Thursday, January 14, 2010

Toxic Crusaders

When I was in middle school my friends and I weren't part of the super cool clique but we weren't on the math team either. We were just a handful of kids in advanced art class and on literary staff. We liked drawing and writing stories. Those were the days. And as a way, I suppose, to solidify our place in the social hierarchy of Whitesburg Middle School we founded a group called the toxic crusaders.

There were three founding fathers. Doesn't every legit organization need founding fathers? And no matter that two of them were girls. I was the first founding father and was dubbed A-52. My friend Megan was M-45 and the last founding father, the only legitimate boy, Alan was named A-257. In addition to the founding fathers, there was also a surgeon general and one other position that I can't remember. But I think we just gave her a position because she was a year older and cool. Our motto, which we still use at times when signing off emails, was:

Stay Strong.
Stay Wise.
Just Do It.

Yes, I know this is a bit plagiaristic of Michael Jordan. But, alas, we were in seventh grade.

The purpose of the toxic crusaders was to label people as toxic, infiltrate the cliques of the toxic ones (whilst wearing our invisible toxic waste suits), and then if we deemed them worthy (aka nice people),  then we removed their label of toxicity. We never made fun or played pranks on anyone. It was just that anyone we didn't know or that wasn't outright friendly, was immediately labeled as toxic. And then the infiltration and investigation would commence. I guess it was kind of like you're guilty until proven innocent. There were no formal procedure or guidelines. It was just fun to be part of a faction or a group. We even created playlists on cassette tapes (yes I believe CDs were just coming out back then) and produced volumes of Untoxic Music which we then shared with each other.

Interestingly enough, M-45 ended up marrying someone who at first we thought was highly toxic. And most of my other good friends throughout eight grade and high school were people we had initially deemed as toxic.

And of course this memory of the toxic crusaders reminded me something about writing. At the end of Harry Potter didn't the Malfoys change a bit in their ways? Didn't the werewolves and the vampires eventually end up fighting side by side in Twilight? And so it made me realize that I'm personally drawn to stories where people who seem to be at complete odds somehow end up being friends. Thoughts?


  1. Sounds like a good setup for a tween story, IMO.

    I definitely like/appreciate stories that show growth/development of characters to allow them to overcome misconceptions/preconceptions/biases.

  2. I agree with BoA - good storyline :)

    It's nice to know real people can get past first impressions - it's fun in a story as well.

  3. I, too, agree with Bane's comments. Those kinds of stories have a satisfying feel to them. :-)

  4. It's stories like this where "write what you know" turns out to be something interesting. I could easily see a book (or at least a short story) called "The Toxic Crusaders" or something similar as a pretty good YA tale.

    It has the added benefit of being a switcheroo on people who think it's about environmentalism.

  5. You guys are too funny. It had never occurred to me to write a story about this. But it's definitely something I would enjoy writing. I just have to check with M-45 and A-257 first :).

  6. Anita,

    You may want to check out my blog...just saying! ;)

    xoxo -- Hilary

  7. I love the Toxic Crusaders and agree with the others. Great idea for a story.

    What fun, little creatives you were:)

  8. I totally agree, that the 'let's be friend' ending is very attractive and leaves you feeling good. It is interesting that this part of many stories always falls into the other stuff, behind romance, interpersonal struggle, discovering the magic within yourself, etc. But, this is one of the most believable aspects of many stories. As humans, we generally hate first and then get over ourselves later. Forgive and forget. It's how we have manged to progress. I think your post has inspired me to further develop some characters in one of my WIP's.

    BTW, the cryptogram under the comment window is 'falunl', I love that!