Note: This part is a little long. I wanted to end Chapter 2 to get ready to post chapter 3
The Duran Duran Chronicles – Chapter 2 – Part 3
I glanced over at Theresa. While the others were busy talking or eating, she was staring at me…or Jennifer…or both of us. One of her own, a cheerleader, clearly did not want to associate with her and she was not happy. (Years later, in therapy, I would recognize this moment as the moment Theresa Christian went from She Who Would Become My Nemesis, to simply, My Nemesis.)
“What fight?” I asked. “I didn’t have a fight.”
“Your fight with Theresa,” Jennifer answered. “I heard the two of you had a fight in first period.”
Hazel laughed. “Wow that got around fast.”
“Tell us what happened Taylor,” Dave leaned in closer. “I wanna hear about the girl fight.”
“Me too.” Paul chimed in.
“Yeah,” Dana added. “I heard you tripped her.”
Jennifer tapped my arm. “Did you really punch her,” she asked. “I hope you did. At cheer camp this summer she was so mean and bossy. When the squad was picked I was so mad they picked her as a captain too. Now I have to co-captain with her this year.”
I rolled my eyes. I had no control over it. It was an involuntary response to nonsense. “I never hit her. She called Hazel a freak and I stuck up for her.”
Dave smirked. “Well, Hazel does have that hair thing going.”
“Shut up,” Hazel laughed. “I like my hair.”
“I like it too,” Jennifer said.
“See,” Hazel turned to Dave, “my hair does not make me a freak.” She stuck her tongue out at him. He returned the gesture by throwing a French fry at her.
“Wow,” Paul said. “When I heard what happened, you guys had gotten into a fist fight.”
I rolled my eyes again. “Oh no. First day at a new school and I already have a reputation.”
“Could be worse,” Jennifer added. “You could be a bitch like Theresa.”
“Yeah,” I agreed, “she is a bitch.”
Hazel laughed. “She’s been a bitch since the 2nd grade. She was always bossy and mean.”
“Oh,” Dana said, “you went to school with her?”
“Yes,” Hazel answered. “She was in my class a few times.”
Paul sighed. “I don’t like mean people.”
“Me either,” Dave said.
“Jennifer?” Hazel asked, “Why didn’t you sit with the cheerleaders?”
“I don’t like her.” Jen answered. “In camp, she bossed everyone around and thought she was the best. She was always trying to outdo everyone. I like cheering. It’s fun. It’s not fun with her and I don’t like her.”
“I don’t think she likes you either after you refused to sit with her.” I said.
“That’s what the commotion was about. She was telling me that I had to sit with the cheerleaders. I didn’t want to sit with them.”
“Well,” Dave said, “you can sit with us. We aren’t mean or bossy.”
And that was how my first day of junior high went. Aside from making some very cool new friends, I earned the reputation as a bad ass that no one wanted to mess with. I never did address the fight rumors. I let everyone believe what they wanted to believe. I liked that people thought of me as being tough.
It was like that game “telephone”. You whisper something to the first person and they tell the next person and so on until you get to the last person. By time you get to the end, the story doesn’t resemble the original at all. That’s what happened at Walt Whitman Junior High. Except, instead of a few people, the telephone line was a few hundred kids.
For the first few days of school I caught stares whenever I walked down the hall and overheard whispers. I even got a few high fives from kids I didn’t know. And, when I tried to explain no fisticuffs occurred, no one believed me. Theresa even had witnesses and no one believed her. After that I let it slide. That didn’t sit well with her.
War was not so silently declared. We couldn’t walk past each other in the hall without name calling. She usually called me a bitch and I always called her some variation of prostitute. I didn’t know there were many ways to call a person a whore? There’s whore, slut, hooker, trollop, hussy, skank, harlot, wench, tramp, tart, bimbo, floozy, jezebel, I’m pretty sure I even called her a Chlamydia Infested Charlatan™ at one point. We just did not like each other and we were awful.
Today, I’m sure it would be considered bullying. Except we didn’t harass helpless kids , we only harassed each other. It was a mutual harassment and the rest of the school stayed far away from the drama. I could only imagine how the conflict would have escalated if Facebook and Twitter existed back then. There was no social media so basically the rest of the students were spectators. They observed, drooling, as they secretly anticipated a fight. They snickered as we insulted each other. But, they never intervened.
We left horrible notes in each others lockers. We knocked each others books off desks. At lunch, if we got to close to one another, somebody’s food tray ended up on the floor. It got so bad that we were called into the principal’s office and received a very stern talking to. Not that it worked. We just got quieter.
Our groups of friends just weren’t fond of each other either. Theresa still called Hazel a freak every chance she got. Hazel accidentally tripped her in class one day. As for Dave, Paul and Dana, they didn’t have to worry. Theresa didn’t bother with them. They were below her. She would never associate with a bunch of long haired metal-heads. Theresa would never disrupt the hierarchy. As a cheerleader she was on top of the food chain. In her mind she was the Apex Predator. We were the prey.
Jennifer received the brunt of the abuse being on the cheer-leading squad. Jennifer was clearly the better athlete of the two and Theresa despised not being the best. That dynamic made for some wicked arguments during practices. Theresa would tell Jen she wasn’t executing the cheer correctly and Jen would always alter Theresa’s routines. It was ruthless, but come game time, they were picture perfect cheerleaders. Jennifer would never sacrifice the integrity of the cheer squad. (Did I just write that sentence?) As for Theresa, she had to be perfect to be better than Jennifer. Their dislike for each other manifested itself into some very unhealthy competition.
At the time, this behavior seemed perfectly acceptable. We loathed each other and wanted to inflict as much misery to the other person as was humanly possible. Adult me does not condone this behavior. In fact, looking back now; we were just little assholes. I think we’re still assholes. It’s just now the Assholiness™ has manifested itself in sarcasm, ambivalence, and discontentment.
The tale took on a life of its own too. By start of high school, Theresa and I were involved in a hair pulling, scratching, bitch slapping brawl. That didn’t actually happen until 11th grade. But, before that fight, in the 8th grade, we were responsible for the biggest event this side of New York City. It’s an event that even at our 10 and 15 year High School reunions, people still gossiped about. Hell, Dave even put in the liner notes of his first album. I admit, it wasn’t my finest moment but it made for good legend and solidified my reputation as a bad ass.
The events leading up to the incident began early that morning and by lunchtime, tensions were running high. It all came to a head in the cafeteria, the junior high cafeteria, where teachers and staff and students mixed. The cafeteria, where on that fateful January day, The Great 1983 Duran Duran Brawl of Walt Whitman Junior High™ occurred.