Back in high school, I never really associated myself with one particular clique. I successfully maneuvered through a few and chose to steer clear of the girls with mean streaks. On more than one occasion, I risked my own
life social standing and stood up for girl who was being bullied or turned into a social pariah. Maybe it’s the Libra in me, but I just can’t stop myself from fighting for fairness.
For some silly reason, as a teenager I thought we’d all eventually outgrow those bouts of bitchiness. Maybe it was just blind hope that led me to think people automatically turned nice when they were done growing up. Somewhere along the line, I was misled. I’m disappointed to report that there are vast amounts of adult women who have failed.
That’s right. In fact, if I could legally walk around with a giant rubber stamp and a red ink pad slapping a big red “F” on foreheads of all perpetrators, I would. I’d mark them all with their very own scarlet letter to alert the world that they have failed to evolve. Unfortunately, assault with a rubber stamp is against the law and most people can spot these stunted gals from a mile away anyway.
So, I even though I was way off the mark back when I believed girls grew into women capable of being kind/forgiving/tolerant/aware/supportive of one another, I can only assume that, like me, the world is filled with people who thought adulthood changed things. You know, the idiots who believed in some sort of mass evolution or future utopian existence… Well, fellow dreamers, while there are oodles of nice ladies out there, apparently there is also a large contingent of female humans crippled by their inability to do the following:
1. Make eye-contact and say hello to the women they see every day.
It’s not hard. Just move your eyeballs toward the person in front of you, tell your brain to form the word “hello” and then make your mouth move. If “hello” doesn’t work for you, here are several variations of salutations that might fit the bill: good morning, good afternoon, howdy, what’s up? hi, how are you? or perhaps a simple and non-committal, hey. Because that’s better than nothing.
2. Avoid gossip.
Especially when the persons with whom you are gossiping are too daft to keep the source of the gossip (you) close to the vest. It’s simple really…save the gossip for your husband or the family dog. They don’t really care about what’s happening at the PTA meeting/playground/gym, so your petty gossip won’t come back to bite you in the ass later.
Maybe now is also a good time to propose that women should refrain from forming pitchfork carrying mobs intent on annihilating the women who don’t fit their agenda or who, for some reason pose a threat.
Might I suggest that if you’re feeling the need to incite the masses, there are well-trained men and women who can be hired to psycho-analyze this disturbing behavior right out of your brain. I know, crazy…right? And it’s conveniently covered by most medical insurance, too.
Sadly, the reasons for Queen Bees and their Wannabees don’t seem much different now than they were when I was 15 years old. There are still groups of grown women prepared to attack if they don’t like the way another person talks, dresses, walks, thinks…
It’s depressing to think I’ll have to tell my daughters that the cliques never really go away. There’s always someone vying to be the leader but so few actually carry it off with grace and aplomb.
Playgrounds and play groups and beach outings and car pools…they’re still there. The perfectly coiffed women who married well, the harried working moms trying to stay on schedule, the moms trying to be perfect so their kids will perfect and popular, the former career-girls who now stay at home and apply their expertise to their family, attacking school-related functions with a vengeance.
I’ve tried my best to avoid all of the above, but as mommies, we all inadvertently stumble into a viper pit at some point.
Last summer, as I prepared for my grad school residency, the phone rang. (Here’s the part where I come clean) For a while there, I let unknown local numbers go straight to the answering machine, mostly because I never knew if it was school-related phone call or a mom from one of our schools trying to sell face cream. Anywho…on that day last summer, it was school-related.
The voice of a woman who I’d never met filled my kitchen and informed me that we were five dollars short on our tuition for the year. Okay.
And it was okay, until the tone of her message took a very snooty turn, reiterating twice that our payment should be X amount, as if we were idiots or some sort of pathetic losers whose five dollar shortage was causing the wanton destruction of a perfectly fine establishment.
My active imagination conjured an image of the woman on the other end of the phone. She became a sneering uppity WASP dressed in cashmere twin-set with a fluffy Pomeranian in her lap. I still haven’t met her, but the image sticks and her call seems to have set the tone for the year.
Now, months later, I look back at the years I worked in New York law firms and find myself missing the up-front and honest approach of my male co-workers. As much as I dislike gender stereotypes, I enjoyed working with men who said what they had to say and moved on. No grudges. No backstabbing. No fake smiles. No insecurity-induced sniping.
Boy, do I miss those guys.