Monday, September 20, 2010

Big mean girls

You know how when you're little and a girl's mean to you, your parents tell you all sorts of reassuring reasons why: 'She's insecure; she's just jealous; she's threatened by you, etc., etc.' And you try to take comfort in this, though it's hard to fathom why a cheerleader would feel threatened by a girl who wore her pants up to her armpits and had glasses so thick her eyes nearly disappeared behind them. But okay, if it's due to jealousy, then...maybe she wishes she too could read in the corner of the playground during recess and had arms so long that she didn't know where to put them.

But at this age when a girl isn't nice, it's different. Meanness takes on different shades of gray as an adult, and like a star, it can be difficult to see when you look directly at it. It isn't as straightforward as when you're young, when it's simply, 'Get off my monkey bars.'

There's one such girl here in London, part of a book club that I used to go to. Her mean is sly, the sort of thing where if you tried to describe it to someone, you'd come off sounding paranoid and crazy. For example, we'll be in the middle of a conversation when a mutual friend will come up to join us. Instantly she'll turn to them, cooing wildly and affectionately and asking them all about their day, putting her back to me and leaving me alone with my unfinished story: ' thought the play sounded...interesting...' She also likes to exchange looks with other people while I'm talking, like, 'Are you HEARING this?' And just last week, I was telling her about an episode in which I couldn't get on the bus because I didn't have enough fare, so I joked that I 'shed a little tear then decided to top up.' She responds with (after exchanging a glance with someone): 'You CRIED?!' 'Um, no. I was kidding.' (Another exchange.)

See what I mean? I sound nuts. And the worst part is, she's absolutely the most wonderful person with everybody else; she's adored and adorable, spirited and fun. Everybody is constantly exclaiming about what a joy she is. So it's not like I can say anything to anybody without coming off like a complete loon.

Alas, we're thrown together often enough, I've just got to deal with it. And heck, maybe I AM just being paranoid, and I should give her the benefit of the doubt...we can all be rude if we aren't paying close enough attention...

Though I AM pretty good at the monkey bars.


  1. "she's adored and adorable, spirited and fun. Everybody is constantly exclaiming about what a joy she is." You know that describes you, right? Just a guess, since I don't know her, but I'd say she may not relish sharing the adoration. I don't know how you combat the slyness though.

  2. Jessica is right on here. You are everything this other girl is, plus you have the benefit of being an expat an interesting facet that she cannot match. Rise above it.

  3. Totally understand where you are coming from. I think all of us has had someone like this at one point or another in our lives. I don't believe that you are being paranoid. Of course the old adage of "don't let it bother you" is a crock of pond scum. All of that to say that I agree with what your friends say. Do try to limit your contact with her when possible and when it's not possible, let her have the floor, I'm sure that most people do see what is going on and can see her true colors.
    Rise my child!

  4. okay, so next time she exchanges the look, try to like, exchange it back to her and be all like, 'i know what's up, yeah what I said was just soooo darn funny and unbelievable, uh huh'. and she'll be all like having to exchange a look after that and it will get so confusing as to what you're exchanging looks about anyway!
    oh, or maaaybe you should fawn all over HER like she does to other people (sharona: 'oh my GOODness, that knowing look you just gave was so, like KNOWING and I mean, I would just LOVE to know more so that I could like, do that too!'), 'cause you know, if you ask people lots of questions and act like you're really interested in them, then they will respond more positively (knowing look emoticon).

  5. hahaha! Omigosh I love you all!

    Matt and Jess--I AM a cool expat, aren't I?! * won't * * forget *
    * polishing gun *

    Mom--wise as always! I will definitely be limiting contact (and allowing her to have her show).

    And Erin, YOU KILL ME! I am TOTALLY going to fawn back; who doesn't love and respond to innocent adoration?? (knowing look emoticon) ('you' 'complete' 'me' sign language emoticon)

  6. Wonderful post. I hope you are well.

  7. Well, dear Ms Selby. I bet that other gal is not a Muse to someone like you are!! And she has never inspired a book either. Just know that...