In the ninth grade, I got called into the
principal's office to have a meeting about how I had bullied an
autistic kid named Josh. It was a serious meeting. The kid's mother
was there and so was the lady who ran our school's assisted learning
program. The principal told me that Josh was upset because I'd been
mocking him. When I asked how I'd mocked him, he read from a piece of
paper which said that I "told people that Josh shouldn't take
the career aptitude test because 'Goku from Dragon Ball Z' wasn't a
I was confused when I heard this because, while I did say that, I did not expect it to make Josh upset. Josh LOVED Dragon Ball Z. He knew I watched the show, and he would often seek me out so that he could talk to me about an episode he had watched. Josh's interest in me was based only on this. He didn't think I was cool or want to be my friend. He would just find me, talk to me about Dragon Ball Z until he ran out of things to say, and then leave. Josh used me as a repository for his DBZ opinions. That is all I was to him.
The Assisted Learning Lady spoke next. She explained that our school has a "policy of inclusion," and that, by saying that a "differently abled" student should not take the career aptitude test, I had "othered" Josh, which violated the policy. She was VERY SERIOUS when she spoke.
I tried to explain that I hadn't bullied Josh. Sure, I had made a joke about him, but it was the kind of joke I would have made to his face because Dragon Ball Z was the entire basis of our relationship. I said that I had not MEANT to make Josh feel bad. That it was a mistake.
The Assisted Learning Lady gave me the evil eye the entire time I spoke. It was intense. I could FEEL how much she hated me. However, the principal was more receptive. After I finished, he asked Josh's mom if it would be alright for Josh to come in and clarify some things.
I thought that everything would be cool, that Josh would explain that, in his world, I existed solely to receive information about DBZ, and so it was fine for me to have made the joke. But when Josh came in, he was obviously upset. He wouldn't look at me.
The Principal asked Josh if it was possible that the joke I had made was the kind of joke friends make, but Josh said "NO! Because I don't want to be Goku; I want to be a mix of Piccolo and Vegeta so I can be Piccolo but also go Super Saiyan, and he (meaning me) knows that!"
For the next 3 minutes, Josh talked about my joke, and listed all the ways in which it violated his specific feelings about how he envisioned himself existing within the DBZ universe. But after he was done, the Principal looked at me and said "Okay, you can go back to class."
Josh took a break from talking to me about DBZ, but after about two weeks, he was back at it. I spent the rest of the year intentionally making direct eye contact with the Assisted Learning Lady every time I saw her in the hall or the cafeteria.