Slam – You’re Down
Remember Slam Books? If you don’t, let me enlighten you. A Slam Book was something many women over 40 have experienced in grammar school – usually a spiral notebook or a bunch of papers stapled together (oh, the world before Staples!) that dedicated a page to each person. The idea was that it got passed around so everyone could write their opinion of each person. Ouch. In some Slam Books, you had to sign in (and be sneaky about the order of your comments and the pen you used, if you were smart), but many were totally anonymous.
Usually the popular girls started them (they knew no one would dare slam them. . . and get away with it) and teachers, uniformly, would confiscate them and punish those involved in the lambasting.
Oh, it was cruel! Talk about bullying. Not only did you get to read all the nasty things other girls had to say about you, but you also got to read what your crush thought of you (because boys were eager participants). I will never forget hungrily looking up what Paul Esposito had written about me. It was probably in the 7th grade, so it seemed like the most important thing in the world to me. Actually, I don’t even remember what he wrote; it was that forgettable. What I do remember is what he had to say about my friend, Charlette Martin: Nice babe; cute shape. What? Charlette got “nice babe, cute shape” and I got some banal drivel? I guess it could have been worse. He could have made fun of me or said I was skinny and ugly (which is how I saw myself back then), but he wasn’t a cruel guy; he was just someone who thought Charlette was worth commenting on. . . and I wasn’t.
The good part was that you would also find out what boys were interested in you. For some, it was the perfect way to say what they didn’t have the nerve to say to your face. Then again, if it was a boy you thought was weird, you had to live down all the teasing from your friends.
I figured out what Paul wrote because not only did he sign in, he also used the same red pen throughout. So, it could have been that he really, really liked me and didn’t want anyone to know.
But my point is, bullying isn’t new, whether kids do it in person, by texting or on FaceBook. They even still use Slam Books, according to the Urban Dictionary (“usually a thing that girls do. it is a book that usually contains really mean crap about another girl “).
Teachers and parents knew it was wrong then and they did everything they could to stop it. They still apparently confiscate these books today. They know how demoralizing a negative comment in a Slam Book could be. Or – worse yet – a whole page of them.
Or just a “nice babe, cute shape” for someone else.