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The Girl Who Was a Persona Non Grata, Part VI
They Called Her Rag Doll
It was spring of 1963 and Collette Tyler invited Hope Cairn to a party at her Park Avenue apartment. Hope was so elated to be invited to Collette's party. Collette seemed to be "so interested" in Hope. Besides Hope, Collette invited her new school friends to the party.
Collette's party, of course, was such a success. She and Hope became fast friends. Hope felt so important that a well-known celebrity like Collette would be so interested in a poor girl like her! She felt so special. When she returned to school that Monday after the party, all she could talk about was Collette. She talked about to Cassandra and me about Collette- how pretty she is, how smart she is, and how supertalented she is! To Hope, Collette was a divine being!
Cassandra tried to warn Hope about Collette's alterior motives but Hope refused to acknowledge this in the least. Hope became Collette's friend to the near exclusion of us. She only saw us during lunch time and then she only waved at us, preferring to sit with Collette and her new friends. I did not particular care for Collette. I found her to be a complete conceited person who was quite proficient in the art of self-aggrandization. In other words, she was totally conceited. Of course, she felt the same way about me!
Cassandra did not fare much better with Collette. In fact, she fared worse with Collette. One day, Cassandra came to me completely in tears, stating that Collette considered her celebrity parents to be completely devoid of talent- and she was just a "pretty girl"! Cassandra maintained that she never experience such rude and condescending behavior from anyone, including Barbara, in all her life. Cassandra had quite a pejorative word for Collette- and the word was not pretty at all!
One day in May 1963, Collette came bouncing over me and stated that she was ten times as smart as I was. She further added that I was completely unintelligent despite me being the 3rd smartest pupil in 5th grade. She sneered, telling me that she was the smartest of them all, even Barbara! She then turned from me, walking proudly. I mumbled to myself what a conceited wench!
Collette abruptly turned around, asking me what I sound. I smiled, saying nothing and walked away. She told me that I had better watch myself as I had very, very few pupils whom I could call my friends. She then laughed, pointing at me!
Collette saw Barbara, walking towards her. She informed Barbara that SHE was now the smartest pupil in the 5th grade class instead of her. Barbara became highly incensed at now being the 2nd smartest pupil in the class, instead of being the 1st in the class. Collette started to gloat, walking around Barbara several times. She even stooped to call Barbara craggy face which was detested by the latter. Barbara has always been somewhat conscious of her looks, more so as she got older! Collette kept at her tirade until Barbara was tearing! Some of Collette's friends appeared, goading her on. Collette kept incessantly teasing Barbara, becoming more vitriolic until the latter ran from the playgound.
Barbara told Dr. Sorenson of the incident because she believed that Miss Bruce would be partial towards Collette. She went into the principal's office, telling him of the incessant verbal bullying. As she was recounting the incident, Dr. Sorenson called the receptionist, telling her to summon Miss Bruce. He then summoned Collette to the office. He asked the two girls to recount the event in the presence of Miss Bruce. Miss Bruce listened to the girls intently. She did not take sides. She asked the girls to apologize to each other. However, they adamantly refused to do so despite repeated requests by Dr. Sorenson and Miss Bruce.
Dr. Sorenson then conferred with Miss Bruce as to how to remedy this situation. Miss Bruce suggested that the girls read a book about the power of forgiveness and maturity in the school library. She, of course, suggested that the girls work together to learn the importance of interpersonal relationships. Dr. Sorenson liked Miss Bruce's suggestion and held her responsible for the project. As Miss Bruce beamed triumphantly, Barbara and Collette were incensed at the prospect of working with each other. Both girls also felt extremely nauseous at this dismal prospect.
Barbara asserted that under no terms would she work with Collette and she, of course, reciprocated. Miss Bruce asserted her authority, informing them that either they would work together on a project or work together cleaning up the lunch room for a month. Both girls were clearly adamant regarding their refusal to work on the school project. Guess what? Miss Bruce assigned both girls the arduous task of mopping the lunch room floor. The latter punishment was totally nonnegotiable. Both girls looked totally defeated!
They subsequently left Dr. Sorenson's office. As they left the office, Hope approached Collette, asking her what happening. Collette smiled at Hope, stating that Barbara started a fight and she was blamed for it! Barbara looked at Collette, calling her a liar. Collette responded and another altercation started with both Hope and Collette beating Barbara, this time more forcefully! Miss Bruce saw this, summoning the three girls into the classroom.
Miss Bruce inquired the three girls as to the occurence of the aforementioned event. Both Hope and Collette demurred that Barbara instigated the fight. Miss Bruce believed Hope and Collette upon the strength of their presentation regarding the fight. She decided not to punish Collette regarding the first fight. She let Collette and Hope go but retained Barbara. She asserted to Barbara that she was a bully and a troublemaker and the punishment still stood as is. Barbara looked completely dumbfounded, stating that this was unfair as she did not start the fight. She further asserted to Miss Bruce that her parents would definitely be notified of this!
Barbara defiantly glared at Miss Bruce as she walked away. There was quite a noticeable change in Hope's personality under the tutelage of Collette and it was not for the better. Before Collette, Hope was a spunky individualist ; however, under Collette's tutelage, Hope was becoming more belligerent especially towards the wealthier students. She was also becoming quite a bully being the second in command next to Collette.
I was not the only pupil who noticed it. Cassandra and our other friends were noticing it too. Hope was becoming more and more- let me say, malnovelent. Even though she was still a good student, her personality was becoming increasingly negative. I and Cassandra approached Hope, telling her not to associate with Collette for she is very devious and troublesome. Of course, Hope defended Collette in all her magnificence. She asserted to us that Collette was the first person to actually respect her and treat her as an equal. Well, thanks a lot- we treated her like an equal!
Hope acknowledged that we treated her wonderfully but added that she had more in common with Collette than she had with us. She excused herself to be with Collette. Collette watched us and waved goodbye to us. Collette, of course, was smiling wickedly at us.
One day in early June 1963, as I was walking towards the girls' room on the first floor. I started to smell something like smoke. I thought that the girls' bathroom was on fire. I immediately notified the janitor who took the fire extinguisher into the girls' bathroom. What he saw thoroughly shocked him.........