Sunday, October 16, 2011
“Get away from her you (bleep)”
Or, wait. Are we allowed to say “bitch” on this blog? Probably. But seems wrong somehow in a title – which, in actuality, hints at the root of my problem. Fundamentally, I’m timid. I not only don’t like confrontation, I actively avoid it. In the years between high school and today, I’ve acquired enough inner strength (confidence? Chutzpah?) to be able to stand up for myself, my family, my friends. That ability…it was a long time coming.
So now we do that thing where we roll back the mythical hands of time and the scenery blurs and some wacky creepy music plays and then the scene is set. I am younger by an unnamable amount of years, and I sit in the never-ending hell of high school. (I’m not going to tell you what my uniform looks like. Nothing I could say would make you understand how hideous that polyester monstrosity was.) It’s only homeroom, so there’s a whole day of horror looming on the horizon. Two rows over, my best friend has her head bent over a notebook, but she looks up as THEY walk up to her and surround her desk.
You know these girls. They’re in every high school. Every middle school. I’m pretty sure they form their hair-flipping, pinched-lipping, evil-oozing cliques in the nursery, shortly after birth. In this flashback, they’ve made it to high school and they’re surrounding my best friend’s desk and sniping at her. From where I sit I can’t hear what they’re saying. Their faces are pink with anger, their lips tight with righteousness and they’ve slammed a stage script on my best friend’s desk. I might have closed my eyes in dread.
My best friend was – and is – a seriously funny girl. She’s got a way of looking at the world that’s slightly skewed and screamingly insightful all at the same time, and her play-by-play of life is a master class in humor. Let’s just say she honed her rapier wit early in life – say, high school. Much of that honing took place in the margins of that script. Many of the screamingly insightful and bitingly funny comments pertained to the very nursery-pact bitches circling her desk, offended that someone should see past their perfect, Chanel appearances to the ugliness below. No, I couldn’t hear what they said. And I am humiliated to admit I sat rooted in my chair, hoping they didn’t notice me, because I was not as strong as my friend was. I could not withstand such an attack. But this one time, neither could she. She fled the room in tears.
And I sat. While my heart beat, and my palms sweat and my mouth went dry. I sat.
Now, &%^@ years later, and for all the years and days in between, I’ve regretted that moment. I’ve been haunted by my inability to stand up and defend my friend. The memory is torturously vivid; my regret a scar that will never fade.
So while I know a lot of writers whose fiction reflects the things they did do in their teen years, mine reflects what I didn’t. And, in good Hollywood therapeutic fashion, I overcompensate. My heroines are brave and don’t back down. They stand up for what they believe in – they have things they believe in! And they never, ever, ever let anyone hurt their friends.
Maybe in writing these characters I’ve gained the strength I lacked. Maybe I gained the strength and then created characters. I don't know. What I do know, is that now? you hurt one of my friends? I'm going all Ripley on your ass. Count on it.
And now that I've confessed that, it is, of course, time to share. No doubt you've always been able to stand up for yourself or your friends, but even so, there's got to be a moment -- serious or funny -- that'd you'd like to have back. one episode you'd like to either erase from the books or get a do-over on. Or maybe you just want to do something like this:
Peppy, you're my best friend, then and now. I don't know if you even remember that day, but clearly I won't forget it. I'm sorry for not being there for you then, but know I am here for you now and in all the days to come ~Jen.
Okay blog readers. Have at it: