A girl named Bernice

This morning, while driving home from my daughter’s camp musical (two thumbs up for my daughter; down for the spotty choreography), I starting thinking about the meanest thing I’ve ever done. Like all humans, I’ve certainly had my cruel moments—things said to my brother, my parents, etc. I’ve gossiped, mocked, booed, etc. It’s what we do.

If I had to pick a singularly horrible moment, however, it would be from one of my first two or three days at the University of Delaware, when a bunch of the guys in Russell Hall A were digging through the freshman directory scoping out good-looking women. Well, we came across a girl named—and I’ll never forget this—Bernice, who was significantly overweight. Guys, being 18-year-old guys, starting cracking up, until this kid named Karl said, “Hey, let’s call her.”

We all agreed it would be soooo incredibly funny. So we gathered around the phone as Karl dialed. When Bernice answered, Karl said, “Is this Bernice?”

Yes, she said.

“Well, we were all wondering if you’ve had dinner yet.”


Even now, 18 years later, my friggin’ heart sinks at the memory. You’re Bernice from Wherever, USA, thinking college will be this fresh start from the cruelty you inevitably endured as a kid. You arrive, excitedly move into your dorm, meet your roommates, start thinking about how this is going to be the best time of your life—and you get “Well, we were all wondering if you’ve had dinner yet.”

It’s no exaggeration to say I will never get over being a part of that. It was pure mean, without a single ounce of virtue or goodness. Yeah, I was 18 and out of my comfort zone. But I should have said something—or at least left the room.

Anyhow, just wanted to share.

*** A side note: I just Googled Bernice’s full name for the first time ever and found—of all things—her wedding announcement from last year. She looks pretty and happy. Here is part of it:

HOW WE MET: We traveled to my sister’s to spend Christmas with my family. We all sat around the Christmas tree, and as we were getting ready to open our gifts, John said he wanted to do something first. Next thing I knew, he was down on his knee, holding the ring and asking me to be his wife! He had to repeat the proposal, however, because my sister claims she didn’t get it on camera!

It’s always nice to see people who endured much getting the goods. Always.

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