Women of Letters Response: To My Nemesis

Dear Ashleigh,

I wonder if you have children now. All the other girls we went to primary school with do. Some small part of me hopes you do, and hopes it’s a girl.

Yes, some small part of me hopes that someone your daughter thought was a friend spreads a secret to every other kid in Year 6. Your daughter won’t even know what this other girl has said, only that no one will sit with her at lunch anymore. But it’s not a rumour when it’s the truth is it?

The girls will all stop talking to her for a week that feels like a semester and boys will sing a strange song to her that she doesn’t understand…

floating down the river red in a yellow boat’

Even her best friend won’t tell her what the rumour is but she’ll send her short, sympathetic glances across the playground.

On the day the library is closed, your daughter will walk alone at lunchtime with her head down. One windy day she’ll see a solitary leaf dance across the gravel.

Your daughter probably won’t tell you, she’ll just storm up the hill to write more poetry thick with heavy feelings that need to go somewhere.

This other girl will be somehow forced to apologise to your daughter. The other girl will cry and both girls will go to the bathroom. Through her tears the other girl will claim that all she told the other kids was that she saw your daughter pick her nose one time, that’s all. Your daughter’ll give this other girl a limp hug, keeping her eyes down, avoiding a glimpse of her own sad pimply face in the bathroom mirror. By now your daughter knows what all the other kids know.

Some small part of me hopes you have a daughter that becomes a woman before all the others.

Maybe your daughter will be the first girl at school to start stashing a Libra purse in her school bag and the first to stop wearing fitted skivvies and wear baggy shirts instead. Maybe one Christmas you’ll give her a floral fitted dress. She’ll walk through the door of her Grandmother’s house to be greeted (in front of 20 odd relatives) with ‘Good God! She’s shapely!’ Maybe then her cousin will reach over and flick at one of her pimples, saying ‘You’ve got a big bit of dirt on your face.’

Maybe that same pimple sticks around for two years and turns into an infected ingrown hair that requires cosmetic surgery. Maybe you’ll be outraged to learn that the surgeons thought your daughter was fully anaesthetized so she heard them gossip about who did what to who at the office Christmas party.

Maybe you reckon a trip to the cosmetics counter at Grace Bros at the Hyperdome will boost her confidence. Instead you’ll pay $80 for a woman to hold a magnifying glass to your daughters nose and scream ‘BLACKHEADS? BUT SHE’S ONLY 11!’

But what am I saying? I wouldn’t want to wish that awkwardness upon anyone. I do hope you’ve grown out of being that other girl though.



PS: If your daughter gets stuck playing ‘The Manager’ when the other Year 6 girls are playing whatever the equivalent of the Spice Girls is these days, tell her not to worry, event management and artist wrangling are valuable skills that she’ll use later in life.

My role models in 1997, the year I technically became a woman. I wanted to be a mix of Ginger (was a total babe), Sporty (had more fun) and Scary (didn't care).

My role models in 1997, the year I technically became a woman. I wanted to be a mix of Ginger (was a total babe), Sporty (had more fun) and Scary (didn’t care).

If you haven’t read Women of Letters you should. I wrote this after reading this


2 thoughts on “Women of Letters Response: To My Nemesis

  1. Mate, if only we knew each other in 1997. I would’ve worn baggy t-shirts with you. Dear Ashleigh, you’re a douche. i want to read that book now!

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