Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Blubber Principle

Surely you've read Blubber by Judy Blume. Back in the day just about everything Blume wrote ended up on some library's banned list, and what's the first thing an eager young adult reader does once he/she gets wind of that? Of course, they immediately heat-sink the book to find out what the big deal is. Oh, some pre-teen is fretting about her period, that's all? But that was Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret - we'll discuss that another day.

For the benefit of those who haven't read Blubber, here's the breakdown: Jill (Everygirl), along for the ride - as it were - in her middle-school class, goes along with the unprovoked mob-like teasing of Linda (Fatgirl) as instigated by Wendy (Meangirl) and supported by Caroline (Toadygirl). When Wendy sneers, everybody responds in kind, and despite the fact that Linda has done absolute nothing to warrant poor treatment people go along with it...until the day Jill grows a sac and calls Wendy out on her Meangirlness.

Big mistake. Apparently Jill's clout couldn't match Wendy's among the legion of yes-men. Where Jill once guffawed, she now becomes the object of scorn. If that's not enough, the mean girls have accepted Linda into the fold. Now, one might expect her to tell Wendy to f*ck off, and one must wonder what Wendy told her to win her forgiveness overnight, but there is Linda gleefully swinging her bat at the pinata with everybody else. It isn't until Jill points out to Caroline that her position as Riker to Wendy's Picard is threatened that Wendy's reign of terror ends. By book's end, everybody has a new BFF except for Linda, who has been cast aside and, while it's implied she's no longer the town kickball, she's not exactly popular.

So what was the point of this story? One can easily apply it to real-life behaviors that extend way beyond middle school. What this story tells me, for one, is to exercise caution with words and actions. It's fun to point and laugh, yes, and it's fun to join in a social media conversation or thread of blog comments thinking you are immune to criticism.

Are you, though? Are you a Jill, merrily riding the waves, unconcerned about ethics until it really, truly affects you? Are you a Linda, biding your time until you can finally don your red dress and dance on a few graves? Are you a Caroline, who would rather side with a "winner" regardless of any possible damage done to others, than think for yourself? Do you ever wonder if your actions will come back one day to bite you on the ass?

Are you a Wendy? I've known quite a few Wendys in my day, and could never figure out why they acted the way they did. Insecurity? Who knows. I have learned a number of them grew out of it after college. The rest...sigh. If it's any consolation, the best revenge is living well. I'm not rich, but I've done what I set out to do.

Who am I? I'm me. I prefer it that way. To anybody who is content to fall into a category than create their own, I say good luck. Just watch for falling flensers.*

*Read the damn book.

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