Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, February 17, 2005





Hilarious high school hierarchy

By Maliha Bassam

I learned calculus in school. I learned the theory of comparative advantage and the policies to reduce unemployment. I might even dare to say that I learned some vague stuff regarding radioactivity in school. But so far, none of these have helped me much in life; except for maybe helping me pass my O-levels. The most important thing school taught me was that every one of us had our differences, and yet, we were all the same. And that people didn't necessarily get along because they were alike or fight because they were different. Sometimes what brought us closer was our diversity and what made us hate each other's guts was that our similarity made us want the one same thing that no one was willing to share.

By the time you had emerged from the other end of the legendarily complex or interesting (whichever, trying my best to be politically correct, hehe) labyrinth of high school education, you might have already gone to juvenile prison for abusing a schoolmate/ done voodoo on that know-it-all from Economics class/ promised to never forget an eternal friendship (eternal meaning from here till college, that is).

On a less philosophical note, basing upon my umm… keen observation (?) in high school, I drew one singular conclusion: together we were all a giant, cheesy pizza. Whether you were the hard, dry crust no one liked to chew or the cheese everyone wanted more of, or even a measly piece of mushroom that I always want more of, without you the pizza wouldn't have been what it is, as in, the high school experience wouldn't have been the same.

Whether your high school was in Mukaydumis, Somalia or in some part of Dhaka with an easier to pronounce name, you can most probably identify with some of the following characters:

1. The Queen Bee: An author once said 'Because people, with all their hopes and dreams, greed and ambitions, strength and weakness, love and hate, are all that interest me'.

The Queen Bee takes this whole 'interest' in your life thing to another level. She has a comment on everything that has nothing to do with her; the hideous bag with the map of the world printed on it that some teacher carries, how your hair looks hideous in that ponytail or how your girlfriend is so totally not right for you.

She's a backbiting, conniving, sly, Emmy award-winning, pretentious fake but hey, she's got her flaws too. Don't underestimate her; she's not as dumb as she seems to be in her perfect hairstyle and exaggeratedly feminine dress-up. She knows how to get her way, how to get people on her side and turn the whole school against you and yet remain in goddess-like heights in everyone's eyes. Usually, strikingly pretty (or with 3 pounds of foundation if nature hadn't been so kind), she's followed by her group of female worker bees having a combined IQ of 28.

2. The Cool Dudes: Dripping with an excess of attitude (that reminds me very much of snot dripping from this kid in my playgroup, years back) they usually live under the delusion that a pair of female eyes is following their every footstep. Some of them are known to wear a fake, supposedly narcotic-induced, 'sleepy' expression on their face, meant to show how indifferent they are, which eventually ends up annoying the life out of you.

Playing pool in smoky XYZ billiard centres, getting into fights just because they are so proud of having 'back-up', reeking of cigarettes, wearing beads and assorted jewellery on different parts of bodies, bragging about their small conquests in life, unfortunately, they happen to be easily recognisable.

3. The Jammers: Ooh, these men are cool. They're VERY cool. Fear them, oh simpletons without musical abilities. They're 'jamming today'… and for the rest of the days of every week, and somehow it's intentionally self-publicised with more fervour than a certain politician did for himself a few months back with all the big sign boards and what not.

They're found in small clumps of five or six and occasionally you hear words like 'show on the Xth', 'brand new Ibanez electric guitar', 'snare', 'metal' and of course, their favourite, 'jam'. Yep, that's about how much their vocabulary may amount to.

In many cases, they come attached with habits of 'chain' smoking and an inflated head high with the feeling of self-importance.

4. The Gamers: Ranking right there with the Jammers are our Gamers, possessing a one-track mind revolving around PS2, X Box and computer games. They speak in a language solely their own, consisting of game consoles, cheat codes, animation analysis and a bunch of other words unintelligible to non-gamers. Their summer vacations are spent on games with mysterious names like MGS 2 and the rest of the year, our ears end up being victims to their unending chatter about which animated chick is 'hot' in which game and which one has the fastest… oh, I give up.

5. The Nerds: Thick glasses, a quiet countenance and the ability to memorise two thirty six chemical equations with the state symbols. If you're a fakibaj like me, you probably had to run to them and photocopy their notes right before the exam, at your hour of need. Harmless excluding the exceptions of having your mum compare your one digit marks in Physics against their double digit, near century ones. Usually come with bad hygiene habits (e.g. showering once a week) so may be not the best person to sit next to in class.

6. The Jordans and the Ronaldos: Hardly. If being an athlete meant sweating in gallons, blasting the heads of people who crossed the football field to get to the cafeteria, sending the cricket ball flying to break the principal's brand new car window, losing every tournament the school magnanimously sends them to, then may be that's what they would be called. Nonetheless, for the sake of school spirit, you end up cheering for them from the Abahani bleachers till your vocal cords are permanently disfigured only to regret the next day when they return to the classroom with the horrid stench of body odour emanating from their perspiring, athletic (ahem!) bodies…

7. The Teacher's Pet: Easily confused with the nerds, they are not quite similar. These people know the art of buttering as well as Shakespeare knew how to write useless sonnets, politicians know how to call hartals, MSN knows how to give you sign-in problems… you get the picture…

Their sugar-coated voice has the ability to jeopardise your insulin levels as much as their brown-nosing can push you to the point of murdering out of sheer frustration. Useful during trying to get a free period out of teachers and postponing tests_ otherwise residing on your list of Ten People To Kill.

8. The Outcasts: A.k.a. the losers (apparently). Usually victimised by the Cool Dudes, who are at times joined by the Queen Bee and Co. Reasons range from being pale, weak and lanky to dark, not weak and fat. Subject may possess unique accent that bars him/her from crossing the threshold of coolness or may not possess the trendiest of wardrobes.

May also not be familiar with elements that make the Cool Dudes cool (see above). Often have multiple derogatory nicknames.

The list can go on and on. But due to time constraints and word limit issues, I might have to stop right here. Unfortunately, I happen to have a few friends from each of the aforementioned categories of the high school population. They make life more interesting at times and sometimes they're the most boring people ever, but in the overall picture, they've actually made some significant difference, I hate to admit. As for me, who was I in high school? Perfection in human form, of course. A true friend, an agony aunt… oh well, that's going to take up another entire article, hehe…


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