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Posts Tagged ‘junior high’

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I just spent two days playing “Boothy” at the Canterbury Ren Faire for my friend, Mary. I did this last year for the first time & blogged about it here.

All I brought home was one low quality photo of a Corgi in chain mail. (It’s a Lady, not a Sir, by the way – not sure why they put chain mail on her instead of a tiara!)(I took the photo for a friend who loves Corgis.)

Mary always comments about how I stay close to the booth and put my whole heart into being there for her, and – honestly – I don’t know any other way to be. I did take a couple of turns through the faire to look at other booths or to purchase a luke-warm soda, but I declined the offer to allow me to go watch the joust. I was there to work.

A hundred years ago, when I was in the 7th Grade, I volunteered for some menial job. All I remember about the job was that it was a class project, the “popular” girls were in charge of it, and I felt really blessed to have been “accepted” by them to do the menial little task. It had to do with writing or typing out a bunch of names for a drawing (I think) and bringing them back to school. I cut each name out so it would be ready for the drawing and arrived at school, excited to be included.

They were crowded by the main entrance. If you weren’t one of them, you know exactly who I mean: THE girls. The perfect ones, the chosen ones, the groupies, the future cheerleaders (with an apology to some really down-to-earth cheerleaders I have known). The girls who ran the school. The ones who could make you feel small. The ones who worked really hard at stepping on little people.

I overheard them as I neared the door.

“Do you think she even remembered?” “Do you think she did it?”

The ring leader, who I will call JC, sneered and showed her teeth in a fake smile, with an aside, “I bet she didn’t.”

By 7th Grade, I was So.Over.Them. I narrowed my eyes, pulled out the envelope, and dropped it into JC’s hand. “I cut them up, too. Just so you know that I not only did the job, but I thought ahead.” And I pushed them out of the way as I walked into the school. I could hear their collective jaws drop.

They didn’t think I had overheard them (although JC’s voice was sotto on purpose – hoping I would hear). They weren’t ready for the 4’8″ shy girl to come on the offensive. They weren’t ready to realize they weren’t the queens of the ball – or that they may not always be on the top tier of society.

That day settled something inside me: if I say I will do something, I will do it. Over and above. No one will ever – not ever! – again make me feel small.

I’m not saying I haven’t failed people in the years since (many, too many to count), but on that day, I had my backbone installed. I was pissed off, and royally. I determined that if a hated person asked me to do something & I went beyond the call of duty, then a beloved person would get even more of my friendship, service, loyalty.

Seventh Grade was my turning point. That year I challenged everything about popularity in junior high and anyone in a popular role in junior high. I decided it was time for this introvert HSP to fight back. JC, another girl friend, and the big girl – Big J, the one who everyone feared because she was not only popular but she was twice anyone’s size and she could WHOMP! you if she just wanted to.

I was with my close friend, Trudi. To this day, I cannot tell you what Big J said to me in the hall of the school, right next to the Home Ec classroom door. It was nasty, derogatory, mean, spiteful, and hurtful. It was meant to add to a long list of hazing that would keep me in my position as a preferred person to pick on. It was meant to elevate her in the eyes of her friends and enforce their status as the Class Elite. It came on the heels of the job I did but they didn’t expect me to do. It came on the heels of JC’s derogatory sneer in the entrance as I gracefully dropped the job finished into her hands.

What I do know is what I felt. And what came out of my little mouth. I turned on my heel and looked the three of them in the eye. I tipped my little chin up and I said, with as much venom as I could muster (pulling from my mother’s Scots’ roots), “Just because YOU are a big BITCH…” and I trailed it off there, turning on my heel and stomping away.

The hall went silent.

As we turned into the exit door for our lunch, Trudi punched me in the shoulder. “Did YOU just SAY that??” She was incredulous. My big, bossy, friend’s jaw had dropped. (It was in the mid 1960’s)

I smiled. “Oh yeah.”

We collapsed into giggles and hugs. Those girls never again approached me as a victim they hoped to offer up to the god of popularity.

Isn’t it amazing what bitterness can be turned into? (I no longer hate JC or the others. I think I gave tit for tat, and that’s that. We were all victims of Junior High cliques. I just used my victimhood to grow.)

(unedited. I’m too tired to edit.)

And I was wonderfully happy to stay until everything was accounted for. Because that’s what you do when you volunteer for anyone – and for a friend? Even more so.

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