Wednesday, September 5, 2007

When did girls start screeching?

And why do they do that? Why? Tell me, why? There must be a reason. I want to believe there is an explanation for this behavior. It's functional, not affectation. It's a call of sorts, right? But it hurts the ears. I don't understand it. I didn't screech or squeal. Did you?

Here, context might help. You see, last Wednesday was a big day. I was dropping my sons off at middle school for the first day of school. Peter is in 6th grade, and Andrew is in 8th grade. We were in the courtyard of the school, looking up Andrew's homeroom teacher and room number on a big long list. Well, I was. Andrew has a brace on his knee and uses crutches, and he couldn't get close enough, what with the hundreds of kids and their protective parents packed into that very small space. I was pressed up against some kid's dad and looking at the top of one girl's head, and noticing, whoa, that boy grew facial hair over the summer, and all of the sudden, as if the smells of armpits, perfume, and overzealously used hair products weren't enough, I heard it. The SCREECH. I couldn't cover my ears fast enough. There was no warning.

"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK. Oh my God. AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGH. You look so cute. Who do you have?"

And then on my left:

"Ooooooooooooooooh! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! I can't believe summer is over. AAAAAAA!"

And then across the courtyard:

"Krrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiistine! Oh my God! Oooooooooooooo!"

Screeches were erupting all around me. It was like at 8:40 a.m. on Wednesday, August 29, all middle school girls in Berkeley were exploding. At once. Spontaneously. And I didn't understand. I looked back at my son on crutches, and he was covering his ears too.

I said, "Your homeroom is the gym."

He said the word he uses more than any other word in our English language. "What?"



"Why are the girls yelling and screeching?" I asked him, admittedly in a very loud voice.

He looked like I'd embarassed him. "They do that," he said.

And then I observed Andrew greeting his own friend whom he hadn't seen in several weeks. There was a barely noticeable nod of the head. I kid you not--it was a very small movement. And that was followed by a "Hey." That's it. No screeching.

I'm a woman. I was a girl. (Really.) Girls have it tough. And I'm here for them. I do what I do in part because of them. But they have got to stop with the screeching. It's painful. Do you screech? Were you a screecher? If so, I'd like to hear from you. Maybe you can explain it to me? But can you explain it quietly, my ears are still bleeding a little.

Until the next time.



PastaQueen said...

I have noticed the screeching too. Whenever someone greets me like that, I take on the appearance of a startled deer. I've also noticed that some women I meet will go in for hugs when we part even if we barely know each other. Maybe I'm just not a touchy, feely person, but when is it appropriate to hug good-bye and when will a simple handshake do?

Nadija said...

Perhaps it has to do with their mothers, who in turn, picked up the habit of screeching from their mothers. In any case, I have a feeling it all began with adults like all the other odd behaviors that eventually make their way into the repertoire of children and young adults.

My mother has a very calm and deep voice, and I am quite certain that this is the reason why I do not screech.