Typical of middle schools, there was a solid hierarchy at mine. At the top was the most popular girl and her gang.
She and her gang had matching sweatshirts. She was president of the student body but more the typical ‘bad girl’ than ‘smart girl’. I was at the other end of the ladder. I didn’t have a gang. But I hung out with a few other kids with little or no social skills. We were an unathletic, comic book reading collective awkwardness. In between us and the popular girls were the skaters and surfers, the brains, the athletes and the tough guys. And then came the banquet at the end of our 8th grade year.
I don’t know what the original idea was for the banquet and how much say the teachers had. But we ended up drawing names to see who our date was. Late one day in math class our teacher held a paper bag and the guys drew names. There were more boys than girls so some of them would go stag. Several of the tough boys drew stag. At my turn I drew a name. It was her. I handed the most coveted name to the teacher and took my seat and quietly said her name. The class erupted in shouts. I was told she cried when she found out.
The banquet went okay. I had heard couples were supposed to have one dance together but that didn’t happen. What was interesting was that all my friends drew the names of this girl gang so we all sat at the same table.
In high school the girl stayed popular but grew away from the megastardom. At our 10 year class reunion she and her gang all joined me in singing “Love Shack’ for karaoke.
The last time I saw her I was substitute teaching at a new school and she was a full time teacher at the school. We both seemed to recover from middle school nicely.