Assholes and Drama Queens

My daughter is made of pretty tough stuff. Not surprising, since she has three older brothers. Mostly she prefers to hang out with boys, and I don’t discourage her. I’m dreading what will happen when she gets a little older, because I had a nightmare friendship in high school and I’m terrified the same thing will happen to her. On the one hand, I can honestly say it was the worst relationship experience I’ve ever had with anyone of either gender, but on the other hand, I think I needed to have it because it taught me so much that I think I needed to learn. I wish I could have learned it all in an easier way, but I don’t think that’s possible. And while I want my daughter to learn the same lesson (“Tell the drama queens and assholes to fuck off out of your life the instant you recognize that they’re drama queens and assholes”), I don’t want her to have to live through an Ellie.

Ellie transferred to my school when we were in 10th grade. At our first meeting she seemed fun, nice, if a little shy and quiet. I was never the most popular kid in school, and I was happy to find a new best friend (not to reveal a spoiler here, but the previous best friend that I dropped? We made up and are friends to this day. Ellie? No idea. Don’t care).

So here’s Ellie, and I have no idea what she’s like, other than that she seems fun. She and a girl named Morgan and I become a clique of three. Three is a bad number for kids, even worse for teenage girls. The first glimpse I had into what Ellie was really like was on an Assembly Day early in the school year. We had an all-school assembly every Tuesday and Thursday. On the day in question, we all agreed to meet at Ellie’s locker or something, and walk down together.

I went to the assigned meeting place and looked for them, but I didn’t see them. After a minute, I decided to just walk down and find her at the actual assembly. I mean, big deal, right? The assembly space was a large room in the basement of the school. As I walked down the stairs, I saw Ellie and Morgan on the other side of the room. I mouthed, “I looked for you,” and gave a kind of puzzled shrug. Two faces of stone met my gaze. Ellie mouthed, “SURE,” and turned away.

What the fuck?

Thus began a seemingly endless cycle of Ellie being “mad” at either me or Morgan, and having the other one act as her confederate. Morgan and I went along with this, I can’t tell you why. Because we were fourteen, I guess. I can’t even remember all the things she got “mad” at us about. Sometimes it was because we talked to someone Ellie didn’t like (as you may imagine, Ellie had a very long list of people she didn’t like). I also recall huge dramas about clothes—every evening we would talk on the phone about what we were going to wear the next day. If by some chance we, oh, I don’t know, changed our fucking minds, and wore something other than the outfit that had been “approved” in the conversation with Ellie, she would be “mad.”

“You said you were going to wear your turquoise double dyed jeans. If you hadn’t said that, I would have worn my pink ones, but I didn’t want us both to show up in something so similar.”

She would express her anger in the form of a hostile silence, and whomever she was “mad” at would initially have to plead to even understand the transgression, then (assuming she would deign to reveal this) we would spew apologies and regrets, begging to return to her good graces. She would make us suffer—“But you always act like this when such and such happens, and I’m just sick of it,” she would lecture. After a day or two she’d simmer down and we’d all be friends again. For a little while.

The slightest thing would set her off, and she loathed not being the center of attention (which often was what set her off). She had a soap opera habit, and she was in the process of converting me. We liked to watch “Days of our Lives” at my house. One afternoon at school our English teacher walked up to me and handed me a 3 inch long pencil that had almost no eraser and had been lightly gnawed. It said “I [heart] the Soaps” on it.

“Here,” he smiled, “I found this; it must be yours.”

He was being kind, trying to reach out to connect with a snotty, disaffected fourteen year old (who, to be honest, didn’t want to be connected with—I’m sorry, Mr. Weinstein; I was an asshole, and I appreciate your teaching me that “alright” is not a word, even though spell check let it pass when I typed it just now).

“What is it?” Ellie asked.

“Just a pencil,” I said, showing it to her. Ellie pounced on me.

“That’s mine!” she insisted vehemently, “Mine. I used it today during our quiz in History class!”

I should have called her on it. I should have said, “Actually, during the quiz you were using one of those erasable pens.” (And those things have totally disappeared from the face of the earth, haven’t they? No loss—they didn’t work for shit.) Because I remembered that, but we were a few months into this “getting mad” shit and I was a coward. I couldn’t bear to have her “mad” at me, ganging up with Morgan, standing a few feet away from me whispering and eyeing me, then laughing loudly. And since I was her partner in crime when Morgan was the victim, I knew the kinds of things they were saying.

“Look at those hideous pants. Who would wear such hideous pants? Someone with no taste, that’s who!” Or, “Ohmahgod, how gross can you get?”

Pencils were bad, but boys were a thousand times worse.

In a way I won’t go into (mostly because I don’t remember it), she started dating a guy named Mike. He didn’t go to our school—I think she just picked him up on a city bus somewhere. One of the few nice things about being a teenager is the odds are pretty low that another teenager is a serial killer, and what with siblings and intramural sports, you likely have lots of mutual friends (which was the case in this instance). So picking up a fifteen year old isn’t quite as risky as picking up a thirty year old guy at a bar.

Ellie was so insecure that she manipulated for the sake of manipulation. With Mike, she wanted to know what he was thinking—how he felt about her, how he felt about other girls, how he visualized their relationship progressing (in her mind, marriage was the natural conclusion. Yes, she was fifteen). Her strategy was to get me to call him and ask him a bunch of questions and then call her and relay the answers. God forbid I was vague or uncertain about how the conversation progressed.

“So, what did he say then?”

“Well, I think that was when he said…”

“You THINK? You THINK? Don’t you KNOW? WHAT DID HE SAY, EXACTLY?!?”

I learned to speak in specifics, never to hedge. “He said X,“ versus, “I think he said X,” even if I wasn’t quite sure. When I was finished, she’d say, “OK, call him back and ask him…” And if she ever didn’t like the answers, it was my fault, and she’d get “mad.” At me. Of course.

I swear I’m not making this shit up.

Then she started dating a guy that she took away from another girl. His name was Adrien and he’d been dating Kate for years when Ellie decided he was irresistible and she had to have him (he was not irresistible; he was gross). This began a whole drama in which he was torn between Kate and Ellie, and cheated on Kate with Ellie before finally breaking up with Kate, and Ellie loved every second of it. Since this is already pretty long, I’ll skip to the end and tell you that she got him, and he was the biggest loser on the planet. He ended up working at a CVS because he had zero ambition. However, that was the catalyst for the demise of our friendship. She was so caught up in her relationship with him that she didn’t have time for me, which turned out to be an excellent thing.

The summer before senior year, when I hadn’t seen her for weeks, and had started hanging out again with the friend I’d dropped, she called me to find out why I hadn’t called her, and we had a very long phone conversation in which I told her just what I thought of her and her bullying ways, and that I wasn’t going to have anything to do with her in the upcoming school year. Surprisingly, she was devastated. Adrien had broken up with her, and her cat had died, she sobbed to me (yes, the fact that her cat died was a reason why she wanted to stay friends with me). She would stop, she would change, she was so sorry she’d hurt me.

For probably the first time in my life, I made a good decision. I told her it was too fucking late, and she should piss off. Not those words exactly, but that was the very obvious gist of my message. And never since have I ever let anyone treat me the way she did, or use me so shamelessly. I won’t say I haven’t gotten myself into similar situations (lookin’ at you Jon Henderson), but as soon as I realized it, I walked out.

You may be thinking, “What the hell were your parents doing through all of this?” and the answer is, wishing their daughter had more of a spine and hoping that she’d eventually develop one (which, as I just said, I did). To be fair, there was a lot of this they didn’t realize was happening, but what they did realize they disapproved of heartily. Her parents didn’t have a clue what a little bitch their daughter was. In fact, early on in senior year, her father confronted me at a school function and flat out demanded that I reinstate my friendship with Ellie. I just turned around and walked away. Thanks to his daughter, that’s how I learned to deal with assholes and drama queens.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after
looking at many of the posts I realized it's new to me.
Anyhow, I'm definitely happy I found it and I'll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!



Here is my web page; grow taller 4 idiots

The Shitastrophy said...

Wow those kinds of kids really exist! That's insane.

Tracy said...

Sadly, hell yes. Names (and a few identifying details) have been changed to protect the guilty, but that little bitch was real, and I let her get away with it for way too long. There was a LOT more I could have said, but this post was almost 2K words as it was, so I picked the "best" things to share.

Jana Kendall said...

I've been one of the ladies in waiting to the bitchy queen bee. I also once was best friends with a set of twins -- and, I'm ashamed to admit, I acted like Ellie -- bouncing from one to the other. Teenage girls can be the worst -- and unfortunately, it doesn't end there. I have coworkers who are incredibly cliquey and make it their mission to cause drama and infighting in the clinic. It can be miserable.

Tracy said...

Interestingly, I find that adults are easier to dismiss when they're like that. For me, anyway. I'm sure I work with people like that, but I don't have to see them outside the office. And the few drama queens we've had at the office haven't lasted long. It seems like it's easier to avoid people as an adult than it was as a teenager. Also, I have thicker skin--you want to stand over there and whisper about me? Fine. Go ahead and act like a 14 year old. I'll laugh outright at someone doing that, whereas at 14 I would have let it make me miserable.

Stacey OneFunnyMotha said...

Thank GOD my daughter is not into drama at all. She already ditched one friend (who I kind of feel bad for b/c you can tell she is just really insecure although that's not my kid's problem & my kid helped her as much as she could but the girl was just a problem) & this is b/4 high school. I think if you try to instill self-confidence & self-worth the kids will figure it out & be ok.

Tracy said...

My daughter isn't a fan of drama either, and my hope is she'll have the confidence to tell someone to kiss off if they're the kind of asshole this girl was with me. I think she will--she's very shy, but she doesn't suffer fools gladly, and she's got an will of iron. If she doesn't want to do it, SHE. WILL. NOT. And you can't make her. Dammit. :)