"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind... We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith." -- Margaret D. Nadauld

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sluffing School

**Editor's Note: Before you read this post, I feel like I should make a few disclaimers. I never claimed to be perfect as a teenager. I think I was a pretty good kid, but there were a couple -- shall we say -- less than stellar moments in my younger life where I was very "catty" and quite severe to some girls I went to school with. This is a story about one of those moments. Judge me kindly, dear reader.

Today Yvonne's blog post was from her Memory Journal, and the question was

This immediately took me back to 8th grade where I faked a terrible stomach ache so that I wouldn't have to go back to school and face my classmates.

Here's what happened: There was this boy named Clark (names have been changed) who was the cutest thing I had seen ever in my life. Seriously. He was dreamy. He was on the football and the basketball teams as well as in student government. We were friends and we were in the same 8th grade English class.

That class was a blast. While we were in the class it seemed that there were no cliques. We all got along equally and helped each other out. Everyone was friends there.

Outside of the classroom, I intensely disliked his girlfriend... Buffy. She was head cheerleader (of course) and everyone was clambering to be her friend. I was completely beneath her notice.

While I was in 8th grade, I learned a new word. It isn't a good word. It's very derogative toward women/girls. (But it's not an actual swear word!) In my own defense, I was extremely naive. I didn't know what the word meant. So I wrote a note to a friend and in it I called Buffy this new word and -- of course -- signed my whole name.
Well, you can imagine what happened next. The girl I gave the note to lost it. Dropped it on the floor in the hallway for someone to find -- which of course happened. And since Buffy was the most popular girl in the school, whoever found it took it immediately to her. And the word spread like wildfire.... "Valerie had the audacity to call Buffy ____!!"
Buffy immediately became the victim and I became the pariah. As I walked through the halls of that school, people muttered horrible things under their breath to me. Some came up to me and yelled in my face. Someone threatened me. Poor Buffy. Someone called her a name!
I apologized. I explained that I didn't know what that word meant, but the drama was just too much for Jr. High. This had to be the scandal for the week and it had to finish its course.
The hardest part was going into my English class where Clark and I had previously been friends. Members of the football team gathered around him and immediately started calling me names the minute I walked into the classroom. To his credit, Clark didn't say or do anything negative toward me. Granted, he didn't stop his friends from saying horrible things to me, but he didn't even give me a bad look.
I was devastated. (And believe me... I learned a very hard lesson!) I couldn't go back to school. I just couldn't face all those people who hated me. So I went home that day and told my mom I was sick and that I had a terrible stomach ache. Actually, it was my heart that hurt, but I felt like it would be easier to skip school with a real medical malady.
But then I had to deal with the lie. I didn't really have a stomach ache! I wasn't really sick. For some reason I didn't tell my mom what had happened at school. I was too ashamed of myself and didn't want to disappoint her. In retrospect, I know she would have understood and forgiven me, but a 13 year old's brain doesn't think like that.
So in order to assuage my guilty conscience, I started punching myself in the stomach. That made it hurt, so I wasn't really lying, was I? I didn't spend all day injuring myself. I would wait until I could hear her coming to check on me, then give a couple good punches so when she would ask, "how are you feeling?" I could honestly say, "My stomach hurts!"
I did this for two days -- Thursday and Friday. I hoped that the two days I missed from school would erase my misdeed from my schoolmate's memories. Then I hoped that the weekend would further remove me from their minds.
On Monday, I prepared to go to school with a sick feeling of dread stuck in the bottom of my stomach -- like a sack of bricks. I didn't want to go, but I couldn't fake sick anymore. I had to face the music. Either my classmates had forgotten, or I would be a pariah for the rest of my school career.
As I walked into the school that morning, I looked in the faces of those I met. No one... not a single person gave me a second look. My friends seemed happy to see me. It was as if the events of the previous week hadn't even happened!! Going into English was different. Clark hadn't fully forgotten and he was subdued toward me in class, but as the days and week went on, it gradually got better between us.
And that was the end of the most traumatic week in my entire school career. I learned extremely valuable lessons about name calling; about forgiveness; about writing notes in school and signing my name to them.
Clark and I remained casual friends throughout Jr. High but as we entered High School, he moved on and I did as well... although I always kept a little crush burning in my heart for him. (Seriously, he was the cutest boy in our class!!!)
Buffy eventually moved. I was glad and hoped not to see her anymore. However, that wasn't in the cards for me: In college, after I met Max and started dating him, I found out that they were working for the same department on campus. Then I found out that Max wanted to take her out on a date!!! Thankfully, he didn't. But you can imagine I was less than happy when I found out. And now, Buffy and I live in the same town. I only see her about twice a year, but that's enough for me.
Twenty-five (or so) years later, I know that there are worse things in life than writing a bad word on a piece of paper and dropping it. But to a 13 year old, it was pretty terrible. The whole incident seems pretty silly and trivial now, but it's these moments that help shape who we are today!
And, finally, Buffy... I'm sorry I called you that name. Oh yeah. By the way, my name is Valerie.
(Sorry... somewhere in this post I lost my paragraph breaks again!)


gelly said...

That is so sad/hilarious! Glad you learned your lesson, and next time you write a note you ought not to, don't forget to sign someone else's name.

Yvonne said...

I think gelly's advice is PRICELESS!!!

Great lessons learned.

That story is so much better than my lame post.