Bully Girls

My hometown was small by most standards. My graduating class only had a little over a hundred kids – everyone knew everyone or at least had heard of everyone. But my freshman year of high school, I was introduced to an influx of new students from two different school systems.

The first were from our town’s Catholic School. It seemed like those kids went one of two ways once they entered the high school…straight and narrow, like they were taught, or slightly to totally rebellious, finally free of the restrictions that their former education had bestowed upon them.

The second group of kids were from a neighboring town on the Hudson River that had no high school of its own. We shared our school system with them and they came in by the busload every morning.

With both groups of kids came some serious mean girls.

I don’t remember having too much trouble in elementary school or middle school. There were girls who were bitchy, who I didn’t like, but I don’t remember anyone being really mean. I’d also spent the last 9 years sharing classrooms with these kids; we all understood each other. Even if you didn’t necessarily like them, chances are your parents knew their parents or you’d been friends at some point in the past, but kind of went your separate ways therefore holding little animosity for them.

When I started high school that dynamic went out the window like a gum wrapper on a windy day. The three school systems, all with very different sets of kids, collided and, in my case, clashed.

I don’t remember exactly when it started – maybe a few weeks in. It probably began the first day I wore my Leif Garrett T-Shirt. Not the coolest move, I know; I might as well have been wearing a bulls-eye on my back. I wonder if One Direction fans get picked on these days?

There was one group of girls in particular, all of them tough and on the ugly side, that would torment me. They’d say stuff when we were at our lockers…poke you or slam your door shut when you were trying to look for a particular book or grab your lunch.

One time I went into the locker room after gym to find my t-shirt cut into shreds – another Leif Garrett shirt. I had to wear my sweaty gym shirt the rest of the day.

When I passed them in the hallway I cringed, knowing they would say mean things to me and also knowing that I really didn’t have the guts to say anything back. I told them to shut up once and was threatened with an ass kicking.  That was enough to gag me for life. I was neither a lover or a fighter back then.

My mom knitted me a pair of ivory leg warmers my freshman year. It was the 80s and they were in fashion, but nobody at my school was wearing them. I remember the first day I wore them, I was so proud – I felt like a trendsetter. But it turns out I didn’t really have the balls to be a trend setter.

Those mean girls? They spotted me wearing them outside the cafeteria and followed me down the hall pointing, laughing, and jeering. A real trend setter wouldn’t have cared and would’ve worn them with pride. Me? I never wore them to school again.

Same with my funky hair accessory. I bought a cool stick thing that held a bun in place. First day wearing it? More jeers, taunts and pointed fingers.

I put up with them most of my Freshman year, until my older sister got wind of it. She was a Junior and hung out with a crowd that had some respect amongst the tough kids. Unbeknownst to me, she took these thugs aside with her own group of girls, older girls. She told them in no uncertain terms that if she heard me complain about them once more, that they’d need crutches to climb on the school bus the next day.

After that they left me alone for the most part, but still glared at me in the hallways. I didn’t know about my sister’s role in it till way later, when my friend John told me. John – who helped me pen our song parody “Animal Girls” to the Animal House theme.

And it wasn’t just this group of girls. There were girls from the Catholic school that were on the volleyball team with me. While they might not make a habit of berating me verbally, they were masters at excluding me; never letting me play pepper or run laps with them.

On the court they’d be supportive if another team member would miss a shot, with calls of “Good try! Shake that one off.” But if I screwed up? Eyes rolled, and I’d most likely hear something along the lines of “Come on, already! Wake up!”

As Freshman year we all began to get into the same sort of vibe I had with the kids from my first 9 years of school. While there were kids I hated, I avoided them and they stopped being quite so mean. Maybe they just grew up a little, or even realized I wasn’t such a bad kid.

Was I ever popular? Nooooooo. I had a group of friends…2 or 3 seriously good ones, and a large group of secondary friends that you could count on seeing at every party. But I’ll tell you, my senior year I got year book signatures from kids I never would’ve thought would give my the time of day. I guess we’d all sort of mellowed after 4 years together.

I see these girls on Facebook under the “people you may know” sidebar. Yes, they may have grown up and matured, but as far as I’m concerned they can pretty much screw themselves. I rather friend Casey Anthony. Or OJ Simpson. I wonder if they ever think back and admit to themselves that they were douche bags. I seriously doubt it. The world rarely works that way.

There are folks that say they’d love to relive their high school years. My husband is one of them. I’d only go back if I could do it Peggy Sue style – knowing what I know now. And you know what? Those girls would be there and they would still pick on me.

But now I think I might just laugh at them. Laugh right in their ugly faces, turn around and stroll down the hallway in my ivory leg warmers.