Wednesday, December 13, 2006

When TV Knocks the Breath Out of You

I don't get to watch a lot of the shows that are on at 7 p.m., because I spend most of that hour giving the Little Man a bath, putting him into his pj's while singing to him, reading him two books in French and two in English and then giving him his night bottle (yes, he's 15 months old and still gets one bottle every day. I'm not sure who it's more of a crutch for, him or me, but I'm just quite not ready to give that one up, because the few times I've tried to give it away, he didn't sleep through the night.)

On Tuesday nights, Sweetie Pie watches a show about football called Friday Night Lights. I usually get to watch the first 15 minutes or so and then maybe the last 15 or 20 minutes of it. Since we know that I'm not a fan of the pigskin sport, obviously I don't care if I miss this show about kids in Texas who play football and apparently nobody gives a rat's ass about their grades, because they play football, you see, and in America, that's way more important than studying, like chemistry or something, because who needs a cure for AIDS when you can teach people to throw the perfect spiral?

I will admit that the human drama aspect of the show is interesting. And that if I didn't have a baby who demands to be taken care of, I'd probably get sucked into the show a lot more.

Last night's episode did grip me. One of the popular cheerleaders had been going out with the gorgeous quarterback. Stereotypical? Sure. But then in like the first episode, the quarterback broke his back and became a quadriplegic. The girlfriend, still in love with her boyfriend, told him she'd stick by him, despite his pleas that she leave him.

And for the most part, she stuck by him. Visiting him everyday. Talking to him into the night. Holding his hand.

But at the end of the day, this is a teenage girl. Probably around 16 or 17. One who's been used to being popular and loved and having to commit that much to a non-rewarding relationship would be hard to anyone. And so one desperate night, she cried into the arms of her boyfriend's best friend. And they slept together.

Since I don't watch the show a lot, I'm not sure how word got back to the school's population. I know the wheelchair-bound boyfriend found out, so maybe he blabbed. That's not the point.

The point is that when the population found out, right away this no-longer-popular cheerleader was eviscerated. A Web site was created talking about how slutty she is. Boys made horrible comments to her at her locker. Terrible notes were left on her locker. The entire cafeteria silently gawked at her while she tried to eat alone.

And my heart crumbled. Because I've been that girl. Not one who slept with two boys, but the unpopular girl who the whole world turns on for no reason. The horrifying scarring that episodes like this can cause on a psyche can only be understood by other survivors. But as I watched the end of that episode, I wept. I wept for all girls who will truly find themselves in that position. I wept for my future daughter(s), hoping that I could someone keep the savage soul beatings at bay. I silently promised myself that I would make sure, come hell or high water that my Little Man would be one of the good kids, the ones who stick up for the uncool, the slutty, the weird.

And most of all, I wept for the 13-year old me. The one who had a weird haircut and uncool clothes, but could have actually been a great part of that school's population, if only she hadn't been ostricized.




susan said...

*13 year old me hugs 13 year old you*

random_mommy said...

13 year old me gives all those crappy kids dirty looks.... then hugs 13 year old you, and 13 year old susan.

Emma in Canada said...

Oh God. I'm only a couple of years away from this and it terrifies me. I was pretty much down the middle in junior high and high school, far from popular yet not a loser. Or so I think anyway. Maybe I was a total loser. Oddly enough, though I haven't watched this show since the first episode, I stopped and watched for a few minutes on Tuesday. You made me wish I had kept in on.