You know how on talk shows like Sally Jessy Raphael and Ricki Lake and all the other ones, they used to have those "geek to chic" episodes where a school bully would be surprised on the show by a former classmate they used to tease who was now hot and awesome (or, in the case of Jenny Jones, a stripper or porn star)? I used to love that shit. In fact, fantasizing about the day when I would finally appear on one of those episodes was half of what got me through middle school. I knew exactly who I would bring on, too. This girl Rae Ann, who made my life a living hell all through school. She was horrible to everyone, but I was her special project. She hated me for reasons I've never understood, nor do I really want to.
"How could you have been so cruel to this obviously marvelous human being!" Sally Jessy would say.
In this daydream, she'd be there, sitting in the chair, all raggedy and trailer park-y and possibly missing teeth. Still with the spiral perm and tight rolled pants and cruel eyes and stupid pointy face. "I can't possibly imagine who this could be, I was so popular in school!" she would say. And then I would emerge from backstage. She wouldn't recognize me because I wouldn't have braces or the huge gap in my teeth that I had before the braces, I wouldn't have frizzy hair, I wouldn't be backed into a wall on the playground while she and her minions surrounded me, demanding to know why I was wearing bell bottoms when I was not in fact wearing bell bottoms. I would be a GLORIOUS BUTTERFLY, and I would be wearing a long red sequined cocktail dress like Jessica Rabbit, because that is what I thought glamorous people wore all of the time when I was 10. I would be a Broadway Star, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Acclaimed Novelist and Renowned Tireless Advocate for Social Justice! I would tell the whole audience, nay, the whole world, how she had tortured me. How I had hid from her in the ceiling of our sixth grade bathroom to avoid her trying to beat me up. How I spent every day hoping to god she would just leave me alone, and how that never happened, ever. Except for the one time where she told me that I was pretty and could be popular if only I would tight roll my pants and not be so weird all of the time. Sally Jessy would be all like "How can you live with yourself knowing that you destroyed this poor girls childhood! And how do you feel about the fact that she is so much more awesome than you are now?" And the whole audience would cheer for me, and demand that I favor them with a song from my new show. And they would boo her, and maybe throw some rotten vegetables at her or something. She would be filled with such shame, and she would apologize for having made my life a living hell for ten years, and she would beg my forgiveness. I would give it to her. I would even offer to pay to have her teeth fixed, because that would just be the kind of wonderful, gracious person I was.
Feel free to listen to this while you read for the full effect.
I don't fantasize about that anymore. Because I am an adult now and would feel pretty weird about going on a TV show to brag about how awesome I've become. Also, I think bullying is shitty whether you grow up to become a glorious beautiful butterfly or not. For the most part, I am also pretty much over the whole Carrie Without The Telekinetic Powers era of my life. I mean, there was definitely some PTSD going on for a while. There were things that I thought and ways that I dealt with things that were a direct result of all of that. Some of them were good, like the fact that I am always very concerned that people feel included and important. I've made some great friends that way. Some of them were not so good, like the fact that it took me a very long time to accept that people who were my friends were not going to turn around one day and yell "Psych!" at me. On my more depressive days, the well that I go to is still that everyone must secretly hate me. The hardest thing to get over was this idea I had that there was something deeply wrong with me that everyone could see but that I would never be able to understand. Like the whole world was keeping some secret about how terrible I was, and I was so awful that they wouldn't even deign to tell me. A lot of that is because I never really understood how or why I had become a target in the first place. When you're a target, it's like every single thing you do is wrong, is something people will make fun of you for. Anything you do is wrong simply because you're the one doing it. It's horrible, and it can make you insanely paranoid.
That being said, I've searched for her for years. I've googled to no avail. I've asked people about her, and no one has any idea what became of her. Hell, they don't even know if she graduated with them (I moved to Rochester when I as 15). She's not on Facebook, though I can hardly blame her. I imagine if she did have one she'd be constantly inundated with messages from people like me. I wonder about what happened to her a lot. I wonder if she's still cruel. I wonder if she is locked up in a mental institution, driven insane by the guilt. I wonder if she pissed off the wrong person and ended up in WITSEC. It used to be because I needed to know why. I had this thing in my head, telling me if I could just understand why it happened, why I was a target, then I could fix it all. I always had a really hard time believing that people were assholes "just because", probably because my mom had me read The Diary of Anne Frank in 2nd Grade and if Anne Frank could believe that everyone was really good at heart, than how could I not think that? After all, I was just some girl who got picked on in school! I wasn't being hunted by Nazis. Who was I to not think everyone was good at heart? And if everyone was really good at heart, then they just must have had a had a reason for hating me that they wouldn't disclose to me, because it was *that* terrible, that shameful, and that awful. I realize now that this is faulty logic, I realize now that sometimes there just aren't reasons, but hell, I was a kid, not a logician.
I don't feel like I need to know why anymore. I doubt I'd ever get a satisfactory answer, in fact, I doubt that there is one, and even if there was, I doubt that I would give even really give a shit. Growing up and meeting other people who have gone through this, whom I find nothing deeply, inherently wrong with, is sort of what made me realize that. In fact, almost every kick ass person I know was bullied as a kid. Also, realizing that I will never go through something like that again, but that I did, and that I survived, is also pretty awesome. I know that it wasn't just her doing the bullying, it was a lot of people. It was also the people who never said anything. Hell, in a way it was some of my "friends" who were only willing to hang out with me in secret, outside of school, for fear of getting taunted themselves. But a part of me will always be dying to know what ever became of her. I will probably Google her name once every few months for the rest of my life. There will still probably be days when I lie in bed and daydream up a letter to her, admonishing her for all that childhood cruelty. Hell, there will probably still be days when I have my Sally Jessy Raphael revenge fantasy. It will always feel like some strange unsolved mystery to me, it will always hang over my head in one way or another- because no matter how "over it:" I am, this girl still played a huge part in who I am today, both good and bad, and I will probably always want some sort of closure, whatever that is.