Childhood social structure is divided into two main categories: (1) victims; and (2) their tormenters. There is also a subset of tormenters: the ignorers. These are the kids who can’t even be bothered to torture you--that’s how little interest they have in featuring whatever it is you’ve got going on (see prior post titled: Brushes With Fame and Greatness).
There's also a subset of victims, known as the bystanders. These are the victims who watch silently while other kids are victimized, for fear of drawing further negative attention to themselves. I think I was probably in this latter category. I never directly tormented anyone, I don't think, but nor did I bravely leap to anyone else’s defense, either. (One of many principled stands in my life that I can be proud of)!
Anyway, what's sort of ironic is that despite this being a very sophisticated art form, there's a total absence of creativity with respect to the things that are mocked. For example:
Unibrows: It took a bunch of mean girls at sleep away camp to drive home the hard truth that I was too hairy. They did shit like leave me anonymous pairs of tweezers under my pillow and point and laugh at me in the shower. I’m pretty sure the amount of money I’ve spent depilating (and in therapy) over the course of my life could have bought me that house in Scarsdale that I’ve always wanted!
Material Possessions of Every Kind: From the size, shape, and style of one's underwear to having all the wrong brands of clothes and shoes, the childhood wardrobe was always fertile ground for mockery. Also, living in the wrong zip code, driving a crappy car, and having only one roof over your head. These were all big no-no’s, too.
Weight: To be fair, this was something that my family mostly harassed me about. My grandmother (rest her soul) loved to regularly mourn the state and size of my ass by saying things like: “If only you had your mother’s figure,” while simultaneously stuffing my face with an endless stream of bacon, brownies, and Honey Nut Cheerios, like one of those abused ducks that gets made into foie gras in California. As for the rest of my family, well, they were very concerned with my ravioli consumption. It was feared, viscerally, that a second helping of ravioli would doom me to a life of solitude and social ostracization. And that unlike my mother, I would fail to wear a string bikini 21 months after childbirth. (Spoiler Alert!: They were right)!
Yes, I know. Kids are mean because someone is being mean to them at home. But also, some kids are just assholes. Some of them grow out of it. But lots of them just bloom majestically into the assholes that they always were. And it’s a good thing too, because if there were no assholes in the world, there would be no one left for me to mock as an adult!
I mean, shiiiiiiiiiiiit. I'd have to rise above the fray, and be a bigger person than that, and let bygones be bygones, and forgive and forget, and generally pretend that little baby assholes and my failed attempts to accommodate them did not leave me with permanent psychological damage and bitterness.
And really. What fun would that be?