties Fred would have put a stop to it.

After the first year of Lori pushing Luke out of the limelight she was not allowed to have any more birthday parties. The reason behind it was once again Alice made Luke invite his sister to his party but Lori did not have to do so in kind. Lori begged to be invited. She only wanted to say no to Luke’s face. Once again Lori’s hubris got the better of her.

Luke was talking about his birthday party with his dad. He finally got to play laser tag. He and Matt were right about how fun it was. Luke was amazed at how cool the laser tag arena looked. There was only a faint blue light to make the fluorescent paint trim of the maze’s wall and the barrier easy to see. The barriers were not just walls but cool geometric shapes. How awesome the battlefield was made the fun of the day exceed the high expectation that Luke had.

Even Renee had to admit it was fun. Her reasons were not the same as Luke’s. The teamwork between those three and them being more worried about getting the common goal of grabbing the other’s team flag over glory made it fun. The day lived up to the famous words of all for one and one for all which was the group’s code. Winning was great but making the bonds of friendship stronger was better.

Luke had another reason the day out was good. Scott Romano, the kid who did not invite Luke to his laser tag party, was there; Blake Sellars, and Mike Patton were with him. Those three formed a team against the Saturday Morning Bike Club. The three matches of capture the flag were all no contest. Each time Luke was able to get at least one of his nemesis out of the game. The last game was the best for Luke. Not only did he capture the flag, he shot all three of his opponents.

Seeing how mad those three were about Luke getting the better of them was sweet to the boy. This was out of character for Luke. He had empathy. Yet Luke’s empathy was why he enjoyed the victory. He thought that if they felt as bad as he did when they picked on him those three would stop.

Sadly Luke gave Blake, Mike and Scott too much credit on the emotional development scale. Them losing just led to those three not liking Luke even more. Scott became a member of Lori’s court that day. He could not stand that Luke once again took away from his fun.

As Luke was giving a recap of the day to his mom Lori started to fume. She got to take her friends to go horseback riding and that was so much better. Lori loved to go horseback riding. Being on a horse elevated her above other people, where she belonged. Seeing the world from that vantage point made it so different. Being higher up let her see further down the trails. Lori could focus on the woods more, not having to pay as much attention to where she was going. Nature was amazing to her. Seeing the squirrels running up and down the tree, hearing the birds singing and smelling the sweet flora was nice.

Being in the woods made the Brat Princess go away. Lori was not the arrogant little girl anymore. She was not worried about making sure she had the same childhood as her mom. The competition between the twins was gone. She was at peace and had no need to feel better than everyone else. She felt caring for others. She actually wanted to share this with Luke. While in the woods the reason she wanted to share this with her brother was just to share beauty with him.

Now she was not out in the woods and Lori was once again the Brat Princess. Her mom, the queen, enjoying Luke’s story really got to Lori. The youngest should always have the best time. Then Luke beating her royal court at Laser Tag was it. How dare that commoner best her best. Luke had to know her day was better. The truth had to get out right away. She made her objection known about how Luke’s birthday party by blurting out “My birthday party was so much better than yours. We went horseback riding. It was so nice and peaceful. You would have loved to see the woods. You missed out on it because you do not deserve seeing anything that nice. You did not deserve an invite to it, like I did to your stupid party. I deserved the invite so I could make sure you knew how stupid your party was by not accepting it.”

Hearing about Lori’s party made Fred momentarily see that he and his wife did not have a united front. In fact Alice was working against what should be their shared goals. Their kids needed to be treated equally. Fred went to his phone to call his parents, but Alice started to defend the indefensible before he could. Them not even being in the same book, yet alone the same page, about raising their children made Fred not even listen. He knew this was not going to be a discussion, or even an argument. Him and his wife were going to have a fight, a battle and to at least keep up the illusion of a united front that should not happen in front of the kids.

After getting off the phone Alice started to back up. Fred just looked at her and said “Don’t speak to me right now.” At that moment she found out where Luke got that look which would give her chills. At that moment Alice knew she was wrong for sneaking behind her husband’s back. At that moment of Alice having her revelation about the party, the fight between the parents was over before it even started.

Alice knew not even to say OK, because that would be speaking. Her husband was pissed off and doing the best to hold it together. She wanted to help him keep his cool. Him yelling would have hurt the illusion of the united front. Just waiting to talk would not only keep the lie, but help make that falsehood a truth. People made bad decisions and mistakes in life, they get judged by how they handle them. Alice respecting her husband's request went a long way in calming him down and put them both at least in the same book.

After his parents came to get Luke and Lori, Alice and Fred worked on finding that page they could share. The page was a simple one to find, just keeping with what was agreed upon beforehand. The page was also a simple one to change to Alice. Fred’s wife wanted to honor the agreement but ended up rationalizing her way out of it. Time helped Alice use faulty logic to see next year’s birthday party for Lori as not a party. If there was no cake, how could it be a party? It would just be Lori hanging out with some friends who happened to have gifts for her. They would anyways because it was her daughter’s birthday after all. This was how Alice saw a party not being a party.

Even though the next three years Lori had a gathering, she made sure that Luke knew what it actually was, her birthday party. Lori used the same kind of logic as her mom on Luke to make sure he never told their dad. That their dad would never believe Luke about the party. Even if her brother was believed by their Father he would be in so much trouble with mom.

Being in so much trouble with mom meant one thing to Luke. Being put in that dress. By now the petticoat punishment was seen wearing a blue and white striped dress. Luke thought of being put in a dress every time he saw one. The pain made the learned helplessness in Luke grow. No resistance would stop the parties from happening and they made Luke feel even less important than Lori.

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Going to the beach was always the highlight of Luke’s year. It was a week away from all the issues he had at home. There were not other kids reminding him he was not liked. His mom and Lori had to be on their best behavior. Luke’s Lord Protector was always around to drive the Nostalgia Queen to the distant past of Alice’s memory and the Brat Princess lost her support. With no backing Lori could not keep her assault upon Luke. This break in the war made Luke’s self-confidence come back. Luke was just like most kids his age, strong and resilient. Having this small break from Lori trying to break him down helped him to start building himself up.

To Luke, the best part of the beach was the start of the new day. Each day, father and son would walk down to the beach to greet the rising sun. The darkness being chased away from the sun was just an optimistic sight. Luke saw the sunrise as a promise of a new start. Darker days were ahead, but after them Luke would end up on a different beach getting the fulfilment of the promise of a new start, a new day.



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