The Trinity from Hell
By Jenny O’Connell
Dear Amy, Lauren and Maura,
As the bouncy-haired, tight-jeans trio of eighth grade, you walked the halls like you owned them. As a seventh grader I was supposed to know my place. And my place was way below you. For no reason other than that you didn’t like me. Not that you actually knew me. But I knew you. You were like Charlie’s Angels, three girls who were as dangerous as they were beautiful.
Funny, how you loved my brother, a fellow eighth grader. You’d think you would like me, or at least tolerate me, simply because we were related. Not so. And not so funny that when I started dating an eighth grader you called me a slut. You knew there was no other name that could cut a girl down to size even if she’d never actually French kissed a guy in her life. Even if the mere thought scared her to death.
So I avoided you at all costs. Would take the long way to class if it meant I didn’t have to walk past the three of you watching me, whispering, laughing. I was outnumbered and it brought you such pleasure, such amusement. Slut.
But then there was a day that you were outnumbered, Amy, at Paul H’s Bar Mitzvah. Paul only invited three girls—me, my best friend and you. You were there because your families were friends. We were there because we were Paul’s friends. Two against one. Us against you. We should have showed you what it was like to be made to feel like the unwanted one. We should have taught you a lesson.
Only we didn’t. Because we were nice. And we were naïve. So we talked to you, cautiously at first, waiting to see what you were really like, if you were the same bitch we encountered in the hallways of school. And without Lauren and Maura you lost your edge, or maybe you just lost your power.
That Monday at school we waited to see what would happen, if you’d acknowledge us, if you’d tell your friends that we weren’t so bad after all. But you didn’t. And you know what? We weren’t really surprised. I wasn’t surprised, although I was disappointed. Because I’d really hoped that you’d tell Lauren and Maura that we were nice, that we were fun, that I wasn’t a slut—that they were wrong. Not because I wanted to be your friend, but because I wanted to believe that even a bitch like you could be a regular person.
The next year you all went off to high school, and the following year I went to a different school in another town. I never had to see you again. So why, all these years later, do I remember your names, how your hair would curl away from your face in perfect Farrah Fawcett-styled feathers, how you’d look at me with narrowed eyes and snide smiles, how you made a thirteen year old loathe and fear you? Because you helped make me the person I am today. The one that wants to kick the ass of every smart-mouthed girl who thinks she’s better than everyone else. The one who knows how small you were inside no matter how big the curls in your hair, how blue your eyeliner or how tight your jeans. You might not even remember any of this, but I do. And I know that putting up with your shit made me stronger, made me kinder, made me me. You didn’t break me, you didn’t win. I am who I am not because of you but in spite of you.
Oh, yeah, one more thing. Something I wish I’d said to you as a seventh grader: You suck.
Jenny O’Connell is the author of Plan B, The Book of Luke, Local Girls,and Rich Boys. Visit her online at www.jennyoconnell.com.