Kids are wonderful.
They are young, interested, and looking to make headway in the world. They don't ask for much, just love, and they freely give love in return.
They are selfish, arrogant, and think they don't need to know more than they do.
If you are in any way, shape, or form, the black sheep, you are a target. Even something as simple as a different hobby can make you a victim. Coming out here in the third grade, all the social cliques had formed. I was an outcast. And because I was determined to "be the better person," others abused me without fear of repercussion. (It wasn't until I started actually talking or fighting back that I started being left alone. In the database of Rotten Things Done To Deserving People, if you knew half the shit my friends and I have pulled, you'd piss yourself dry.) One of the worst was when the assholes a grade ahead of me declared a day "Be Nice To Petey Day" and made sure to tell everyone in school. They would make polite small talk, not try to steal my bookbag, and generally be buddy-buddy with me. I would rather they had just punched me. Normally, I just felt anger. This? This was humiliation.
(If you are wondering what the high school reunion was like, none of the instigators of that little scenario showed up, and the consensus among everybody when I talked about the things I vividly remembered was, "I don't remember that," or "I didn't mean it like that," so I have a suspicion what would have happened had they been there.)
When kids decide to humiliate, it can be traumatic. And the worst is when it came to the homecoming dance and prom, where from my point of view, the goal was to see who could spend the most to impress others than having a good time (I briefly considered getting a date to my senior prom and we'd both show up in blue jeans, cowboy shirts, and arrive in my parents' station wagon as a counterpoint, but the idea never got any traction with me). Part of what made Stephen King's Carrie hit so hard was the prom scene, where every girl's nightmare is spelled out in black and white or depicted in slow motion and harsh lighting on screen. The bait and switch, Lucy pulling the football away, can shatter anyone's self esteem.
Meet Whitney Kropp of West Branch, Michigan. She is 16 years old and attends Ogemaw Heights High School there. She describes herself as an outcast and only has a handful of friends. The school's homecoming game was coming up (in fact, it's going on right now as I type this), and during halftime is when they crowned the "royal court", the homecoming kings and queens, one from each grade group (freshmen, sophomore, junior, senior) with the homecoming dance the following Saturday night. Whitney was informed that, surprise! she was elected homecoming queen for the sophomore group.
Pretty awesome, right?
Turns out she was voted in as a prank engineered by the other sophomores, enough of them to tilt the vote.
Some of you are wincing your eyes and wishing to comfort Whitney or beat the living shit out of these so-called pranksters. If you laugh, you have no human heart and please leave the planet now.
As goes without saying, Whitney was devastated by the truth, so much so she cried the whole night and actually contemplated suicide. "I'm like, 'Wow, I feel like trash. I feel like I'm a little thing that no one really cares about.'"
Alivia Kropp, her sister, also took it hard. Seeing family in despair is gut wrenching. "It's very hard to see someone hurt and upset, and you want to do everything in your power to make sure they're not that way," she said.
Alivia's advice to Whitney?
Go along with the opportunity they presented you with.
"I told her, 'you've got the courage, you've got the strength to go do it, so go do it and have fun." In other words, fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, they set up the punchline to begin with.
Alivia was not only giving Whitney pep talks, she also started an online campaign to drum up moral support. She started a Facebook page in support of her sister. As of this writing, it has over 96,000 likes.
The result of this is Whitney is standing up. She's going to go along with it and have fun, thanks to the support of all these disparate people who know all too well what she is going through. She will accept the coronation at the game at halftime, and she and her boyfriend will dance the night away tomorrow. With more people cheering her on than all her classmates combined will have. "It is absolutely awesome to see her stand up," said Bernice Kropp, Whitney's mom. "And it's so cool to see e-mails we're getting from parents and other students from all over the place telling her stories and how it helped them and it touched them. My daughter is out there as an inspiration to a lot of people, and it's a really cool thing."
That's the thing about the social elite -- they exist everywhere, always finding some way to make their little group exclusive even when there is nothing special about them. But the results are, to quote Gilbert in Revenge Of The Nerds, "And I have news for all the beautiful people...there's a lot more of us than there are of you."
And when they all unite, pure magic happens.