Recently, the Mister and I went to the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York for our honeymoon. One night, we decided to go ice skating at the civic center near our hotel. It was a carbon copy of our local roller rink circa 1993, the hot and happening place for the pre-teen and too-young-to-drive set. For that matter, I think we were the only two people there who actually knew what a carbon copy is.
The more I watched, the more I recognized the cliques forming on the ice and in the snack bar. There was Not Nearly As Cool As He Thinks kid with Buddy Holly glasses strategizing with his much less cool friend about how to mack on the cute Girl Next Door type with the panda bear hat, but she was having none of that business.
You had the four Queen Bees, tall thin, and blonde, joined at the hand in a long string, patrolling the ice. The Alpha Bee announced, “Let’s dis those guys the next time they come over,” and the rest assented with a squeal of giggles. They were accompanied by their Harmless Male Friend who was probably just a little younger (or else just not as developed) who was allowed to hang out with them all night. None of the Bees noticed the gleam in his eye when they all fell down in a giant pile. Perhaps not as “harmless” as they think?
There was the Misanthropic Loner hanging out along the far edge of the rink, scraping ice from the surface into a pile to make snowballs to throw at passersby. A Wannabe Misfit hung close by, clearly wanting to join in but not quite wanting to cross a line. This, of course, only went on until the Loner got caught and spent the rest of the night sulking and monopolizing the lone arcade game in the snack bar.
There was the pair of slightly out of place, Awkward Seventeen-Year-Olds who either hadn’t caught on to the fact that the older kids go somewhere much cooler than the ice rink or whose parents wouldn’t let them go wherever that was. And of course, the requisite group of Geeky Young College Students, long hair, goofy fedora, funky socks, and all.
That is to say, it was a microcosm of everything I remember about middle school and high school. Though much time has passed since the Mister and I were that age, it seems as if nothing has really changed. I imagine the CCD socials my mother frequented at her junior high gym had many of the same cliques that we saw the other night. Though time marches ever forward, it seems as if some things really do stay the same.
Only this time, I’m the weird old grown-up who doesn’t belong.
Image courtesy of Brian Colella at Flickr.