“Haters Gonna Hate,” by Chloe Taipale

Dec 15th, 2010 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

I first felt pure hatred in kindergarten, when I met a boy named Travis. He was humanlike in appearance, jelly-stained and sticky like the rest of us, but in reality he was a putrid beast, crafted out of pure malevolence and hellfire. He probably hated me for the same reasons most people did—because I was the annoying little chunker with big glasses and blunt-cut bangs—but I’d like to think that he was just intimidated, acting out of fear. That, perhaps, behind my huge glasses were eyes so full of wisdom and truth that it pained him to be in the same room as me. Maybe he knew that I was destined for greatness, and despised me for it. Maybe he had never encountered such an electric energy before. Either that or my stupid haircut. 

Perhaps in an effort to make up for my homely appearance, my mother cloaked me in the finest garb Kmart and Once Upon a Child had to offer. Every day, I wore a different and more exquisitely-detailed dress—regal plaids, crushed velvet, bows, little apron things. Combined with my Lion King lunchbox and sparkly red Mary Janes (or even my clear jelly shoes, if I was feeling more casual), I was a force to be reckoned with. I pranced down the halls of Benjamin E. Maze like it was a goddamned catwalk. I, as the great scholar Lil Wayne once said, possessed “stupid fruity swag like a motherfuckin’ Runt.” 

Many of my fresh ass dresses had decorative, waist-cinching bows in the back, and Travis loved to untie them when we were all sitting down for story time. He would taint my pristine attire and then cackle evilly with his gaggle of friends, and I would wonder what I had ever done to deserve such treatment. Was it the time I smeared bananas all over the front door? Was it the time I mooned my brother in front of all of his friends? Was it the time I cut that huge chunk of my hair off and then lied to Mom about it? Either way, I began to feel a strange churning sensation that burned hot within me. It was only later that I would recognize this as bitter, lasting contempt. 

An opportunity for revenge came one day during a seemingly-ordinary hour of free time. The teacher had announced that we could draw a picture of our favorite zoo animal, if we so desired. I had grown tired of attempting to play with the classroom’s wet, chewed-up Lincoln Logs and broken KNEX, so I decided to draw. None of my actual favorite animals—kitties, unicorns, mermaids—lived at the zoo, so I settled on drawing a dolphin. As I gathered my supplies, an unusual emotion began to take over me. I was suddenly, inexplicably inspired to draw not just a dolphin, but an immaculate dolphin. A beautiful dolphin. A majestic dolphin. The best damn dolphin the teacher had ever seen. 

I returned to my desk and dove headfirst into my work. I feathered my lines. I highlighted. I shaded. I added subtle hints of blue to the dolphin’s grey body. I had inadvertently discovered the cathartic effects of artistic expression; all of the pent-up anguish caused by Travis’ cruelty seemed to dissolve as I carefully brought my rendering into the world. I delicately colored the transition from the dolphin’s back to its white belly, and in my mind I heard a deafening Hallelujah chorus echo through my head. I imagined Travis falling to his knees, tears of inadequacy and shame dripping to the floor. He would beg for forgiveness, but I would ride away on my glorious dolphin, leaving him to dwell forever on his childhood indiscretions. My nose was inches from the paper, tongue between my teeth. I finished off with the slightest Mona Lisa smirk of a dolphin smile, and it was complete. I was spent. Wiping the sweat from my brow and saying a quick prayer of thanks, I raised my hand, inviting the teacher to bear witness to this shining example of God’s grace. I began to prepare myself for the whirlwind artistic career that was sure to follow. 

She was impressed, just as I had expected. She said it was, in fact, the best dolphin drawing she had ever seen—my dream was coming true right before my eyes. She even called the T.A. over to gaze upon my creation. I basked in the glow of their approval, a shining smile splitting my face in half. Finally, after months of hiding in the shadows, stifled by Travis’ torment, I had burst from my cocoon. I clapped my tiny fatigued hands as overwhelming, effervescent euphoria began to course through my veins. This is what that weird camera guy in American Beauty was talking about. 

Suddenly, Travis’ voice shot through my moment, bursting my balloons and kicking over my sand castle. He was calling for the teacher from his seat, and as she left, I felt an icy wind blow over me, clouding my sunlight, signaling my impending doom. 

Travis had spelled out his name in Play-Doh letters. In different colors and everything. The teacher began to fawn over his handiwork, and some of the kids even crowded around his desk. It was all over. I wouldn’t become a world-famous artist. Travis wouldn’t cry tears of inadequacy and shame. I wouldn’t victoriously ride off into the sunset. I looked back down at my dolphin as his audience squealed with delight and amazement. It was the dumbest fucking dolphin I had ever seen. 


Chloe Taipale is a creative writing student at Concordia University St. Paul. She enjoys scented markers, cracking her toes, and the misfortune of others.

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