Mr. Sinclair the science teacher told my mother at Parents-Teachers day that the bad girls were trying to get me out of my shell by breaking it. I kept alternately thinking of myself as a walking egg or a giant crab, depending on how fragile I felt. I knew what girls he was talking about, but I didn't know why they were chipping at my candy coating.
The cool girls didn't have a name like they do in movies. And they certainly weren't cheerleaders. They were the prettier specimens of the tough girls all of whom came from bad homes on the other side of the boulevard. They didn't have ugly nicknames like some of us did (the lucky ones, anyway, had ugly nicknames. The unlucky ones got ignored.). Janet was the nicest in her attempts to elevate me, but even then it didn't seem like much of a promotion. Janet would tell me things like, "Last year I was like you. Now I'm like me!" and "I'm sure there's something we could do with your hair" In 7th grade I was under Janet's protection spell, and the bad girls weren't too bad to me. It helped that they were in the slower classes.
Next year, the school tried a grand experiment, doomed to failure: they decided to put the most promising dumb kids in a class with the smart kids! Suddenly, small boys with thick glasses were being forced to help muscle boys in cut-up t-shirts cheat on tests. As you can imagine, the banging on my glass casket was relentless, the girls calling me nigger lips, nigger hair... god, even now the words make me cringe. There were no actual black kids in the school (and no doubt if there were these girls would have been terrified), so these epithets got applied to me and Vickie, the only hispanic girls. The pressure got to be too much for me. One day I cracked: I cursed out a teacher (a sub! Not a real teacher!) and cut classes for the rest of the week.
Needless to say, I was called in to speak with my 'adviser'. In the meeting, he told me that I was such a good student and it would be a shame if I jeopardized my impending high school 'career' with these silly shenanigans. I told him that first off, she was only a sub and, believe me, everyone wanted to curse her out, and two, I refused to go to class with the bad girls anymore. I was angry that they could say what they wanted to me without fear of repercussion, yet I was being reprimanded for cursing out a substitute teacher! Where was the justice? How long did I have to wait for these girls to be run over by the wheel of karma?
If my life was an after-school special I'm sure this story would have a happy ending.