One is Silver and the Other's Gold--or sometimes a Rusty Tarnished Brass that a Dog Peed On

The universe works in mysterious ways.

Or, as you learned if you could get through even a single chapter of the Celestine Prophesy without your eyes bleeding from the horror of James Redfield's writing: There are no coincidences.

Here I am, so excited to go to BlogHer Thursday. I'm thinking about all the great new connections I'm about to make, finally meeting women who have pushed me professionally, comforted me personally, cracked my sometimes self-pitying self daily for the past six months. I'm feeling good about myself, and my new camera which only takes picture of people's asses. (Kidding! Geez.)

And then, an email comes addressed to Mom101.

The sender asks who I am and whether I actually went to the sleepaway camp I once mentioned here. This is the the place where I was able to survive eight consecutive weeks of twelve year-old mean girls and their twelve year-old mean girl shit. Where one particular girl who I've always remembered in great detail--I'll call her Marni--took charge of the alpha tweens and made me the object of their annual summer game, Let's See How Fast We Can Get the New Girl to Go Home.

If I'm not mistaken, there was money on the line.

Yes, I did go there. I remember the camp owners, Tashmoo versus Mohawk color war teams, and mean girls from the South Shore of Long Island. Who are you?

She is Marni's sister.

It was as if all the memories came back and attacked me at once, like so many ninjas in bad action films. Shaving cream in the hair. Cruel songs with my name in it. Rumors spread at the boys' camp across the lake. A chocolate cake shared with everyone but me until finally, at a counselor's insistence, my slice was licked straight up the center by the birthday girl, handed back towards me, and oops, dropped on the cement mess hall floor. Denying a non-Jello dessert to a hungry camper was like denying oxygen to a lung transplant candidate.

I would have been very happy remaining at the gymnastics camp I had attended for four summers. It was my father's dream to send me to a girl's camp where I could learn the finer points of waterskiing and horseback riding and campfire songs about loving each other and staying friends friends friends forever la la la la la.

But I wasn't like my bunkmates. I wasn't rich, I didn't get manicures, I didn't own a pair of Esprit socks in every color. I didn't even like Esprit, the nerve. I prefered to spend time with the few campers from France than the ones from Long Island. I gravitated to arts and crafts and dance, instead of tennis. I still remember the girls were shocked, shocked that I had never wielded a racket before. After all, some of them had grown up with courts in their backyards.

No doubt I projected an outsider vibe--I was only months away from discovering black lipstick. But still, I didn't invite the torment that continues to haunt me, just a little, to this day.

After my brief and pleasant email exchange last night with the sister (who I had always recalled as a lovely girl and funny to boot--two traits I like in a gal), three scenarios occurred to me:
1)Marni would send word through her sister that yes, she remembers me, and no, we weren't the best of friends, while secretly thinking, ugh, that freak? With the frizzy hair? Good lord, she has a blog? I should have suspected as much.
2)Marni would tell her sister horrible things about me which the sister would report back, and all the feelings of twelve-year old inadequacy would fill me again.
3)Marni would send word through her sister that she's felt terrible for more than two decades and would love to apologize. We'd eventually meet for a drink, confess the sins of our youth, laugh about the past, talk about our kids and promise to stay in touch which we never do.
What never occurred to me was 4)
Hi Liz. Ok so Marni says she remembers your name but nothing else.
Nothing else.

Kristen and I discussed the incident and she summed it up in such a funny, astute way, as readers of hers won't be surprised to hear. She said: If I was a bully I'd repress everything else too. Otherwise my guilt would drive me to drink.

While I moved on years ago, for some reason my chest feels just a little lighter today. And it's not that my boobs are smaller either.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully, the sister will read this and relay this message to Marni.

7/26/06, 10:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

God, I dread the day when my daughter has to go through this type of crap. Unfortunately, I think she might be more on the giving end than the receiving end.

7/26/06, 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worry about those mean girls sucking the sweet life from my daughter - I certainly had my fair share sucked right out of me.

That's why we're starting Karate tomorrow. :)

And PS if MARNI is anything like most people in this world, she'll google her name and find this at the top.


7/26/06, 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As soon as I read the title of this post (we sung that song often at my camp), the memories came rushing back. I can even smell the new wood in the mess hall.

What good...and horrible...times those were. Great post - thanks for the memory boost. I may have to 'Camp Polly' up my blog soon. :)

7/26/06, 10:09 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

OH summer camp. Yep, there were mean girls at mine too! And they thought I was so uncool! But I went back year after year. No permanent damage done but those girls were MEAN! I just hope and pray that those mean girls stay away from my daughter cause I just might have to go crazy on them!!! :)

7/26/06, 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh the painful memories, many of which I have suppressed! The pre-teen angst! I was a gawky, skinny, gangly girl with braces and hair that was wavy and way too long to be cool in junior high. I was uncoordinated and not athletic and just wanted to go home already. I loathed camp. I remember watching the "cool girls" from afar. Yuck. I hope my girls don't have to go through that, but unfortunately it seems like it's a rite of passage for many girls.

7/26/06, 10:21 AM  
Blogger J said...

Possibility #5. Marni could be LYING, because she doesn't want to fess up to what an ass she was.

Honestly, how could someone be 12 and not remember that kind of stuff? She may not remember your name, but she remembers what she did to you, the bitch. I don't know what I would do if someone treated my child like that...I guess by then it's all too late, huh? Sigh.

I wish her real name were Marni, and that she were currently living in Northern CA, because there is a psycho evil one in our condo complex named Marni, and I could tell you where she lives. ;)

7/26/06, 10:28 AM  
Blogger Stu said...

I'll bet anything that she remembers. If she didn't, she'd be seriously psychopathic, and I would assume Marni's sister would have mentioned that.

I was bullied, on many fronts, as a youth and it was awful. And most of the time, there's no healing for it. There's no justice, there's no resolution. And sometimes, for some of those events, there's no letting it go. The best you can hope for is to not become that way yourself, to keep the anger and frustration away from other people.

As a father of two who is the stay-at-home primary caregiver, I am very glad for your blog. Thank you for writing so honestly.

7/26/06, 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a nemesis reunion about five years ago via email as well. She remembered nothing so I did not remind her about the little pictures of a fat me she drew with another friend one very long 7th grade summer.

7/26/06, 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh she remembers .... she is a grown up now that would hate to admit being that girl as a teen is all.....she remembers.

Nasty girls that are mean...I so hope to teach my daughter not to be a target but also not to follow that crowd!

7/26/06, 11:36 AM  
Blogger MM said...

And I totally think you should remind her of what a prick she was so she can repent in sackcloth and ashes before you announce her the villain of they year at BlogHer-- but then, I'm vicious, and a gossip. What do I know?

7/26/06, 11:50 AM  
Blogger Lady M said...

I'm with j and chelle - She's probably denying the memories.

7/26/06, 12:36 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

Are you sure your camp wasn't my middle school?


7/26/06, 12:48 PM  
Blogger j.sterling said...

selective memory.. we all have it.
blogher will be the same way- i'm going to chase everyone until they leave. LMFAO- SO KIDDING. it's going to be fun! didn't mega mom crank call you?! she called me! and now i'm SUPER excited!

7/26/06, 12:58 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I often wonder if the mean girl who inspired my childhood group of mean girls in their meanness remembers what she did to me. Chances are she does, while she's standing barefoot in the yard of her trailer smoking a cigarette with baby #7 on the way and baby #6 on her hip while she waits for her government check in the mail and her abusive boyfriend to get home with their beat up car so she can go to her McDonald's job.

I bet Marni remembers too, and her denial is proof that she feels bad. Which I totally think you should rub in her face.

7/26/06, 1:03 PM  
Blogger Mike Karr said...

The bullys don't remember because the didn't and don't care. Kind of a bummer, that. I like to think that those that bullied me shaped who I am today and that's that, for better or worse.

7/26/06, 1:04 PM  
Blogger ms blue said...

I agree with Kristen. The mean girls didn't care who their victim was. It wasn't about tearing other girls apart. They were cruel to build themselves up.

Little do they know that it helped us grow into the women we are today. I think we are stronger and more compassionate due to these horrific experiences.

7/26/06, 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had memories of junior high and all the "preppie girls" giving me a hard time as I read this. I don't know why that stuff follows me. I've let go for the most part, but it still stings. I suppose that's normal.

7/26/06, 1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My God, those memories never really go away. I'm so sorry you have such tortured bullying in your past. In a way, the timing couldn't be better. If "Marni" had to resurface, even indirectly, good that it's on the eve of an event where your smarts, humor and honesty will be celebrated! Screw those childhood bullies!

I like to think our blogs reveal what we really want the world to know about us, the stuff that sometimes gets obscured when we feel socially awkward. You're about to be surrounded by people who love you for that...

7/26/06, 1:58 PM  
Blogger sarah doow said...

I'm going with #5 too - and I hope it's giving her a sleepless night or two. On the other hand, I'm delighted for you that a weight has been lifted. Sometimes the ones that we didn't realise are there are among the nicest ones to be rid of.

7/26/06, 2:37 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Yea, I think she remembers it ALL, and feels like total shit because of it! It aches her heart to think on someone doing that to her daughter and can't even admit how mean she was to her own sister. So she totally lies through her teeth and says: Hmmm liz....yea the name sounds familiar....but yea...don't really remember anything else. Riiiiiight!!!

7/26/06, 3:23 PM  
Blogger Erin M said...

"If I was a bully I'd repress everything else too. Otherwise my guilt would drive me to drink."

Kristin speaks teh gospel truth. It's a hard hearted person who can live with themselves after chronically treating others badly

Glad that your burdon has been lightened

7/26/06, 4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kristen's bang on.

The chocolate cake bit made my eyes bug out of my head. Bitches.

7/26/06, 4:27 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

So the girls from my grade school spent time with you at camp!


7/26/06, 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know; I think they remember. But like back then, they still don't really see that what they did was all that wrong.

7/26/06, 5:15 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Maybe your Marni had so many people that she bullied, she couldn't keep track of them.

I, too, have wondered what would happen if my bully reared her blonde, pixie-bitch head again. What would she say? Would she even remember?

7/26/06, 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that you reap what you sew in life. If that is true, Marni must have a loveless marriage to an evil man who is having an affair with her best friend under her nose all while he whittles away his tremendous wealth on his gambling and online porn addiction to eventually leave her homeless with her two children that she has no idea how to raise because up until this point they were cared for by a nanny who found Marni and her husband's secret sex tapes and decided to sell them online upon hearing that the husband was filing for bankruptcy and she would be out of a job. As a result of the the bankruptcy and way too many years of tanning, Marni is now a shriveled up and wrinkled raisin who can no longer afford botox injections and is forced to drive her children from corner to corner in her beat up Dodge Dart to perform mime to earn money to buy groceries.

I think I had too much caffiene today...

(Have fun at BlogHer :)

7/26/06, 8:37 PM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

Oh god this post brought back painful memories...how awful that Marni was to you!!!

Second, Liz, PLEASE write a novel. You need to. You're one of my favorite writers. :)

PS: Have a fantabulous time at Blogher...we'll miss you!!

7/26/06, 10:13 PM  
Blogger DaniGirl said...

Why doesn't this stuff ever go away? Why do we still feel that same choked panic when we think about those days? For me, it wasn't camp, it was school. To this day, I can't figure out why I was such an outsider in school.

Rest assured, the best revenge is living well.

7/27/06, 7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say I think that those of you who say you think she remembers and feels horrible are only partly right - I'm betting she remembers, doesn't care (as someone said), has done it in a dozen other venues in the years since: high school, college, office, play groups; you name it. But then, I have a very strong negative mind and always jump to believe the worst. Maybe though... I like Jill Urbane's depiction the best! Hope it came true ;-)

In my school years, in a very small school in a very rural area, EVERYONE picked on this one boy; he was the target of all of us, we all became "mean girls/boys" when around him. I think he actually lived to grow into a normal human being with a family and everything (something like that came out at the one and only HS reunion my class ever held). No clue how he managed it, but I'm grateful and personally I do feel like a shit when I remember that.

Oh yeah, and have a great time! Give a wave to my eldest boyo who lives in San Jose with lovely DIL. :-)

7/27/06, 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved this post. Everything about it hit home having been an oddball at summer camp with a bunch of "it" girls (or so I thought) from Long Island. Wow, too think of all the time I've spent thinking about them.

7/27/06, 4:11 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

I am currently corresponding with many members of my high school class via a Yahoo group as we plan our 20th reunion for next year. It's AMAZING to hear the things that people remember about me - it's almost like THEY saw me as a totally different person than I saw myself. Bullies, jocks, stoners, whatever - the bottom line is that we were all just trying to find our way through adolescense.

7/27/06, 7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aww. Last night I came across one of the worst bullies at my high school (and I was the least popular kid at school, I am not exaggerating) Apparently shes rich, not ugly (I can't bring myself to say she's pretty) and happy. And she probably doesn't think twice about me. How is that?

5/25/07, 6:40 AM  

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