Thursday, August 9, 2007

"It's very foolish to laugh if you don't know what's funny in the first place..."

That is a quote from the book Blubber, by Judy Blume. Do you all remember Blubber (maybe I should ask if you all have read Judy Blume.) I was an avid reader as a kid and gobbled each and every Judy Blume book I encountered, but Blubber had a massive impact on me. The summary: An overweight girl named Linda is mercilessly teased by her classmates, particularly the "ringleader" Wendy. (I've never liked the name Wendy because I always associate the name with the character. No offense to the Wendys out there...) She starts calling Linda "Blubber", and forces her into all sorts of indignities. The narrator, Jill, is a willing participant in all of this until she finally decides it's enough and stands up to Wendy. This pisses Wendy off, of course, and she turns her vindictive little attentions on Jill.
Now, because my mind generally takes all sorts of meandering little strolls throughout the day, thinking briefly about this book brought back a memory of a similar (though not quite as horrific) experience I had in the 5th grade.
I was a member of a rather popular group of girls; certainly not the most popular member, but popular by association We were all great friends, had a good time, weren't particularly cruel to anyone, and thoroughly enjoyed the 5th grade. What, you ask, does this have to do with a book about pre-adolescent cruelties? Not so much with the cruelties, but certainly with the fickle quality of pre-teen friendship. I remember specifically, in our science class, that we had to take a survey on nutrition. One of the questions was, "How often do you eat dessert during the week?" In my mind, dessert was the treat you eat after dinner; i.e. birthday cake. So I answered, "0". My little group of friends completely lost it over the obvious dishonesty of my answer; I brought a small Little Debbie in my lunchbox a few times a week. Honestly, I hadn't thought of that...but the damage was done. My friends stopped speaking to me and completely shunned me...for about 2 days. Several times during the course of that year, one or another of the girls would do something completely innocuous, but apparently brutal to the dynamic of the group, and would be shunned for a day or two. Sometimes as much as a week. This would cause great upheaval, and massive loyalty switches. Interestingly enough, by the end of the school year, all friendships were mended, everyone was happy. And then I moved and changed schools and had to form all new friendships. In middle school. The cruelest and ugliest of times.

At any rate...this story holds many morals: 1. Loyalty amongst pre-teen girls is a fickle thing. 2. Kids, particularly girls, can be cruel. 3. Judy Blume is the bomb. 4. Blubber is a great comment on preteen society. 5. My mind wanders often and at length, and I like nothing better than to share it with all of you.

1 comment:

Jenn said...

I LOVED Judy Blume books when I was a kid!! She was my fav by far. Your memory of "shunning" reminded me of high school where we shunned someone in our group every YEAR. (Did I mention I went to an all girl school?) Girls can be cruel. :-(