Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Mean Girls

I found Polish Pretend Son in the sitting-room, eating full-fat Polish cheese for breakfast. He looked very much like my Polish Pretend Son, for he hadn't glued his hair down yet. We have a lot of hair in my family. If he eschewed the hair gel permanently, he could pass as one of us.

"Did you sleep well?" I asked.

"I slept okay," said Polish Pretend Son. "How did you sleep?"

Actually, I had just woken up from a terrible dream in which I had gotten out of bed and taken a bus to central Edinburgh to go the gym but changed my mind and went to a very expensive French patisserie instead. And just as I had changed my mind about buying almond croissants, I heard someone calling my name. So I looked, and lo, it was one of the Mean Girls from high school. The Mean Girls were rather less mean to me than to my friends, mind you. However, in my dream they made up for it in mid-life. Before I knew it I was surrounded by middle-aged Mean Girls, all slim, well-dressed and haughty, except for the one who was eight months pregnant. She was just well-dressed and haughty and needing to impress upon me how much more fabulous her life was than mine.

"We didn't like your book," said one of the non-pregnant Mean Girls.

"But I don't think anyone has it yet," I said to confuse her. It worked. She looked confused.

"Your Single book," she said. "I thought that part about that girl was stupid."

And they all murmured assent and looked at me avidly in that way girls look when another girl is being bullied.

"You can't bully me!" I cried. "I don't have to put up with this! I live in a seventeenth-century mansion!"

Of course, I don't own the mansion, and live in the attic, and it was built on so much by 1740 that it is rather more eighteenth-century than seventeenth, but I didn't think it necessary to mention this. Instead I fled the expensive French patisserie and its Mean Girl Tourists/High School Alumnae.

"I think you have already your blog post today," said Polish Pretend Son.

Update: Now I have put also Polish Pretend Son on the bus to catch his train for London. I'm reasonably sure this is an activity common to many real, Scottish, mothers, too. Look, look! I'm assimilating into Scottish society!


Katy said...

I think this demonstrates the power of adolescent insecurities to continue to plague our professional confidence well into our, 4-, I mean, *post*-adolescence. Pray a blessing on all those high school mean girls, wherever they may be today (very possibly miserable and frumpy, even) and all this will be purged.

Anna said...

Speaking of bullying, yesterday on facebook someone I go to church with and who is a married male in his mid 40s, told me to go to hell, because he didn't like a joke I made and decided that I was attacking/dismissing him (I was not; the joke was not directed at him). I can't help thinking that if I was married, he wouldn't have dared to insult me so openly. Fortunately friends stepped in and told him he was out of line.

Domestic Diva said...

The mean girls of my life have almost all been in & out of drug rehab, suicidal, sexually "used up," etc. And even though intellectually I know my life is far better than theirs, the residual insecurity remains. I can totally see myself having a dream like this.

Seraphic said...

I haven't seen any of the Mean Girls of High School for years and years, so I have no idea how they are doing.

Strangely, the one and only Alumna who ever said something mean to me in adult (i.e. post-university graduation) life was not in my dream.

Seraphic said...

Anna, I don't know. I think people are just so used to being rude online now that married, unmarried, male, female doesn't really enter into their speculations. If it was at church or anywhere else in person, I would think so. But on Facebook... My guess is he typed without thinking.

Jam said...

I've been tutoring high school girls and it's brought back some of those high school dynamics. Not so much the girls as the other tutors; last time the other tutors in my room were chit chatting loudly with the girls about clothes and boys while I insisted my charges work on their homework. Yep, I'm still the "guys! we're supposed to be *working*!!" one. What's really fascinating is that a few of the physical/mental/speech problems related to social anxiety that I thought I got over in college -- certain kinds of shy behavior, nervous tics, even cramps behind my knees -- came back in my first couple of tutoring sessions. Happily, although it was disorienting and upsetting to feel like I'd gone back in time, I know that those things are behind me and not essential to who I am so I can get over it (and already I'm much more at ease etc).

Julia said...

Hi, Auntie! This is not related to this post, but I'd like to say thank you for your recent posts on career and student debt. They prompted me to tally up my uni debt yesterday, and I although I knew the debt wasn't huge, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the debt was comfortably under what I expected it to be. Considering that the postgrad programme I'm in is free and I'm on a scholarship, I'm feeling optimistic about the possibility of my being student debt-free in the near future, and I'm only 23. I think I can start paying it off soon too, so thanks for the kick along!

Urszula said...

How is that Mean Girls never seem to go away, no matter how much one has put all conscious thought of them in the past?

I used to hang out with a group of female colleagues at work but I'm frankly put off by their Mean Girl dynamic which seems to be creating itself (as in, "we" are super-cool and everybody else at work is lame). I understand sometimes you need to emotionally cleanse yourself of work stress but at the age of 30, do you really need to bolster your sense of confidence by putting people down, making fun of their looks etc?

Any ideas on how to remove myself from such negativeness? Is speaking up worth it? I feel tempted to just chide them but that's probably not going to get me very far.

Seraphic said...

Julia--23! In terms of debt and education, you are still ahead of the game. I'm glad you looked reality in the face and it was not so bad.

Urszula, you are in a pickle. If you speak up, you could be ostracized by your group. I recommend reading the faces of the others, and if you see that one woman is quiet when the others are making jokes about the others and giggling, or even says "Aw, she's not so bad", single her out later and say, "I wish we weren't so hard on X. She's actually quite decent." Another thing you can do is say something nice about one of the scapegoats, e.g "Y is wearing a great skirt today." Changing an "enjoyable" group dynamic is pretty hard and must be done with stealth.

Julia said...

Yeah, well, another reality is that apparently Australian women of my generation will need a sum of $1.7 million on which to retire (Australian men of my generation need $1.5 million - there's a gap because Australian women live longer on average than Australian men). And today I read that Australia's housing is considered to be "severely unaffordable" - worse than in the US and Canada. It seems that people are delaying having babies because they can't afford homes that cater to families. So as you have said, reality can be scary.

Jackie said...

This is utterly unrelated to Mean Girls but I would just like to say that you sound like a fantastic hostess, Seraphic!

Seraphic said...

Well, that depends. B.A. points out that I seem to go the extra mile for handsome young guests under 30.

Clara said...

So, do you ever adopt Pretend Daughters? :)

Seraphic said...

You are all my pretend daughters! :-D