Tuesday, April 5, 2011


You never know who you will trip over using Facebook. Today I reconnected with a classmate who I thought “had it all” in high school—ran with the A-group, was popular, and got good grades effortlessly. I’d seen her name in common with other friends I’d reconnected with, but because she was part of that A-list, I figured she would not at all be interested in connecting with me. She was never really nasty toward me; we simply went in different circles. I wanted to be where she was; to the very wise movie “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion,” sums up high school society and pecking order well: I was not part of the A-crowd, or the B-crowd, or the jocks, or the C-crowd/dorks.

One of my oldest friends was part of this A-list. I’ll call her Lee because her name is very unusual and if she’d ever Google herself, this would pop up! She and I met when we were four years old; we lived about 5 miles out of town within walking distance, perhaps a half-mile from each other. I remember one of our early play dates, playing with Barbie dolls and Breyer model horses. Lee and I took dance class lessons on Saturdays; her mom drove us into town because my mom didn’t drive at the time. A few years later, Lee would walk to my house on Saturday mornings to watch “The Beatles” cartoons, because her television wouldn’t get it. This was in the days before cable, before satellites. Because we lived in a canyon, television reception was limited, and her family didn’t have access to a high enough hill to place an antenna like my father had. Consequently, our television got two stations and hers only one. Take that, kids of today with hundreds of channels!

When Lee missed a month of first grade with a kidney infection, I had to face her scary teacher and get her homework every day on my way to the bus. I was released from my class five minutes early to pick up the homework, and then her mom would come over and pick it up, and give me stuff to take in the next morning. In fourth grade, when I was sick with both kinds of measles and missed the entire month of February, she did the same for me. When each of us finally got horses of our own, we rode all day every weekend, and would jump off the school bus at our respective stops, change into riding clothes, catch our horses and ride until dark.

But around 4th or 5th grade, Lee started hanging out exclusively with a bunch of girls who were simply the “it” crowd—wanna-be cheerleaders, girls who had high fashion clothes, girls who wore hairpieces, girls who were getting attention from the boys that you wanted to get attention from, girls who were getting breasts! We’d ride the school bus into town, and she and I would sit together several stops until one of the A-listers got on the bus. Then I had leprosy and she pretended not to know me at school at all.

And the people she ran with were, in hindsight, bitches. Probably the two worst were Penny and Ann. They started sprouting breasts before junior high. Penny in particular was very pretty, the youngest in her family, the treasure. And she expected to be treated like one. She was always picking verbal altercations with me, saying stuff like “So and so told me you were talking shit about me.” This continued from 4th grade all the way through high school.

Ann also had breasts and a waistline. In seventh grade her mother bought her a fall to wear in her hair. She wore an actual bra with cups. She and I should have been friends because we had the same knee problem—dislocating kneecaps. I remember it happening to her several times in physical education. I felt so bad for her, but she was such a bitch at other times, I stopped trying to be sympathetic or give her comfort when her kneecap dislocated.

There was a Cathy, like me. Her family lived down the street from my aunt, who lived in town. Her younger sister was one of my younger cousin’s best friends. No matter to Cathy, she was dismissive and treated me as a subhuman.

Paula was the daughter of a farmer, so because our fathers ran in the same circles, she was nicer to me. Same with Deanna; she lived on the same street as my aunt. Deanna had an older brother who was pretty cute, with longish blonde hair.

I’d read Deanna’s comments on friends’ Facebook pages. I knew who she was but did not reach out to her. I figured she still had the A-lister attitude toward me, though in adulthood, Stacey was nicer to me—our daughters were close in age—and Lee and I had carpooled our kids to a private school over an hour away for two years. And horrors of horrors, when I married, Ann had the guts to show up to my wedding uninvited. Her brother had been our best man, her parents were of course invited but I purposefully omitted her name on the envelope. At least she was nice to me on my wedding day, and was nice to me when her brother married a year or two later.

I’ve avoided class reunions because until ten years ago I did not think I measured up. I hadn’t finished a 4-year degree, and had kept in touch with few in my graduating class. I hated high school and wanted to distance myself from it.

I connected with Deanna today and learned that they HAD seen me throughout school, or at least she had, and remembered some specific things/incidents we had in common, most notably the recollections of a school play in 6th grade where I played the lead. Yes I was quite the actress.

She remembers me, as I was—a sarcastic, smart gal with strawberry blonde hair who didn’t have a boyfriend because I didn’t play stupid. And she shocked me when she told me she’d been on the periphery of that A-list, and it was only after she’d moved away to college that she realized what having a true friend was, and they apparently weren’t that.

Moral of this story: Isn’t it strange just how erroneous your perception of things can be?


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