Please excuse my horrible use of semi colons, I wrote this a while ago before we covered them in English class.
Braces left me, Teasing never did.
I have a theory about seventh grade; if you enjoyed it, then you’re probably a crack addict living on an inner city street.
I knew seventh grade was going to be different; after all, I’d just left the safety of my small and tight knit elementary school to join a middle school three times larger. At first sight, it all felt very foreign and almost exciting. The teachers, the campus, the food (candy was allowed and we finally got curly fries!); but it was weird that after a month, what seemed so exciting would become troublesome. My new friends were not exempt from this.
I made friends with a large group of people, consisting of Katherine*, Julia*, Rachel*, Ella*, Millie*, Ingrid*, and Jacquelyn.* I only knew one person from our whole group of friends from school, and that was Katherine. She and I were still friends, but just not so close as we once were. I knew Julia from day camp, and I was happy to see her at school every day. I didn’t know anybody else.
It soon became clear that Ingrid was whom I was closest to at first. I met her and her sister on a bus ride back home. We made fun of an SUV that pulled into the parking lot with flame stickers on it and laughed at Youtube videos. I felt happy when I was with Ingrid and I suppose she felt the same about me. That is, until Jacquelyn came into the picture less than two weeks later.
Jacquelyn and Ingrid became tight quickly; I remember the first day they became friends outside of our Latin class, laughing and giggling about things I couldn’t make out, like they’d known each other forever. I sort of felt left in the dust, even though I’d only known Ingrid for two weeks, and soon enough, Jacquelyn began eating lunch with us at our little corner in front of the school library. Ella was still close with both of them too, but nothing could compare to the friendship that Jacquelyn and Ingrid had created; it was almost like they’d built a huge moat around their castle, and anyone who wanted to get in would have to face the soldiers guarding the entrance.
I’m not going to lie here; when I was 12, I had braces, wore Abercrombie shirts and sports bras, and carried a lunch box. I wasn’t a “cool” person, but then again, neither was anyone else. That didn’t stop Ingrid and Jacquelyn; soon after they become friends, I started to notice an eerily constant pattern that I couldn’t seem to shake off. Every time they were together, I felt like I was being attacked by verbal swords. They fed off of each other, and if one person sat with the 2 of them alone, they were non-existent as far as Jacquelyn and Ingrid were considered. It was like being single and you went to the movies with your two best friends who were dating; you felt like a third wheel. They joked together so that it was hard to keep up with what they were talking about and their insulting me was no different.
They’d comment on anything; first it was the way I ate, since I put mustard in my sandwiches and it would get on my fingers. Then it was the way I’d ask for other people’s food, giving me the name “moochie,” courtesy of Ingrid. After that it was because I ate too much junk after school, even though I tried hard to count my calories to stay thinner, giving me the name “pig.” They’d make fun of celebrities I liked and things I would say. My life was a buffet to them; anything they could get their hands on, they did. Ella would often embark on a harassment journey with Jacquelyn and Ingrid. Throughout the first semester of 7th grade, lunch times were more hellish than necessary.
It would have been great if I could have dropped everything and sat somewhere else; but the real question was, where would I even sit? I contemplated this idea often, and I always came back to the same answer, whether I was thinking about it in English class or at night when I was supposed to be asleep. I went to private school. With 80 kids in our entire grade, there weren’t other viable options. I didn’t know the other girls well, and I was sure that with my cussing and sarcasm, I wouldn’t be well liked. Sitting with people who kept insulting you was 20x better than sitting alone with your turkey sandwich, so I just had to brace myself and keep going.
I often wondered why the more passive girls, i.e., Rachel, Katherine, Millie, and Julia wouldn’t help me tell off Jacquelyn, Ingrid, and Ella. Considering their faces when Jacquelyn called me “moochie” or “pig,” I didn’t understand their not doing anything. I never fought for myself, solely because I couldn’t stand the idea of Jacquelyn and Ingrid kicking me out; they were 2, I was 1, and I certainly wasn’t going to risk being rejected in front of everyone else.
One day, while at our usual spot in front of the library, Ingrid and Jacquelyn were doing their usual teasing routine. I couldn’t remember what they said exactly, but I felt so helpless; I tried to fend them off with my usual sarcastic commentary and rolling of eyes, but I couldn’t do it. They kept coming back for more. I told everyone that I had some water in my eyes and immediately went to the bathroom to cry for a little while. I was a cliché, and I knew it, but that didn’t matter after a certain point. At the end of the five minute tear fest, I dried my eyes and came back. After this incident, I knew it was time to take some action.
A couple months later, Jacquelyn stopped being friends with Ingrid and went to join some new friends. Ingrid was completely crushed and would talk shit about Jacquelyn all the time. While I thought that Jacquelyn’s leaving would stop the insults, it didn’t; she was replaced by Ella, who filled the same teasing gap, and one day, I’d had enough.
“Stop it!” I told them, my voice rising. “I’m done with your bullshit! Everybody has their quirks, and you should learn how to respect mine!” I stalked off, feeling satisfied with my outburst. This had been going on for 7 months, and I wasn’t going to let it keep going.
“No, wait!” Ingird and Ella said, coming after me. They tried to tell me that it was okay, that they wouldn’t do it again. And they still continued to, but just not as much. I guess standing up for myself was all I could do; after all, it’s every human’s right to eat mustard without being harassed.