Part 3 of 4
Thursday, July 10, 2014
The EHHS Social Order – 9.3 – Cliques.2
Part 3 of 4
The 9th grade at MJH being my second with the future EH Class of 1963, I began to gain notice by some of the various in-crowds…there were several. And they seemed to be in some kind of competition with one another; the competition being most visibly, the hosting of parties and dances. It’s likely that these various shindigs were a Mom-sponsored carryover from the elementary grades, for it seemed far more complex than any of the youngsters could have organized on their own.
Making a few discreet inquiries into the memories of others with us those long ago years brought quite a variety of responses; all of them tactful, and some of them pointed…and tactful. One of the ladies told of being so put off by the MJH clique situation that she chose to attend Tech High School rather than going on to EHHS and be subjected to any more of whatever she had been subjected to at MJH; a Handleyite offered nothing more than, “Ah yes, the Meadowbrook Ladies”; one of our leading lights responded, “an in-crowd? Definitely”; another EH leading light told of never quite having discovered the key to be a part of the “in-crowd”…which kind of mirrors my own experience. Whatever was going on was noticed by those in other early EH classes….”somewhat reassuring that even after 50 years, some things retain that pungent aroma.”
“The Breakfast Club,” a 1985 film that dealt with the tribulations of high school social stereotypes, is one of many similar films produced over the years that deal with the same theme. So, it’s reasonable to assume that the experience is a common one, no matter what generation encountered it, or when. However, the film did manage to succinctly summarize the general stereotypes into which all of us seemed to fit. Some of us found fits with more than one of them. There were Brains, Athletes, Outsiders, Basket Cases, and Princesses.
“Mean Girls,” a 2004 film, takes a less benign tack in illustrating the teenage insider/outsider phenomena, even going far enough to show a map of the social subdivisions at the cafeteria tables. They seem pretty accurate based on our own experience, although I’d like to think we weren’t quite so snarky as our descendents….but, I don’t really know.
For us, our sorting into those stereotypes started about the end of 7th grade, strengthened in the 8th grade, and was pretty much set by the 9th grade. Whatever dating was occurring that 9th grade year was mostly a blend of movies at the Gateway, or house parties, or a formal school dance, or the school’s Teen Canteen, all with transportation provided (for the most part) by parents.
Some fateful changes were occurring during this year that I’m sure I didn’t recognize, nor perhaps. did many others. This 9th grade year was the one that street-wise Moms took their promising daughters in tow and started working with their makeup, hair, and other “womanly” embellishments. Although many of those changes were subtle, there were other changes that were striking. If Mom was skilled in her knowledge of makeup and hair, then those daughters could show up for 9th grade looking startlingly different than they did just before the summer break a few weeks earlier. For those whose moms were not similarly skilled, grade 9 could very well have been another of those bewildering times of change that went largely not understood.
With the stereotypes hardened during this 9th grade school year, it appeared that Athletes were at the top of the school pecking order, if for no other reason than the fall pep rallies, the band, and cheerleaders were focused on their gridiron derring do. Not many kids missed those pep rallies since they were school sanctioned excuses for not going to class. Grades earned this year applied to our final high school tally so our class Brains were starting to burrow in on their academic ambitions, Outsiders were moving further outside as the world got larger and more complicated, Basket Cases were still basket cases trying to find ways to cope, and Princesses gained greater prominence especially in their social lives.
Only about 2-years or so beyond puberty, boys were already behind the curve with the gals and I’m sure we scarcely knew it. The overriding problem for the boys at this stage of our development was mobility, or more succinctly, the lack thereof. We certainly recognized the problem and some of us made up buttons that read, “Don’t Date Boys With Cars.” It was a spoof of the Spirit Ribbons we bought for a dime and wore each week, pinned to our tops. The answer came very quickly when the cheerleaders conspired with the ribbon printer to print up some Spirit Ribbons that replied, “We Don’t Date Boys With Bicycles.” The dating standards had been irreversibly set.