Monday, June 12, 2006
Teenage Oblivion

Some of you will have heard this introduction before -- forgive me.

I went to nine high schools. Yes, nine. That's an average of more than two per year, but that's a little misleading since I spent all of the ninth grade in one school, so really the average is closer to three per year. In some respects it was a difficult way to get through school -- I was the new kid over, and over, and over -- but it had its benefits, too. Nobody ever paid much attention to me, so I got through high school relatively unscathed. I found a careful balance, just dorky enough to be exempt from social machinations, but not so dorky that I stood out compared to the home-grown dorks. I was, by and large, a non-entity where my fellow students were concerned.

I was also mostly oblivious to what was going on around me. The only way you get through nine high schools is to keep your head down, do your work, and read books in the back of class or the far corner of the cafetorium. I sat and watched people from a distance, an endless parade of inscrutable adolescence, but I never got to know any of them so well that I knew what they were like outside of class. I never understood much of anything about teenagers, except that they were vaguely dangerous and best avoided. So I admit, I wasn't entirely up to speed on what was going down in the bathrooms between classes.

But I'm pretty sure cocaine wasn't generally involved.

Charlotte High is a typical middle-class school in a typical suburban town in Florida.

Graduating student Kyle Stublen had seen it all: the illiterate football players praised and promoted at every turn, the methodical crimes of stealing college-prep test answers, the bored "guidance counselors" who told kids not to bother with college, even the lines of students snorting coke and smoking dope in the bathrooms at lunchtime.

Annoyed by the faculty's blind eye to what was really going on at Charlotte High School, he decided to address these issues in a venue where people might actually pay attention. Stublen, a member of the debate team and would-be trial lawyer, stunned his fellow students, their parents and the school's staff by reading a scathing, bitter speech at his graduation ceremony.

Oh puh-leeze, what a drama queen. Look, I don't doubt that all of these things have happened, and probably do happen somewhere. But in your suburban high school? Not fucking likely, buddy. Yeah, the jocks are universally praised everywhere, that's true. And yeah, every school has its cheaters. I'd be pretty impressed with someone nefarious enough to procure the answers to a standardized test, but whatever. The rest of this, though, is pure bullshit.

"It isn't the felons walking across the stage bearing stoles or the cheaters receiving college credit; it isn't the drugs being done in the bathrooms during lunch and it most certainly isn't the exclusive cliques. Tarpon Tradition is the unity that triumphs over all barriers, bringing us closer together as a family."

The bad kids at the worst high school I ever attended smoked cigarettes and pot, and bragged to each other about dropping (as often as not, probably fictitious) acid. The kids who were actually doing hard drugs were long gone, bored stupid with their little nose-pickin' peers. The kids they left behind loved nothing better than to fabricate tales about the evil doings in which they were all allegedly enmeshed, though only the Christian kids' parents ever believed them. And exclusive cliques? This kid only ever had to try to fuck the cheerleaders, but he never had to cope with the psychological torture they meted out to lower-ranking girls. Those bitches were the bane of my adolescent existence, so don't moan to me about cliques. And on the off-chance that there's a convicted felon graduating from his white-bread high school this year, did he ever consider that maybe that person has overcome considerable odds to be where they are, and doesn't need his petty scorn on top of the jailtime?

Everybody dreams about shooting up the high school -- everybody. In the days before Columbine, it was the stuff of rock videos. But even the most downtrodden among us took the suck-it-up approach and waited for the day when we could enter adult society, where the assholes still rule the halls but nobody threatens to kick your ass in the parking lot after work. Those who act out, far from garnering the gratitude of the other losers, only demonstrate that they weren't strong enough to take it quietly like the rest of us. Kyle Stublen has proven himself a king among pathetic whiners, finally reaching down to his wrinkled, hairless pink sack and finding the balls to snark at the popular kids on the very first day when they can't punch him in the head for it. He's obviously a trial lawyer in the making. Happy graduation day, scumbag.

PS: And the only thing more irritating than this kid's speech is the class president/varsity volleyball player/golden girl's response. Sweet jeebus am I glad I don't have to listen to this shit anymore.
12:52 PM ::
Amy :: permalink