In my small hometown, the elementary school had just one classroom for each grade – so I was stuck with the same people year after year. A great thing if a classmate was a friend – not so great if they were your mortal enemy. Although I didn’t know what “bitch” meant back then, I later discovered that Janice the Jerk personified the word perfectly!
Janice was stuck in the murky realm between popular and unpopular – she was never mocked or bullied like me and my few friends, but she also was not a bosom buddy of the “in-crowd”. Probably in an effort to fit in, she honed her mean girl skills until her tongue was as sharp as a razor – and she didn’t hesitate to use it!
My first personal encounter with Janice was when her mother forced her to invite all of the girls in class to her birthday party. While she made it clear she would prefer that I did not accept, I wasn’t about to let the opportunity slip by. It was the nearest I had come to being invited to a popular girl’s house – and I was eager to see how the other half lived. On the day of the party, I arrived with my gift and was promptly shown to a table in the yard, where I sat in awkward silence with the other girls. Eventually, Janet’s mother brought out cake, ice cream, and punch and we sang “Happy Birthday” to Janet – then ate as we watched her open her gifts. I noticed that she was meticulous and tidy – no ripping the wrapping paper from the boxes and wadding it up on the floor. Instead, she slowly and carefully pulled the tape away from the paper. Once she had the gift unwrapped, she would fold the paper and place it on the table before examining the gift – never smiling. When prompted by her mother, she would offer a perfunctory thank you, before setting the gift aside and starting the process over.
When Janice finished, we again sat awkwardly for a bit until her mother suggested that Janice show us her room before we left. It appeared the party was over. We followed her to a beautifully decorated bedroom – one that any princess would be proud to call home. She had a large assortment of games and dolls and as I passed, I reached over to pick up a Barbie to better admire her clothing. The next thing I knew, the doll was snatched from my hand and Janice shoved me roughly to the floor before leaning in and narrowing her eyes at me. “Don’t EVER touch my stuff!” She said – and then looked at all of the other girls to make sure they had also received and understood the message. She carefully placed the Barbie back into its place and led us to the front door.
I kept my distance from Janice after that – but when we reached 6th grade I was assigned a desk next to her. Janice was extremely smart and usually was at the head of the class. Her main competition in this area was Brilliant Brad…and me. Janice didn’t like to come in second, or God forbid, third place when it came to grades – and often spent the day glaring at the offender who happened to have received better marks. This was relatively easy when I was the offending party – since I sat beside her and she could shoot her hate filled looks my direction whenever I happened to glance her way. However, Brilliant Brad sat in FRONT of Janice – so all she could do was to stare at the back of his head in increasing frustration.
One day, our teacher handed back a challenging math test. As he gave Brad his paper, he congratulated him, commenting that Brad had received the highest grade in the class. The teacher said nothing when he gave Janice her paper – and she saw that she had scored a full grade LOWER than Brad! To add insult to injury, Brad turned in his seat to give Janice a gloating smile before facing the board again – and she snapped! Taking her newly sharpened pencil in both hands, she stood and stabbed Brad right in the crown of his head – then sat back down, leaving the pencil behind, which waved slightly from the top of Brad’s head. Brad howled as he grabbed the pencil and jerked it out – however, the graphite tip broke off – still embedded in his scalp. Blood began flowing at that point and Brad was sent to the nurse’s office – and Janice to the principal’s office. To this day, Brad still sports a black dot on his head – a lasting reminder of the classroom stabbing. And Janice? She remained a true bitch through high school – but last I heard, she is now an elementary teacher. Let’s hope she has mellowed a bit.