We all remember those horrible days of middle school and high school when our social standing depended on who we were friends with and what kind of clothes we wore. Other than a change of setting and a change of attire, I’m sure the social posturing started in ancient times when Garthea was kicked out of the clan for inappropriate use of a bear skin and continues unaltered through present time.
When I was in high school, I was in the Outcast group. You remember that group. It was made up of kids who didn’t belong to the Popular group, the Jocks, or the Nerds. Among the many things that made us socially unacceptable was the fact that we were a bit lacking in the looks department. Not that any of us had faces that would make little kids run away screaming, we were just plain, ordinary, and some of us wore glasses. That alone was a severe stigma in high school in the 60s.
I remember meeting a former classmate a year out of high school, and laughing at his reaction. “You’re not THAT Maryann,” he said. “You can’t be. She was… uh… well… You sure have changed.”
We in the Outcasts were also not quite good enough athletically to be on a sport team, and some of us just hid our brain power because we didn’t want to be with the Nerds. In our minds, that group was lower than ours, even though most folks thought otherwise.
One of the things I liked best about belonging to the Outcasts, was I could pretty much do anything I wanted and it wouldn’t affect my standing. Think about it. I was already on the lowest rung of the ladder. So I just clung to it the best I could and looked forward to the day when I would be out of high school and this silliness of social groupings would end.
I hadn’t realized how this social phenomenon repeats itself until one day when my oldest daughter was lamenting the fact that her best friend had suddenly qualified for the Popular group, while she was still relegated to something closer to Outcast. Overnight it had become socially unacceptable for said friend to associate with my daughter. I was in the middle of my Mommy Speech 112, telling her to buck up, that this, too, shall pass, when I realized it wouldn’t.
People may grow up, but they don’t really grow up, and it seems we are destined to play these silly little social games until the day we die. The way we play them just becomes more subtle and harder to figure out.
Maryann Miller has won numerous writing awards including being a semi-finalist at the Sundance Institute for her screenplay, A Question Of Honor. Her work has appeared in regional and national publications, and the Rosen Publishing Group in