“Role models, my foot. This kid is obsessed, and somebody has to tell her to find friends her own age!”
Adina stepped off the auditorium stage, smiling to her partner, Chany, as they were engulfed in a sea of applause and cheering. Being head of G.O. was hard work, but it sure was rewarding.
“You guys were amazing!” Nechamah gushed as Adina and Chany took their places on the bench.
“Thanks!” Chany said. “You have no idea how nervous we were. The million hats we collected—”
The two partners burst into gales of laughter.
“I mean, how do you think we each got ten hats onto our heads?” Adina said between giggles. As she continued enlightening her classmates about the history of the hats on their heads, she noticed Tzippy, a ninth grader, staring at her again. Tzippy caught her eye and flashed her a toothy grin. Adina cringed. Tzippy was obsessed with Adina and, quite frankly, it was annoying.
“So, yeah, that’s why we were very relieved when our introduction passed without any mishaps.” Chany finished off their hat tale with a fluff of her hair. The girls around her were laughing, except, Adina noted, the same few girls who never did. They had semi-smiles on their faces, but those smiles were flimsy, wavering smiles, overshadowed by the heaviness and uncertainty in their eyes. Adina didn’t get those girls. A pang of guilt tugged at her heart for not trying to include them more. But why didn’t they ever join? Why did they always have to sit there with pitiful faces, like nagging guilty consciences, without making any attempt of their own to mingle? Was Adina responsible for their lack of effort? For their… laziness?
Tzippy, on the other hand, was holding her stomach in laughter. Had she really heard them all the way over at the ninth-grade table? Why wasn’t she paying attention to her own classmates? Adina twirled her head away, flinging her hair. Well, Tzippy wasn’t her problem either.
The 12th graders crowded the hallway, laughing as they tried to mimic Mrs. Kraus’s deep voice. Suddenly, Adina felt an arm edge its way in. She looked behind her. It was Tzippy. She quickly looked away. This was a nightmare.
Tzippy wasn’t daunted. “My sister told me she always sees you at the Assisted Living Home on Shabbos,” she said with a grin.
“That’s nice,” Adina replied absentmindedly, pretending to be absorbed in other conversation.
“Have you been going there for a while?” Tzippy continued.
Adina sighed. Tzippy was like a sticky thing that you couldn’t shake off.
“Um, I’m not sure,” Adina said with effort. “Maybe three years.” Why wasn’t Tzippy hanging out with her own grade?
“This kid is obsessed with you,” Chany said once Tzippy had finally left.
“Tell me about it!” Adina answered. “I can’t stand it!”
“Big deal,” Chany said. “It’s cute. Come on, don’t you remember how we used to look up to the 12th graders? Now we’re the role models!”
Adina rolled her eyes. “Role models, my foot. This kid is obsessed, and somebody has to tell her to find friends her own age!”
(Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 775)