Ever since I was little, I have had a very hard time keeping my eyes on my own paper in the competitive game of life. I didn’t actually cheat because I was too stupid to pull off lying well, but man did I ever covet thy neighbor’s handwriting. And I know it’s ridiculous and irrational to be jealous of material things that people have, and that I’m supposed to tell you that I’ve grown out of it since, but fuck that noise I am still jealous as shiiiiiiiiiiiit. Does rising above keep you warm at night? Fuck no, it doesn’t, bitching about your friends while downing half a bottle of Jim Beam in the middle of the day on a Monday is what does. And because of that I will never, ever let these irrational, petty jealousies die.
1. Teenage girls with better handwriting than mine
Teenage Asian girls have excellent handwriting. Not all of them, but enough of them to reach critical mass at the top of a Reddit chain proving that Asians do, indeed, have excellent handwriting. I went to a high school that was over 90 percent Asian. Not that anyone was passing me notes to begin with, but the fact that those notes I wasn’t receiving were also written in gorgeous writing while mine looked like male-engineered chicken scrawl? Nah, girl.
2.Teenage girls with better handwriting than me AND better writing implements than mine
When you think of Asian teenagers and very cute writing implements, I know Sanrio comes to mind, but Sanrio was basically Wal-Mart when it came to covetability at my high school. No, Morning Glory, an adorable Korean brand, reigned supreme here. It had plenty of its own characters (like my personal favorite, Blue Bear) and those lead pencils were a work of ART. They came in different size and shapes, varying levels of opacity and smoothness, and the best part of my day was when I had to borrow a pencil from a friend and she would forget to ask for it back later. This didn’t happen often.
In addition to cute pencils, Morning Glory had a plethora of other objects that I wanted so badly I would have probably been okay with Robert Durst-ing at least one classmate if it assured my ascendency to the top of the social heap. There were pencil cases that were worth the $15 price tag solely because you were supposed to keep them upright (novel!). There were gel pens in every color imaginable, as enticing as candy stores probably were to every other kid in the world. A trip to Morning Glory meant your parents loved you, and I can assure, my parents did not love me nearly as much as they should have, fuckers.
Gelly Roll pens, which have crossed over to the mainstream, were the very least you could rep and at some point Target started carrying them, which obviously dropped their stock value drastically, which was a real shame because I lived across the street from Target and had nothing but time to sneak over there and spend my lunch money on pens, whereas Morning Glory was across town in the Indian/Asian area and not only did I have no car, I would get narc’ed on by my Indian dance instructor whose studio was in the same complex if I showed up there for no reason. Fuck you, Target.
3. People with better day planners than mine
Do not ask me what a teenager needs a day planner for, I don’t fucking know, but day planners were another incredibly important part of the Morning Glory, and thus, Whitney High School social pyramid. Just referred to as a “planner” (who has time for extra syllables when your life is being strictly timetabled by your day planner?), the day planner was the cutest fucking thing you’ve ever seen with six rings. It was tiny, it was often padded, and replete with great characters in bright colors. You could get myriad paper inserts — the choice of which was also important, because that’s what you used to pass notes on, obviously — and had to be VERY careful in how you rationed those inserts before you ran out.
There was also a whole lot of self-importance against how delicately you opened and closed the six ring tabs to take out those loose-leaf sheets. Only the most basic of bitches RIPPED. No, planners were an aesthetic extension of ourselves, which were just as crucial as the eyeshadows and lip glosses we were constantly trying to sneak past our parents, and while I did have a cute planner it was never good enough, you know? I think we used them to also write down our plans or some shit. I don’t really remember.
4. People who got arrested on Western Day
Our school was rather big on spirit weeks, theme days, and anything else that helped us feel like a “real” high school despite not having a football team. (I know it sounds like I’m mocking, but this was one of the many great things about Whitney High that I only appreciate now being near 10 years out of school, BRB time to go kill myself.) But Western Day, our first big spirit day of the year that involved getting a giant jail and paper warrants being sold in the week leading up where you could have your friends “arrested” for a quarter, man did that bring out competitive anxiety in me like no other.
I went to a 7th through 12th junior high/high school combo, so not only was Western Day the first spirit event of my illustrious career as Whitney High’s soon-to-be most notorious alumni, it was also my first taste of competitive anxiety over things out of my control. Everyone who was anyone racked up at least three to five warrants from their friends, and being “arrested” by cute student council members was the dream. It made you matter, you know? My popular older sister was arrested all the fucking time. God, I wanted to be arrested so badly.
5. People who did not get arrested on Western Day
As it turns out, I was so unpopular even a month and a half into the seventh grade, that over 200 warrants were filed for my arrest. My popular older sister wasted no time in telling my parents that I was the only kid in WHS history that this happened to.
6. People who wore hooded sweatshirts with more chill than mine
Even in the years before Facebook was invented, zip-up hoodies were cool. Or maybe they were always only intended to be cool for junior high schoolers and tech has really just latched onto the wrong trend. Either way, even in the days of youthful hoodie ubiquity, fitting in was cool, but sticking out was cooler. So the coolest kids, the ones who were probably born wearing zip up hoodies, quietly shifted to wearing thick, bulky Champion hoodies in black or white. Seriously, the kind you could get at Target, even though Target was also the home of low-rent Gelly Roll pens.
At one point when I was in the eighth grade, a group of cool Korean girls did a dance battle to the “Mortal Kombat” theme song and not only was it cool and hip hop-y, their entire costume was jazz pants and alternating colors of Champs hoodies. That’s it. That’s NOT EVEN A COSTUME and yet it absolutely worked, far better than any of the costumes my parents had been shelling out thousands for yearly to train me classically in ballet and jazz. I would have been seething with rage, but the battle to be cool had already been lost by that point.
7. Girls who knew how to tie men’s ties even though they’d never worn a fucking tie before
Ah yes, this was a particularly burning jealousy. I was, like my beloved Ben Wyatt above, suuuuuuper into Model United Nations. Embarrassingly so, but it was a class at our high school and I really, really loved winning. The only thing I loved more than winning? Pretending to be one of the guys because that’s what Seventeen told me I needed to do, to find a boyfriend. The best way to do it, naturally, was to be the person who tied all these dumb freshman boys’ ties in the early weekend morning hours before we had to get on a bus with our creepy MUN advisor who loved giving inappropriate shoulder rubs to his female students.
Imagine my surprise when the hours I spent forcing my dad to teach me how to tie a tie were all for goddamn naught because girls significantly hotter than I had also somehow picked up this knowledge. The only male necks I found myself entwined around were when I would find a reason to go “Uhhh your tie is all wrong,” and then force my skills on those guys. I actually never knew how to tie a tie, so I did significantly more damage than good here, and I got kicked out of MUN two years later anyways (not for neck-raping high schoolers, though that probably didn’t help).
8. Girls who were on color guard, even though I was a cheerleader
Listen, it’s high school. There is still a social strata, even in my no-football, 170 kids a class mini-school. Color guard, the group of girls who performed with the marching band, just wasn’t as enviable as being on the pep squad. I didn’t make the rules, or ask to be so naturally talented at dancing that wasting my skills on color guard would be a slap in the face to all the money my parents had spent on dance lessons. Plus, I grew up with a unibrow until I was 12, so I deserve this bit of arrogance.
That being said, my parents also made me take a year of marching band to satisfy my fine arts requirement in high school, and while playing the tenor saxophone was pretty cool, ya girl couldn’t march in a straight line to save her life, so I got sent to where band dreams go to die: the back flag section. Five girls carrying very tall flags – usually girls who tried out and did not make it to the color guard – were relegated to lead the rear of our procession while derogatorily being referred to as “back flags.” (This was in the teenage days where being called what you are was the cruelest insult someone could surmise against you.) Though I had deigned to not be in the color guard, fuck if I wasn’t jealous of color guard members one hour a day and four hours on the weekends during marching season. Back flag?! Naw dude.
9. Girls who got away with their Canadian boyfriends
As the old saw goes, if you don’t want to cop to not having a boyfriend, you invent one who lives in Canada, or some other inexplicably far away place. Because I was a moron, my manufactured boyfriend was instead picked from the three straight guys who had come to the large San Diego-based cheerleading camp I went to with our JV squad, who I took one photo with once like an absolute fucking creep. Unsurprisingly, not a single person believed that an incredibly cute white guy was so charmed by me in the two minutes that we spoke at cheer camp, that he becamse my boyfriend and was driving up from San Diego to Los Angeles on the regular to visit me.
Extra points to my friend Steph, who despite being a Champs hoodie pioneer and a proud owner of an enviable pencil box filled with original Gelly Rolls, never once called me out on this lie and supported me to my face (though I hope she was smart enough to mock me in private), despite being our JV cheerleading captain and knowing this was in no way, shape, or form based in truth. All those TV tropes of the popular teen girl with a heart of gold were 99.9% based on Steph.
What’s perhaps the most laughable part of this whole story is that I thought a male cheerleader was the best way to incite jealousy amongst the many boys who had spurned my advances to date.
10. The entire cast of “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County”
At some point no longer content to only be jealous of people in my immediate vicinity, I turned my competitiveness outwards. Those Laguna Beach seniors thought they were going to be the best senior class in America, while my friends (read: people I was jealous of) and I were seniors just 30 miles away? Not a chance. I instead began a very concerted one-woman campaign against the tyranny of classically beautiful white America by reminding anyone who would listen that I knew some of those girls growing up from dance (true), and that group was not that cool (not true, given how much we pretended we, too, could throw a Black and White Party, even if it was just at the Cerritos Sheraton).
I also somehow decided that keeping a beach mat, a volleyball, and beach towels was suddenly a necessity “just in case,” and would tell everyone I went to college with that my high school experience was exactly like “Laguna Beach,” except “not as commercialized, duh.” The beach mat came up a lot as an accessory to our “cutting class to go to the beach” crimes. The furthest we actually got was Albertaco’s (the delicious Mexican drive-thru that was just far enough to make it back to campus on time after lunch). LC always made it to the beach. Always.
Original by: Beejoli Shah