You’ve heard of In-Crowds, right? Every school has them, even Catholic schools, where they used to make kids wear uniforms, form lines and try to look pious. Some kids just naturally fall into the Cool category. Others fall somewhere on the borderline between Cool and Neutral.
I was not one of those kids. I was definitely part of the Out-Crowd. I don’t know if you could call us a crowd, exactly. At the most, there were two or three of us at a time. We were the ones that even the nerds didn’t want to hang around with. I use the word crowd for convenience, because I can’t think of anything better and because it sounds clever.
I was so “out,” the other kids needed field glasses to see me.
One of the advantages was that I never suffered that peer pressure thing. My classmates didn’t care if I conformed or not, as long as I didn’t try to hang around with them. A lot of pressure is taken off a teenage girl if she knows that she’d never make cheerleader or be asked to the prom and there’s no use thinking about it. I could put my mind to getting angst over other things, instead.Even the bullies ignored me, except for Jack, who sat behind me in 7th Grade. He loved to poke me in the ribs and make me squirm. He would do this for the entertainment of Joey, who sat across from him. I followed my mother’s advice to ignore people who were teasing me because if you didn’t pay them any attention they would get bored and go away. Mom was wrong. The comedy team of Jack and Joey got a great charge out of my non-reactions and the slow torture continued. To two pre-teen boys who didn’t have half a brain between them anything could seem funny. The teacher finally took pity on me and moved Jack up to the front of the room, where he would do less damage.
I was not actively hated; I was just ignored most of the time. I guess this was good. I didn’t end up bringing a gun to school and shooting people. I couldn’t have done that, anyway. I’m a big marshmallow by nature and I hate violence. I can’t kill a bug without feeling like a murderer. In addition, I didn’t have access to any weapons. My Mom wouldn’t even allow my brother to have a BB gun. I don’t think a badminton racket would have done the job.
Besides, I was a good Catholic girl. Shooting people was a mortal sin, and if someone shot me back and killed me I would get an express ride to Hell, where I would be stuck for eternity, without air-conditioning. We heard a lot about Hell in religion classes, and it always struck me as a place you would not choose for a vacation.
I turned out pretty well, considering. I became an opera singer, which was highly satisfying. When everything is working well and you are singing really great music, singing opera is almost orgasmic. And when you are onstage singing your heart and lungs out, nobody is ignoring you. That’s a good part, too.
Now I’m trying to be a writer. I’ll be sure to let everyone know how that comes out.