The Cult that is PJAM (Part 1): Ja Doesn’t Befriend the World

Note: the names of people have been changed to protect their identity

(*sing to the tune of the theme for Gem and the Holograms*) Me and my friends are PJAM! PJAM! PJAM’s our name. Nobody is the same. PJAM is our name. PJAM!

PJAM stands for Priscilla, Ja, Jenny, Alice, Melissa, and Monique. We met each other back in grade five. Last year we celebrated our 11th friendship anniversary. This is the story of our grade five days when we were all young and crazy…

Ja Doesn’t Befriend the World

In order to understand PJAM, you have to understand what I was like back then. I was a weird kid, and I pretty much didn’t understand the whole friendship thing. I didn’t understand why people made friends in school. I was like, I go to school to learn, not to have friends.

Besides, I already had lots of friends, and they were my cousins. Emily, Eric, Earl, Edgar, Evan, and Apple lived next door, so I had enough playmates. My mom would tell me, Why don’t you go out and play with the neighbors? I would say Ma, I don’t have to befriend the world.

I didn’t think I was shy. I just didn’t get the friends thing. I mean if you already had six playmates, why do you need more? It was like friendship gluttony. People interpreted my behavior as shyness and that label stuck. I became shy even if I really wasn’t.

I also didn’t understand the obligation to say hi to people you know in school. I mean, I get it if you bump into someone you know in places other than school, because that will be like Oh I didn’t know you’re here, what a coincidence we are at the same place, hello.

But in school, greeting people seemed redundant. I mean, we were in the same school, of course we’ll see each other along the corridors. Why on earth would it be surprising to see people you know walking around the school? When you go to school, you know who you’re going to see. It’s going to be the same people there. It’s not going to change overnight.

Greeting people was like saying “Hey I can see you. I know I’ll always see you because we actually go to the same school, but I’ll still say Hello I can see you, everyday for the rest of the years that we will be here in the same school, I have to remind you that I can see you Hello.

Since I wasn’t into the whole greeting thing, I opted for the eyebrows hello, that is when someone says hello I just look at them, and move my eyebrows up, and that’s it. That’s my hello, I don’t get the point of all of this, but I’ll make facial movements to let you know that I heard your hello.

Learning the technique of corridor evasion was something that I mastered. If I spotted a classmate walking towards me, I can expertly blend in with the crowd, and by the time she reaches the area where she thought I was, ready to greet me with that enthusiastic Hello Ja! I’d be safely hidden behind a group of people, amusing myself at the confused look on her face that says Now where did she go?

Inevitably, I was socialized into the whole greeting thing. I say hi to people now, but sometimes I still pretend to text, back up and take another route, look elsewhere, start talking to someone near me, if I am not in the mood to say hello.

Going to recess with your classmates didn’t make sense to me. I was in an all-girls school and everyone moved in packs,especially during recess. Girls would wait for their friends and they’d go together to the cafeteria. In our school cafeteria, you had to go to the table for your class and you can’t sit elsewhere. If you did, teachers will tell you to go back to the right table. This ensures that you will be sitting beside your classmates no matter what your walking-to-the-cafeteria arrangements would be. So it didn’t bother me that I walked alone to the cafeteria. I knew there would be people there, and I’d be sitting beside my classmates, and I’d be able to talk to them if I wanted to.

Now you probably think that I’m a loner, and I guess I was, but that doesn’t mean that I was lonely, because I did talk to people. I talked to my classmates as we play jackstones, Chinese jackstones, Chinese garter, agawan base, cops robbers and children (the interactive version), and the like. I would talk to them when we were waiting for the next teacher to come in. I would talk to them when we sit beside each other in the cafeteria tables. I would talk to them in the MMJ at dismissal time.

Still, I was poised to grow up as the biggest loner of all time with no friends, but something happened. PJAM happened.

To be continued…

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