Thursday, July 21, 2005

High school and the power of the press

For some, high school is a nightmare, filled with constant reminders of the awkward state of one's teenage mind and body compounded with the viciousness that others release due to their own insecurities. For others, it's looked back as the greatest years of one's life- the faintly glowing glory days when they were at the peak of their physical and social lives; those fortunate enough to pass whatever arbitrary standard was levied were elevated to near godhood.

For me, it was an antiquated society, stratified and irredeemable among students and faculty. Conservative by nature and exclusionary by choice, it was what I would later call a "target rich environment." That is, I attempted to mock everything possible and do it without becoming ostracized.

"You were being a pain in the ass", my wife would say.

Me? No way.

I had some minor irreverencies: I played the tragic Ophelia in a front-of-room scene from Hamlet; We had a series of lessons and exercises about different types of poetry- no matter the type, iambic pentameter to haiku, mine were exclusively about Cheese Whiz. I would bring a big gym bag to school and steal sodas and food from my hapless friend who worked in a "lunch cart" with a decrepit old lady. I worked for the cafeteria for a month, in which I earned 80 dollars, a few slices of soggy pizza and a daily berating about how they were losing money because someone was stealing. When the lady in charge saw me later and waved, I gave her the finger.

My greatest work, however, was during my senior year. I joined the newspaper staff and immediately became the most inflammatory opinion writer ever. I didn't need sources or facts. What I had was a perfectly feigned sense of moral outrage, and somehow I rocked the school world with my first article detailing about how it was the Janitor's job to clean up the trash, not my own. It was a thing of beauty. Muffled whispers as I walked down the halls, or even outright acclimation from some of the less thoughtful of my classmates.

And yet, it was not my greatest work. A few issues later, I knew that I had to raise the bar. The ire and outrage I needed to spew needed to be even more venomous, needed to irk people even more. My grandiose article on how, if you lived in America, you needed to speak English was my Magnum Opus. I was actually called into the office to have the Spanish teacher verbally assault me for a half-hour. They didn't know what to do with me- Here I was, a normal kid with no bad record writing this hateful article. It was sublime. I wrote other articles, but I never got so vehement a response as those two.

It was all a joke, and nobody ever caught on. Wonderful. Magical. It's not that I delight in toying with human emotion- I just want to see what people will do.

"You were being a pain in the ass."

Of course I was.


At 4:29 AM, Blogger ChickyBabe said...

Any chance you have kept that "grandiose article" or would that be too much of a "pain in the ass" to blog it now? :)

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Mahd said...

That's a very good question- I think my mom has it somewhere. I will endeavor to find it.


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