Her name was Jackie and we were cruel to her.
She lived in a small, weather-worn house across the street from our school. She wore the same out-of-style clothes every day. They were stained and frayed. Her hair was never combed, and her homework was rarely done. For these crimes, a court of spoiled and selfish fifth-grade girls sentenced her to a year of hard time as the target of jokes, disdain, and teasing.
I was on the jury.
Decades later, I look back on those playground moments with a great deal of shame and embarrassment. I think the worst thing we did to Jackie was the plot to make her think we were going to let her in our group (dubbed “The Magnificent Seven” by a teacher) all the time knowing we were going to ostracize her a few days later. The plan was to tell her how rich we were, how we vacationed in amazing places, and how our parents drove multiple expensive cars. Isn’t it amazing we want to be your friend, Jackie? You must be special!
Our plan worked perfectly.