The Eighth Page

The Manchurian Candidate

Let’s face it: life here at Phillips Academy is stressful. Between classes, sports, and extracurriculars, I sometimes feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day. In fact, I sometimes find myself skipping non-essential actions such as eating, bathing, and cutting my toenails. As a result of my hectic lifestyle, I weigh roughly 90 lbs., smell like a foot, and have toenails that are eight inches long. So, with so much going on in my life, I often look for ways to relieve stress. For example, I often play jazz flute for hours at a time. I also scuba dive in Rabbit Pond in an ongoing search for the sunken wreckage of my pride. I haven’t found it yet, which actually probably makes me more frustrated and stressed, if you want to doubt me and be a jerk about it. But when I do find it, as golden and beautiful on the murky floor of Rabbit Pond as a chest of gold, I will come to your house in my scuba gear, laugh at you arrogantly, and slap you in the face with my moist flipper. I am also the commissioner and frequent referee of an underground cockfighting league here at Phillips. My prize gamecock, The Manchurian Candidate, has been undefeated for almost two months now, and the proceeds from his victorious reign have enabled me to support my common-law wife and 12 children. The Manchurian Candidate, beauty that he is, relieves a great deal of stress because he allowed me to quit my job at the button factory, which I needed before to send Ramon, my oldest son, to medical school. All of my other stress-relieving hobbies are great and everything, but none compares to my all-time favorite: hazing. I first started hazing last year, when I became an Upper and realized that there were a few – though precious few they may have been – underclassmen who revered me simply because of my seniority. It all started out innocently enough: I would ask a Lower in my dorm to fetch me an iced tea – “…with lemon, you worthless little gnome!” – or bake me a cake with a pony on it. Then things started to escalate. One day last winter, my Gary Coleman signature dartboard went missing. So, as a replacement, I made a younger student stand up against the wall with numbers painted all over him while my friends and I threw darts at him and laughed maniacally. He did it because he wanted to, though. We never forced him. And between the sobs I’m pretty sure I noticed something that resembled a laugh. It was then that I realized that I had a problem. Hazing younger students made me feel like a ‘big man’ and helped me forget about how the kids on the playground had mocked me for my overactive sweat glands and called me “Sweaty Stephen.” Where the Stephen came from, I may never know. Yet I faced a dilemma: I derived so much pleasure from hazing, but I didn’t want to get kicked out of school and go to work at my Great Uncle Marvin’s car wash. I remedied the situation by hazing myself. Yeah, that’s right. I hazed myself. I know it sounds impossible, but really it’s quite simple. Whenever I was feeling insecure or unhappy, I would simply tell myself to do humiliating things to make myself feel better. Occasionally I would even flog myself with a towel or make myself run through the snow wearing only clogs and an apron. But, as “Saved by the Bell”, the Nixon administration, the disco era, and Ugz have taught us, all good things must end, and so went my hazing. One day when I was forcing myself to drink a jar of pickle juice, my friend Tyler Hill walked in on me. “Christian,” he said thoughtfully. “It’s time to get you some help.” “How long have you known?” I asked. “Ever since you started walking around whipping yourself with a towel.” “Oh Tyler, you are too wise.” So, I was shipped off to Whispering Dolphins Rehabilitation Facility to deal with my problem, and things are getting better. I now realize that I am a beautiful person, and that sweat is the nectar of the heavens and nothing to be ashamed of. And the one thing that gets me hrough the night is the thought of The Manchurian Candidate dancing gracefully around the ring like a ballerina trapped in the body of a gamecock.