Sunday, November 16, 2008

So, the good thing about Facebook is getting in touch with people you haven't been in touch with in years.

And the bad thing about Facebook, of course, is getting in touch with people you haven't been in touch with in years. As in people from junior high school.

I've been in a foul mood all weekend, and I just realized it's because I somehow ended up on Facebook discussing junior high - well, middle school to be perfectly accurate - with one of my former classmates. I guess I'd totally blocked out how loathsome fifth, sixth and seventh grade were for me, a skinny and short and painfully unathletic, slightly effeminate gay boy, not quite but almost at the bottom of the Elm Place Middle School food chain.

I remember in the seventh grade I got a headache every single day during seventh period. My mother even brought me to the doctor, who said it was nothing. I think it was actually fifth period band practice, where "Dr." Schoonover used to pitch a fit nearly every day, throwing his baton at us and making us play whatever part we'd just messed up, one by one, and anyone who made a mistake would have to stay after school and practice.

And low as I was, I still remember making fun of the poor girl who was stuck at the very bottom of the elaborate Elm Place hierarchy - not really to her face but by flirting with some other little girl, tagging each other with the "germs" from the girl stuck at the bottom. We were merciless, in that thoughtless way children can be. Until one day during social studies, in the sixth grade, she was sent to the office and the principal came in and gave us all a lecture about treating her so badly. Which shamed me. I stopped it with the stupid germ play.

It was such a revelation to get to high school, where you could actually choose your friends based on whether you liked them or not, and not based on any number of other bizarre criteria, such as whether their desk was near yours, or that they lived near you. And the high school was so big, with 2,500 students, that there was no social hierarchy, just different groups, and people were no longer teased or excluded.

I suppose I learned something from middle school about compassion, but I can't imagine that it was worth it. You couldn't make me go through it again, not for anything.

The Swedish word for the day is tortyr. It means, of course, torture.

- by Francis S.

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