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April 26, 1999 e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Years ago, when Breakup Girl was living a Sylvia Plathian life (the life part) as a magazine intern, she and her editors had a good laugh over an article submission that began, "I realize that death can be a downer, but ...".

Well, that's how I would like to start the prologue, yet another example of BG's every-so-often impulse to address an issue that's not funny at all.

Surely you know where this is going: Columbine High. There are several reasons -- four dead girls, to name a few -- why this terrifying, tragic incident is not a "BG issue" the way Arkansas was. But. I do get a lot of letters from bummed-out teens wondering how to fit in without caving in. From teens worried about their messed-up friends. From teens fluent in raging, hating hyperbole. From grownups who, when it comes to the teens in their lives, don't even know where to start.

None of which has left me unconvinced that, well, you take garden-variety adolescent unspayed-dog hormone madness + yes, Our Violent Culture + a couple of who-knows-why pre-disturbed kids ... and KAPOW.

But anyway.

First of all, all you people who are mean to people in the hallways and in your letters: Quit it. It makes other people sad and scared for no reason, and it makes you look like a loser. 'Cause BG knows that you're the one who's sad and scared. So.

Do you -- whether you're a meanie or a mean-ee -- need to talk to someone? If you do, you're not lame. If you try one grownup, and s/he doesn't get it, try another. (Or maybe here, one of many solid Internet resources available to you.)

And in general: hey, all you people who write. All you people who know people like the people who write. If you're concerned about someone, you can talk without tattling, inquire without invading. Do something. Something. Something that -- you never know -- might might might snip maybe one teeny weeny wire in the "Life sucks" bomb they're building inside. Something.

This is about hope, not blame.

I'm not saying you (or anyone) could have prevented what happened.

But also I'm not saying you couldn't have.

And now that book deadlines are closer than they appear and the weather is impulse-roller-hockey-appropriate, we'll get right back to

Spring Cleaning V



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