Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Mean Girl Syndrome

You think everybody is in love with you when actually, everybody HATES you! Like, Aaron Samuels, for example, he broke up with Regina and guess what? He still doesn't want you! So why are you still messing with Regina, Cady? I'll tell you why, because you are a mean girl! You're a bitch!
Janis in "Mean Girls" 2004

We are the Mac Rob girls
We wear our hair in curls
And when it comes to men
We do the best we can
MacRob unofficial school song circa 1965

Mac Rob Girls 1963
It was the year 2002 and I had met up with an old friend, another aussie expat, but this one from the UK, at a rodeo at Pakenham, Australia.

It was one of those perfect Australian days that are ruined by flies. Marquees had been put up around the outlying fields and families were picnicking while they waited for THEIR friend or family member to compete. Rodeo enclosures remind me of those primary school concerts where the parents in the audience have their eyes glued solely on THEIR own little boy or girl.

It had just gone lunchtime and tired of the flies buzzing around us (we'd forgotten how bad they could be during our expat years), Dee and I wandered around toward the general area of the bar.
Approaching us, walking in the opposite direction, was a skinny-looking woman who I could swear I'd never seen before.

"Quick! hide," hissed Dee in a voice surprisingly like her high school voice of long ago. Yikes, had I stepped into a time-warp? Was I back at Mac.Robertson Girls' High School?

But there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. We were out in the open, surrounded only by grass and flies.

Dee, Science Lab, Macrob 1963
The skinny woman reached us. "Hi Sue," said Dee. "Hi Kate," said Sue. "Do I know you?" said I.

Turned out that Sue was Dee's cousin and we'd met way back when.

"What have you been up to all these years?" I asked Sue, making what I thought was safe conversation.

"Basically," said Sue, "seeing a therapist to get over what happened to me during my adolescence and I STILL haven't recovered."

I could feel Dee pulling at my arm trying to get me away. To no avail. I wanted to know more.

"You don't remember me, DO YOU," Dee was accusing me. "I actually met your MOTHER YEARS after you and Di left home. I worked with her in the solicitor's office. SHE was a nice lady. SHE came to my wedding. SHE wasn't stuck-up."

"What do you mean?" I asked. More tugging from Dee.

"You and Dee used to lock me out of Dee's bedroom when I'd come over to play. You said you were studying. You never talked to me. You were McRob girls."

"She's mad, crazy," said Dee, reverting back to 1963. "Come on, it's no use talking to her."

Was Dee trying some weird therapy getting Sue to confront the past by living it out. Not so.

As we walked away Sue screeched after us, "You are STILL doing it!" "Yeah, right, go annoy your therapist," called Dee.

And I laughed.

I don't remember her at all I told Dee later. "She isn't worth our breath," said Dee.

Now don't get me wrong. My good friend Dee is a compassionate person, warm, friendly, butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.

Was this all part of the "mean girl syndrome" we now hear about? I think not.

I remember another time and place. There was a fat girl, also called Sue. Our families were camping. It was summer and the end of year 12 exam results came out. We all slept in the one large tent, on air-beds.

Sue failed her exams.

I remember a boy, about four years younger that me. A kind kid I thought, think.

In the night while Sue cried herself to sleep, the boy - WHO SHALL REMAIN UNNAMED - tied a piece of string round the stopper of Sue's air-bed. Then around four in the morning, he yanked it out.

And I laughed.

And I'm sorry.

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