Mean Girls all growed up.

Were you a mean girl back in the day?

I was, to some extent. I wasn't the hottie mean girl, that's for sure. But I have very clear memories of being absolutely horrible to a few kids. One girl in 5th grade, this one haunts me. We had a little class, something like 15 or 16 kids? And there were just 5 girls. Which Einstein decided to put an odd number of girls, such a low odd number of girls in a group of kids who were stuck together for an entire school year?? Of course we paired up, two sets of "cool" girls which eventually morphed into one set of four. Leaving an odd man/girl out. Her name was Laura and my heart breaks when I think of her.

She had that kind of frizzy, dark blond hair that always looked as if she'd hopped out of bed and rushed to school. She wore "dorky" clothes, baby clothes...pinafores and tights and black patent Mary Janes. I remember how we crucified her when she came to school one day with brand new white go-go boots (my old crones, remember those?? That crinkly vinyl, the zipper that would ALWAYS get stuck?). Four of us, circling like hyenas. "Nice boots, Laura" we said. I remember we kicked dirt on them. Laura cried, we laughed. I'm still ashamed, to this very day.

Puberty, divorce and heredity all brought things into perspective for me. My mom moved after that year and I started over in a brand new school. I started getting taller and boobier and hippier. My hair started curling and frizzing, and zits started cropping up on my forehead. My mom made me wear a bra so those awkward pointy clown hats that were growing on my chest didn't announce themselves to everyone when the wind blew a certain direction. Only the bra made me feel even more conspicuous than the clown hats did so I began my lifelong habit of hunching over, curling my shoulders in to try and hide the freakshow that my torso was becoming. I was like the female Napoleon Dynamite, folks. I even had moon boots.

But even then, with all that goin' on for me, I found a couple new mean girls and boys and of course, a couple new victims. One boy, he was cursed with being the short, scrawny, smart kid. And he had awful dandruff. His name was Mike, and the brain trust that was me and my new crew called him "Lice". One little scenario I recall about this poor kid: a few of us were standing around his desk, hissing "Lice!" and someone was, God help us, actually kicking him. One of the bigger boys in the mean group picked up Mike's desk, kid and all, and then dropped it. I remember his voice, that nasally, high pitched, sad voice begging us to stop.

Remember my tale of woe regarding head lice? I bet old Mike is sitting back somewhere, laughing his ass off. That's karma, baby. Maybe all of this poopstew that I've been swimming around in over the past few years is payback for being such a dick. But then again, I know plenty of people who are successful and seemingly happy now, who were even bigger a-holes than I was. Karma is a band aid and a spanking all rolled up into one convenient package.

Besides, my experimentation with being a mean girl ended that year. Once we graduated from elementary school and were thrown into the big swirling pool of junior high, I quickly realized that I was a very small, very frizzy haired fish indeed. There were girls who, I swear, walked down the hallways in slow motion, backlit, holding their Trapper Keepers at just the right angles so everyone could see that they were wearing real bras, not the flimsy Maidenform tube thing. These girls had the perfect, shiny hair that swayed behind them like the brushers in a car wash flit down the back end of the car in front of you....back and forth, bobbing and weaving. They used Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific, and guess what? It did. When they'd pass through a locker-lined corridor they'd leave in their wake a pink dusty cloud of Love's Baby Soft and a handful of red-faced boys holding their Trapper Keepers in an entirely different fashion.

That's the time in my life when I really started writing. A diary, short stories, angsty poems, etc. I knew that no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much Sun In or V05 Hot Oil treatments I used, no matter how many of my mom's Ayds diet candies I ate, I was never going to be one of Those Girls. And it was ok. I came to terms with it pretty early on.

Once again I found myself with a little group of friends, none of us the Blair Warner type, more of a lovable and blissfully average amalgamation of Tootsie, Natalie, Jo and a bit of Vicki from Love Boat thrown in for good measure. Just a nice group of normal girls. Our strength wasn't in our Sassoon jeans, no. We were the funny girls. I'm pretty sure we did our share of low-grade mean girl crap, but nothing that has adhered to my conscience with the tenacity of my earlier travesties. I do remember a few boys actually wanting to hang out with us, though. Not the studs, not the hot burnouts, but a nice selection of fellows who honestly enjoyed our schtick. I remember the first time a boy, a real live boy told me that I was the funniest person he knew. I was on cloud nine. Until he turned around to ask one of my prettier friends to prom. Sigh.

The clowns, we are always crying on the inside.

But anyways. There is a point to this spew.

I'm getting older. I don't have a whole lot of patience anymore, nor do I have the time or energy to play head games.

I've grown tired of the Mean Girl crap.

Yes, it's still there. Only now it has little wrinkles around the eyes, and the boobs are held up with a bit stronger hardware. And some of it has done real well, either job-wise or husband-wise. But it's still there.

It's not as blatant as it was all those moons ago. It's almost worse. It's a whispering, semi-devious slip of a thing.

It's gossip. It's a raised eyebrow behind someone's back, it's discussing someone out of "concern".

I'm the first to admit that I'm guilty, guilty as hell of doing all of the above. I've said shit that I shouldn't have said, repeated things that should have just been left to dry up and blow away the second I heard them. I've done the "we're best friends" thing and seen it blow up in my face.

But being alone, being a divorced mom...it's changed me. I learned, pretty quickly, that my girlfriends were going to be my lifeguards. I don't have a best buddy to sink into bed with after the kids are asleep and the dinner dishes are done, floss our teeth together and talk about our days, watch t.v. and then have boring, familiar, comforting married sex. I only have my womenfolk, my hens. And I decided that I was done with the Mean Girl stuff. Ever since then I've tried my hardest to be a Nice Girl. I think have a pretty awesome array of friends to show for it, too. Some of them, never in a million years would I have believed that they'd want to be friends with me. Smart women, brilliant women, gorgeous women, hilarious women.

And I have done a good job of thinking before I speak, trying with all my might to stick to my mantra "don't say anything you wouldn't say to their face!". But I slipped. That's what got me thinking about the whole Mean thing.

I gossiped.

I repeated something to someone who said something to the person who the original person was originally talking about although the original person didn't know for sure if it was the other original person....understand? It's not par for the course for me to do that, in fact it's a rarity, and I felt (still feel) badly about it. I feel like a betrayer of trust, a blabber of secrets. It's not a life or death thing, and I think things are pretty much water under the bridge as far as it's concerned, but still...I feel bad. And I sit here and try to buck myself up, go all Coach Lombardi on myself "Hey you weren't being malicious! YOU WERE BEING SOLICITOUS." My gut is telling me otherwise. I hate this feeling enough to know that it will stop me the next time I feel like spilling a bean or wagging a chin or tattling.

On facebook the other day, one of my long-lost elementary school friends posted a photo. It was my long-lost friend, and a pretty woman our age. I looked closer at the picture and I'm pretty sure I gasped when I realized who the pretty woman was.

It was Laura. No more go-go boots, no more pinafore. Just a radiant, happy looking woman.

She looks like a nice girl.


  1. You are so f-ing talented that if you don't somehow promise to pursue writing some book pronto, I'm going to sorely disappointed in you. And you don't want to see Dr. Laura disappointed. ( And no, folks, I'm not the aforementioned "Laura", although I did wear some pretty insanely stupid outfits when I was growing up in IOWA...such as the Laura Ingalls Wilder ensemble.)

  2. You make me blush Laura. I wore clothes that my mom made up until 4th grade. Including pinafores. Laura Ingalls Wilder was like Miley Cyrus is now. It's all good.

  3. Jenny, this is a brilliant and insightful post. Please try to get published.

  4. Thanks ♥

    And if I may add an annotation of sorts: Since I wrote this (at like 1:30 this morning, thank you insomnia) I have been thinking nonstop about Laura and Mike ("Laura" is a blend of two girls, Mike, sadly was all on his own)and have been consumed with what feels an awful lot like grief.

    I guess as my own little way of apologizing and making things right, I've sort of championed all the kids that remind me of Laura and Mike at the school I work for. I'm hopeful that maybe I can be there for these kids like I wasn't for the others, and make their lives (at least this small section of time in their lives) better.


  5. What a great post! I think at one point or another we're all bullies. I remember there was this girl in elementary school that used to have warts all over her face & no one (including myself) would get near her out of fear of catching them. She was made fun of on the school bus all the way to school & home & I always regret not having stood up for her. It wasn't her fault. I just hope she grew up & became of model or something & is laughing her ass off at everyone that made fun of her.


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