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“There are people willing to be my friends, but mostly they [are] either too ignorant to understand why I’m like I am, and consequently offer my mind no challenge; or they haven’t the wits to match mine.” At the top of Odessa High School’s rigid social hierarchy were the “cashmere girls,” as one alumna called them—the girls with perfect complexions from West Odessa’s better neighborhoods who were perennially voted most popular, best personality, and class favorite.At football games, they sat in the stands wearing the ultimate status symbol: their boyfriends’ letter jackets.
She lived in a small, well-worn frame house on an unpaved street not far from the oil fields west of town, where gas flares burned and drilling-rig lights illuminated the desert at night. A strict Baptist, her father often preached to Betty about sin and eternal damnation, and on more than one Sunday morning, he prayed that she might learn to be a more obedient daughter.
The real Betty, it was said, had attended Odessa High decades before and had acted in a number of plays on the auditorium’s stage.
But the facts of her death had been muddled with time, and each story was as apocryphal as the last: She had fallen off a ladder in the auditorium and broken her neck, students said. Her boyfriend, who was a varsity football player, had shot her onstage during a play.
They belonged to the informal sororities called Tri-Hi-Y clubs—Capri, Sorella, and Amicae—which cherry-picked the most popular high school girls.
Betty was hardly Tri-Hi-Y material; in the high school pecking order, her classmates remember her as “a nobody,” “a nonentity,” and “someone on the outside looking in.” But while she struck an antiestablishment pose, the rejection she felt from the other girls still stung.