Does anybody remember a song called “I’m In With The Out Crowd” by Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs? It was one forty-five RPM record I really identified with when I was a kid. No matter where I went, I never fit in.
Because I was raised in a broken home during my formative years, I didn’t receive the support I should have whenever I complained to my parents about kids throwing rocks at me. I couldn’t play sports with the other boys at school either so I ended up hanging around with the girls and telling them funny stories.
Without much warning, I was sent 500 miles away from my home to a blind school. I found myself living with 15 strange boys and I couldn’t go home at the end of the school day like I used to do. Worse yet, I had to live with the school bully and nobody listened to my complaints either.
I was allowed to go back to public school for grades 8 to 12 but it was hard for me to adjust. Sighted kids mainly avoided me or taunted me for having thick glasses. I couldn’t relate to them because I’d been in that blind school for 6 agonizing years. That meant I had to learn the hard way about social conventions such as holding doors open for ladies and not to stare at the ceiling or into my lap. I didn’t even know how to cross a busy street on my own or catch a city bus since all that was done for us by staff at the blind school.
I never bothered dating since I was so poor and girls didn’t want to be around me due to my ugly glasses. Consequently, I never did marry.
I still feel at odds with the rest of the public. Being neither blind or sighted, people don’t trust that what I’m saying I can or can’t see is true. People have even said to me that I don’t look or sound blind.
Church is also a painful place for me. I can’t read the hymn books or overhead projector lyrics. It takes me a lot longer to find and read scripture passages with my magnifying glass too. After church, the confusion and noise gets to me. Children dash in front of me and I can’t see them coming until it’s too late. When I stopped going to church, the congregation couldn’t understand why. I kept explaining but they just wouldn’t accept what I said. A church elder even came to my home and cross-examined me about why I wanted to stop being picked up for church.
So here I am, a social misfit who can’t drive and who ends up being more of a burden than a help. I’ve learned how to live alone and not to need the company of other humans. My rabbit, Deborah, and I find satisfaction in each other’s company.
Writing about my experiences as an outsider has helped me deal with the pain of rejection. Even so, all three of my memoirs make good reading as I tried not to make them sound like pity parties for myself. Please visit my Bruce Atchison’s Book page to read about the first two paperbacks. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books distribute my latest book called How I Was Razed.