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Confessions of a Former Mean Girl
One of the in crowd
The nightmare began in first grade.
Within days of the new school year the hierarchy of who would be the popular kids had already begun. I was shy, I wore glasses, and I distinctly remember a girl bespectacled herself wearing a blue jumper telling me it looked like my mom bought my clothes at K Mart- and to think of it she probably had in the eighties; already there was a divide among the in crowd and everyone else.
And there it was- from that day in first grade until graduating high school, the cool girls and the rest of us. Even in my high school days when I fell in with the type of kids that ditched classes to smoke under the bleachers, I longed to be one the popular girls so I changed the spelling of my name, and vowed that in college this would be my change to finally fit in.
College; I was an editor now at the student newspaper- not the coolest of things I could be doing on campus but I loved to write and my press pass got me on the sidelines of just about every event in the school. I was the only on the staff that really enjoyed music other than the kids that worked at the school radio station so I started a column interviewing bands that came into town and started going through the press kits that were sent to the radio station and writing about the enclosed CD's.
On the concert circuit, I felt alive. Backstage after the stage lights had cooled, I got a chance to get in a few words with the bands backstage but once a crowd had gathered and the booze and drugs emerged, I was back to being a wallflower; a silent observer vowing to keep the things I had seen out of the reviews and quietly sulking away to my car after a night out.
After being on the music circuit for about six months, I had gotten to know about as much as fans and groupies that hung around the clubs I had frequented as the acts that came to perform. Those girls fascinated me while I silently observed them, again wishing to be among their ranks. Gradually, I found a few I could make small talk with and I grew more and more accepted. Not so much as a friend, one actually told me once I had made it to the "quasi in group"; but as a follower in their silent cult.
The dragon had many heads, depending on whom you asked but it was a dark creature named Julie that was the bane of my existence, making sure she sculpted me in her image to create the perfect clone just to later bring me down as hard as possible.
As everything of that time period, I don't know I had actually met Julie. One day she was the girl that was too good to talk to me, the next time I remember her she was hanging out in my hotel room after a returning from a concert. I recall as she stood next to the window in my non smoking room at the Days Inn, smoking a Camel Light and flicking ashes into a Snapple bottle in her hand; cutting down all the people I had finally come around to making friends with.
I should have instantly defended these people- wanting so long to do something other than hide in the shadows and let others be in the spotlight- but for some reason the most important thing at that moment I realized was to agree with her.
I was being tested. I knew it. I still can taste in the bile raising in my throat when I forced myself to agree with her on every point. Telling secrets of the people that I had spent the afternoon schmoozing. I thought being her friend would unlock doors for me.
The dragon had many heads but it was a dark creature named Julie that was the bane of my existence.
In the spotlight
On paper I guess you could call us best friends.
That was at least what Julie had said on Friendster, which begat MySpace, which by the end of our best friendship; had grown into Facebook. Every status a flowing conversation between us of the events that we had attended walking the streets of Chicago. I realized instantly that she had attracted in an army of suckers like myself, using people for whatever she could get out of them before turning on them in the most brutal fashion.
Of her followers though, for a period of about three years, I was the chosen one and it felt wonderful, or so it seemed to be the right hand even though I felt the darkness growing in my soul. I knew a lot about the girl I admired- that she had a mad crush on the singer in one of the bands that we would often go see. Desperate to be in his company as her followers were to her, the singer sold her the image of being a "friend", though it mostly meant he would use for whatever he could get. If the singer needed someone to score drugs for him, she was the first volunteer as long as he would praise her notebooks of crappy goth poetry she toted around. Volumes were dedicated to him and she eventually did sell some to a few anthologies.
As she grew in popularity in the social scene, though I longed to be as close to her as I could to keep ascending the popularity ladder, I missed those she had deemed that weren't cool enough to be along for the ride anymore.
On paper, I guess you could call us best friends.
I hated being at her side.
I hated her.
Yet, I stayed because there it was- my sentence, Jyn and Julie, locked together in hatred. Julie was the perfect con artist. About a year into our friendship, she had managed a free place to leave- she could still live there for all I know, with a girl she had told that she was homeless and had taken her in just to bask in the glow of having a cool new friend. I somehow, as Number One Minion, had been talked into adding Julie to my phone plan and not only purchased her now second Sidekick, but was paying the bill as well as she remained jobless writing her terrible poetry for a singer that was currently sleeping with about ten other women, none of which were her as I had heard him say, "Julie was too fat." As she never had a job, Julie also never had her own money but always manged to eat from someone that she conned to buy her dinner, go to every club for every concert she wanted, as she begged her way onto the guest list. Every night she smoked someone else's cigarettes, drank beer someone else had paid for, and did God knows what for the pills she had incessantly yet not discretely popped.
She was convinced she would head an empire, her cronies agreeing to pay for the websites she wrote her terrible poetry on, making them pay for odds and ends from Michael's so she could work on her newest idea- a jeweler and clothing line which would feature little pendant shaped like pills or tee shirts just spilled bleach all over to be "ironic." Someone was going to pay to be her, to have the make believe that was her lifestyle.
If only those that admired her so knew the truth like I knew. Knew of how she was training us in her likeness to be cruel to others and mock their wardrobe when all her own clothing had been donated.
When a follower finally came to their senses and cut her off financially, it was the job of everyone else to make sure that girl's life was ruined. As the best friend, as the Number One Minion, I did what I was told. Over and over I ruined the reputation of people I respected because she told me to.
Over and over I ruined the reputation of people I respected, because she told me to.
I don't know what had broken in me, but my eyes were open to Julie's cruelty after two events where she had directly taken advantage of me.
The first was the typical night out: I had paid for concert tickets as she now about two and half years into the friendship or whatever you could call it still hadn't had a job. She still lived with the same girl that practically mothered her, paying her bills, feeding her, and buying her clothing, and running her website of poetry, which oddly never had more than about ten published pages in its entire history on WordPress. We got off the train and were only in the bar for maybe about three songs when Julie began to complain of a headache or whatever it was. I knew the truth that she had shoved a handful of pills greedily into her mouth and downed it with vodka before we had even left the hotel room. I hadn't seen the national act that was performing that night before and tried to waive her outside for a cab that I would have to pay for. Somehow she got me to leave with her. Disappointed, I sat back in the hotel room wondering what I would write for the review of the concert I hadn't been able to attend. She sat on the bed texting from the moment that we walked into to some roadie it turns out on the Sidekick I was paying for. Suddenly she had announced that she had been on the list for some party and was grabbing her jacket to head out the door.
"So what am I supposed to do?" I asked her angrily, and rightfully so.
"I don't think he can get us both in," she said but she appeared to be tapping the phone keys and sending some sort of message.
I grabbed my coat as well and I don't know what possessed me to follow her. Maybe years of being her lap dog, I was obedient even when the master wanted me to stay. We got to the party, waiting for awhile in the street as a light rain began to trickle down. I tried to ignore the bums that kept coming up to me asking for the last of my cigarettes. Finally the roadie that promised her salvation had arrived. I still recall the look in her eyes as he waived her inside. She had promised that she was just going to run inside to talk to her singer who was rumored to be there. That she was going to talk to someone in charge and demand that I also got on the list.
I don't know how long I sat in the alley behind the place in the rain, texting every so often to her that I was freezing, and that either she let me in or I was going home. My phone battery was dying. The only way to get the homeless people to stop bothering me was to offer up the last of my cigarettes and my lighter.
I waited at least a half hour after I had sent my final text that evening that she needed to find her own way home.
I only saw Julie one more time after that night.
She had texted again about some wine tasting night that apparently all the "who's who" of the young adults in Chicago would be at. I didn't drink anymore and I was living in the suburbs at the time and I forget the reason now, but I had been driving a rental car as mine was in the shop.
I had long been replaced as the best friend, the Number One Minion, but she knew I was the most reliable and that was what had gotten her to grovel at my feet one last time.
The girl she was living with, had kept her four about three years now, still Julie couldn't be expected to have a job. Selling her drug themed jewelry had been a flop as well as her writing about some guy that had since married someone else and didn't remember her name. I dropped her off my phone plan and she was actually jealous when I went to upgrade to a sleek new Blackberry and hadn't offered to replace her phone as well.
I had found some of the people she hadn't let me talk to before and while most wouldn't give me the time anymore for my sins, a few were at least people that I could get the occasional Facebook comment from on an article.
With a borrowed GPS, and paying a valet for parking, I sat downstairs in the lobby as I hadn't paid for the tasting just the after even with the DJ. I text her that I was there, and waited. Waiting a bit longer, I only caught a glimpse of her when she came downstairs extremely wasted from the rooftop party to try and find a bathroom.
"So you are here," I confronted her. "Am I still your ride home or do you have that figured out already too."
Sheepish, she stared at me. "When did you get here?"
"At the time I text you," I said annoyed and flashing my phone to the page of ill returned conversation.
"Well, I guess come up then."
I followed her one last time. I could see the horrible creature she had become in those years, bloated from drink and recreational drug use. Her clothing tonight clearly wasn't hers and borrowed from someone about three sizes smaller. She gestured to where she threw the phone that I had paid for about two years before and her purse hanging wide open in the crowded bar and she scuttled off to whoever she thought was the most important person in the room to suck up to.
I sat for a moment feeling sorrier for myself that I had in three years. I was twenty one and nearly friendless from this girl I had blindly followed in my late teens. As she pushed closer to some bearded guy talking clearly to someone behind her, her mouth formed the O of "Ooh and Ah", hanging on the man's every word. It was then her phone buzzed on the table and I glanced over at her text message.
It was from some woman that we had known among the concert scene asking if, by name, Jyn had the nerve to show up tonight. I had scrolled up to earlier conversation where for about a days dialogue, Julie found the need to talk down the only person in her phone book that had showed up to her drunken beckon. Somehow, her belongings must have fallen off the rooftop ledge. That must have really been a shame if she had sobered up enough to recall she had arrived with a purse.
Occasionally, I come across someone that knew her. Last hearing something about her trying to re-brand her writing under the name Julian for some reason in 2013.
This is the first time in over eight years I have wasted a moment to think about my nemesis and how that experience with her had saved my life. My ever brief time in the popular crowd had made me appreciate every moment of my solitary life I have now.
I'd like to hope that people wised up and tore Julie down the way she deserved to be and that is why there is no trace of her online after 2013, but I really don't care to see justice for all the people she hurt.