Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Queen Bee and I

When I met her, it was under the unpleasant yet reinforcing experience of being held up to be an example of what a young LDS girl should dress like in the era of the miniskirt. As I recall, it was my first night at mutual in my new ward and the lesson was on modesty. I had made my cute blue jumper the previous year in Home Economics class. Sewing came easy to me, Mother did it, and it had been the only 4-H option available to me as an inner city gradeschooler. By the time I was a second year Beehive, I COULD make just about anything I wanted to and my mother would buy fabric and patterns when she wouldn't buy new clothes.

I think this was the start of my love hate relationship with Queen Bee. Our fathers were business associates. Hers was already on his way to being more successful than my stepfather. She had the added benefit of having a sane, moral father figure in her life, I did not. Her mom was the classic LDS homemaker. Mine was not, but became a world class baker of whole wheat bread, could can anything and began her odyssey into what I'll call a health food fetishism which has lasted the rest of her life.

Queen Bee did not like having any attention diverted to me. In the next few months she managed two nasty emotional sabotages through other people, one through the same beehive leader and another through one of the young men, who told me I didn't belong in their ward group and I should get out. I know this because another girl told me that he wanted to be with Queen Bee and she had been there when Queen Bee asked him to tell me. Fortunately, Queen Bee and I did not attend the same junior high school.

I was very, very used to being the new kid as my mother had moved a lot as a single parent. Paying my dues one way or another was typical. At least this was not physical and I was not being physically attacked for being a newcomer.

During the second year of Beehives (never thought how funny this is before), Queen Bee and I had become uneasy friends. I remember many nights of pleasant sleep overs. Her Mom was fun and I liked her. Queen Bee's mom let me borrow a beautiful pink long dress that she had made for Queen Bee for a dance. As I recall, Queen Bee could no longer fit the bodice.

I don't ever remember being sexually attracted to Queen Bee, but I do recall wanting to be her friend and never quite feeling like I measured up. This feeling of inadequacy grew during the high school years and we attended the same school. Queen Bee became, you guessed it, a cheerleader. She also had a classic Barbie Doll figure. I did not, I had a good, but old fashioned hour glass figure. Queen Bee was naturally browner and in our California beach community that also added to her popularity package.

In retrospect, it's funny how inadequate I always felt around Queen Bee. I remember asking her about Cheerleader try-outs. With incredible scorn, Queen Bee basically told me I was crazy for even thinking of trying and that I absoulutely did not have what was necessary to be a cheerleader. So I didn't try out. I cannot remember if it was because I felt so put down or simply no longer wanted to be around her.

Understand that I was very, very beautiful as a teenager. I had been solicited to model locally, but turned that opportunity down. I've always wondered if that was foolhardy and whether I should have taken advantage of that opportunity when it came. However, I never felt beautiful.

And, I felt so ugly compared to the popular Queen Bee. Being a shy and serious person didn't help.

As we continued on in high school, Queen Bee, mostly maintained our "friendship" by borrowing my surfer chick clothes. Mother had discovered a cute boutique that carried Alfred Shaheen and other hawaiian designers and I had great women's hawaiian shirts and a really wonderful bikini with a cover up that I never wore without the cover up. Queen Bee was never allowed to wear jeans, they were too unladylike (remember it hadn't been so very long that we could even wear pants to school). As I also had a horse at this time, I had plenty of jeans of various configurations, wranglers, checks, and the classic Levi's 501's.

So often, I would lend Queen Bee my 501's and a hawaiian shirt and she would come out of the bathroom at school as someone different, a surfer chick. And off she would go in my clothes to her other friends. I remember thinking how odd it was that she so liked my clothing but not me. I also loaned my three piece bikini and cover up to her (how nasty is that?) and later heard she was wearing the bikini only.

Queen Bee eventually paired up with a rich, asian boyfriend who was not LDS. I remember being at his house once with Queen Bee so we must have continued spending some time together willingly. I basically had several strong male friendships with boys in our ward, a couple maturing into quasi and full romances. During those years, I can safely say that most of my friends were boys, but I so wanted a strong female friendship and my experience with Queen Bee was frustratingly unrequited.

After moving away in my Junior year, I did make several strong female friends at the next school. And, later met DH. I can honestly say that DH was the very best thing about those years. And, bless my girlfriends (active LDS girls who did allow me to be their friends without limitation) for loving and befriending him, too. They were not popular but had strong convictions and a sense of their own worth.

When I've read posts on first crushes, read stories of teenage same sex attractions and how the writers later characterized their experiences with friends, I've wondered why I was so drawn to Queen Bee and so badly wanted her approval. I don't think it was sexual at all. But I wanted to belong and somehow Queen Bee had become the gatekeeper or icon of acceptible feminity and I just didn't measure up. I just didn't have what was needed to really be a young women. I was too mannish. There were other reasons I wished I had been born male, again, fodder for another post. These were all thoughts I had that I used to reinforce my own low self esteem.

Also, the whole modesty and appropriateness in dress was interwoven with our mutual teenage experience. This is where she chose to rebel and she used me to do it.

The term Queen Bee comes from a book called Queen Bees and Wannabees. It was later made into the movie Mean Girls starring Lindsay Lohan. Not only did I really like the movie, but thus began my obsession with LILO as well. I guess that's also fodder for another post. Strangely some of this Queen Bee behavior carries on into adult life with some women, too.

I think I'm no longer a wannabee, it's taken a long time to get here. I hope I have not become a Queen Bee either although there are characteristics of a heavenly queen that I hope I do have. As women we judge, we criticize each other and ourselves, we try to protect our turf, we fail to forgive and worse. I decided to really make an effort to find Queen Bee last night to see how her life turned out. I don't want to be her friend (well, I think maybe I'm still fearful of rejection or nastiness), but I wanted to know.

In the last couple of years, Queen Bee lost her father and married a daughter off to a nice young man. From my strictly online sources, I was able to ascertain that Queen Bee didn't stay with her high school boyfriend, she married what looked to be a nice LDS boy, got her own degree, put husband through professional school, went through a serious health issue with husband, went through serious health problem and miracle with one of her children, experienced financial hardship, possibly endured criminal activity by her husband, and divorced her husband. I found her facebook profile and could not believe how unhappy she looked. Wow.

This only serves to reinforce what I already knew about life, that there are tremendous sorrows hidden within each and every soul. I am not at all happy for her distress or gloating about the things which on their face seem to be better about my life. Life is not easy even for Queen Bees.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Beautiful post. Very poignant. You are a talented writer. (I deleted the previous comment because of spelling errors- I have GOT to learn how to spell!)

    happy day! slp

  3. Thank you Slp. Blogger needs an editor for comments. Hope your knee is a little less painful now.

  4. Thank you, QS. My knee is still very sore, but it IS getting incrementally better. I am just over 7 weeks, and I hear it takes pretty nigh to 3 months before the pain starts going away.

    I am a little dense. What did you mean by blogger needs an editor?

    Hope all is well!

    Happy night. :) slp

  5. Whoops- I just got your comment about editor for comments. It actually does have an editor. I just never seem to catch my errors until after I post the comment. I would have made a terrible proof-reader!