The school’s resource teacher, “Stephanie”, came up to me a few days ago and said she’d been reading a book to her young son. As they got deeper into the story, she realized that the high school heroine reminded her of … me. She not only suggested I read the book. She went to the school library and scored me a copy.
Susan transforms into Stargirl and plunks herself down in her new high school. She wears floor-length dresses, carries a rat around in her backpack, and sings “Happy Birthday” to kids in the lunchroom, accompanying herself on the ukulele. Now, wait a minute … that doesn’t sound like me. Stephanie urged me to be patient. “You’ll see yourself.”
Stargirl dresses weirdly every day … me just occasionally. I do remember one time two years ago when kindergarten kids had done my hair – about twenty closepins hung from me. I decided to go to a community dinner that evening at the arena without removing the halo of wood. Many, many stares greeted me, just like for Stargirl. But mine is just an occasional burst of strangeness.
Stephanie mentioned that I don’t care what people think of me, just like Stargirl. That’s partially true but I seek approval from a few people. Mostly she’s right. I say lots of spontaneous things, have been known to sing our national anthem loudly, and have done a little jig now and then. But Stargirl is way more over the top.
“You’re kind, like Stargirl.” Okay, I’ll go with that. One time, when she was a cheerleader for football games, Stargirl went over to comfort an injured opposition quarterback. She held him in her lap. She would cheer for the other team when they were losing. “Us versus them” was nowhere near as important as “all of us”. Wow. What if we just cheered for everyone in life? I see myself as doing that.
The community of students rejected Stargirl when she had compassion for the opponent. Only one girl showed up on her side. The narrator of the story, who was in love with Stargirl (and she with him), wasn’t brave enough to stand beside her. I don’t know how I’d fare in the face of massive shunning.
Stargirl was love. No one was left out. May I live up to her astonishing standard of care.