October 1, 2007
by Kathleen Cecchin
Lights up. 1976. A gaggle of 7th grade girls in dark green plaid wool skirts, rolled up at the top so that they appear to be make-shift mini skirts, white short-sleeved blouses, white socks, and black shoes hang out in separate cliques of twos and threes in front of school doing the things that Catholic school girls do while waiting for the bell to ring that summons them back to class after lunch: holding their school books, talking, laughing, gossiping, whispering, and screaming. Gangly, clumsy boys in white shirts, blue pants, and those ridiculous snap on blue ties run about trying to push and punch each other and the girls all in good fun. There is a distinct difference between the boys and girls that can only be explained by the fact that one group clearly hits puberty at least a year before the other.
Four girls make an entrance carrying a boom box which is playing a well-known 70’s disco song that you can do “the bump” to. They are dressed in tight bell bottom jeans, tight shirts, and Converse gym shoes. They wear heavy eye-liner, jewelry, and nail polish. They have no school books. Some have purses. They chew gum. Two girls trail the first group at a slight distance. They are dressed as the first group but have none of the confidence or panache. They are obviously beta on-lookers, having accompanied the first group to witness the festivities.
All Catholic activity stops as the girls cross to a girl-clique of two, form a line and begin doing “the bump.” The dancing continues for a beat or two until one of the girls, JANE, steps forward from the line. The line closes like the Red Sea behind her. They stop dancing. The music fades. JANE approaches one of the two Catholic girls.
JANE: "I heard you called me a bitch."
JANE mock-boxes the ears of the Catholic girl, quickly batting the girl’s head back and forth between her hands. It is for effect rather than injury. The Catholic girl, arms full of books, makes no attempt to defend herself.
Suddenly, the Catholic girl throws her books up and behind her, knocking JANE’s hands away. As papers fly, Catholics gasp and duck the school book missiles. Meanwhile, the Red Sea opens at the center, pulls JANE behind them and closes again, separating JANE from the Catholic girl. They glare daringly at the Catholic girl.
The music rises as they turn and make their exit. They pass the two wannabes who giggle at the Catholic girl and then follow JANE and posse off left. The Catholics remain in place, stunned.
And that's exactly how it happened.