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Status Quo, No Dressing Above Your Status
Brittany strode confidently down the hallway, poker straight black hair down over her slim shoulders. The color of her hair matched the black of her cheerleading uniform. She wore the uniform proudly, displaying the bold green, white, and black in stripes on her face. She was pretty, and she knew it. She was envied, and she knew it. She was wanted, and she knew that, all too well.
They were the ones we envied, the ones we watched, the ones with the names no one was ignorant of. They were the ones we feared, the ones we loved, the ones we wanted to be. They were the ones who, as long as we could remember, had been so high above us. These people were the ones found in every ordinary high school. These were the popular students.
She had started cheering at the age of five in Pop Warner. It was where she had met all of her current friends and had built up the confidence that now carried her through every day. Her friends were pretty, too, but she never really paid much attention to that. She knew that all eyes were on her, all the time. She flipped her shiny hair back over her shoulder for what had to be the hundredth time that morning. Her high heels clacked noisily against the granite floor, drawing even more attention to the mannequin-esque blob of makeup walking nonchalantly down the hall.
She should have been doing the princess wave. Brittany sat at her desk at the front of the classroom with her legs folded daintily beneath her. She liked to sit at the front because her classmates would look at her every so often. She kept her back erect and her hand pressed lightly against the fair flesh of her face. She popped her gum.
These were the ones that held the glamour and vanity of Hollywood modeling and idolism in one small town. The group was always the same; they were the jocks who brought our teams to victory, putting South Plainfield on the map, or the pretty girls who strut down the halls like ridiculous roosters in their designer shoes and North Face jackets. They were the delusions of grandeur of the wimps and “regulars” who prayed and hoped that one day, maybe they, too, could be like those kids. Why is it we all wanted to be like them?
We, the normal people with our sea level status, are the ones who are unique; we are the ones everyone should want to get to know, for we are the ones with personalities of our own. I have met these so-called superiors and have made a few observations of my own: The popular girls are always the same with their long blonde locks or straight, brown hair streaked with blonde highlights (It doesn’t look good, either. Why should we want that?), and slim figures. The boys are masculine and well-muscled with their neatly cut hair, ordinary sneakers, man Uggs (gross), and jeans. These kids are only us in the wanted designer brands. Why should these clothes define us? When looked at with an icy eye, the most-wanted clothes are just that: over-priced, too-tight clothes on bodies that are exactly the same as ours.
These were the people who sat at the same lunch table for all four years of high school. It was that table that was like them, somehow better than any other. It sat in the middle of the cafeteria, giving every other table a perfect view of its every angle. They laughed there; they ate there: they gossiped there, spewing out hurtful words in nonsensical ways by using “like” after every other word they abused; and their elbows touched that table. It has always been a dream of the regular people to sit at that table and laugh with them, but in the back of our minds, we know that we will never be ‘good enough.’
“Did you guys, like, see that, like, hideous shirt Sterling was wearing? Ugh! It was, like, so ugly!”
When the cafeteria is empty, that table is still like all the others, dull brown and gum-slicked. We could sit at that table and remember who sat there but we know the magic is gone. If they are not there, is that table not ‘good enough’ either? These thoughts are only the delusions of our angst and need for acceptance. Those people are only better than us because we make them that way.
Brittany thought she was better than any other. Was that why she pretended to be nice to them, only to have their hopes crushed when she laughed about them and never spared them another glance? Yes, that was exactly the reason why. Is that why I am not good enough? Am I not good enough because I put the feelings of others over my own entertainment?
Why should I let what I made take me down? If I were to want to sit at that table, I should be allowed to; I should be able to laugh with them, talk to them, but I know I will not. Is this because I am lower than them? No! I will not befriend them because I think I am lower than they; I make myself believe that I am unworthy to be in their presence. Is it fair? Of course it is not fair to abuse myself in such ways.
I am one of the regulars, and I will remain so because I make myself so. Am I good enough to be acquainted with them? Perhaps I am. I will never know because I will never try. I wish I was courageous and funny, I wish I had something to offer. But if I did have something to offer, maybe I would already be in their circle. A regular no longer, I would walk in the place of Brittany. I would look down on those who were not like me.
I am better off as a regular, I know that now. Everyone knows me to be anything but what they are. I would never use “like” after every other word in a sentence, and I would not look down on those “below” me because no one is below me. We are all the same; we are all floating at sea-level because, if not, then where would we be? I have my friends, and they have their own. Just because we are not friendly with each other does not mean that one is better than the other.
When we sit at our lunch tables, we are no better and no worse than anyone around us…
…Even if Brittany thinks otherwise.
“What a loser,” she laughs. Her group of friends giggles along with her while I continue walking down the hall. Who cares what they have to say about me? I am still me and people like me for me. It’s only high school; no big deal.