The oppressive fireball of Delta sun hammered upon me and a select group of southern private school young ladies lying covered in mayonnaise, stale French fries, flour, and an amalgam of food items hardening to stone under the oven of Mississippi high noon. The cracking armor of condiments was rank, but we lay docile on the harsh levee gravel and allowed our “sisters” to gleefully shower us with more. This gesture of solidarity to prove our dedication to the group, to seal our bond as sisters, was the grand finale at the end of a week-long initiation into Sub-Deb, a high school club full of pre-debutants who reveled in finding ways of distinguishing themselves as the most elite amongst the elite.
The summer after eighth and ninth grades, select girls received invitations to join the pseudo-sorority. Directed by a helpful Big Sister, Little Sisters received daily gifts of candy and trinkets with accompanying lists of humiliating tasks to complete to prove our loyalty and desire to become part of the privileged Sub-Deb. I was merely second-string elite, so my invitation didn’t come until year two. My raggedy 1985 Jeep Cherokee Chief and frequent refusal to follow clothing trends held me back the year before. While normally I bucked what everyone else was doing, I couldn’t help but feel relief when my bid came year two, as most of my close friends had been accepted after eighth grade and I had not. There was no real reward to being a member, only the reassurance that one had been received by the masses, and no matter how much of an individual I was as a high school freshman, I still didn’t mind the idea of being accepted.
BY GINGER BECK
BY VICTORIA GRIFFIN
BY JONATHAN LEVY
BY HELIA RETHMANN
Ghost Sick Jarvis
Eric Siegelstein / Flapperhouse
Cleaners / Christian Heilmann / Flickr
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