The New Yorker becomes the latest media outlet to reexamine the Megan Meier suicide this week, and despite this topic not exactly being underexposed, it's a thoughtful, texture-rich story about a girl who sounds so insanely normal you sorta wonder how the fuck you would go about raising yourself as a teenager. (Ooooh, answer: stealing your kids' mood-altering meds, duh.) Not innately insecure/nerdy/un-self-confident, Megan was a daddy's-little-tomboy (she fished, threw frogs, etc.) who had a sassy attitude tempered by a very kind streak — "for years she had served as the self-appointed guardian of a blind boy at her school, leading him through the hallways between classes." But her angst over her chunky legs began in kindergarten, and by middle school she was taking Celexa, Concerta and Geodon (a bipolar disorder drug.)
Parents Tina and Ron, who met in second grade and married just out of high school, come across as unimpeachably sympathetic as ever; they reared Megan in a friendly subdivision free of laundry poles and aboveground pools and when she seemed to be striving for the "instant maturity look" too early, they enrolled her in a Catholic school where she wore a uniform and stopped "paying attention to her hair as much" and "worrying about undereye concealer." Then came Josh Evans...
Playing on Megan's susceptibility to underdogs, Josh's creators endowed him with a pitiable bio: "when I was 7 my dad left me and my mom and my older brother and my newborn brother...poor mom yeah she had such a hard time...finding work to pay for us after he left." His ambitions also seemed tweaked to Megan's desires. His answer to the section "Goal you would like to achieve this year" was "meet a great girl." The girl he was looking for happened to have long brown hair, like Megan. As for weight, Josh answered, "DON'T REALLY MATTER."
She stared directly at the camera, screwing her lips into the half-sulky, half-silly, exactingly lip-glossed pout that— whether designed to suggest vampiness or simply to mask the indignities of orthodontia— is a upiquitous affectation of american teen-age girldom.
And this of MySpace, where Megan's handle was "Megan Babi", as Times Square circa 1977:
MySpace, with its cluttered layout, can suggest an online incarnation of the broken-windows theory — surface disorder begetting actual chaos.
You should at least know it ends on a somewhat hopeful note:
Hi . . . you might not know me . . . but [my friend] used to live in missouri and be friends with your wonderful daughter . . . [we] get made fun of too. being called whores etc . . . etc. but we're doing everything we can to stop bullying . . . because we dont want something this terrible to have to happen to anyone again . . . we're going to counciling . . . and i think we're really gunna start to make a difference.