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The Hopless Cynic: The High School Experience
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The Hopless Cynic: The High School Experience
After a hiatus, the Robster is back, with a look back at High School. Dedicated to Charlie Cotterman, my beloved theatre class (plus Andy Stilling), J.D. Salinger, Zach Morris, and all the high school classes of 2001. It's been a long time coming.
[1,243 words]
Robert G Hagans
I used to be a hopless romantic, your average Lloyd Dobler. But at 19, I'm re-evaluating my life. I am becoming a realist, more like a Rob Gordon. Niether optimistic nor pessimistic (well, I'll try) but sensible. The cosmic connection that I've spent my entire life looking for is probably still out there, I'm just no longer obsessed with finding it. And I'm happy about that. For once in the last year and a half, I'm happy... sort of.

I'm a writer mainly (short stories/screenplays) and an aspiring film maker. I am currently directing a film that I wrote called How to Escape a Black Hole . It's all about the hassles of living in a small town and feeling trapped within. I like to meet other film makers out there doing the same things I'm doing, so drop me a line sometime, ya hear?
[November 2002]
[email protected]
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There Is Hope: The Hopeless Cynic (Essays) Here's a follow up to my last. Enjoy it. The Robster strikes again. Dedicated to Charlie Cotterman and the man formerly known as EC Allen. [985 words] [Comedy]
The Hopless Cynic: The High School Experience
Robert G Hagans

Instead of writing my latest essay as a response to the review war waging on these pages, I’ll simply ignore it. It is truly childish and I have already made my break from it. Clean or otherwise. Also, I’m going to take a break from the topic of love and relationships so this particular article will not be misinterpreted into something it’s not. Instead, I’ll focus on a rather important milestone in my—in everyone’s life: the graduation from high school. The High School Experience. Especially at a time when most high schools are potential urban battlegrounds, I’d like to say something positive about my four years.
I was going to start out with a quote from Dickens: “It was the best of times…”ah fuck it. Go unconventional. Why not use Salinger? So what, I wondered, would Holden Caulfield say about Zach Morris? As I began to write, I carefully pondered this question, and figured that if asked, Holden would probably respond something like this: “That Morris is a sexy bastard, and I could name a few girls that would love to give him the time.” After having a good laugh over that, I suddenly remembered with overwhelming clarity that the biggest influence on me as I entered high school was in fact, Saved by the Bell. And I think many if not most of the members of my generation will agree. The clean cut images and exploits of Zach, Screech, Kelly, Slater, Jessy, and Lisa were and have been burned into my brain since the day I laid eyes on them. And why not? In spite of the cliches and predictability, it still was and is a great hollywoodized show about high school life.
  After reflecting on that, myself and my counterpoint Charlie both agreed that there should have been a Saved by the Bell 10-week deprogramming course (before entering high school) in order to erase all preconceptions from our pop culture influenced psyches. I can’t speak for everyone, but I sure as hell could have used it. Most of my memories from freshman year have been repressed and I believe it’s because the reality was a shock to my system. Might’ve explained my misanthropic nature too. The terrible realization of what cheerleaders truly look like (outside the boob tube) still causes my tear ducts to swell. Not all cheerleaders are ugly but most of them are not Bring it On material.
By sophomore year, I had the routine down and began to make an attempt at what everyone always taught me was most important in high school. Popularity. I still wanted to be Zach Morris: with the personal clique that just happened to be made up of the most popular kids in school. The high school sweetheart, the cool car parked not too far from the cafeteria where I would sit at the head of my reserved lunch table for my friends and I. In short, I wanted what I refer to as the “Fantasy High School Experience.” Possible, but improbable, and I was wayyyyy behind. Besides which, I had yet to learn my greatest lesson: humility.
Joining the varsity football team that I had mocked a year before (a decision made due to a challenge issued by one of my future team mates) taught me to be humble quick, fast and in a hurry. Like my friend Tyson says: “No matter how hardcore you think you are, there’s always a bigger badass than you.” My snide comments and remarks were not appreciated here and were often met with very physical retaliation from larger guys than I. Try to understand, at the time I was 6’3’’ 265 lbs. Eventually these snide remarks turned to just jokes. And there I learned that humor is usually the way into the hearts of many. I mellowed, mingled, and at the end of sophomore year, I was someone’s date to junior prom.
Junior year was more of the same. More football, more mingling, making friends, and to add to it, I joined the theatre class. At the end of the year, I found myself singing “Beauty School Dropout” as Teen Angel in my high school’s production of GREASE. And as I received a standing ovation while my friend Jessica and I were jumping up and down backstage in excitement, I realized I had found my my core (especially with my dramatics) in theatre. So I remained into my…
Senior year. Final steps into adulthood and all that. Suddenly I looked around; the tall, sarcastic, fat kid that started my journey was gone. I was now a good sized, semi-popular guy with nearly everything I had always wanted and a damn good sense of humor. I wasn’t at the mountaintop, but I was closing in on the peak. That is until, (due to a set of circumstances too lengthy to go into now) I was forced to change schools mid-way through my senior year. Devastation. All that I’d worked so hard to build was gone. In a matter of months at my new school, the 180-degree turn I’d made turned into a 360. I didn’t fit in, and I barely tried to, because I didn’t want to. But I was saved, rescued by people who will always be special to me.
The theatre class that I so loved and missed wanted me back too. They encouraged me to write letters to them and they would read the letters out loud in class. I wasn’t forgotten! In high school where friends are very important, but easily replaced. This was an illuminating realization for me. I began to make my way back as often as I could, as it was always met with great reception, and the attitude I had toward my new school flourished because of it.
Which brings us to about four days ago. After attending a wonderful prom at my true Alma Matter, there was only one thing left: Graduation. Someone made sure I got a ticket, but would it be the same from the audience as it would be onstage? Of course not. But looking up there, seeing all those faces that night… People I had learned with, grown with, chilled with, and messed around with, I knew that it was close enough. I was there after all. To reflect, to cherish, to remember and above all, be grateful that they had touched my life, and I theirs. I was the person I had dreamed about being all along. Zach Morris eat your heart out. And I was humble enough to be in awe of how far I’d come.
So would I do it again? That’s the big question. Of course I would. These are the best parts of our lives. That’s what everyone says I know, but dammit it’s true. And one day when we’re sitting around worrying about mortgage payments, you’ll think back to these days and a smile will come to your face. There seems to be no life left in Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s career (the guy who played Zach) after Saved by the Bell. And if I too were to loose my life tomorrow, I wouldn’t be so upset. I mean look at what I’ve lived through so far. I never got the cool car or the high school sweetheart, but not all fantasies can come true, and the ones that do are never perfect. Still, can you say the same things about your High School Experience? I hope so.



"To miss Van Cleaf: EC ALLEN's suggestion to me when I started In the Light of A Shadow, if you go back and read the review posted was to work on my dialog. At the time, I really didn't find anything wrong with it so it kinda pissed me off, but looking back, it was kinda stale. I hope I have since improved and personally look forward to your review, Miss Van Cleaf (sorry if I spell it wrong), when I post my new story in about a week. That's why I dedicated my "HOPELESS CYNIC" essays to him. I had no idea he'd left the site, but I was hoping he'd read it and see that I'd improved as a writer; the man was quite a writer himself, and I repected him. I shall dedicate the next story to him as well, since his prodding was the reason I decided to blend action with comedy, so I could work with my dialog. Sorry if I uspet you, I meant no ill will toward you or EC. And if you could, see if you can get him to read my latest when it comes out, as I will respect his opinion. My next addition to this site will take me back to my action roots, but it's also a comedy. See ya soon... " -- Rob.
"rob, yet again i feel the need to praise your writing...have fun on sr wk and i hope that when i graduate ill have as much to look back on as u have" -- Stills, towson, md, usa.
"Apology accepted Rob, but I feel the need to point out that I've been here since January and I vividly remember the Tyrant/Bennett vs. EC Allen War, which spilled into your review column. I read it then, and I just finished reading it once again. Never does EC (who by the way now calls himself AD Kelly)say anything about your dialogue being bad, in fact he praises your work before being dragged into a flame war within your column. The person who said your dialogue, was quote unquote "corny" was a mystery person named Kat. EC/AD had a few pennames that he displayed as characters here for everybody's enjoyment such as The Grammar Nazi, No Name Rogers and the Advisor (as far as I know he was the only one who ever took up the position of resident advisor here), but one of his pennames wasn't Kat. I've contacted AD, and he said he didn't think he was all that far advanced of you to help you any, and I don't know whether he might try to contact you or not, but I do know he's always tried to help those who come to him. I know that because when I first came to Storymania he thoroughly helped me out with a story which I was working upon. Together we built an alliance with some of the other talent which used to frequent this board such as Tyna Aberdeen, and under AD Kelly's direction began work on a unique though unfortunately forgettable story called The Fate Winds, which some bastard took off the site before it was even a quarter completed, most likely it was either Tyrant, or some one who just didn't understand what we were trying to accomplish, because AD's idea was ahead of its time. If you never saw it, it was basically a sword and sorcery story of mine, which was told both inside and outside the story, literally making me a character within my own story. Once the story crashed our alliance set off in several different directions. Only I stayed to glean some know-how from fantasy writers better than I, and by the way boy, I meant what I said before about the only way to find true love is to go out and seek it, I'd give you a chance myself if I wasn't already taken and 2,300 miles away from Maryland, which is where I think you are. Oh well signing off." -- Lea Van Cleef.


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© 2001 Robert G Hagans
June 2001

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