I had a friend in high school. We’ll call her Pamela, Pam for short. No, that’s not her real name. No, I will not make disparaging remarks about her, but I will tell you about how I became friends with her and, more importantly, why I did.
Pam was a year younger than I was, I think. It’s been a long time, and I’m old, so I can’t remember much. Maybe she was 2 years younger than I was. That’s beside the point. All I can tell you is that she was a person you did not want to make mad. I learned about this one day in dodgeball.
I am not athletic. I never have been. I like to swim, and I was a majorette in high school, but other than that, I hated team sports of any variety. I was an only child for 9 blissful years, and I learned to entertain myself. I did not want to play baseball and get hit in the lip (like I did in 5th grade) because someone else screwed up. Okay, maybe I got hit in the lip because I was a terrible ball player and was paying no attention to the game, but this all goes back to why I didn’t do team sports – I HATED THEM.
I hated gym class. I didn’t like dressing out. I didn’t like changing in front of people I didn’t know that well. I was, and still am, fairly modest when it comes to baring it all – I hate even going to the doctor, and I know they have been there, done that, and it is nothing to them to see yet another naked person. But, I still hate it. I hated running, and I still do. I am a girl. I have parts that jiggle. Even in high school, I had some parts that jiggled, although I was much thinner and didn’t have as many jiggly parts. Man I wish I was younger. Okay, I digress.
So, I didn’t like gym at all. It was required, because they thought we needed exercise. Trust me, feeding fish, riding my three-wheeler (yes THREE wheeler, not the wussy 4-wheeled version that people have now), practicing routines with my majorette group, and generally being outside was all enough exercise for me – at 90 pounds soaking wet. But, to gym class I had to go.
So, Pam was, of course, in my gym class. She was an Amazon next to me. I looked like the wimpy kids on so many of the 80s movies, except I was a girl. Stupid looking shorts, a t-shirt that said no telling what, weird tennis shoes, etc. A fashionista I was not. Pam was at least a foot taller than I was, I swear. Or so it seemed at the time.
One of our evil, masochistic PE teacher’s favorite torture devices was dodgeball. In case you don’t know, this is a game where people literally throw the ball as hard as they can at your head to try to knock you out of the game. If the ball touches you anywhere, you’re out. The only saving grace to this horrendous game was that I wasn’t chosen last because we were assigned spots by the teacher. At least the pressure of being the last chosen wasn’t also present.
The first game, I swear I thought somebody died.
Pam had thrown the ball so hard at the girl’s head that I swear I saw it fall on the floor, smashed. There was blood. It was awful. My wimpy, no team sport self knew immediately that I had to make Pam my new best friend.
All through high school, she was a friend of mine. I brought her candy sometimes, and she protected me from the creepers. She once beat a girl up in the street and pulled out about a handful of hair in the process. It was ugly. But, it wasn’t me, which is all that mattered to my wimpy frame.
Ever since then, I have what I call the “Pamela Principle”. If there is a person who really bothers me, I try to make him/her my friend. I’d rather have them on my side than me be the one getting my head smashed in by the dodgeball. There are those, of course, who aren’t worth it because they won’t be there to back you up when you need it. They don’t deserve Pamela Principle treatment. They simply deserve to be ignored.
Names changed, of course, to protect the innocent, but the stories are (mostly) true.