Monday, January 23, 2006

Mean Girls

Recently a question was posed to me- "What is the meanest thing you’ve done?" I had to think about it. And, although I’m not proud, it sort of inspired this post...

Ever since high school I was a part of a "clique." In high school it was because I was insecure. The clique built a barrier- a wall of protection. High School was a breeze. I can’t recall ever being teased, picked on or made fun of in any way but good natured. I am sure this is not true. I’m positive that people disliked me and I am sure they mocked me, but it was all behind closed doors and out of my earshot. I was a Mean Girl, in a rather random group. I surrounded myself with other Mean Girl- a group of girls with sharp wit, scathing tongues and beautiful exteriors- these were my protection. Not the cheerleaders, but that that didn't matter. They were the queen bees in my circle- and I was one of them. With the exception of my best friend, Shannon, these were the girls I chose as my friends. Somewhere along the way I went from the "nice" mean girl (a.k.a. the one who didn’t poke the fun- but didn’t stand up for anyone either) to a tormentor, efficient in the art of breaking down another girl. Although I felt a sting inside of me when I saw a girl cry because of something we said or did, it didn’t stop me.

I remember a girl named Leah.

She was behind us in school and I had never even spoken to the girl, until the day my friends were convinced that she had given us a dirty look. They looked to me. I had somehow become the leader and they were waiting on my move. I stood up, filled up with their faith in me, and somehow proud of what I was about to do.

The guys at our table started laughing "Ooooooh shiiiiiit." They cackled.

The show was about to begin. And the unsuspecting star was Leah.

My two girlfriends joined me, and we walked over to her direction. Somehow Leah must have gotten a whiff of what was coming to her, because she got up and attempted to duck into the lunch line.

"Hey." I called out. My friend smiled. She glanced my direction, but continued to walk. "Hey." I said again, a little louder this time. We heard laughter from our table and suddenly the entire cafeteria was watching- waiting- for whatever would happen next. She continued to ignore us.

"Hey you blond bitch." I said loudly.

"Ooooooooooooh!" The guys yelled. I remember turning and smiling at them, and my boyfriend shaking his head at me. I ignored him and waited for Leah to turn. She did, of course, eyes already starting to brim. My girlfriends laughed.

"I’m sorry, what’s your name?" My blond friends stepped forward. Leah puffed up.

"None of your business." She said, trying to be tough, balling her fists, as if she were going to fight us. I had never been in a fight in my life, and the prospect of it was a little nerve racking. It didn’t phase my girlfriends. These were girls who had honed their skills since elementary school. They had popularity down to a science. They looked at me. I took the cue and turned to her table where she had been sitting.

"Excuse me. Does anyone know this girl’s name?" I asked smiling. They were quiet at first. My other friend stepped in and focused directly on one younger boy.

"Do you know her name?" She purred. She was the most beautiful 17 year old I have ever seen. She looked like snow white- honestly. Dark hair, large eyes, perfect skin. She could wrap any man around her finger and this boy was no exception.

"Uh... Leah." He said looking down.

"Thank you." said my friend, her eyes turning towards Leah. Leah stepped into the cafeteria line, and we stepped in directly behind her.

"What are you getting, Leah?" I asked smiling. She didn’t answer me.

"It’s rude not to answer, Leah." Said my blond friend. Leah looked away and grabbed a bagel.

"Do you really think you need that, Leah?" Snow White asked, making a disapproving noise. Leah put it back. I picked it up and placed it back on her tray.

I won't make you hate me any more with the details of our bitchiness... We tormented this poor girl as she made her way through the slow line. We made fun of her hair, her big nose, her clothes, her body- anything we could. After she had purchased the bagel we walked back out to the cafeteria, where our audience was waiting. I reached out and slapped her tray out of her hand, sending everything crashing to the floor.

"Oops." I said smiling. She bent down and began to pick up her food, flushed and teary eyed. We turned to talk away.

Snow White turned as we walked "Leah- don’t ever look at us like that again." She threw the words at her and we continued to our table, to our friends with their expensive clothes and their meals of pretzels and water. We laughed and went on as if nothing had happened. My boyfriend shook his head at me, but was smiling. "You are such a bitch." I smiled.

Somehow that was a good thing.

Everytime we saw Leah from them on we called her names. We punished her every day for, at most, a "mean look" in a crowded cafeteria.

I saw Leah after we had both graduated from high school. She was in a coffee shop with some people I had known. She wouldn’t even speak to me. I didn’t blame her.

There are a million other incidences just like that one. Times when I cared more about being a shark in the social pool, than being human. I cared more about what my friends thought about me than how I made other people feel. I hate this in other people, but more so, I hated that it could exist within myself.

We’ve all done mean things, and I can only hope that someday when I have children, I can teach them about the Golden Rule. But if they do fall short, which I am sure most do, I hope that they, like me, put to bed that part of them and let their kindness show through the insecurities.
posted by Kellie @ 9:46 AM |

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