Friday, March 10, 2006
Middle School Mindset
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" When we wake up in the morning and we're still breathing, we're happy as can be!
I'm sure my Ugly Gray Stripe will be in this post somewhere. Please tell it howdy and tickle it under the chin. If you can find the chin. Don't miss and tickle it somewhere else.
Today's Topic: Middle School
I have two daughters, The Heir and The Spare. I've gotten The Heir through that special hell we call Middle School. Now it's The Spare's turn.
Some mornings The Spare literally gets physically ill at the thought of going to Middle School. Who among us hasn't felt that?
Okay, if Middle School was the highlight of your life, and it's all been downhill since then, you need some serious therapy. Either that, or you're doing life plus fifty.
Yesterday I picked up The Spare from Middle School, and this is what she told me:
A bunch of "popular girls" really hate this other girl. It was the other girl's birthday, and everyone knows the other girl hates the color orange and Peppermint Patties. (No accounting for taste. I've never seen a Peppermint Patty I couldn't scarf down in an eyeblink.)
The "popular girls" put bright orange paper on the other girl's locker and decorated it with empty Peppermint Patty wrappers. Then they forged a note, pretending to be the boy this other girl likes, and shoved it into her locker.
The Spare doesn't know any of these girls. They live in another part of town. But she said that someone who did know the girl wrote another note telling her that the note from the boy was bogus.
Classic Middle School.
So I said to The Spare: "Why didn't you rip down that orange paper?"
And she said: "I don't want to get involved."
Fair enough. The Spare was internet bullied earlier this year by a different batch of mean girls, so she's in a defensive posture.
But I told The Spare that she should always act in kindness, even to strangers, and that if she sees an injustice she should try to correct it.
More lousy advice from the ungodly pagan mom.
Then The Spare observed that Middle School kids are mean. The boys are mean. The girls are mean. Even the teachers are mean, because they have to deal with meanness all day long.
And I told her that most people grow out of that meanness and look back on their time in Middle School with embarrassment. Then again, there are some people who achieve adulthood with their crappy teenaged brains totally intact.
Case in point:
That same morning, I stopped by the yuppie coffee shop (NOT Starbucks) to get a Large Orange Pekoe With Two Bags.
I overheard these two women talking behind me. Judging by their accents, they're replants. And they looked to be in their thirties.
The one who was talking (too loudly, how else could I hear her?) said:
"When I was in high school, we had a priest for a teacher, and he was just off the boat from Ireland. He had a real cute accent. It was an all-girls Catholic school. And you know what? He wouldn't even look at us while he was teaching. He either looked at the side wall or the blackboard.
"One day one of my friends went to the bathroom and got a roll of toilet paper. While he was looking the other way, we rolled it all over the room until there was toilet paper everywhere. It was a couple of minutes before he saw it, and the only reason he saw it at all was that we started to giggle.
"Oh, he got so mad! He telephoned the principal, and she came down and gave us hell. But oh, isn't that funny? We really did a number on him!"
At that point she exploded into laughter.
This is what I call The Middle School Mindset. Here's a clueless Mrs. McMansion who's never gotten past plastering Peppermint Patty wrappers on school lockers.
Imagine that poor priest, surrounded all day by pretty teenaged girls, tempted to the eyebrows to look at those pleated skirts and the gorgeous legs streaming out from under them, trying his best to keep his mind on his mission and his vows and all that weird stuff that Catholics make their priests promise to do.
And these girls taunt him and humiliate him.
Okay, you can forgive it at sixteen. But laughing about it when you're an overweight 30-something?
Excuse me, Madam Moron. Haven't you learned anything in the decades you've been out of Catholic school? Haven't you developed a millimeter of empathy or consideration? Don't you know anything about men, especially priests?
Thank goodness I've learned something since I was sixteen, because I was holding a pint of boiling hot liquid and thinking extremely improper thoughts about what to do with it.
But we weird tree-hugging druids live and die by a rule that is lost on the Middle School Mindset:
"An thou harm none, do what thou wilt."
Imagine me, defending an Irish priest! Goes to show you that we here at "The Gods Are Bored" really do have open minds and open hearts.
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS
Photo: Mean Girls, starring Lindsay Lohan, at a video store near you.