I Was a Teenage Snarkist
It all started in eighth grade when Billy Noodleman wore those paisley bellbottoms. I mean, come on, what was this, “The Brady Bunch,” for God’s sakes? This was the Midwest, land of farmers and hog butchers. I couldn’t help myself. I spread the word that he looked like a “complete nerd.” Obviously the rest of the Alan Shepard Junior High School agreed. Noodlemen fell firmly into denim form after that.
Then there was Janet Chisholm’s project on the Hoover Dam. First of all, it was a dated artifact—almost fascistic in its monumentalism. I mean, she might as well have repeated the report she did in fourth grade on the T.V.A. I had no choice; I had to protect the class from this idiocy. So I scrawled “Chisholm’s a Damn Shame” on the blackboard, behind the map of Arizona. When Mr. Urskowski snapped it up, there was my review. Snarky? Yes. Necessary? Well, let me put it this way: Janet never repeated her errors again and she ended up being top of her class at Northeastern University’s School of Nursing. I think if she saw me today, she’d thank me. I mean, really thank me.
The varsity concert band just sucked royal lemons, if you know what I mean. Was it untoward of me to fiddle with the electronic tuning meter before our big spring concert in 10th grade? I think not. How many more Leroy Anderson versions of the “Happy Typewriter”—or whatever that stupid song of his was called—did the public need to endure? As soon as Mr. Kubaloric gave the downbeat and the discordant bleat of the brass echoed through the auditorium, I knew the concert was over. It took twenty minutes to retune the band. Was that snarky? You be the judge. But don’t cast a stone until you’ve sat through the complete oeuvre of Leroy Anderson. I call it public service, that’s what I call it.
It was me who put the paper bag over the head of Emily Hollingsworth. Guilty.
And when I led the school-wide backlash against A Separate Peace, well, who could blame me? Even Mr. Crouch, the A.P. English teacher, acknowledged that teaching that piece of drivel was like listening to Liberace play Bach. Painful. It wasn’t totally my idea to have everyone in the cafeteria stick their copies of that book, complete with that sensitive painting of the boy, to the puke green brick walls of the cafeteria with refried beans. I mean, I was in on it, but Mike Fried had a helluva a lot to do with it too. But I’ll take the heat. Hey, if there wasn’t merit to my snarkiness call on that one, why were 126 copies of the book plastered to the wall for the following week and a half? I ask you.
But I’m happy to say, all of that is behind me. No more snarking around for me. That was just youthful bravado. Me, I’m a “Millionaire”-watching, Coors Light-drinking, Taco Bell-eating, Stephen King-reading Yankee doodle dandy. Just don’t try and show up at my house with bellbottoms, that’s all.