Looking Through the Yearbook
We were looking over our High School Year Book.
Going page to page, remembering kids we knew, sharing bits of memories, often laughing.
Then we came to a photo of Janelle Marcus. We stared at the image, recalling her as the absolute Queen of the school.
"But she's ugly!" dropped Bonita, who hadn't attended that High School with us.
The word 'ugly' hit us like lightning.
We stared at the picture.
Bonita was right.
Janelle had a big jaw, small eyes, nothing in anyway special or enticing.
Yeah, she had a fancy, hairstyle, wore a lot of makeup, and that was probably an expensive blouse.
But...how was it we went through High School thinking she was beautiful?
Without Scales on our Eyes
"Look over the photos, pick out the most beautiful..." Brenda said to Bonita, handing her the yearbook.
We sat in shock, staring at each other.
Each one of us had been cowed by Janelle. Maybe ridiculed on our style or our clothing, treated as if second or third class. But no one ever challenged her. We all accepted her as the Queen of the School.
Janelle was the center of style, fashion, cool...
I crashed her Xmas party. I had to.
Crashing the Party
Janelle had enslaved me to do her science homework. I would do it for her as if honored. I felt my status elevated by association with her. After all, that was the Great Janelle, and I was nobody.
She threw a major Xmas Party every year a full week before the break. The timing was done so that come Monday, everyone who wasn't invited feel the snub during that last week of school.
I had thought I'd be invited. After all, if it wasn't for me, she'd fail science.
But I wasn't invited. I was just a tool, not a person.
I knew where and when the Party was, and got some gossip about time and space and when from previous attenders, I decided to crash it.
I wrote my script; I came early, greeted others as if this was my job. I helped myself to the snacks, moved around the room as if in charge, then stayed in the background when Janelle made her entrance.
I kept to the perimeter close to the door. As she saw me, I was out.
Everyone knew the story.
Janelle made it seem I committed a Capital Offense. The cute part was after her performance I no longer did Janelle's homework.
"This one..." Bonita decides pointing to Julia.
I vaguely recall her. She was shy, quiet, stayed in the background. But looking at those perfect cheek bones, those large eyes, she was beautiful.
"Y'know..." Lisa said, "You're right. She could have been a model or a beauty queen. But was so ... so.."
"Ignorable," I shoved in.
"Yeah. I mean she was in my class... sat somewhere... and I don't even recall if I spoke to her..." Sharon added.
We stared at the photo.
"How is it that we could have treated Janelle as if she were special when she wasn't and ignore Julia?"
"Presentation," uttered Lori.
We held the word in our minds, nodding, for somehow Janelle gave off that glow, that power, that sense of self which blinded us to real.
Creating the Image
Janelle had a big body. She wasn't fat just sort of big and sort of clumsy. Yet when she walked into a room, every eye was on her. What she said, what she chose or discarded, were accepted as standard.
She moved with her crew, as if they were body guards.
She always got the best seat, had her own table in the cafeteria, 'owned' a section of the school yard.
How was it that we all saw her as deserving, when she was nothing?
It was only Bonita, who had not been in her gravity who could see her as she was. Not the 'radiation', not the 'presentation', but reality.
How was she able to project such an image? What was her 'power'?
"Imagine if we could have done that!" Brenda imagined.
Lisa stood and began to portray how Janelle walked, as if royalty, how she held her face, made expressions, and then, how she spoke; in a certain, clear, touch loud voice, which was unquestionable.
We were all impressed, a bit of laughter, a bit of surprise, but all recognized the 'Janelle' presentation.
"Her parents must have trained her. Must have raised her as a spoiled brat, and encouraged her to believe she was special and perfect. And had the right to dominate."
It was more than obvious. A plain girl who should, go unremembered, became the icon.
And a beautiful girl, like Julia, who was not 'trained' to hold herself as special, fade into the background.