By Allie ’12
“Yes, Leo is delightful, but I think I’ll just stick with this. Maybe next time…”
I set War and Peace back on the shelf and smile sweetly at the clerk, hoping this feigned interest in Leo Tolstoy will gain me a discount on the real prize: Ella Enchanted. I feel bad for my subterfuge, but can you blame me? People say that the stuff you learn in high school is pointless, but I refuse to accept this. Just last month, I told a guy at a dance that all those pulsating, sweaty bodies reminded me of cellular osmosis so that he would walk away. Pointless? Only for the unimaginative, friendly types.
Yes, my education has been indispensable, but it hasn’t been all dunk tanks and cafeteria cookies: the Marlborough experience has a dark side, and in my case, it has transformed me into a conversational jerk, referencing in daily life all sorts of academia to appear more brilliant than I actually am. Through learning unnecessary vocabulary, reading novels beyond my maturity and harboring the ardent desire to one day speak with the same colloquial rapidity of Rory and Lorelai, I have turned into a monster. However, I was not always this way. It all began in ninth grade, when I was on the receiving end of such snootiness.
After English one day, having just finished a short story by James Joyce, a fellow student said to me:
“I love James. Actually, I just finished Ulysses.”
“What?” (My biting, witty remark)
“Yes. Last summer. It was divine.” She smiled and glided off down the hallway, riding on the universal rush that occurs whenever one pulls off sounding that casually genius. I was flabbergasted. First of all, she presumed to be on first name basis with James Joyce. Who does that? He is Irish. He is dead. She has never, ever spoken to him. Ulysses is beyond the brain capacity of most adults, let alone this perfectly average, 13-year-old cretin. And yet, despite the hard facts she pulled it off, sounding blasé, smart and I daresay highfalutin’.
As I stared after her, a thought struck me: if she can do it, why can’t I? And there, my friends (that’s a saying: I don’t know or like most of you), is where it all began. From thence, you may have overhead me proclaim: “Thoreau is all well and good, but Emerson packs more of a punch,” or perhaps, “Yes well, this wasn’t Dickinson’s best,” or even, “For my money, I would take Alexander the Great over Julius Caesar to prom any day.” The sky is the limit for my put-on airs. Hell is arranging a new circle of pretension for me; I cleared it with Dante (there I go again—sounding chummy with the greats…)
I guess in the end it all works out: this will indubitably attract other pretentious boobs, and I will end up married to some egotistical, rich guy with our 2.5 kids, and all will be well, just as Mary Caswell hoped.