High School Satire MAG

March 17, 2008
By Joel Frohlich, Oakton, VA

Nothing in the world simultaneously produced such opposite emotions in Ezekiel as East Maple cheerleaders. They were both bringers of shallow liberation and deep conformity; possessors of natural beauty and manufactured artificiality; givers of girlish sweetness and unfeeling ostracism. They twirled weightlessly through the air like lunar ballerinas – scantily clad ballerinas. Their costumes were carefully calculated, following some secret formula crafted to raise male testosterone to levels of euphoria, feistiness, and chauvinism. Just as they had been exploited, they in turn sought to exploit. They were angels. They were demons.

And Ezekiel was a number. He had a student ID number, 514317. A locker number, 7091. And a lunch number, 2689. His textbooks had numbers too, but he couldn’t remember them.

It was a seventh-period pep rally. Pep rallies were marginally better during seventh period. A few rebellious students would sneak out of school just before an afternoon pep rally and skip directly to freedom – if they managed to avoid getting caught during the run to the parking lot. Ezekiel had tried once, unsuccessfully. In addition to Saturday detention, 10 of his five accidentally earned spirit points had been subtracted as punishment, leaving him with a negative total.

This was East Maple High, which prided itself on graduating more students than any other high school on the East Coast – students who then dropped out of college at the highest rate of any high school alumni from the East Coast.

Shouted the cheerleaders: “East! Eager! Maple! Manly! Bobcats! Bomb ’em, Bobcats, bomb ’em! Gooooooo Bobcats!”

Or, as Ezekiel’s friend Rachel Hanson had once written for an English assignment:

“E is for Enmity, A for Alcohol,
Drink some after the game and worries will
dissolve. S – you will Sweat for us! T – you will
Thank us! In the mighty bobcats we trust!
M, Male supremacy, barely disguised
under A, Athletic equality, believe our lies.
P, Parade of conformists, join today!
Love who we command – never betray;
Embarrassment for all who go astray.”

“Love who we command” had been a reference to a new student dating service – Sweetie Service – run by the SGA. All students had filled out one-page questionnaires in their first-period classes. The results were used to find ideal matches among students. ­Students who pledged to select their Sweetie Service match as their homecoming date not only received free tickets, but also a whopping 1,000 spirit points.

“At least in the Soviet Union, the Communist Party never spoiled dating,” Rachel had once remarked privately to Ezekiel.

As for Rachel’s poem, it had received only a C due to its poor meter, awkward word choice, and uneven diction.

When at last the pep rally ended, Ezekiel swam through a sea of loud student factions to escape the gym. Squeezing his body between two unresponsive preps who moved like trees taking a walk, he glanced up and witnessed, for a fleeting moment, the two most opposite people in the universe passing in close proximity to each other.

One was Damien Petito, towering quarterback of East Maple’s varsity football team, a young man so embellished head-to-toe in decorations that he might be mistaken for a German kaiser. His plum purple and gleaming gold varsity jacket – the epitome of East Maple High – was worn so often that it was now part of his very skin, and yet, it never faded. To many, Damien was East Maple’s living, breathing mascot. Hanging from his jacket were countless ­spirit medallions, not to mention three seven-point stars denoting “Student of the Year,” a prize given to the person with the most spirit points. A fourth star was inevitable.

Crossing Damien’s path was Joseph Gilman, one of the notable East Maple intellectuals. Plaid-clad, skinny, and somewhat disheveled, Gilman was the National Merit Finalist whose name had been misspelled in the very back of the East Maple Telegram in six-point type. The administration could hardly stand broadcasting the success of such a heretic. No one knew Gilman’s actual GPA, but rumor had it Joseph was a spectacular underachiever who maintained a 3.4 with almost no effort.

Ezekiel always wanted to talk to Joseph, though he rarely did. He wanted to tell him, “I am like you. I don’t understand them.” But Ezekiel knew he and Joseph had little in common.

When Damien and Joseph crossed paths, they looked beyond each other. Each was invisible to the other. Joseph could walk past Damien burning alive and Damien would never notice – and vice versa.

Still swimming through the mob, Ezekiel escaped into the gym lobby.

“Hey! Bought your ticket to the homecoming dance yet?”

It was a loud, boot-licking SGA girl in a gaudy East Maple T-shirt, a bundle of homecoming tickets in her left hand and wad of dollar bills in her right.

“How much are they?” mumbled Ezekiel in a ­barely audible groan.

“What?”

“How much?” Ezekiel barked.

“Only $10 this week!” she replied perkily.

“No,” said Ezekiel, “I mean how many spirit points.”

“Starting today, we’re dropping our ­requirement from 30 to 15!”

Wordlessly, Ezekiel walked away. Several feet in front of him, Joseph Gilman was squeezing past ­unresponsive students planted in the dead center of gym ­lobby traffic. Ezekiel wondered if Joseph Gilman had even fewer spirit points than he. His curiosity was so ­intense that he decided to ask, even though it might be an awkward question. But as Ezekiel worked his way through the throng, Joseph was diverted by two of his intellectual companions: Ruth Bentsen, a tall girl who worshipped John Lennon, and Mathew McDaniel, a witty boy who worshipped Vladimir Lenin, not to mention himself.

“Watch out,” Mathew warned Joseph, gesturing in Ezekiel’s general direction. “The SGA girls will pounce on you.”

Joseph laughed. “School dances are a joke,” he said dismissively. “The students who go are predominantly simpletons.”

In that moment, Ezekiel realized he was even more alone that he had thought. Joseph had spoken not as a bitter outcast, but as an objective intellectual, critiquing a bad play or dismissing pseudoscience. Joseph did not care about the dance; Ezekiel, how­ever, was not so indifferent. As he trudged through the crowded halls on autopilot he wondered who Rachel was taking – if she were going at all. But his thoughts quickly faded, like snow melting under a disapproving sun.

He trudged on.

“Zeke?”

Focusing on the figure ahead, Ezekiel beheld a surreal revelation, like something out of a Salvador Dali painting: a figure with the face of Rachel Hanson and the costume of an East Maple cheerleader, pompoms and all.

“Rachel?”

“Hi,” she said, smiling bashfully.

Ezekiel felt as if he might choke.

“You okay?” she asked.

“Did you … join?”

“Didn’t you see me at the pep rally?” asked Rachel.

“No, I must not have recognized you.”

Rachel blushed. “I was afraid you wouldn’t understand,” she said. “I got back the results of that Swee­tie Service thing. Guess who they matched me up with?”

“Who?”

“Damien Petito,” she said with a smile, voice shaking with excitement. “He wants to take me to homecoming. Me! Rachel Hanson!” A demented laugh of mania and mastery belched from her mouth. “Can you believe it? Of course, there’s some tradition that football players only take cheerleaders to homecoming. So … I signed up.”

“You – you like him?” asked Ezekiel. A glimmer of irritation arose in Rachel’s blue eyes.

“Every girl likes him,” she said, as if reminding Ezekiel of the Pope’s religion. “Look, I’ve been so disappointed by high school. I’ve grown sick of it. There’s no fun in being bitter, Zeke! Enjoy your life.”

“I can’t.”

Slowly sobering, Rachel studied her old friend. Ezekiel did likewise.

“You don’t think I’m shallow, do you?” she asked after a long silence.

“No,” said Ezekiel, “I never have.”

“Well, I’ll see you around then.”

“See ya.”

***

Monday morning: the concrete classroom walls trapped Ezekiel like an insect in a cup. Dull sunlight seeped in through plastic blinds. All around him, students completed mundane Calculus warm-ups.

The loudspeaker clicked on.

“Saturday night, our school suffered the tragic loss of a beloved student, Rachel Hanson, who died after the car she was riding in struck a bus. The driver, Damien Petito, is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries at White Hill Hospital. Today counselors will be available in the guidance office for students to talk to. We will now pause for a moment of silence in remembrance of Rachel.”

Every sound in the room died. If he shut his eyes, Ezekiel could believe that he was the only living thing in the universe, alone in an infinite void. He felt an icy vacuum growing inside him, so chilling he would jump in a bonfire to end the cold. His ears rang with the song of dying cells.

“Please stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.”

“I pledge allegiance to the flag –”

She was gone.

“of the United States of America –”

Damien had killed her.

“And to the Republic for which it stands –”

He had been drunk.

“One nation, under God, indivisible –”

Why her?

“With liberty and justice for all.”



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This article has 225 comments.


on Jul. 5 2011 at 10:43 am
ashleyX13 PLATINUM, Memphis, Tennessee
32 articles 0 photos 50 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I've made mistakes; not one regret." Alyssa Nicolson

BEAUTIFUL!!! i really like the ending with the Pledge of Allegiance and all! amazing wording and vivid characters!! 5 stars!

on Jun. 13 2011 at 6:20 pm
JoPepper PLATINUM, Annandale, Virginia
35 articles 0 photos 782 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Freedom is the ability to not care what the other person thinks."

"Not all those who wander are lost" --JRR Tolkien

"When you are listening to music it is better to cover your eyes than your ears." --Jose' Bergamin

That was amazing!!!!!!  The ending made me feel like my heart had been ripped out!!!!  Don't stop writing!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sporks said...
on Jun. 13 2011 at 3:58 pm
Sporks, Bremerton, Washington
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Remember, no matter how hard you try, you can always fail. So keep on trying until you don't!" - Myself

I love this piece. Such amazing diction and portrayment of government. I could practically feel the emotion coming from this. Please don't stop writing, you're very good at it.

on Jun. 13 2011 at 1:56 pm
Yousmell-likealoser BRONZE, Belgium, Wisconsin
4 articles 5 photos 43 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life may not always be what you want, but life is all you've got; so stick a flower in your bellybutton and be happy!"

As everyone else has already said...this was amazing :)

on May. 22 2011 at 6:29 pm
Carabear BRONZE, Lake Mexia, Texas
2 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Death? Why this fuss about death? Use your imagination, try to visualize a world without death!...Death is the essential condition of life, not an evil."-Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I love this story, it's a great idea, and you are a very talented writer. I can't wait to see what else you write!

on May. 22 2011 at 2:34 pm
Angel_eyes SILVER, New York City, New York
6 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life goes on no matter what so live life with those that truly deserve you."

Wow what an ending a total red herring I never would've thought she would've died great work do you think you could check out my work sometime?

on Apr. 30 2011 at 5:39 pm
runner.girl BRONZE, Lees Summit, Missouri
1 article 0 photos 3 comments
Really clear writing......but awfully short for such a novel-like idea.  I really didn't know the characters- at all. 

on Apr. 30 2011 at 12:44 pm
SophiaCross SILVER, Plattsburgh, New York
7 articles 3 photos 89 comments

Favorite Quote:
To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”

This is beyond incredible. I love it. There are no words to describe this masterpiece

on Apr. 30 2011 at 11:16 am
JelloAngel92 PLATINUM, Dundalk, Other
27 articles 18 photos 64 comments

Favorite Quote:
You've got to have ink in the pen!

speechless....so good, I'm rendered speechless.....

on Apr. 8 2011 at 8:18 pm
inspiredbytheworld BRONZE, Rockford, Michigan
3 articles 5 photos 30 comments
This is really a glorious piece! It's obvious why it was put in the magazine-because it was pure genius! I love how it takes an unseen turn at the end.

on Apr. 8 2011 at 4:49 pm
Jennifer_Krasinski BRONZE, Decatur, Georgia
3 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
Love hurts if you do it right; you can cry when you get older.

This is really good! But I would have gone on and describe some more about how Zeke felt, and how he felt when Damien got back to school. But I love how you ended it as well...good job!

on Apr. 8 2011 at 4:44 pm
Livelaughlovewrite BRONZE, Danbury, Connecticut
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
Smile.

I am literally sitting here with my mouth open. What a surprise ending, I mean, I knew something big had to happen, but that was unexpected. I loved how you paired his shock with the pledge, the injustice of it all. Did he like her, because I was definitely getting that feeling. This was amazing! Keep writing

leafy said...
on Apr. 8 2011 at 3:40 pm
leafy, City, Other
0 articles 0 photos 682 comments

Favorite Quote:
Gil: I would like you to read my novel and get your opinion. 
Ernest Hemingway: I hate it. 
Gil: You haven't even read it yet. 
Ernest Hemingway: If it's bad, I'll hate it. If it's good, then I'll be envious and hate it even more. You don't want the opinion of another writer. 

omigosh i loved this so much! you have to post more stuff!!!

on Apr. 8 2011 at 5:41 am
Ayushi_austen BRONZE, Kolkata, Other
3 articles 0 photos 54 comments

Favorite Quote:
I love my past. I love my present. I’m not ashamed of what I’ve had, and I’m not sad because I have it no longer...

W.O.W!!!I <3ed it!!!!!!!!!it ws amazing!!!

on Mar. 22 2011 at 1:46 pm
jbaker0184 BRONZE, Brromfield, Colorado
3 articles 0 photos 10 comments
I really think that you have a good chance of making it big time.  I am saying this a s a friend.  keep writing, you rock!

on Mar. 17 2011 at 4:00 pm
destined_for_fame BRONZE, Privet Drive, California
4 articles 3 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Shoot for the moon, because even if you miss you'll land among the stars."

This was incredible. I love your writing style and your humor. Some things I could completely relate to, but I think it got a bit cliche sometimes.

on Mar. 17 2011 at 3:38 pm
-alice- PLATINUM, Colorado Springs, Colorado
21 articles 0 photos 81 comments

Favorite Quote:
I care very little if I am judged by you or any other human court; indeed I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. -1 Corinthians 4:3-4

I really loved this!  It was sad, but it was a great piece!  Keep writing!

writer047 said...
on Mar. 17 2011 at 12:40 pm
writer047, Vandalia, Missouri
0 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

I love how you ended it even though it was sad. I like how you described everything and you wrote it so beautiful that I couldn't stop reading. Good job!

on Feb. 23 2011 at 7:37 pm
Poetic_blue SILVER, Palm Bay., Florida
9 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be who you are because those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter"

I really never comment on anything, but this.... It's absolutely amzing, and I love it. I do agree that you could have focused a bit more on Rachel, and also, from my experience with announcements like that (and unfortunately, I have quite a bit with them.) I don't remember them specifically saying what happened to the student, only that they had passed. Other than that, it was fantastic. And "With liberty and justice for all." was a hauntingly beautiful, yet perfect, way to end it.

lollypops GOLD said...
on Feb. 23 2011 at 5:26 pm
lollypops GOLD, Pilot, Virginia
16 articles 5 photos 219 comments

Favorite Quote:
Live

this was amazing and sad you did really well




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