Friday, July 23, 2004

Scrapping Sluts

The practiced nonchalance of young girls starts appearing at approximately the same age they realize the shake of their ass is one of the most useful tools they will ever possess. The wiles of manipulation that the female species has been imbued with, and that manifests itself in that dismissive, cold-eyed arrogance, reaches a strange and hideous pinnacle when crossed with ruthless violence.

More than 20 years ago I witnessed a bizarre event that has remained with me to this day....

Whether it was because I was coming into an age where my observation skills were becoming sharper, or if it was actually a trend that emerged at that time I don't know, but there suddenly seemed to be a sharp upswing in the number of girl-on-girl fights at the school I attended. Young men had been gaining a sense of pride at their developing muscles and ability to throw a punch for some time but the vicious cat-fights were a new experience. The after-school crowds they were attracting rivaled any that involved the blokes.

They were a certain type of girl--it's safe to say that most fit under the description of "white-trash". In fact, within a few years, most of those scrapping sluts had squeezed out a few bastards and one even went on to become a grandmother at the age of 25. They had probably witnessed violence in the squalid, welfare housing projects where they lived and in turn become involved with abusive scum who pushed them around. Brutality was part of these girls' lives and as much as it messed them up, it appealed to them as well. They saw violence as a logical way to solve the petty jealousies that all young women of that age become involved in. Most used more benign methods of solving their disputes such as shunning and slander campaigns but a few resorted to fisticuffs.

One day, the possibility of an after-school fight picked up steam and seemed like it would result in some real entertainment. To make things more interesting I always endeavored to get some details regarding the low-class drama that had sparked the show-down. In this particular case it turned out that one of the combatants had slighted her rival by spreading a rumour that the girl, at the age of 15, was still refusing to supply anal sex on 1st dates. Not wanting to be denied the status that the contrary seemed to provide, arrangements were made to duke it out.

The words "white-trash" wouldn't have meant anything to me at the time. That there was a difference between kids who lived in opposite ends of the neighbourhood was probably somewhere in my psyche but not something I was conscious of. Yet it would have been all so obvious if I had connected patterns of behaviour and certain familial situations with the geography of the neighbourhood where they were most prevalent. The cramped, miserly sameness of the housing projects where they lived, the precocious sluttiness, and the arrogance offered up when faced with their own inadequacies was all something that these girls shared.

The usual crowd of ruthless little fuckers (myself among them) desperate to see some pain dished out, gathered at the regular locale designated for after-school violence. Probably feeling like they were part of some bizarre spectacle that they no longer had any control over and surprised at their own presence as much as their opponent's, the standard preamble began with each girl spewing her angry charges at the other. If only they could have stopped to consider how absurd and empty it would have been without the crowd of shameless young punks urging them to start hurting each other. Of course that's what it was all about…achieving standing amongst their peers…the status that because of their broken families and hopeless futures, society would never provide otherwise.

As they did start throwing punches it became apparent that the stockier of the two would quickly gain the upper hand over the tall lanky one. Throwing her to the ground and pinning her knees to the shoulders of the struggling weakling, with a sick triumphant look the bruiser in the skin-tight blue jeans and plaid shirt (the apparent white-trash uniform of the day) started driving her fist into the other's face. Still refusing to give up, the emaciated wretch absorbed alternately the venomous epithets being vomited into her face and the cuffs, slaps and closed-fist punches. Perhaps she had experienced such violence before.

As the crowd circled and lapped up the spectacle, some mates of the nearly-beaten girl happened by, but far from showing any outrage, shock or inclination to help her, simply approached and bizarrely started conversing with their friend. The surreal atmosphere of the whole strange event was exacerbated by the layed-out girl being throttled as she looked up to her mates standing off to the side, trying to maintain eye contact as she spoke to them.

To this day I cannot forget how the struggle to achieve an image of unperturbed cool could trump shame, embarrassment and even the infliction of physical pain. As the punches came down, driving her skull back into the pavement, the battered, truly pitiful individual who was so desperate for the approval of her mates started bantering in a casual voice…"Hey, howsit goin’?" *thunk* "Oh yeah...ya goin' to that party Saturday night? * mash* *cuff* *shwaaaap* "Yeah... *crack*... I'll be there...*cram*...wouldn't want to miss out on that *blam* the way..*bash* *biff*..ya think I can borrow some of...*fwup* that foundation for *mash*..covering...*thwunk*..up...*THUMP*... blemishes?"