Not so mean girl

By Carlye Wisel

I unabashedly love “Gossip Girl.” This past week, though, I was drawn to it for different reasons than maid Dorota’s vapid, sad glances at the lives of young elite and my excited, finger-crossing hope that Rufus and Vanessa will finally get it on. The hour-long teen drama had involved my most recent inner struggle: wondering if, deep down, I’m honest yet nice, or just a complete b—-.

We live in a world with voracious blog and Web site commenting, a resurrection of Juicy Campus and people who spend hours flipping through Facebook albums judging their frenemies’ Friday night outfits. It seems like lately, everyone’s a jerk, whether or not their face and name are attached to their thoughts. Even within my extended group of friends, the grudges and dislikes ranging from petty to pretty serious are incredibly widespread. It’s easy to forget who likes whom, who dislikes whom, and which people caved and chose to be friends for the sake of civility. If it’s easier to keep friends close and enemies closer, there should be no point in being mean. But when it comes to putting people down and writing disparaging messages, what good does being bad do?

On Monday’s episode, following her breakup with her dorky-hot writer boyfriend Dan Humphrey, the stunning, sweet and ever-caring Serena van der Woodsen turned into her former coldhearted alcoholic self. Unwilling to deal with him blaming her for seemingly everything and dangling a new, literary-loving gal pal in front of her face, van der Woodsen pursed her lips, rose back to the top of the school’s social hierarchy via scarf dangling and utilized that collection of expensive designer boots that were oh-so-clearly made for walking.

Now, real life is nothing like Gossip Girl. We sweatshirt-clad schmoes didn’t go to New York’s classiest bars on high school nights, wear uniforms that look like they’re straight off the runway or take limos to class. But even in my Champaign apartment, watching the episode under framed cartoon artwork, a vintage lamp and ’70s striped comforter for the second time in a three hour period, I couldn’t pull myself away from the television; more than ever before, Serena’s character had sucked me in. Mean, vengeful and out on a rampage against her ex, Serena van der Woodsen was, without a doubt, a woman scorned. And it was fabulous. I’m not sure what it is about a strong, callous female that I find dream-like inspiration in, but if I could be callous and ballsy like her, I’d love every death-stare filled second of it.

As much as I want to be, though, I’m not a b—-. I call my grandmother regularly, enjoy buying presents for people, cave during silent treatments and if you read last week’s column, know I can be a total sap. Even a few months in notoriously tough New York City, my gentle elbowing past people, a bluntly phrased “ex-CUSE me!” to anyone in my way and expressionless faces at the men who occasionally whistled during my walk down 42nd street didn’t change me. I’m still a small bag of tiny marshmallows on the inside with a love for stuffed creatures and the puppy store at Marketplace Mall.

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I want to be fierce. And at times, I am, but mostly through blunt comments and retaliating comebacks. Without my honesty and cold-shoulder skills, I’m a big fat weenie who can barely send a meal back at a restaurant or deal with the arts & crafts customer service at Michael’s. I’ve recently tried to lower the grudge level, and honestly, it makes life a lot easier. So easy, in fact, that I’ve even considering being nice full-time.

My roommate once said I’d rather be feared than loved, and unfortunately, it’s true. (While watching “The Devil Wears Prada,” I found myself continuously siding with Miranda Priestly and rolling my eyes when her assistant quits and begins dressing normal again, leaving those fabulously chunky Chanel necklaces behind.)

But I just can’t let myself be feared or act outwardly rude. My cold stares always melt into warm, accidental smiles; cruel dislike turns to indifferent friendliness. I want to be an evil, relentless b—- who snaps her fingers and makes the world fall into place, but I’m starting to realize that I’m not that good at it. I’m friendly. I care. And while it takes a lot to shout out an insult, shut people down or type up a rude response to this very column, it takes even more to stop yourself from doing it. As bluntly honest as I am, I can recognize that I’ll never be a vicious vixen like Serena. Maybe now, though, I’ll admire her from a little further away.

Carlye is a senior in news-editorial journalism who can’t stop watching television. Stupid DVR.