Do you remember hate clubs? How sickly satisfying (and weirdly sort of acceptable) it used to be to join up with a group of like-minded individuals and just hate the hell out of something?
When I was 10, I was one of the founding members of the “I Hate Shonda Club,” which boasted an impressive roster of three girls from my street. During the summer, Shonda occasionally visited her dad who owned one of the fancy vacation condos adjacent to the run-down “cottages” me and my mom lived in.
It was a tourist spot and I was a townie, so I rarely had to stomach more than a week with Shonda at a clip. I hated every second of it.
Besides being the bossiest thing under five feet, Shonda was also a know-it-all, a cheat, a liar, a curser and a bully. She would regularly convince me to play a game that only she knew the rules to and then declare herself the winner even after I’d managed to figure them out and start gaining ground. Whenever I complained to my mom, who was usually close by drinking wine coolers with Shonda’s dad, she’d just say, “You’re the one who agreed to play by her rules.”
Shonda was also one of the special brand of kids who could get adults to like her despite knowing full well what an asshole she was. I could never understand why on earth my mother forced me to play with her and made ME apologize the one time I got so fed up with Shonda’s bullshit that I pushed her into a bush.
I know for a fact it didn’t hurt despite her wounded-manatee wailing. Why? Because she’d pushed my ass into that very same bush multiple times and laughed it off as a hilarious accident. But when I did it? Grounded. Like Thoreau said, in an unjust world the only place for a just man is prison.
As such, I figured the only way to get back at Shonda was through non-violent protest. So I gathered the few friends I had and formed the “I Hate Shonda Club,” which was basically just us hanging out without her. We didn’t even trash talk her (that much).
I never told her about the club — not because it’d be especially cruel, but because she knew I hated her and it didn’t made me feel especially powerful. It was twisted.
Eventually we moved away and Shonda became a distant memory, but the false superiority of despising someone who didn’t have a clue did not. These days, I’ve found myself rolling my eyes near to wrecking whilst scrolling through Twitter and spotting names of people I hardly know but think are dumb.
Or I’ve found myself reading an article someone emailed me with the subject line, “What the hell is this chick talking about?” and wasting hours hate-reading an essay that clearly wasn’t meant for me. I’ve logged into Facebook for the sole purpose of mentally judging someone I secretly think is cheesy. Why? Because there’s some cheap high from giving a thumbs down even if no one’s watching your sad little mental cable access show. It’s as if you’ve actually done something.
But it’s 2013 and I’m over it. I mean, I actually do stuff that I’m proud of, so what’s the point in self-soothing like a 10-year-old every time someone does something that I find less than awesome? There’s plenty of room for less than awesome (to me) stuff and I doubt Shonda has anything to do with it.
Also, looking back at my days of the president of the IHSC, my biggest problem was the fact that I believed she’d duped the powers-that-be into thinking she was a nice girl, or at the very least not a totally horrible girl. I couldn’t live in that world as a 10-year-old newbie to inequity, but as a 32-year-old vet of the system, I can let that stuff go — mainly because I’ve got limited storage for it.
So in 2013, I’ll try to remember what my mom would say whenever I’d complain: “You’re the one who agreed to play by her rules.” If you opt out of the game altogether, it doesn’t really matter who’s cheating.