Friday, April 6, 2007

she was THAT girl...

they say, "you just play the hand you're dealt." but lets be honest, some people get dealt really shitty hands. her name was Pam. the first time i heard about her i had yet to meet her. i was changing schools between grade one and grade two, so i was 6 at the youngest and 7 at the oldest. i forget the exact words that were said, but my friends were giving me some pointers because i would be attending their class come fall. again, i don't remember what exactly was said, but i remember the main impression i was given from this conversation: under no circumstances am i to be Pam's friend. why? because no one was Pam's friend. she was that girl. she was the girl that from such an early age, her fellow students would warn their friends not to associate with her. so there i am heading into a new school in the second grade and all i can think is--survive. without a coherent strategy on how i was to go about doing that, one thing was for certain, associating with Pam was now not an option. i had never even met the girl and i had already formed conclusions about her in my head.

that following September i started at the second grade and i witnessed it with my own eyes. the ostrisizing, the rejection, the hurt. the kids were merciless. and i slowly became a silent member of the mob. the resentment towards began to slow grow in my own heart. not because of anything Pam had done, but because she was simply a threat. a threat to the acceptance and friendship i wanted so badly. through all the years that i went to school with Pam, i probably saw it all. she was kicked, punched, spat on, screamed at, hair pulled, degraded, pushed, etc. i can't even count the times kids in my class made her cry. you want to see hell, try being an elementary school kid who not only has no friends at school, but is as close to being hated by every student in her class, as one could be. as the grades passed and years went on, another interesting pattern developed. Pam loved the kids in the younger grades, partly because she was nice and loved kids, and partly because they accepted her. she sought solace in the younger students helping them with their work and watching them when the teacher had to leave the room. however, as soon as the younger students would get old enough to realize the social implications of associating with Pam, they stopped being her friend. this happened over and over. a young naive little girl would come into contact with an older student who would inform the little student that Pam wasn't cool, that being friends with Pam wasn't cool, and sure enough a week later that little girl was no longer friends with Pam. it just seemed as though nothing was going for Pam. she didn't have nice clothes, she wasn't the brightest kid, and she lived in a small shabby farm house. she picked her scabs and her walk was more of an awkward thumping.

i wish i could say that everything got better for Pam. i wish there was a happy ending but it didn't get better for Pam. not until she left. by grade 6 Pam no longer went to my school. i think i heard that she moved; probably the best thing that could've happened to her. interestingly one of the girls in my class who was Pam's worst antagonist became the new Pam when Pam had left. it was almost like the monster that was the student body needed someone to pick on; needed someone to hate and when Pam was no longer available it pick it's next subject. irony is sometimes the hardest teacher.

but what really did Pam do to deserve such ridicule? nothing. it was so arbitrary; so senseless. whenever i think back to public school and to what we did to Pam, i can't help but feel a deep, deep sense of shame. and even regret. and i know what you might be thinking, "Darryl, don't be so hard on yourself, you were just kids, you didn't know any better." but you know what. i did. i did know better. but i just didn't have the guts to stand up for her; to stand up for what was right. i knew that the way we treated her was wrong. no one should be treated the way Pam was treated.
this summer, one of my best-friend's father passed away. at the gravesite i looked across the crowd of people and Pam was standing there. i hadn't seen her in probably 11 years. i don't know what she's up to these days. i'm sure she's doing well. but i wish i would have had the guts to go up and say something to her. there was a million things i could've said to her or asked her. but i know the one thing i would've said if i said anything at all...

Pam, i'm sorry.


Dupa Jasia said...
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Eastman.Jonathan said...

hey man
there was a kid in my school like that too. Tim, he was so rediculously picked on because he was a little on the smelly side from working in the barn at his farm but that wasnt unusual in my school. he had a very awkward laugh and not much fashion sence. people had so many mean nick names for him and i remember his cousin with the same last name would deny being related to him. He was always beat up on and believe it or not i actually punched him in the once in grade 8 (because i'm pretty sure he hit me first but i never actually saw who hit me, it was the only time i ever hit another person). Well i feel the same way you feel, i wish i could make up for him having such a crappy elementary school life.

my case is a bit different though because in high school he and i got a chance to be friends in a whole new social setting and things were better for him. but i would actually thank him if i had the chance because even through all the ridicule, he always had such a good attiitude and was always smiling.

yep so thats my comment.

Eastman.Jonathan said...