copyright 2000 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner: Commentary by Linda Marcas

School Daze

   Congratulations to the high school graduating Class of 2000.  There, I've said it.  Be content; that's
all you'll get out of me.  I am not impressed.  It's only high school, and you only had to pass the 9th grade
proficiency tests in order to graduate.  Goody for you.

   Your high school years are not "the best years of your life."  If anyone tells you this, and you believe
them, go ahead and drown yourself now and get it over with, because if it's all downhill from here, then
what's the point? (Brides, take note; the same idea applies to you.  Your wedding day should not be "the
happiest day of your life" unless you expect it to be followed by years of wedded misery.  Be optimistic;
call it "the happiest day of your life, so far.")

    High school is sheer hell for some people, varying degrees of purgatory for most, and heaven only
for an unlucky few who then spend the rest of their lives reminiscing of their "glory days" while drinking
beer, armchair quarterbacking, and nursing their arthritic knees.  Geeks, nerds, and ugly girls, do not
despair; after enduring four years of deliberate torment at the hands of your classmates, the indifference of
the real world will be a blissful relief.  I know this from personal experience.

    Public schooling has never been meant to be fun or entertaining.  Each level of education achieved
by an individual represents, to society at large, how much self-discipline and tolerance for incomprehensible
B.S. that individual can maintain.  Society expects that a child who graduates from kindergarten will have
the self-discipline to refrain from hitting people, spitting food at them, or urinating in the swimming pool.
To a five-year-old, tolerance for incomprehensible B.S. is being willing to share his toys without fully
understanding why he should.

   Granted, some people never do learn the things they should learn in kindergarten, and the lessons
there unlearned go on to cause them, and society, untold grief in years to come.  No system is infallible, the
public school system included.  Completing grade school doesn't guarantee that you can read, write, do
simple math, or work as a part of a team.  Graduating from high school no longer assures a prospective
employer that you'll be willing to follow simple instructions, but it does, in general, serve as a rough guide
to how much B.S. you're willing to handle.

   "Why do I have to learn all.this history?  I'm never going to be a contestant on "Jeopardy" and I
don't care what year the Magna Carta was signed."  Oh, grow up and get a clue!  It's not about knowing
obscure historical facts, it's about demonstrating that you're willing to do things that you don't like and don't
care about, and to do them with a certain degree of proficiency, in order to achieve a certain goal.  It's about
getting the job done.

   Unfortunately, a high school diploma in today's job market indicates only a minimal willingness to
get the job done.  Employers are very aware of this fact, which is why so many people must go on to college
and get a degree simply to prove their willingness to work.  I was 33 years old when I started college, but
the State of Ohio still required that I take two physical education courses in order to get my degree.  I hate
exercise, and I'm sure the State didn't expect that forcing me to play sports despite my age would change my
attitude.  I understood that phys-ed was a hoop I had to jump through to get my diploma, just like the
business majors who had to take an art class to get theirs.  No matter what their major, everyone minors in
B.S. and hoop-jumping.  Society demands it.

   Back to high school.  Golden boys and girls, enjoy it now, because by your tenth-year class
reunion you'll have turned into your parents.  I was there, I saw it all.  The jocks all got fat and went bald.
The popular girls all got fat and frumpy or skinny and stressed-out looking.  The freaks and geeks that
bothered to show up had, for the most part, mellowed into attractive, well-adjusted, successful people.  The
hoods and the sluts were the most unchanged, because they had developed their personalities early on, and
stuck with them.  At least they were aging gracefully.  Remember this: when the DJ tells you to polka, most
of you probably will.

   Graduating from high school is the first major rite of passage for most people; unfortunately, for
many, it is also the last.  Decide now that these won't be the best years of your lives, and hold that thought.
Remember them fondly if you're so inclined, but don't look back so often that you can't look forward to
what's in front of you.  It's only high school, and it's over.

Love letters or hate mail?