A Rose by Any Other Label Would Smell as Sweet

April 1, 2009
Nicole, Anna-Marie and I are sitting together. We can see the approving glances from the rest of the students as they file into the class. We are royalty in this class and we know it.

In this class I am the queen bee. I discuss everyone, and cut down those that I detest. To me, gossip is a smooth stinger that I can use repeatedly without endangering my own social life. Everyone in this colony, so to speak, has a label. There are the preps, the punks, goths, nerds, freaks, geeks, and everything in between. All is right with the world-that is until she arrives.

She comes in with a brand new Hampton’s Embossed Python Flap Tote Coach bag. That is the bag that I’ve been positively dying to get my hands on. “She’s one of us!” my brain immediately screams with delight...but no. She’s wearing last season’s Marc Jacob pea coat. A wannabe. “A definite wannabe”, I think, but once again I’m proven wrong. In her right hand she carries a black umbrella covered with the faces of the members of Green Day. “Punk band enthusiast”, I guess again. Once again my speculation is wrong. On her feet are black and white converses with lyrics to her favorite songs written on the soles. Emo? She’s clearly a left-winger. I’m confused and I hate it. Everyone has his or her proper place and now here is this girl, unknowingly defying the rigid system. As she walks past me, I notice a dab of paint on the back of her shirt, and outside it continues to rain.

We’re in the cafeteria. I sit in the middle and wait for the wannabes to bring me my food as usual.

“Have you seen the new girl? Her name is Mellifera Apis,” states Nicole.

I am still unable to place her in a group. The need to put her in a definite category is so great that I decide to talk to her.


She turns to look at me and I see her eyes darken. They are a very strange color but they are beautiful, and for that, I hate her. I begin immediately.

“Everyone has a label here. Yours is either emo or liberal freak. Pick one.”
She looks at me with disdain, “Labels are for soup cans and when you label others you don’t take the time to fully understand how they think and work. I don’t fall into a category, sorry.” She turns her back to me, clearly dismissing me and I feel such extreme rage. As I turn to go I notice her eating a strange colored jelly. Curiosity gets the best of me.

“What are you eating?” I ask.

“Protein enhanced jelly, made exclusively for me, since I’m a vegetarian,” she brags. I roll my eyes and walk back to my seat still fuming over her statement.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with labeling others. Labeling is simply an adjective- a way of describing oneself, and there is nothing wrong with that. Goth, Geek; all these are simply adjectives and ways to portray a person. They are no different from pretty, republican, intelligent, claustrophobic. The way I look at it, labels are even better than adjectives, because they cover a large spectrum. When a person is called Emo, everyone automatically knows the person is a white, mostly middle-class, well-off kid who finds imperfections in his life and as a result creates a ridiculous, depressing melodrama around it.

As a matter of fact, labels are a much faster way to get to know someone. In today’s society fast is the way to go…or maybe that is the problem. Is labeling to broad? I’m confused and there is a niggling feeling in the pit of my stomach. Outside the rain slows down and changes to drizzle.

“Run!” hollers Coach Mortimer. I dribble the basketball down the court at top speed anticipating the moment when I flick it through the air and watch as it comes careening down-SWOOSH. Right into the hoop. As I begin to toss the ball I feel a sharp pain in my arm and quickly lob the ball to another teammate. Damn it. It was probably just a muscle cramp. I soon regain control of the ball and as I set myself up to make a basket I felt another stinging pain shoot through my arm. What?

“Coach Mortimer, can I use the bathroom? I think I’m going to vomit!” I shout. She gives me a quick nod and turns back to the game at hand. I sprint to the bathroom and take a look at my hand. It seems perfectly fine to me. The blood pulsates in my arm, the beat, playing its very own Thriller. With a malfunctioning arm I won’t be able to place the balls in the net like I’m supposed to. I am the star of the team. Without my arm I am nothing on the court. Without the court, I am nothing at L'Ape Regina High School.

I sling my Vera Bradley bag onto my shoulder and start walking past the band room. The new girl is sitting there playing the clarinet. She isn’t playing a song; just continually playing a loud tooting sound that’s either a G sharp or an A flat. She toots a 2 second beat followed by a series of quarter-second toots, and continues this pattern over and over. I storm into the room.

“Hey you!”
The girl slowly turns to look at me as if she knew I’d been watching her.

“So, I was thinking about what you said earlier,” I begin, “Whether you like it or not, everyone falls into a clique.”

“Yeah?” she counters, in a bored tone, “Well I’m not part of that everybody. I think labeling is wrong. People who are too lazy to get to know someone use labels. They take one look at a person and slap a label on their forehead without ever getting to actually know the person- without ever actually talking to a person. That’s disgusting.”

I’m exasperated. “Sweetie, by saying that you don’t label others you fall into a category.”

“And what category is that?”

“The ‘Labels are for soup cans ’ category. There are tons of you, do-gooders, who feel that stereotypes and cliques are wrong. When you say that your not part of a clique you fall into the clique of people who aren’t part of a clique. You’re nothing without a label. It’s what defines you. It helps others to fully understand you. People who share the same label as you are drawn to you because you share the same interests.”

“But what if I share interests with more than one clique, huh? Then what? Do I forget my other interests? Just because a guy wears skinny jeans doesn’t make him emo. He just likes the look. So what? It doesn’t mean he slits his wrists and listens to lame punk bands. His favorite song might be Bust Your Windows, by Jasmine Sullivan. And even if he does fit part of the description for a scene kid, who the hell are you to decide this for him. Who are you to criticize and look down on him, and who the hell are you to decide what’s socially acceptable when 95% of people don’t share this asinine ideology of what is supposedly normal?”
I can see her vein twitching as blood pumps through it. I can almost hear the sound of her heartbeat, playing its very own Thriller. I feel a niggling feeling in my stomach. For once I am rendered speechless but quickly recover.
“Listen new girl, and listen very well. Labels are like a genre. If you can have Emo music then why can’t you have emo people? What I mean is, labels are given by how you look and act, the same way music is labeled by how it sounds. Labeled people are merely people who follow a certain theme, like Gossip Girl and The Clique. There is no difference between thug and white girl. It’s just a description of the way you look.”

“You’re a waste of my time,” she said.

“And you’re a pitiful liberal.”
“Actually, I’m a hardcore republican.”
Outside the sun peeks out from the clouds.

What is going on? I’m at the front of Smoothie King the popular hangout for all high school kids, and whom do I see? Her. There she is talking with my friends, and together they are laughing with a large crowd of students from Abeilles de Travailleur High. I slowly saunter towards them, and as I do they slowly turn to look at me, as though I am the intruder. As I walk into the crowd I can feel them engulf me. The horde is clustered around me and I feel as though I am overheating. As I stand there in the middle of this crowd I feel like a nobody, and in that instant I realize I have been superseded.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

abbers said...
Jul. 15, 2009 at 9:33 pm
so good. very intersting
ad12 said...
Apr. 6, 2009 at 10:12 pm
It had so many little rhetorical things tossed in there, which you catch each time you read it. It took me a 2nd and 3rd reading to realize you were relating school to a bee colony! Very good.
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