Weasel Face – that’s what the kids at school used to call me. I was wearing the fur hat that Grandma had bought for me, feeling all proud and fashionable, my head covered in luxurious softness. And then Stevo Davis had to waste it all. I walked into class and he pointed right at me. “Look at her weasel face under that fur hat.” And it stuck. Just imagine how that makes a girl of eleven feel.
I’d come home crying every night after it started. My Mum would tell me not to listen, to tell them ‘sticks and stones’ and all that crap, but then it wasn’t her that was being called Weasel Face, was it? She even looked up weasel in the scraggy old Encyclopedia Britannica we had. “Look,” she said, “’a weasel is a long and slender predator...’ see, Joanne, they’re saying you’re slender, that’s nice. And here, see it says ‘a reputation for cleverness and guile’.” She stabbed a finger at the page, conveniently covering up the words ‘vermin’ and ‘sneak’ and ‘sly’ as well as the pinched and pointy little face of the mustela nivalis that graced the page.
I spent the rest of my last year in Primary School in sheer hell. My classmates would make little weasel faces and squeaky noises at me. Even my so-called friends decided that being associated with me was perhaps not the best idea. And it followed me to Secondary School. Got worse, in fact. The bullying became physical from the day Stevo Davis whacked me over the head with his Harry Potter book. What was the really thick one – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? That one. In hardback. I couldn’t stand that stupid wizard shit after that. Everyone took that as carte blanche to trip me up, punch me, pull my hair and scrawl ‘weasel face stinks of wee’ on my locker.
I left school at the first possible opportunity. A series of dead end jobs followed, but at least I was called Joanne, or Jo, or Miss Ryder. I might have been cleaning up other peoples’ shit, or serving it to them on a plate, but I was no longer Weasel Face.
I went back to college a couple of years ago, to study business administration. Fancy, eh? Got my first interview for a real job last week, at the age of 36. You know - a job where I could wear a proper suit and high heels and didn’t have to ask “Do you want fries with that?”
I walked into that interview nervous as hell, but optimistic. Until I saw the interviewer. He was fatter, balder, redder in the face than he’d been at school, but I knew him. I forgot to breathe for a few seconds.
“Miss Ryder?” He stood up. “Nice to meet you. Please sit down.” He hadn’t recognised me. Stevo Davis, my tormentor for over seven years, hadn’t recognised me. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Instead, I bigged myself up and gave my all at that interview. Davis stood up again at the end of the interview and shook my hand. “Thanks, Joanne, we’ll be in touch.”
And he had been. So, today, I’d put on my new suit, and the fancy red high heels I’d bought. I looked like an export sales co-ordinator for a building fixings company, and I felt like an export sales co-ordinator for a building fixings company. Davis met me at Reception. “I’ll take you in, introduce you to the guys, Joanne, and then leave you with the Sales Manager to show you the ropes.” He steamed through a set of swing doors, stomach first and took me over to an empty desk – all neatly laid out with computer, pens, stapler, sellotape – all the stuff a proper person with a proper job might need – and clapped. Like the complete prick he was. “Guys,” he said. “I’d like you to meet our new export sales co-ordinator, Joanne Ryder. But you can call her Weasel Face.”
You know the rest, I’ve told you this three times already, and the other officer at least four times. I picked up the scissors from my nice neat desk and stabbed old Stevo in the throat. I think it’s too late though, don’t you? They’ll call me Weasel Face at that job forever now, won’t they?