The Eighth Page


Retirement can make a man question his authority. It’s a direct shot to his manliness. Ever since stepping down as a features editor, I have been testing my respect in the Andover community. I usually wake up at 5 in the morning, with tears smudging the eyeliner I forgot to take off after the dress up party I had with my stuffed animals the night before. I walk to the window, open it, lean out, and just cry. I see a squirrel playing with his friend. I see Andres Bobadilla ’06 on his way to his hidden tree fort. There is nothing else I can do but cry. There is nothing else I can do. Going to Cannon and Curtis’s celebratory parties for their new editor positions did not help with my emptiness. Cannon was up on stage in a coat and tie, in front of everybody, giving an acceptance speech, when I came stumbling through the door at the back of the room, a bottle of Jack clenched in my bloodied hand, and wearing a bunny outfit. I tripped, dropped the bottle, and cried when it smashed all over the floor. Security dragged me out. I have a court date next month. Sometimes I walk to the Phillipian room, sit on the sofas, and pretend to write articles. As I drift into a drug-fueled stupor, I see Merit Webster ’06 giving out news assignments. Oh, there is Sam Hall ’06 taking a picture! See, we are still running this show! I wake up suddenly in Ryley Room with a Commons worker pushing me off the sofa. I landed in a pool of ketchup, and I lick it to see if it is stale. It isn’t and I haven’t eaten in a week. As I shovel it into my mouth, the Commons worker kicks me, and I get up to look at the clock. It is almost sign in, and the place is empty. There is a janitor cleaning the staircase as I walk up out of Ryley Room. I try to cover my face before he recognizes me. Too late. Janitor: “Hey kid, what the hell happened to you? You used to be something, kid, you used to be something.” Me: [muffled cries, I start yelling] “I still run this place! [I wipe ketchup off my brow] This is my school! Do you know who I am? Do you know how much pull I have around here?” Janitor: [he picks up a wrinkled and stained Phillipian from the corner, unfolds it, and points at a picture of me] “This is who you used to be. Funny how things can change, huh?” Me: “You’re fired! You’re done! [I break down crying, am hunched over feeling sick] Do you know who I am? I’m editor. I’m the man. I’m funny Badman. I’m funny Badman.” Janitor: “O.K. pal. [he starts whistling, mopping the floor. He raises his head.] I thought you would make it. Now you’re a nothing, kid, you’ve got no future.” My parents used to send me packages full of candy, money, mixed nuts, and bunny rabbits—happy things—every day while I was an editor. Now, they send me empty boxes, sometimes putting in notes that read, “We all knew it wouldn’t last forever,” and “We did love you at one point,” and “At least Cannon’s parents have something to be proud of.” When your grandfather calls you and asks for his cufflinks back, the ones that he gave you as his favorite grandson, you feel like you have disgraced your family. When he hangs up on you mid-sentence, after you said you would send them regular mail instead of priority, because your parents cut off all monetary funds, you can’t do anything but cry. Just cry…just cry. If there is one thing I have learned from this experience, ‘tis better to have never written at all, than to have written and been raped of your position. Three hard years I broke my back for that paper. Three years. I could have started a small family in the Amazon during that time. I could have written a novel. I could have had the hair around my knees removed by laser treatment. I am off to a convention in Wyoming. The Annual Peyote Smoking Championship is taking place, and every time I see those beautiful colors, I just forget about everything. Wish me luck. I am up against the accredited ‘Running Water,’ who has won all seventy five years the competition has been around.