Girls’ rules – greetings
The sports program was not the only source of stress in junior high school.
I had been informed by other girls who had sisters in 2nd and 3rd-grade that the younger girls had to greet older girls.
I wished to be friendly with older girls. My sister was in the second year of high school and had no time for me. I’d have loved a sisterly relationship with the older girls in junior high school. So I smiled and said good morning, good afternoon, and goodbye when I came across them in the hallway.
A couple of weeks into school life, I was called by one of the 2nd-grade girls during a recess. As I came out of the classroom, she took me to the corner of the hallway. Two other girls were waiting for us. The tallest of the trio spoke.
“You are not supposed to wear your hair like that.”
My hair was about shoulder length, and I had tied in two tails below my ears. According to the trio, 1st and 2nd-grade girls could only tie in one tail with only black, brown, or navy hairband.
“Also, don’t smile when you greet. It feels like you are sneering at us.”
They told me that from morning till 11 am, we should bow and say “good morning” and bow for the rest of the day, then “sayonara” at the end of the day. I told them I understood, and they let me return to the classroom. I wasn’t sure why they singled me out, other than the twin tails and smile.
I observed how other girls were following these girls’ rules. In the morning, when the 3rd-grade girls passed the hallway, the younger girls stepped aside, bowed, and greeted them. They moved like toy robots that repeated the same movement. They were also repeating “good morning,” once when they saw the girls, then when the girls passed beside them, and finally when they are behind them. So if there came four 3rd-grade girls, they’d say, “ohayo gozaimasu, ohayo gozaimasu, ohayo gozaimasu” and peck their heads toward them.
The 3rd-grade girls walked the middle of the hallway and whispered “ohayo” without a glance at the younger girls. Sometimes they ignored our presence, depending on their mood.
The 2nd-grade girls ingratiated the 3rd-grade girls but flipped their attitude toward the 1st-grade girls. We had to push our back to the wall to let the 2nd-grade girls walk the center of the hallway.
There were no rules among boys. They walked around school freely and didn’t even use the respectful form when conversed. The rules were only strictly applied in the female hierarchy.
I was hoping for a sisterhood with at least one of the older girls, who would support me and give me a wise council, instead of treating me like a maid. Some of the girls in the 1st and 2nd-grade were liked by some of the 3rd-grade girls and received more friendly treatment. I, on the other hand, made a mistake so early on that such favoritism looked less possible.