“Oh, for heaven’s sake, son. You’re no outlaw. Why, someday, you’ll be called a great hero.”
-Friar Tuck, “Robin Hood” – 1973
This may come across as slightly less-mature than I’m hoping for, but oh well… “Robin Hood,” the 1973 Disney animated film will always be my favorite. “Why, Amy?,” you may ask. I’ll shed some light.
Since I was old enough to have friends and grasp the concept of friendship, I’ve found myself in somewhat of a Mother Hen position. No, I don’t exactly tut around and worry over the safety of my loved ones; trust me, I like to have as much fun as the next guy. By Mother Hen, I mean that I’m protective (to a fault). Each and every one of my dear friends and family members have a five-foot-three army of one behind them.
From the time I entered kindergarten, I had assumed this unspoken, unannounced role as protector. Mean boys would pick on my best friend for having to go to speech therapy classes; they got pinched. I’ll admit it, I don’t perfectly funnel my anger and frustration each time, but that’s not my point.
These girls, and guys – for that matter, that I found myself defending didn’t speak up for themselves. Many of them were shy, few battled with self esteem issues; little Amy Gillum seemed to have the opposite problem.
Being an only child, I didn’t have any siblings to take up for; I channeled those needs elsewhere.
Even today, while I should be a grown and matured young woman, I frequently discover myself immersed in a friend’s battle that I’ve assumed as my own. I think many people, especially girls, do the same. I dare every girl out there to try and tell me they have never disliked someone on the simple basis that their best friend doesn’t like said person. I bet you can’t do it.
The irony is not lost on me that from my birth I have been enveloped in all that is Outlaw Rodeo Productions. My first email address (and the one I still use today)? OutlawAmy. Most little girls had clothing and accessories from soccer camps and the mall; I had a collection of rodeo t-shirts (most of which have the word “Outlaw” printed on them somewhere) and spurs. Did this immersion of Outlaw-ness seep into my blood and forever change me as a person? Undoubtedly.
I don’t think the fact that I had to sit out of a movie-day in fourth grade because I yelled at a boy makes me a bad person. What the teacher didn’t hear was that he called my best friend “pizza face.” I would bet all the hamburger at the B that he never called her a mean name again.
I’m certainly not condoning childhood violence (to start off, I was not a violent child). I’m condoning protecting what you love and care for. May it be your cat, your little sister, your car, whatever; if it means something to you, you take care of it. Especially those that can’t (or won’t) do it for themselves.
Looking back, my friends may laugh at the situations we’ve overcome, regardless of how the bridge was crossed. Let me toot my own horn for just a minute by saying they openly appreciate their army of one. They may not always need (or want) my help, but it’s there for them when they do.