I was always the first asleep. Always. Yet I don't remember anyone putting my bras in any freezers. Probably my hand was put in warm water a few times. (I forget what effect this was supposed to have). There was one morning when Sarah* decided it would be really cool to put toothpaste in Heather's* eyes, and Heather woke up crying and yelling because she was in so much pain. It happened at my house. I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive myself for that one. My only defense is that when Sarah decided to do something, she would do it, no matter how stupid it was. There was never any stopping her. She was that friend who always manages to get you into trouble, even though the only reason she convinced you to go along was because she would NOT SHUT UP until you did. Often our infractions involved her feeling guilty later, and she would tell her parents what we did. Guess who always got punished?
Mercifully, Sarah went away just before eighth grade to live with her father for good. I would make the excuse for her that she was from a broken home, but I met her in second grade, and her family life was well-intact then. Yet even then she was up to no good. Our escapades started with tying our shoelaces together in third-grade recess and eventually graduated to smoking cigarettes sometime in middle school. Things quickly grew more dangerous and disturbing from there. I think if Sarah hadn't moved away, I might have ended up in juvie with her, futilely trying to talk her out of yet another lame-brained scheme. It pains me that, while I was smarter in a lot of ways than Sarah, she was much more popular than me, which is how I think she was able to bully me so much. Popularity is power in middle school, especially when it's a relatively small middle school. She was street-smart, too, a natural schemer. I wasn't. At all. Part of that was that I was rather bookish, but I think it was mostly due to having parents who weren't street smart, either. Whatever street smarts my father had developed as a kid who was basically on his own from the time he was eleven, he lost in his transformation into a man who rose at five a.m. every morning to read the paper before he went into his twelve-hour workday.
Sarah eventually grew up to be a stripper and a drug addict—things Heather's parents predicted for Sarah as early as the third grade. (Heather, having street-smart parents and more than a little smarts herself, figured out Sarah much more quickly than I did.) If memory serves, Sarah's done some time, too. I don't think I was glad she moved away then. Sarah may have been a bad friend, but she was still a friend, and back then I had very few friends. But still, I felt a certain relief after she was gone.
Now? I'm glad she moved. Otherwise I might be writing this from prison. I'm not saying I turned out so great. But still. When I think about Sarah, I know it could have been worse.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent