The Weird Girl 

By Patricia LaPointe

Up until the age of twelve, I lived in the city. Twelve-year-old city girls still wore ponytails, played indoor and outdoor games, and dressed in pedal pushers and t-shirts. 

Before I was to enter the seventh grade, Mom decided we should move to the suburbs. Seventh grade in the city was still part of elementary school. Seventh grade was separate from elementary school in the suburbs and called Junior High. I thought, “so what’s in a name?” It was still seventh grade. 

I soon discovered how vastly different plain old seventh grade was from Junior High. I entered the classroom and felt like I was in a foreign country. The girls had the most popular hairdo of the time: a short bob called a “bubble cut.” Our uniform was a pleated skirt, white blouse, and a bolero vest. All the girls had their skirts shortened to fall at their knees. Mom didn’t know how to hem, so my skirt fell inches above my ankle. The girls had these tiny, perky, budding breasts, perfect for wearing a bolero vest. My breasts had already blossomed to a 36 B. The bolero barely covered them. I was like “fresh meat” and a source of amusement for the well-established cliques. 

“Look at her skirt. I have nightgowns shorter than that.” 

“Bangs? Who wears bangs? And a ponytail? I’d never be caught dead wearing that.” 

“Did you see her eyebrows? They go straight across her forehead.” 

And they enlisted help from their “boyfriends” in their bullying. 

“She’s wearing a bra. Go snap it.” And I’d hear the boys’ victorious proclamations just as they were about to snap my bra: “Over the shoulder boulder-holder attack!” 

So, I sat for months listening to these words, whispers, and chuckling when I passed them. 

Mom was no help. She said these girls were “growing up too fast,” wearing short skirts and adult hairdos. She said they were so silly, giggling all the time. “I don’t want to hear you giggling or see you chasing boys.” 

My response to these situations was to study and learn. I became an “A” student. 

I found that being a good student had both positive and negative effects. I became the “teacher’s pet,” which only increased the bullying, especially when she would have me “watch” the class when she was out of the room. 

“Ooh, you’re in charge. You gonna tell her about this?” as they shot spitballs across the room. 

“How about this?” as they ran up the aisles, tagging each other. 

No, I didn’t tell about any of this. Nor did I tell when a boy, prompted by the “in” girls, stomped on my foot with his heavy boot. I told the teacher there were no problems when she was out of the room. I will never forget the smug faces of my classmates. 

This experience hurt my ability to form friendships with other women. I am very cautious, perhaps overly so, when meeting them. The fear of encountering similar behavior with women I meet makes it challenging to form a trusting relationship. The result is often my keeping them at arm’s length. I wonder how many opportunities for real friendships I’ve missed. 

P.S. There was a benefit: Learning what I expect from a friendship, as well as what I’m willing to offer, not only assists in those relationships but also tells me more about who I am. And who doesn’t need that? 

©  2022 Patricia LaPointe

Pat LaPointe, creator of Share Your Voice, an online interactive community for all women. She is editor of the anthology; The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys from Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment. In addition, she has conducted writing workshops for women — both online and onsite. Pat’s essays and short stories have been published widely in anthologies, literary journals and on @patromitolapointe. Currently, Pat is completing her first novel, forthcoming in 2023.


About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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