The Snob Squad
By Megan Frazer
We called ourselves the Snob Squad.
We had a certain way of standing: left foot pointed forward, right foot pointed to the side, slight hip jut. We wore knee length wool coats in winter even though we still had recess. We carried Esprit tote bags.
We lived in fear.
Each day there was the very real possibility that we could come to school and be on the outs. An offhand comment, an ugly shirt, or nothing at all could land one of us underlings on the alpha girl’s list and then we’d get the silent treatment.
And still I’m hiding, because I’m having a hard time saying that I was scared. I was hurt. I came to school and was ignored and when my friend Karen*, in a fit of sympathy, whispered, “I don’t know what you did, Regina just said not to talk to you,” I cried tears of confusion and frustration.
And if Regina had asked me if anyone from the group had spoken to me, would I have given Karen up? Sold her out to re-solidify my position?
Yes, I would have. In a heartbeat.
It may be hard to feel sympathy for someone who was, at least briefly, at the top of the social food chain. I find it hard to feel sympathy for myself.
In movies and books, the mean girl always has her minions. One of them was me. In order to keep in the good graces of Regina, I shunned old friends, I snickered at her jokes about weaker kids, and I used my burgeoning skills with words to make up not-so-nice songs about the leader of our mirror group on the other sixth grade team. (It was this other set of Mean Girls who gave us our name of Snob Squad. In an act of political savvy that must have come from Regina, we embraced it and used it ourselves.)
I did not feel good about these things. They made me sick inside. But I was so scared that I would lose my friends that I followed along. The worst was surely the way I would ditch my less popular friends as soon as Regina decided I was worthy enough to be back on the inside.
Regina moved to town when we were in third grade. Her family actually bought my old house when we moved to a new one in the same district. She was in my class and immediately took control. I had been a good kid by and large, but I started acting out: lying to and sassing teachers. It was the first time my parents let me know that they had any concern about a friend of mine, so I kept most of my interactions with her a secret from them. Sometimes I’d even blame one of my closest friends, Janis, for the trouble that Regina and I got into. Lucky for me, Janis was forgiving and we’re still friends to this day.
I was sheltered and naive and Regina preyed on this. On the one hand, she offered up an exciting new world, one in which I made decisions that were far different from the ones my parents would have made for me. On the other hand, my innocence was a weakness worthy of scorn. I remember, standing in the tire tower on the playground and being mocked for not knowing what it meant to be “bi.” The word made me go red and warm, knowing she meant it as an insult of another girl, fearing I might also be “bi,” and frustrated by her refusal to tell me what it meant. (In retrospect, Regina’s refusal to tell me what “bi” meant might have been because she herself didn’t know. She had probably heard someone use it disparagingly, and thrown it into her own conversation.)
Things really got bad in sixth grade when Regina and I were in the same section (6S for Success although really we were a rag tag group if there ever was one). Two elementary schools came together in middle school, and there was much jockeying for social position. When she seemed to want to be my friend again, I jumped at the chance. Our group was made up of five girls and a lot of the time we got along fine, our ire and scorn directed outward. Except when it wasn’t.
I’m still not sure how Regina became the head of our group. She wasn’t the prettiest. She wasn’t the wealthiest. She might have been the smartest. She and I had always battled for the best grades. This, at least, was something I had: whenever there was a group project, she wanted to be with me because together we’d get a great grade.
I don’t know why she felt the need to exert this power over us. Her family did not seem so different than my own. Life had not treated her, as far as I knew, especially badly.
I guess what happened was, consciously or not, she created a power vacuum and we fell into it. What sixth grade girl wouldn’t want to be told she could be popular? All we had to do was follow one simple rule: don’t piss Regina off. The problem was that I never knew what would make her angry, so I lived for a year afraid to talk to anyone or do anything without her go ahead.
By the end of sixth grade, the push and pull of the situation, never knowing where I was going to stand finally got me to a breaking point. Outside at recess I swore at someone for the first time in my life: while the other girls watched on, I told Regina she was a bitch and I didn’t want anything more to do with her.
Years later, on the field hockey bus, we were talking about middle school. Gretchen shook her head and said, “All hail the great and powerful Regina.” We exchanged a look. Somehow I’d convinced myself that this was an experience I had gone through alone. In fact, four of us had gone through it side by side, but we’d been too cowed to talk about it.
*To protect the innocent and those that matured, I’ve used names of the characters in Mean Girls in place of actual names.
Megan Frazer’s first novel, Secrets of Truth & Beauty, was published by Disney-Hyperion in July of 2009. She lives with her husband and son in Maine where she is a high school librarian. She graduated from Columbia with a degree in English and was in the first class to complete the Undergraduate Creative Writing Certificate Program. She earned her Master’s in Library Science from Simmons GSLIS and she is currently enrolled in the University of Maine’s Master of Education in Literacy with a Concentration in Writing and the Teaching of Writing. You can find out more about her at www.meganfrazer.com.