Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Wheels on the Bus

I'm sure it has happened more than once, but there is one huge, whopping, enormous time I was pushed shoved punched TKOed thrown under a bus.

Each class at my high school had it's own President, VP, Secretary, and Treasurer of Student Council, and then overruling the whole Student Council was an Executive Board. My junior year I served on the Exec. Board as the "Assistant Dance Chair," and my senior year as the "Dance Chair." These were straight-up event planning offices: we had 3 dances a year, Homecoming, Turnabout, and Prom (which were a big deal because we didn't have deb stuff - so they were our only official date functions of the year where we got to dress up). Homecoming and Turnabout (Sadie Hawkins, basically) were planned by the Dance Chair, and Prom was planned by someone else (parents, maybe?). Anyway, the first two were the domain of the Dance Chair positions.

So, my junior year I was assistant to a girl (we'll call "Beth") who was a senior. We were roughly in the same group of friends, so we had a great time working together. She was a really sweet girl - and was great at the position. But perhaps one of the reasons she was so good was because she was a PERFECTIONIST to the max (which might or might not have led to what had to have been a pretty severe eating/overexercising disorder and an awful smoking habit), and made her prone to intense stress breakdowns and always-present anxiety. (Her mom had died when she was ~10, so most people were able to look past these negatives and sort of attribute them to that - she had some issues - but they were justifiable issues; and like I said, she was really nice - and fun/outgoing, etc., so she still had a lot of friends.)

Our first dance of the year (Homecoming) was great - no complaints, no problems, just a really nice experience. The second dance of the year, though, was a little different. I should say that even as her assistant (and someone she trusted), she still did a lot of the planning alone. I was really just there to do whatever she told me; it wasn't like the assistant position had different job assignments than the actual Chair, it existed purely to assist.

So night of Turnabout: I was having a great time! I had a cool outfit (a pretty, beaded cashmere twin set and a long, slate-colored taffeta skirt), we had done group pictures at someone's house, and then went to dinner at a nice restaurant with a big group. We arrived at the dance and were rocking out, having a lot of fun; I was with my boyfriend and all our friends - it was just great.

Then the time came for the announcement of "Turnabout King." We did this for all the dances - had a "court" that the classes voted on, and then at the actual Homecoming and Turnabout dances, we announced the court and they walked out on the stage ("John Smith, son of Deb and Mike Smith is on the football and lacrosse teams, his favorite subject is biology, and he likes to sing with his band on the weekends" blah blah - stuff like that). And as you can imagine, going along with Beth's anxiety, she was always too nervous to be the reader on the stage, so I did it.

Right before I was about to go on stage, Beth came up to me, really anxious (as normal) and said, "I did something really bad and I know you're going to be mad at me but I didn't know what to do and I'm really sorry and I hope you'll forgive me but I just didn't know what to do."

Um... "It's ok, calm down, what did you do?"*

"Well, I forgot to get chaperones for the dance. Like, we needed 15 parents to be at the dance and chaperone and handle things and I totally forgot to get them."

Which, ok - I mean, this is bad I guess, but why would I really care? And then she went on, "and everyone was pressuring me when I got here about where they were, so I said that I had assigned you the task of getting them and you didn't do it."

Oh. Ok. I see now why I would be mad at you. But even at the time, I was like, "it's ok, I need to go on stage now, we'll get it all sorted out." So we went on doing the dance thing. And it was fine - I wasn't going to let that ruin the night, and I figured we would get everything settled the next week.

And this is where it really sucks: we didn't ever get it settled. I told Beth after the dance that she needed to tell the Principal and the Student Council advisor that it was her: she needed to tell the truth because 1) it was rude that she lied and blamed me, and 2) she was graduating - I had to go on and work with these people for another YEAR as the Dance Chair - imagine how much it would suck if they thought I was incapable of performing the job correctly? And she kept saying she would - "I will tell them, I just need to find the right time" - and I kept checking up on her status of telling them, and it was always the same. Then, I asked her one time (the final time) if she'd told them yet and she said "look, I'm really sorry, but I can't tell them - I just can't risk ruining my legacy here right before I leave. I'm really, really sorry - but it will be fine, everyone will forget it next year, anyway." And that was that. Closed. Done. Never to be spoken of again with her.

I could have done things differently: I could have gone to the Principal and the Student Council advisor myself and told them, but I didn't. I felt bad about it - I didn't want them to corner this girl who was clearly on the verge of breakdown and ask her who messed up the chaperones. And actually, I told the advisor the next year (after Beth was gone) what had really happened, and as predicted, the advisor said something like, "Jackie, it's ok what happened - it's in the past - we've all moved on - and we'll just be sure to do everything right moving forward" ie, "no way do I believe you because Beth was fastidious about doing EVERYTHING, she wouldn't have forgotten, and I'm annoyed that I have to micromanage everything you do this year because you messed up so big last year." And micromanage she did - the whole year - everything I did I had to show her. Every purchase order I wrote I had to have approved. All because Beth was unwilling to give up her image at our high school.

And a sort of interesting twist of fate was that Beth's dad moved to Chicago right after she graduated, so she was never back in St. Louis on breaks or anything hanging out with all of us. I really never saw her again. And we're friends now on Facebook - and I have to say how tempting it is to message her like, "hey, do you remember what you did? The way you threw me under the bus more than anyone EVER has in my life? Thanks for that." But I don't - it's water under the bridge - and I'm sure there was a learning experience buried in there somewhere? But it really, really sucked - and I will never forget it.

*Note that even though I'm not necessarily the most cool-minded person now, I used to be a lot more calm - and being in the situation with her where she was always so HIGH STRUNG, I sort of had to be calm or we wouldn't have been able to function.

1 comment:

LB said...

Maybe you can use my "mom code" to tell me Beth's real name so I can send her a mean FB message. Or just stalk her and never say anything, whatevs.