The Eighth Page


For a seventeen-year-old, I’ve led somewhat of an eventful life. At age six, an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s mistook me for her grandson, Jimmy, and kidnapped me; I was recovered only after she forgot me in the grocery store. Age nine saw the publication of my autobiography, Jazz Hands, which went on to become a best seller; it has since been translated into 12 languages, including Arabic and Nepali. Some of you may have read of my exploits as a Broadway star, millionaire, and lounge singer, and for your patience and intellectual endurance, I thank you. But this week I offer you a tale that makes all my others look like red-headed, bloody-nosed, weeping children. I will tell you of my days as a superhero. It was freshman year: the grass was green, the sun was bright, the facial hair was rare and cherished, and the living was easy. It was during these care-free days, however, that my life would change forever. I was at a Ryley Dance one Friday night, weaving among the sweaty hordes of upperclassmen to whom I was afraid to speak when, suddenly, I began to feel faint. My mind was consumed with an overriding sense of purpose. I closed my eyes for a moment to collect myself, and, when I opened them again, I had x-ray vision. My first thought, as I remember, was: This is totally sweet for looking at chicks. Soon, though – and by “soon” I mean after a solid half-hour of looking at chicks – I realized that my gift was not, in fact, for amusement. No, no, I had a mission: though I could see through everyone’s clothes, my eyes were directed toward two students who were dirty dancing! I immediately approached the students and reprimanded them for their misdeeds. And so my superhero identity was born: SuperChaperone. I walked the night solitarily, allowing my powerful eyes to seek out the vile practices that have become the courting rituals of our doomed generation. Out of nowhere, I would pounce on unsuspecting hedonists like a starving jackal on a rowboat full of raw meat. Yes, a rowboat, I said it. And, in time, I learned to denounce the sins of the flesh, no longer using my superhuman powers to sneak a peak at naked women. Okay, maybe every once in a while, but only for a minute or 20. I became well known around campus – my exploits the stuff of folklore, my name spoken only in the nervous whispers of inappropriate dancers. My wrath was fierce – fierce enough, in fact, to inspire a renaissance of sorts in the PA community. The campus returned to old-fashioned values, with all coed interaction monitored closely by faculty members. It was like the good old days again. And Dr. Keller thanked me plentifully for the sharp decline in on-campus cases of sexually transmitted diseases – including Chlamydia, the ‘flavor of the week’ of Andover for the past decade or so, followed closely by Herpes. Don’t worry, Herpes, the race is long, and in the end it’s only with yourself. Things went on like this for some time. But then, something happened, and things changed. I saw a film, and that film was called She’s All That. For those of you who have been living in a tool shed for the last decade, She’s All That is the touching story of two young lovers just trying to make their way in the world. Actually, I’m not entirely sure what the film is about, because I ate too many Swedish Fish and passed out about five minutes after it started. While unconscious, though, I had a dream. I dreamt of two students at a Ryley Dance expressing their affection for each other freely, dancing dirtily without fear of interference by faculty or, worse yet, SuperChaperone. When I was awoken some 20 hours later by an employee of the movie theatre violently shaking me, I saw him fully-clothed. And just like that, my powers were gone. No longer was I SuperChaperone. I had returned to my prior identity: plain, old Christian Vareika. But losing my superhero powers wasn’t all that bad. I enjoy simply being able to look at older people without seeing pound upon pound of saggy, wrinkled skin. But I did learn some things from my days as SuperChaperone. For example, I’ve learned that not enough people on this campus moisturize thoroughly on a daily basis. I’ve also learned that this school apparently doesn’t require applicants to specify a gender in their application – or at least they don’t check to make sure they’re not lying – because I saw some things that definitely don’t fall within either category. From time to time, my powers return, though only for a precious, fleeting moment. So, if you see me looking at you funnily, now you know why. And remember: dress in layers, unless you’re attractive, in which case you’re fine in what you’re wearing right now.