“It gets better.” — Dan Savage
Illustrator and comix genius Mike Cagle points out a fascinating story of revenge in the rural town of West Branch, Michigan.
Well, the folks pulling it off will soft-soap it as a teaching moment for the town’s teens. I know better.
Here’s the dope: the kids at Ogemaw Heights High School voted a sophomore girl named Whitney Kropp to the homecoming court for this weekend’s festivities. Kropp was shocked by the vote because 1) she hadn’t run for the honor, and 2) she’s the kind of outsider kid that ABC-TV used to make after-school specials about.
See, the kids had all gotten together to vote for Kropp as a prank. Ha ha ha, she’s the geeky chick with the multi-colored hair and she wears black much of the time and she’s pretty much a loner. In other words, she’s the girl I would have had a crush on in high school, but that’s me.
To the vast majority of this holy land’s fat and arrogant youth, she’s a joke.
Ergo, her schoolmates voted her in as the sophomore queen so they could point at her and laugh. Which they did.
Her sophomore boy counterpart even quit his post on the homecoming court because, reportedly, he was loathe to to be seen walking arm in arm with such a nerdgirl.
Kropp, according to her mother, cried in her bedroom the night after the vote was announced.
The town’s elders got wind of this whole deal and mobilized for action. They created a Facebook page to support Kropp. They’re going to flood the football stadium Friday night, wearing her fave color (orange), and cheering their lungs out when she is introduced on the field.
They’re also going to pay for her gown, hair, makeup, and all the other froufaraw that surrounds such a teen beauty pageant. They’re calling themselves “Team Whitney.”
The story has gone national, natch. Kropp has appeared on the Today Show and her Facebook support page had 36,146 likes as of 7:50 this morning.
So, now, young Whitney will be the star of homecoming weekend. The game Friday and the big dance Saturday night will be bookend acts for the Whitney Show.
That’ll show ’em, say the town’s elders. The idea being, those mean kids will learn a lesson.
I doubt it.
Remember, it’s adults doing the “teaching” here. And what do adults know about popular girls versus geek chicks?
No, it’s more likely the adults are trying to screw the little bastards at their own game — which I endorse wholeheartedly.
In fact, if the adults really, really want to get a message across to the kids of that school, they might employ some more, shall we say, persuasive means.
Lemme tell you a quick story. When I was very young, I was the kid who was bullied and ridiculed in school. Being a nascent genius, I came to the conclusion after years of having my books strewn all over the street and being pushed into piles of dogshit that my best defense against such treatment would be an offense.
I had to leave my first elementary school, thanks to the bullies. In my new school, I decided, I wouldn’t be the bullied. I’d start leading the pack in bullying somebody else. Better him or her than me, right?
This worked for about three years until I was a freshman in high school. One of my classmates was an overweight, effeminate guy named Bobby. I zoomed in on him, making his life a holy hell. I never missed a chance to snap him with a wet towel in the gym locker room. I mocked his whiny voice. I led groups of guys in tying his street clothes into knots while he was off in the shower room.
I was a rotten little bastard to Bobby.
But at least it was Bobby and not me, I’d think on those rare occasions when I felt bad about what I was doing.
One day, one of the biggest, toughest guys in school stopped me coming out of the shower room. He was a lineman on the varsity football team. He pulled his ham-sized fist back and unleashed a punch that, when it collided with my sternum, felt as though I’d been hit by a Tomahawk missile.
I collapsed on the tile floor. He stood over me and said, “Why don’t you leave the poor guy alone?”
It was an epiphany. That such a symbol of maleness and accomplishment could stand up for an overweight, effeminate underclassman impresses me to this day. I vowed at that moment — before even lifting myself up off the floor — that I’d never pick on a kid again.
Since then, I’ve dedicated myself to defending the defenseless. Since then, I’ve identified with everybody who’s ever gotten bullied.
Who knows? Maybe I would have come to the same conclusion had that big football lineman simply talked to me and not tried to put his fist through my chest cavity.
All I know is, for the next couple of weeks, every time I ran my fingers over the lump on my chest, I remembered his words. And today, I don’t even need to feel the swelling to hear those words.
I generally shy away from poetry but Ross is the real deal. This guy can throw around the ink and the meters with the best of them.
The only Bloomington-area events listings you need
Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
Brought to you by The Electron Pencil: Bloomington Arts, Culture, Politics, and Hot Air. Daily.
FOOD ◗ Corner of Sixth & Madison streets — Tuesday Farmer’s Market; 4-7pm
MIXER ◗ Topos 403 — Young Professionals of Bloomington, monthly get-together; 5:30pm
POETRY ◗ The Venue Fine Art & Gifts — Ross Gay, An American Poet, the poet reads from his own work; 5:30pm
MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Richard Groner, 6-8:30pm
FILM ◗ IU Swain Hall East — “Miss Bala,” directed by Gerardo Naranjo, Mexico; pm
LECTURE ◗ IU Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center — “How Does A More Cooperative Ape Evolve?” presented by primatologist Brian Hare; 6pm
WORKSHOP ◗ Bloominglabs — Intro to Soldering, for electronics; 6-8pm
NATURE HIKE ◗ Leonard Springs Nature Park — Guided, one-mile hike, observe wildlife, binoculars & magnifying glasses provided; 6pm
MUSIC ◗ Cafe Django — JFB Jazz Jam with Tom Clark; 7pm
POLITICS ◗ Ivy Tech-Bloomington — League of Women Voters Candidate Forum, Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation board candidates; 7pm
FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “A Bag of Hammers,” with appearance by director Brian Crano; 7pm
MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s Cafe — Chad Nordhoff; call Rachael’s for show time
STAGE ◗ IU Halls Theatre — Drama, “When the Rain Stops Falling;” 7:30pm
MUSIC ◗ IU Auer Hall — Stephen W. Pratt conducts the Wind Ensemble; 8pm
MUSIC ◗ The Player’s Pub — Blues Jam hosted by Fistful of Bacon; 8pm
GAMES ◗ The Root Cellar at Farm Bloomington — Team trivia; 8pm
ART ◗ IU Art Museum — Exhibits:
- “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
- “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
- “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
- “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
- Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
- “Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center — Exhibits:
- “What It Means to Be Human,” by Michele Heather Pollock; through September 29th
- “Land and Water,” by Ruth Kelly; through September 29th
ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald Gallery — Exhibit:
- “Samenwerken,” Interdisciplinary collaborative multi-media works; through October 11th
ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery — Exhibits opening September 28th:
- “A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners;” through December 20th
- “Gender Expressions;” through December 20th
PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Exhibit:
- “CUBAmistad” photos
ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Exhibits:
- “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
- “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
- “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
- “Picturing Archaeology”
- “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
- “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
- “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
- “TOYing with Ideas”
- “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
- “On a Wing and a Prayer”
BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly Library — Exhibit:
- “Outsiders and Others:Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
- “A World of Puzzles,” selections form the Slocum Puzzle Collection
PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s On — Exhibit:
- Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October
ART ◗ Boxcar Books — Exhibit:
- Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Papercuts by Ned Powell; through September
PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History Center — Exhibit:
- “Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th
ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History Center — Exhibit:
- “Doctors and Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical professions“
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