The cool kids


He didn’t much like school, my husband. Got out of there fast. Chafing for life. Reckoned the world could teach him more. There was this one teacher, though. She told him, 12 years old, rebellious and randy, that the girls he was so cockily catting around were not the ones he’d want to marry. He brings it up now and again. And I cringe every time – because it’s outrageously offensive, and because, in recognising the vile sexism of her lesson, I have to also recognise its grain of truth. He married me, but he would never have fancied me then.

I was the first person at my school to get a pair of hi-top Chuck Taylors, my dad was an artist and my mum a lesbian, and so because these things counted for something at my liberal, inner-city intermediate, I hung out with the cool kids. But I wasn’t one of those girls, the hot girls, the girls the boys all hankered after. I know I wasn’t because my friend was, and I was sick with envy.

Who decides who gets to be popular? What does it mean to be cool? In the requisite blandness of a school hall, on an early summer’s day at the end of last year, I attended my son’s primary school graduation concert, and I saw just how painfully early popularity and coolness are established.

What group were you in?

And how did it turn out for you?

Do you believe being in that group at school has benefited you?  Why?

And if not, why not?


– Megan Nicol Reed, Canvas

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