Last night, I saw the movie Precious and for me it lived up to all of the talk of it being gritty and alarming. What struck me almost immediately about the movie, however, was not the abuse suffered by the main protagonist, although that was very disturbing, instead it was some of the settings and characters featured throughout the movie. One particular scene that touched a nostalgic nerve for me was the first classroom scene. The chaos and lack of respect for the teacher and fellow students depicted in that scene mirrored many of my junior high school classrooms, minus the boom box that blared in the back of my English class. To say that I was not the model junior high school student is an understatement at best. I was a terror who mouthed off to students, teachers, deans and security guards. There was no shortage of kids like me at my junior high school for poverty and dysfunction have a way of creating little monsters who wreck havoc on just about everyone who crosses their path. At that time, my main little monster in crime was a girl named Lauren. Lauren and I were quite the exhibitionist in seventh grade. We were two twelve year old girls hell bent on disrupting as much of the status quo we could, up for just about anything at anytime. One of our regularly scheduled stunts included rollerskating down the hallways of our junior high school.
I don’t recall whose idea it was, but there we were, two rambunctious pre-teen girls furiously skating up and down the hallways of our junior school. Every now and then, we’d peeped into classrooms making eye contact with some of our friends laughing and throwing obscene gestures at teachers without them detecting us. It was during one of these peep sessions that a dean screamed at us from the other end of the hallway. Lauren and I quickly bolted down into one of the staircases, clanking clumsily down the steps with our skates. Unbeknownst to us, the dean had radioed for assistance and Lauren and I were apprehended before we could skate off to freedom. That day, our rollerskating stunt ended up where many of our others stunts did, the dean’s office. It did not phase Lauren or me that we ended up in the dean’s office. After all, we had become kindred spirits in all things rabble- rousing and this latest trip to the dean’s office was not going to alter that bond.
As close as Lauren and I were at school, I never went to Lauren’s apartment. The closest I came to Lauren’s apartment were the days when I’d wait for her outside of her apartment door, the days I’d hear a tirade of verbal abuse being hurled at Lauren by her mother. On occasion, Lauren would come to my apartment when my parents weren’t there and we’d talk about almost everything under the sun, except for her mother. The only thing Lauren ever told me about her mother was that she is a bitch. It was like this with most of my friends, we’d hang out, laugh, cry, scream and fight, but when it came down to parents, most of us typically stuck to one word adjectives like bitch. Looking back, I think it was too painful for us to delve into the area of our lives that made the least sense, our home life. At that point, all we knew is that we were caught in a maze of circumstances that we knew deep down wasn’t right, but that nonetheless influenced every aspect of our lives. Just like the character Precious, “Why me?” is a question we repeatedly asked ourselves to no avail. For me, it is a question that will never provide a satisfactory answer because nothing will ever erase what we have respectively experienced.
There are days when I think about Lauren and wonder if she managed to escape her mothers verbal (and most likely physical) fury. I hope that she did, I hope all of my precious friends did.