A Student of Politics

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

A Student of Politics

Politician and idiot are synonymous terms.” -Mark Twain

“In closing, I encourage you to vote for me as Student Body President.  I promise that my efforts will encourage you to do better.  I feel that, with us encouraging each other, we can put the ‘study’ back in ‘study’.  Thank you.”

“Thank you Miss Hepnaut”, Principal Dean said as he took the microphone out of the young girl’s hands.  “That was very… encouraging.”  The blonde gathered her small stack of papers, confidently shook the Principal’s hand, curtseyed to the awkwardly silent crowd, and walked back to the folding chair that had sat unattended for the last twelve minutes.

Principal Dean coughed.  The staff that had worked around him the last five years knew that, on purpose or not, the man coughed whenever he was irritated.  With his retirement only three years away, he was often mistaken for a smoker.

“Now”, he said, and then paused to cough.  “We have our other candidate who will give his speech.  I will remind Mr. Spednu to stick to the format and guidelines that we discussed.”  At this, Principal Dean furrowed his brow, looked over the top of his glasses, and locked onto Jerry Spednu.  He coughed.  “That is understood, is it not Mr. Spednu?”  The dangerous tone in Principal Dean’s voice made it clear that this was not a question, and if it was, there was only one correct answer.

“Why Donald Dean, you wound me!”  Laughter erupted from the assembled students.  They had sat for far too long listening to potential treasurers and secretaries boring them to death while their butts began to fall asleep on the hard wood bleachers.  Half the crowd had pulled out their phones, despite the warnings before that such activities would be dealt with harshly.  The two thousand students looked around at the forty-seven faculty members and knew the odds were in their favor.

The hot new couple of the week hid in the top right corner.  They kissed, groped each other, and generally blocked out all other activity.  The jocks in the middle threw spitballs at the school’s reporters, the only ones sincerely paying attention.  All in all, it was the typical student assembly.  Whether the teenagers liked it or not, they were forced to attend this lesson in politics and civil responsibility.  That didn’t mean they were going to pay attention.   They all focused on their own little worlds.  Then Jerry Spednu started swaggering towards the podium.

“Mind your p’s and q’s, Mr. Spednu”, the Principal said as he reluctantly handed off the totem of power and amplitude.

“Would you get piqued?  What if I quip? Would you commemorate a plaque?”  Two seconds after attaining the microphone and Jerry was already winning over the crowd.  “Did I mind those p’s and q’s well enough, Sir?”

“Proceed cautiously”, Principal Dean replied.  He wanted to head back to his wood chair (folding chairs were for students, not a man like Donald Dean), but the administrator knew that he had to be ready for anything the young upstart might do.

“Good morning Vietnam”, Jerry yelled, with each syllable becoming more enthused than the last.  The crowd cheered back, not understanding what a foreign country had to do with them.  Jerry Spednu was on stage, and that was all they needed to know.

Jerry was smart, but not in the education system-approved sense.  It was clear that he understood most of the material that was presented to him, and he even had a few A’s on his transcript despite all his efforts to keep that from being so.  No, it was the social aspect of Jerry that showed his true genius.  Jerry knew how to work the schoolyard.  He wouldn’t date any of the girls, but he’d happily borrow one for a dance as their boyfriends looked on in irritation.  He’d take a girl to a party, yet it was never certain that she would have a ride home.

Nothing appeared to stick to Jerry.  In a world where a bad haircut made you an outcast for the next two years and where the wrong backpack would get you beaten up, Jerry had escaped unscathed.  His leather jacket that his dad had given him from the sixties was the first indicator that he was in a cool clique all his own.  He had a Zippo lighter that he though went well with the jacket, except for the times when the administration confiscated the incendiary device from him.  Thanks to a maintenance man who liked free DVDs, Jerry also had a copy of all the important school keys, and he would reacquire his lighter whenever he pleased.  Jerry came across as cool, untouchable, and one entertaining person to watch.

“Now, I know what you’re all thinking”, Jerry said as he walked out from behind the two-wheeled podium.  “You have other things you’d rather be doing.  Kate, Buddy; you know what I’m talking about!”

The new couple came up from air just long enough to cheer, then went back to their making out.

“These are my kinds of people!  These are the guys that I’m here to represent.  The teachers are here to make you study.  They’re old, that’s fine.  But us?  We’re not old yet!  And if you want a party candidate, then don’t you think you should have one that knows how to party?”

As expected, the crowd cheered back in appreciation.  The jocks started slamming their feet down like some out-of-synch rhythm section.  Those around them joined in, hoping for some bonus points to be added to their reputation.  The odds of it succeeding were slim, but popularity was worth the risk.

“I think school is about finding yourself, rebelling against those that would try to keep you down.  You gotta be like John McClane!”

A confused silence met Jerry’s cheering.  The thousands of bleacher-warmers wanted to applaud, but they held off, hoping for some explanation.

“Dudes”, Jerry said, quite shocked.  “John  McClane?  He was like the ultimate guy.  James Bond meets Jason Bourne.  And why do those guys all have J-names, anyways?”

The students laughed along, but their hearts clearly weren’t in it.

“You really don’t know what I’m talking about?  Bruce Willis?  Look, the guy takes down terrorists in a skyscraper.  It’s got Severus Snape as a bad guy.  Y’know what; whether you vote for me or not, we’re all having a Die Hard party.  You guys’ll love it.  Yipee kay-yah, Mother F….”  Jerry paused as he saw the Principal come closer.  “…aaather.  Mother Father”, he said with a wink.

Principal Dean stepped forward as the students cheered and stomped some more.  The man in the ill-fitting suit coughed.  Jerry made a, “mea culpa” gesture and cleared his own throat.

“I can see that our esteemed head honcho wants me to wrap up.  Let me simply make sure we’re all on the same page.  This girl wants us to spend more time on community efforts”, Jerry said, pointing to his opponent.  “I think we’re doing just fine.”  Applause met his statement.  “This girl thinks that we should invoke fines or detention if we’re caught littering.  I propose that if you don’t pick up your own garbage; expect a visit from my fist.  We’re stuck in this school; let’s keep it looking better than WestSide High.”  Predictably, jeers and boos were hurled at the mere mention of the school’s bitter rivals.  “And finally, this girl thinks we should put the ‘study’ back in student body.  Well I think you guys should vote for a ‘stud’.  Doesn’t that sound better?”

The Principal made his way to Jerry and stood imposingly close.  “I trust, since you haven’t said anything of any true merit, that you are done?”

“How about a closing remark?”

Principal Dean stood there for a moment.  He thought over the situation.  Part of him knew that he should say no, but there was a part of him that was curious what the lad had in store.  In the end, his curiosity won out and the mediator took a few steps back.

“My fellow student; I have one last comment before I leave you to consider what I have said here today.  We have ourselves a fine school.  We all know we have some fine looking girls.”  Hoots and whistles echoed back to Jerry, but he waved them off.  “You gusy know that we are responsible for doing our part to make this little world of ours better.  We only have four years here until things get serious.  Maybe it is time we considered what we could do to improve ourselves, to really grow as a community before we are all torn apart.  To quote that fantastic show, LOST, ‘If we don’t learn to live together, we’re going to die alone’.”

A somber quiet fell over the gymnasium.  It was a sound unheard since the memorial for departed students fifteen years ago.  No buttons were pressed on phones, no gum was snapped; no one even moved nervously in their seats.  There was only silence.  For a brief, ethereal moment, all minds were focused on the wise words that had just been delivered to them.

Principal Dean couldn’t believe it.  He actually felt himself choking back tears.  Words like these were normally only spoken at graduation, and even then they were rarely communicated so passionately.  There had been a pleading in Jerry’s voice that Principal Dean didn’t know the boy was capable of.  He started to wonder if he hadn’t judged the boy too harshly over the years.

And then Jerry spoke again.

“That’s why we’re partying tomorrow night!!!”  The high ceilings of the building rattled and filled with a deafening applause.  “We’re gonna live fast and we’re gonna live hard!  Just like John McClane!  Details will be given when the suits aren’t around.  There’ll be drinks, swimsuits, and sun.  Who’s with me?”

The next five minutes were unbridled chaos.  Principal Dean grabbed the microphone back and demanded order.  The students wouldn’t stop celebrating.  They threw their books in the air and shook their friends with violent enthusiasm.  It was soon evident that the mindless horde wouldn’t settle down until their leader was removed.  There was no reasoning with this crowd.

The head administrator grabbed the troublemaker by the famous jacket collar and marched him out the door.  The other forty-six staff members slowly got the students back to their classrooms.  Jerry pumped his fists with enthusiastic rebellion all the way to Principal Dean’s office.  The man coughed violently as he locked the door and headed back to his high-backed chair.  High school, he thought to himself with a sigh.  It’s just like real politics.


About Cosand
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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