Pompous Circumstances

There is a problem within our communities that is growing like a pimple on the derriere of society. It seems there are youths living among us who infiltrate our school systems and, after several years of intense study, come to be known as…Valedictorians.

Your mind is no doubt reeling at this scandalous revelation. Some of you are in denial: “Surely not our schools.” Some are angry: “How could we have let this happen?” And some of you simply choose to ignore it: “How about that Downton Abbey?” Do what you will but this is a problem that, like Madonna, refuses to go away.

Thus, we must give “Kudos” (the official breakfast bar of praise) to Dearborn, Michigan and its forward-thinking school board for tackling this non-issue head on. They are considering joining the current trend in American high-schools and abolishing the practice of awarding valedictorian status to those science-crazed hooligans with the nerve to work hard and seek knowledge instead of doing things youths are supposed to do like play video games and wear goofy pants. As these astute board members will tell you, there is no greater threat to quality education than students who excel. My own high school experiences can attest to this fact.

My high school was not atypical in that the girl’s Phys. Ed. teacher resembled a female Charles Barkley. It was also not atypical in that every year we had a rash, nay, a plague of valedictorians. Sure, we had the four basic student groups: jocks, nerds, popular girls, and burn-outs. We also had the standard fringe groups: preppies, student council, theater dweebs, choir geeks, band fags, and minority status break dancers.

Ruling them all however, were the Valedictorians.

The Vals, as we called them, roamed the corridors of my school weaving a path of academic intimidation normally reserved for PBS College Quiz Bowls. Their gold chords would sway to and fro over their glistening National Honor Society pins as their self-possessed swaggers parted the sea of lesser intellects. They were given wide berths in the halls and all eye contact was avoided lest they goad you into meeting them after school to do some sort of community service project. And like any school there were specific areas on campus where one feared to tread as it was their turf and theirs alone–like the north end of the Fine Arts Center where the Vals would gather to secretly purchase engineering graph paper and 0.5mm lead.

Also of common knowledge was an unwritten rule that one should avoid certain bathrooms. Finding yourself alone in one of these Val enclaves was to invite certain socio-economic debate. I made this mortal mistake my sophomore year, and out of fear have repeated the episode to no one. Until now.

I innocently entered to wash the excess Polo off my hands and immediately the smell told me I had made a wrong turn. My nostrils burned with a combination of dissected amphibians and dry-erase markers. The cleanliness was eerie. No paper towels on the floor. No gum in the urinals. It was a perfect shrine to gratifying over-achievement. What was this place? As I think back, I recall some secondary clues: a forgotten T.I. calculator on the sink; a crumpled letter of recruitment peeking from the trash. But what sent shivers down my spine was the graffiti on the stall doors. It was composed entirely of non-linear equations.

Realizing where I was I quickly turned to make my escape, but in my haste I stepped on the shoelace of my untied high-tops and tripped, ripping a hole in my stone-washed jeans. I froze in horror as I heard the rising swish of corduroy in the hall. But the sound subsided. A lost preppie. But then, another sound. Was that Latin? They’re coming!

I scrambled into a stall and peered through the crack beside the door as they entered. My heart became audible over the ticking of my Swatch and I began to sweat through my pastel cotton sports jacket. I ran a nervous hand through my feathered mullet, adjusted my knit tie, and watched as they made a quiet but efficient exchange of vocabulary words, then departed. It was a close call.

Everyone knew the gruesome consequences of being discovered on Val turf. They would begin their browbeating by pounding their calculus books together in iambic pentameter. The victim’s literature book would then be seized and the unused leather binding would crack horrifically as they opened it and read aloud from Keats. They would often force the victim’s head into his own binder scouring his homework assignments and denoting subjects in which improvement was needed, then shamelessly offer to tutor him on Tuesday afternoons. If refused, they would hurl geometric epithets like “obtuse!” or “parabolic!” More than once I witnessed a broken adolescent running home in tears after being given “the sine.”

Nothing stands in the way of these thesaurus-wielding ruffians! Zero! Zilch! Nil! Naught! They roam our streets hell-bent for scholarships and high-paying jobs, leaving the rest of us to wallow in the housekeeping and crop gathering industries. They are a menace of self-actualization. They must be stopped.

We applaud you, Dearborn. Stand tall. The last thing we need is achievement recognition. Before you know it, everyone will be living up to their potential. And then who would be left to cook our fries? We must take action!

But then again, how about that Downton Abbey?

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