Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mean Cripples

Today I saw a feel-good ad on TV that showed a retarded girl being crowned prom queen. Everyone in the shallow, teenaged crowd wildly beamed with whitened teeth and applauded themselves for being so saccharinely warm-hearted.

For some reason, the smarminess of the ad ticked me off. And I also started wondering: What if that retarded girl were a real bitch? (I have no experience with retarded people; but on TV they're ALWAYS portrayed as good-natured and lovable. Are any of them in real life just plain intentionally mean, just like some people in any other group? Or does Down's Syndrome automatically override the "bitchy" gene?)

Which all flashed me back to my junior high and high school years, to a little Crippled Bitch named Amy. I don't remember what exactly was wrong with her physically -- something debilitating that had shrunken and twisted her limbs. She could still use her arms and hands, but not her legs, so she was always in a wheelchair. She wasn't, though, one of those cripples who can't speak correctly or who writhes around and so is embarrassing; rather, she was smart and from the best neighborhood in town, and so had teacher support and a "posse" of 3 smug future-banker-wives types and the one guy in school everyone thought was gay (even though in 1977 small-town-Texas, we 6th graders really didn't know what "gay" was; we just talked amongst ourselves about whether the guy was a guy or a girl -- he had a neutral name, so no one could really tell! He went on in high school to become the first male mascot.)

Amy was a mean little bitch!

Our bad blood started in 6th grade, when we were both up for the same part in a school play. I can't remember the play or the part now, but in try-outs, I was better than her, and everybody knew it. A teacher even took me aside after my audition and asked if I wanted to try out for a different part; I knew this meant that she was going to give that part to Amy. I really, really wanted to be in the play, but I was stubborn, and told her "no." I wanted THAT part. My friends even begged me to just give in and take another part so we could have fun together. "NO." I, of course, didn't get the part I wanted; didn't get to be in the play (though the latter was my own stubborn fault).

In 7th and 8th grades, Amy had an annual summer "Snoopy Party" at the pool at her house, making it a point to hand out invitations publicly, so everybody would know who exactly was receiving the "honor" of being invited. Only the "loser" kids (bad students, cheap or stinky clothes, budding druggies) were not invited. I was pretty, well-groomed, an A-student, played sports, had a group of friends who were all invited. The little crippled bitch didn't invite me either year!

Once in high school, Amy and Her Cripple Cadre took over the Student Council. In Senior Year, the Council met to discuss the theme of the prom that year. The vast majority of the group voted for one theme; Amy and the Cadre wanted another. And managed to maneuver the parliamentary procedures so that, after 3 or 4 votes, they ended up getting exactly what they wanted! Their manipulations were outrageous (though perfectly legal), and no one intervened to stop them, or even seemed to be angry about what they'd just done. I was Editor of the school paper, and wrote an editorial about what I'd just witnessed -- something about "the letter versus the spirit of the law," blah-blah-blah. I was hoping for an uproar of some sort amongst both those on the Council who'd wanted the more popular theme and the general school population. Nothing. Except even more of a cold shoulder from the Cadre.

Further along in Senior Year, the Mean Crippled Bitch struck again. It was the time of year when teachers in our home-rooms were taking nominations for things like "Most Beautiful," "Most School Spirited," etc. Once the nominees were chosen, the whole school would then vote on the winners, which would appear in our yearbook at the end of the year. One of my close friends was in home-room with Amy (though I wasn't) when the teacher asked for nominations for "Most Likely to Succeed." When I was nominated, Amy piped up with, "Yeah, most likely to succeed...at DRUGS!" My friend dutifully reported how everyone laughed; my name didn't move forward.

Now, in hindsight, I suppose they were right! I didn't ultimately become too successful! But that's not the point. At that time, while I did wear John Lennon and anti-military T-shirts to school and walked around with a surly expression on my face -- I was also Editor of the school paper; I was a National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalist (the only one in our school; and we had only one Finalist, as well); I'd come in 2nd in STATE in UIL editorial writing; I'd won the academic awards in English for all 4 years; I'd won an essay contest sponsored by our local Congressman; I was active in school activities. I was fully qualified to be nominated... SANS bitchy sarcasm! :)

As for drugs... at that point, I'd never even seen a joint, much less any harder stuff; never drank; and had maybe smoked 4 cigarettes in my life. And the biggest irony is: AMY HERSELF WAS A REGULAR SECRET POT SMOKER!!!!!!! While I was mainly friends with the school nerds (paper staff, band members, science/math team kids), I also had a few smart "thug" friends -- one of whom had on several occasions provided Little Miss Cripple with joints and had smoked with her!!!

Oh, I was boiling mad. And, at the time, too darn wimpy to confront her. (One doesn't confront Little Crippled Chicks.) Over the past nearly-30 years, I've continued to have fantasies about what I should have done: We had an English class together; I've fantasized about marching up to her, saying firmly and sternly, "I need to speak to you in the hall." If she refused, I would then start my chastising tirade loudly in front of the whole class: "How DARE you accuse me of taking drugs! I've never taken anything in my entire life! And YOU, YOU'RE the one who smokes pot regularly, you hypocrite! How DARE you!"

(Whew! That felt good!) :) :)

God, but that bitch was pretty much the representative of everything that I considered awful/evil then, and still consider awful/evil now: Getting favored not because she was more talented but because she was crippled; publicly not inviting people to her parties; manipulating rules to get her way; the hypocrisy of publicly and FALSELY dissing people for an action that she herself was participating in.

Though I do have two softer memories of her...

(1) She and I were both in a drama class together in 9th grade and were performing a one-act play in front of a school assembly. We had one scene together, just the two of us, with rapid-fire, angry lines of dialogue back-and-forth. In the middle of the scene, she froze completely... We were two feet apart; I could see the panic and pleading in her eyes... When I realized what was happening, I pretended that her character wasn't answering me deliberately, and went on with my lines as a speech, as if my character were angry with hers for deliberately not responding. It worked. It saved her scrawny, wheelchair-bound ass! ;p Afterwards, backstage, she was big enough to thank me, and to ask me for a hug... I felt very close to her then. (You'd've thought she would've remembered that nice moment in Senior Year!)

(2) The friend who'd sold Amy pot told me that, once, while they were smoking, she'd revealed how sad she was that she was in a wheelchair; how she'd always wanted a boyfriend but didn't think she'd ever have one because of her condition...

The last thing I ever heard about her: One of my friends roomed with her at TCU their freshman year of college. My friend, L., was, probably still is, one of the nicest people in the world. But years later told me that, as Amy's roommate, she somehow became responsible for carrying her to the bathroom, and doing numerous other personal chores that ultimately became simply too much to handle. After the first year, they didn't room together again. (Don't know what happened to Amy after that. L. was gay briefly, later married a man who despised gay people, had kids with him; I'm assuming she's still kept her secret from him all these years.)

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