I had a habit before college of getting myself involved in the stupidest shit. I can't say the habit entirely subsided in college, but the time and energy for it has certainly decreased. Plus, in college, people are differently retarded, which requires new and complex means of getting involved in stupid shit, and I guess I just don't have as much of a penchant for those means as I did for the previous ones.
In order to get involved in stupid shit in high school, you typically had to find a way to humiliate a classmate. This would serve the purpose of stirring up complicated social rivalries and fragmented alliances. If this classmate was your social equal, this would precipitate something like a civil war--long, treacherous, and ultimately unpleasant even for committedly neutral bystanders who were just there to convey backstabbing gossip and feel important. It would divide the combined forces of that entire social stratum and set them against each other along a path of mutually assured destruction. The only people laughing would be those at the bottom of the pecking order, but they would be too distracted by the upcoming math team competition to really savor the glory of the conflict. However, if the classmate was a social superior, you would become a concentrated object of hatred against which the whole otherwise internally splintered clique could rally, and before you knew it, you'd have the entire army of her friends and momentarily pacified enemies threatening your life.
I tended to get involved in the latter kind of thing.
Primarily, I had a big mouth. So when it was insinuated to me that Joanna had slept with three guys at one party or some such momentarily scandalous thing, I happened to mention this to a few acquaintances. Joanna was in my honors English class sophomore year in an almost noble but ultimately failed attempt to be both academically and sexually successful at the same time. However, it was clear from the beginning that these were mutually exclusive ends. The rest of us, for example, seemed to have no problem keeping our boobs inside our shirts, whereas she had perpetual difficulties with this and was repeatedly sent to the dean's office to have something more appropriate forced on her.
Whether because of her many late-night social commitments, or because of a natural deficit of talent, Joanna also sucked at English, and resented that all the ugly girls who could barely dress themselves and came to school reeking of curry did better than her. She sat in the back of the class and surveyed us with a holier-and-definitely-more-experienced-than-thou scorn. And behind our glasses and baggy sweatshirts and ill-fitting jeans, we scorned her right back because it was obvious that we were going to get into college and all she was going to get was gonorrhea.
A few days after I had received and dutifully conveyed the information regarding Joanna's sexual exploits, I passed Joanna in the hall, ignoring her as usual. I regretted my nonchalance a few moments later, when I found myself pinned to the wall by her.
"Why are you talking about me, you little bitch?"
"I'm not talking about you."
"I know you're talking about me. Lace said she heard you in the locker room." Lace also lives in a trailer park and wears shorts from which the lower half of her ass hangs out, I thought, but held back this salient point.
"Do you wanna confront me?" she asked. There were many things I wanted to do, but I was fairly sure that "confronting" Joanna was not high on the list.
"Umm, no." This was followed by several attempted insinuations about my own sexual indiscretions--apparently the sole defensive tactic of which Joanna was capable. If she was doomed have her STDs publicized, at least she could implicate you in the transmittal of them. This quickly fizzled out though as she realized that she was not equipped to deal with girls about whom false rumors of pregnancy and abortion would not exactly be potent weapons. So she tried another line of argument.
"You know what?"
"I'ma jump you."
While being pinned to the wall by a 90-lb. Korean girl was in no way amusing at the moment, the prospect of being "jumped" by Joanna actually kind of was. While it was not perhaps wise to convey this, I couldn't help giggling.
"What? You don't believe me that I'ma jump you?! Well, my friends'll jump you! And they'll fuck you up!" It was unclear whether she meant by this the cheerleading team or the football team, both of which, in times of perceived social threat, might be considered her friends. I was considerably more concerned by the former possibility, assuming that hulking boys wouldn't seriously consider beating up some dorky sophomore girl they'd never even seen before at the request of Joanna, no matter how many, ahem, favors she did for them. But the cheerleaders. They didn't work on a favor system. They worked on an exponential vengeance system according to which anyone who messed with you or your best friend of the moment got her eyes clawed out. And moreover, they, unlike me, did not bite their nails; they chemically strengthened them.
Fortunately for me, they also seemed to have difficulty following through on multi-step plans, or they deemed the whole undertaking as lacking in scandal value, because my eyes remained in their sockets. I got a few emailed death threats, which I have unfortunately failed to preserve for my lifelong amusement. But then the whole thing died. That's the only benefit to getting involved in stupid shit with people cooler than you. They deal primarily in stupid shit, and your shit isn't going to hold their attention any longer than the time it takes for Joanna to cheat on her boyfriend again or for Nikki Cox to have another baby.
And I did learn a very important lesson. Rumors are bad. So don't tell anyone I told you any of this, ok?