One of the most effective displays of mean-girling I’ve ever been party to happened at a wedding. I was sitting with a group of women, some of whom were good to casual friends of mine, all of us mutually acquainted and all of us having spent time together at some point or other. One of the women suggested a group photo of “all the girls”, then handed me the camera and asked me to do the honors.
She looked me right in the eye and smiled, and oh…I had to smile back. It was startling and vicious, and an elegantly driven knife. Of course I was crushed, but at the same time I was impressed. If I had to be socially murdered, at least it was done artistically. We held each others eyes a little longer than necessary, acknowledging what had happened. I nodded to her, then I snapped the picture.
I also did my best to cut her head off in the photo, and might have even put my finger over the lens of the other few pictures I was asked to take in rapid succession.
Now, I don’t pretend to think I am an easy person to enjoy. I give myself a very harsh review. I am a strange combination of shy and social, and an even stranger mix of confident and insecure. I think I laugh too loudly, talk too animatedly, have a weird sense of humor, and know I tend toward arch sarcasm when I am nervous. Most of the time I am in a group setting I am nervous as a Chihuahua. I have strong opinions, high standards, and do not suffer fools well.
Taking all that into consideration, I am never surprised to find myself on the outside. I don’t like being on the outside, but I never really blame anyone for leaving me there. My feelings might be hurt by it, but I’m not offended. I realize that I might be an acquired taste. Besides, I’m an only child. Only children are born outsiders–we have no ready made peer group, so we learn to exist on the fringes.
We also learn to entertain ourselves. Shut me outside the candy store, and I’ll Little Princess myself into happy fantasy.
I had occasion to run into this woman recently, and I did my best to avoid her. Funnily, I had been feeling my outsider status keenly until I saw her eyebrows wagging above someone else’s head. That was all it took. If that’s what was inside, I was exactly where I belonged.
I turned happily off to my attic grate. Better to be friends with someone’s pet monkey than Miss Minchin.
Although…I am still grudgingly impressed by her artistic hostility. No, not even grudgingly. I’m just impressed. That was a masterful play and it had its full, desired effect. Three years later and the blood still drains out of my cheeks thinking about it. Impressive.