Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wait for it

When I was a sophomore in high school, I got called out of class by the Dean of Women, Mrs. Spencer. I followed her to her office in confused silence for several minutes, until finally I ventured, “Is this about that scholarship?”

“No, it’s not about ‘that scholarship,’” she said in a tone that was tough to pin down. Was she mocking me, I wondered? I’m an honor student. I couldn’t be in trouble, could I?

Turns out I was. When we arrived at her office, there was my high school nemesis, or one of them, anyway, sitting at the dean’s desk, looking smug.

Her name was Dina. She was white trash and mean. I was semi-white trash, too, but I didn’t run with her crowd. I tended more toward the cheerleader-hating suicidal-poem-writing element. Those girls were rough, and they delighted in victimizing nerdy girls like me. I’d had my locker spray-painted and broken into numerous times & my prized denim jacket stolen mere days after one of them had admired it out loud within my earshot. I’d had my skirt lifted so many times I stopped wearing them. I was generally pushed and jostled by them in the restroom, in lunch lines, and I won’t even go into what happened during dodgeball, except to say that I think they had some kind of pool going about who could knock my glasses off my face the most times.

Later, my severe geekiness was mitigated when my brother became very cool among the druggie crowd. He was the Matthew McConnaghey of Marion High School, and because so many of the mean girls wanted to get with him, they stopped their outright attacks on me.

But that was later.

Dina sat in front of me in American History, except she spent a lot time swiveled around in her chair, staring at me, making rude comments about my clothes, and trying to peek off my test answers. I hated her pretty bad, and so when a couple of friends urged me to take revenge on her by taping a sign to her back (yes, that old chestnut), I will admit that it didn’t take much convincing.

Dina had walked into class that day with a rather remarkable hairdo, the kind of hairdo that girls in the 70s still got from their mom’s hairdresser for special occasions. It was upswept and teased, with a large teased bun in the back and spiral spit curls on the sides. It was quite a sight. So I wrote out a sign that said, simply enough, “Look at my hair!” and taped it to her back.

I know, I’m a genius, right?

So there I sat in the Dean’s office, called on the carpet for the kind of prank that should have been laughed off, or avenged, maybe, but certainly not given to the authorities to arbitrate.

So here’s how it went down:

Mrs. Spencer: Victoria, you’re lucky I am involved. Dina expressed to me that otherwise she would have instigated a fight with you.

Me: She wouldn’t fight me.

Dina: I could kick your butt!

Me: No you wouldn’t.

Mrs. Spencer: And how would you stop her, Victoria?

Me: I can run a lot faster than she can.

I think this statement stopped them both in their tracks. Clearly, the Dean was not used to dealing with girls who took pride in their ability to run from fights.

Mrs. Spencer: I would like you to apologize to her, Victoria.

I thought about this for a long time. Dina and Mrs. Spencer waited silently for me to speak.

Me: I’m sorry you got upset about what happened.

Mrs. Spencer: Hm. I’m afraid that’s not good enough, Victoria.

Me: Well, that’s too bad. That’s all you’re getting.

It was the classic un-apology. KIND OF LIKE THE APOLOGY OFFERED BY FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR MIKE BROWN in front of the Congressional committee yesterday. When asked if he had any regrets about his performance, he offered "I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences and work together. I just couldn't pull it off,"

He also admitted, with great humility, that his “biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional.”

Want more from him? Too bad. That’s all you’re getting.


Anonymous said...

Great story. Great analogy.

Whatever happened to ol' Dina, anyway?

vikkitikkitavi said...

I don't know. The mind reels.