Saturday, December 09, 2006


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Imagine a little girl, driven from the bosom of her family and forced to go to school! Actually, I think I was looking forward to it. My mother too. So much so that she sent me a day early for that first day!! How she could have gotten the day wrong? The public schools started a day ahead of the Catholic School, so maybe my Mom just assumed since the bus was coming, I belonged on it. Finally one kid out of the house!!

I remember that first day of school, hanging out with the Nuns, taking all the chalk erasers outside and beating them silly. Then making the long walk home.

The next real first day I got to meet all the kids in my class for the first time. I thought that my one day jump ahead of everyone would make me the Teachers pet, but I was wrong. Very wrong. Every nun and teacher chose Brenda Kay (the angelic looking child next to me, I am receiving First Communion) as their favorite. Every single one of them.

And so did we, the Original Girl Posse.

Someplace somewhere there must be written and explained the mysteries of the Theory of Three. For seven long years I lived the highs and lows of this phenomenon.

Everyone wanted Brenda Kay as their best friend. We wanted an exclusive arrangement. Brenda was drunk with this power and played us against each other for almost the entire time I attended Grammar School.

First she would be friends with Missy (The angelic blonde in the second row, she had on gold shoes while the rest of us had white flats). Being exclusive friends meant everyone else was shut out, the outsider (me) would have to hang out with Twin (in the second row behind me) and Cynthia (the freckled face charmer unfocused on receiving the flesh and blood of Christ, but looking good for the camera).

By being totally shut out, I mean totally. They would not acknowledge your presence nor look at you. If you spoke they would look at each other and say, "Did you hear something?" and then laugh wickedly and run away to the swing sets and leave you seething.

Gaining back into the position of the Best Friend was a tricky business. First you had to be acknowledged again. This could be achieved with a special gift, such as a cookie or a cupcake from your lunch. Other times, it meant handing over a precious pencil sharpener or mechanical pencil (I can still feel in my hand this red mechanical pencil that was three beads and highly coveted)or Holy Cards that were particularly fancy.

When it was your turn as the Selected one you got to play the cruel game of shutting out Missy, banishing her to play with Twin and Cynthia.

I swear to God, this went on for years and years.

Cynthia left after second grade, her family moved away. She was replaced with Freida, a country girl with 10 brothers and sisters!

We could never play together peacefully and there was always a foot race for the swings, a shoving match to see who got to sit by who on the Merry-go-Round, and much jockeying for position at the picnic tables for the lunch hour.

Don't even get me started when Brenda Kay decided she liked boys better than girls!

Brenda Kay left the Catholic Grammar School right before seventh grade.

The drama left with her. She was always the smartest girl in the class, now that was up for grabs. She always had her pick of the boys, now they were despondent and entirely icky again. No more playing Beatles and Monkees on the front porch.

Everything calmed down to a normalcy that was foreign to those left behind. Our Star had been removed and it was dark without her.

Ah, Brenda Kay, you shaped every single female companionship I have had since.

At times, this was not a good thing.


Nelle said...

I loved this entry. I had a best friend throughout childhood and we are still friends today. Girls can be emotional terrors to their friends. Some women are the same way. This reminded me of the book The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood.

Anonymous said...

girls are intense huh? and boy can they be mean at that age!

Anonymous said...

I don't remember doing things like those when I was younger. But I do remember mean girls like Brenda Kay.

Nice blog by the way.


Lisa :-] said...

Ewwww...what a thoroughly poisonous little girl! I feel lucky that I attended a HUGE Catholic school. We had fifty kids in every classroom, and I was able to fade into comfortable "wallflowerhood." I have a feeling, Mary, that you would never have settled for that...!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I remember girls like that, particularly two girls in elementary school who were only the best friends one could possibly have if you were wearing the same color of clothing that they were. Of course, knowing the color of the day in advance was some top secret that we mere peons could never know. Stuff like this has affected my relationships with women. At the first sign of manipulation, my guard goes way, way up, but for years I was still drawn to the manipulators. Great entry.

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Anonymous said...

That is a great idea for a best-selling novel and then a blockbuster movie!

Anonymous said...

This is a GREAT entry! Although the photo tells a great story, too. Wow, you are good ~ at finding ways to captre an entire era of life.

Anonymous said...

Most of the time I feel sorry for myself for never being in one place as a kid long enough to even figure the posse-organization out- but then, maybe it wasn't such a bad thing?

Anonymous said...

This explains why we boys preferred snakes and turtles to girls, at least until they began to grow boobs. The series is off to a great start.

tina said...

I was always mystified as to how these nasty little 'Brenda Kays' were so good at fooling those nuns. I guess it was their angelic good looks and big smiles and good grades that made them appear to be a wee bit closer to God than the rest of us. Well, wouldn't you love to know how they fared when they left the hallowed halls of Catholic school ? Great entry.

Anonymous said...

I have never heard such a fine recap on grade school. Boys had similar rankings with any number of things affecting where you stood, if you cared.
There were always a few who didn't much care if they got to sit beside Dick or Jane or even, their dog, Spot. It must have drove them, maybe not the dog, to distraction.

But your remembrance was perfect as well as the picture. Good Times. Maybe the Nuns liked the near perfection of Brenda's hands at communion. Thumbs are a little off though.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, yes, the memories of childhood. Makes you wonder how we ever grew to adulthood. The good thing about these memories is they can serve to show how far we've come. Or how little some people have!