Friday, October 8, 2010


In junior high anything could be a major drama. Folding your pants incorrectly, not achieving enough height in your bangs, and being shunned by the cool group was the end of the world. I actually was in the cool group during most of middle school until that summer in between 7th and 8th grade.

When I was in middle school my best friends were: a girl from France with an Algerian mother and a Moroccan father, (they were Jewish, but not the same type of Jewish as my family) a girl with parents born in Thailand, and a girl with parents born in Cuba. The four of us were inseparable and I liked our little group. I lived in an area with a high immigrant population because it is one of the first suburbs north of Chicago. Later on we befriended girls with parents from the Philippines, Chile, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and England. These was the super cool girls.

My three best girlfriends back in middle school wanted to get in with the super cool girls, one of which didn't like me. She had tried calling me a few times but I really hated 3 way calls and I made up excuses to get off the phone. One day another friend called to ask why I didn't want to talk to that girl, and I told her that I didn't like being on the phone all day. As it was I talked endlessly to the three girlfriends every day and my parents wanted to take away phone privileges. We didn't have call waiting and I was tying up the line too much. The girl who I didn't give enough time to was listening on the line at the time of that call. Feeling disrespected somehow, she started the hate campaign. The summer I left for that road trip was when she won.

I saw this happen to other girls but never thought it would happen to me. Generally I tended to agree with the girls that were ostracizing one of their group out. Oh yeah I knew she was a liar. She talked about me? What did that bitch say?

One time, and one time only I was the bully and aggressor of the situation. There was a girl that made me extremely uncomfortable. She was loud, obnoxious, crude and constantly talked about sex and how much she was having with various older men. She had a vivid imagination and admitted to never having done it when pressured. I really couldn't stand her. I told her that I knew she was a liar and that I could see right through her, an expression I learned from my mother. It was bad. There were tears and endless ridicule from the cool girls.

I felt pretty bad about it. If she wanted to live a fantasy life for a 12 year old then that was her problem. I ended up apologizing a year later. I told her that I didn't expect her to be friends with me but that I learned it was wrong to go crazy on someone like that. This was mostly because those cool girls had started harassing me and I knew what it felt like.

Things like wanting to swap lunches one too many times, not being able to hang out after school (because of ballet and piano lessons,) making fun of a friend that still sucked her thumb, talking about someone behind her back, and dancing like a “slut” at so and so’s bar mitzvah were their reasons not to be friends with me. Out of nowhere I was getting daily crank calls, I was beat up at recess, I was picked on and name called daily, and I didn’t have a friend to talk to. The worst part was that I knew the French girl since we were three. We met in ballet school and were inseparable until this.

The girl I harassed did everything she could to get back in with the cool girls. They slowly accepted her back. She had a day during recess where she got back at me and was egged on by the cool girls. I knew she was just doing it to have friends again and be respected by them because she still wrote me notes in class. We got together a few times after school and sort of bonded. But then she told the cool group every detail of what I was like and what I did with my spare time and who I had a crush on. I ended up isolating myself and barely left the house.

I told this story to a friend recently and we talked about whether or not the behavior of bullies can be stopped. She felt that it's the way kids are and there is nothing you can do. We go through it in our lives and that's that. But I felt like there must be a way to instill better values than that. With everything in the news lately we've got to hope that something can be done.

I admit that however petty or silly this might sound from a grown woman, this experience shaped my social skills and anxieties for many years later. At 13 I was cut off from most contact with people my age and at home I was surrounded by adults. It took so much effort to get over this kind of betrayal. Later on when dealing with much bigger, uglier betrayals I wondered what was wrong with me to deserve it? What was I supposed to learn from it? It's ridiculous really. Friends disappoint, friends are fair weathered, lovers are a mess, etc. It can't all be my fault. Nevertheless when things like that happen my thoughts turn to those girls.

No comments:

Post a Comment