“What are you doing hanging out with the Other Kids? They’re weirdoes. There’s something seriously wrong with them.”
All my life I’ve been in the top class. Running with the nerds, I wasn’t presented the opportunity to socialize with the Other Kids. They’re the ones who fail classes and disregard the rules. They consist of the kind of “messed up” you can’t ignore. It wasn’t until entering high school that I got the opportunity to interact with them. I came to grasp the idea of something missing in their eyes.
The Other Kids are made up of five members. Michael Misfit, Astrid Addict, Jonathan Jester, Belinda Banter and Wendy Wild-Card. They silently cry for help, but everyone else is too in over their head to stop and listen. It’s everyone else’s thoughts that may possibly lead to a suicide.
Michael Misfit dyes his hair abstract colors and wears cringe-worthy earrings. He listens to hardcore rock during class and doesn’t participate. I sit next to him.
“Mister just doesn’t get it,” he pours out on me. “I’m telling him my stomach hurts! He doesn’t understand. It hurts. It really hurts.” I ask him what he ate for breakfast. “Milk, but I’m lactose intolerant.”
Misfit hugs his stomach and hunches over the table. “You’re lucky,” he says to the table. “If your stomach hurts, Mister will just let you go to the nurse. He won’t even make you take a pass.”
Addict’s a junkie. She walks into class late, wears revealing outfits, bloodshot eyes, and vandals hall lockers on Wednesdays. I ask her why she likes trouble. “What? It’s not like anyone cares.” I ask what she wants to do after college. She pauses. “I don’t even know if I’m going to college.”
Jester strives off attention. He’s got a newborn brother who’s been getting all the attention lately. His parents are divorced and don’t see the love that’s been swept under the rug. His friend writes profanity on the white board and signs Jester’s name. When accused, Jester chortles, “What makes you think it was me? That’s not my handwriting.” His reputation says otherwise. He sends a cold look to his friend before being sent to the dean’s cave.
Wild-Card can be any one of us. She can be one of the Other Kids for all we know. In this case, she’s my best friend. “I feel so bottled up. I’m a ticking time bomb. I feel it. I’m going to burst any moment now.” She shows me her scarred thighs. She shows me model cut outs. How bad she wants those curves. She shows me how proud she is of starving herself. She shows me her pain and I don’t know what to do, what to say. “I’m fine,” she smiles.
Banter bullies others, one of the mean kids. “How are you so nice?” she questions. I rhetorically inquire on why she is mean. “Ugh! Everyone gets me so angry! I’d hit my dad first, but he beats me to it. Is he even human? It’s like he has no heart.” Domestic abuse doesn’t really happen. It’s just something made up by Hollywood, right?
There’s a loss of consciousness on what goes around. I want to help, but I don’t know how. Some say, “Ignore them. They just want attention.” But did it never cross their mind on why they want attention? That there may be something missing in their lives?
If I were in their position, where would I run? Who would I look for? I realized I didn’t know what to do in that situation. With no response, I’d be thrown into the same pit as the rest. With no aspirations, loss of love, lack of self-assurance, anger and lost all together.
The help we need should be at our fingertips, in a teacher or peer. Not to be found in the social media outlet as I’ve sought out, convinced there’s no one. We need assemblies. We need to spread the word. What I’m trying to say is everyone should know there’s someone willing to listen. It’s an unwritten human right.
This story is among the winners of the High School Insider Speak Out Challenge. We asked students to share what they thought the new Los Angeles Unified Superintendent, Michelle King, should know about their schools. From dozens of winners we selected 10 entries. Read the whole collection at Dear LAUSD, and stay tuned for an event later this spring.