The Eighth Page

A Farewell to Features

My Features career began, oddly enough, with 2008. Aboard a flight headed for Cleveland during spring break of my freshman year, I scribbled notes on hotel stationary I had swiped from a Florida Hilton. I chose to make my debut with a prediction as I detailed who would run for president in 2008. Donald Trump, Saddam Hussein and Hillary Duff each appeared in my Decision ’08 piece as prospective candidates. As did John McCain, which I now realize grants me a morsel of undeserved legitimacy as a journalist. At the time, 2008 seemed very distant. It was difficult to imagine myself four years down the road: I would be a Senior. Puberty would be a memory. And I would finally have spoken to a girl. Well, today I can proudly write that I’ve fulfilled two of those goals. For me, Andover is always changing. But as I’ve met new friends, switched dorms, discovered my academic interests and dismissed the possibilities of playing college athletics, one part of my Andover experience has been constant. Features provided me with the opportunity to express myself, to critique the community, aggrandize my ego and improve as a writer. As an added bonus, my picture appeared in the newspaper every week. Early on, as a cartoonist, I learned that girls never appreciate funny cartoons. So I became a writer. My material revolved around Rockwell, ninth-grade academics, campus landscape and of course, the opposite sex. I developed a recurring cartoon series entitled “70’s Saddam” featuring the heinous Iraqi dictator in a Speedo and rollerblades. It was at that point that my grandparents canceled their subscription. They instead spent the money on moth balls and industrial size packs of toilet paper at Costco. But with ample encouragement from my peers and a desire to improve, I finished my first year eager to continue with the section. That summer, I received an unlikely and absurd blessing. For my grandmother’s 70th birthday, she decided the family should gather in Ontario, Canada to experience a day at the Canadian School of Traditional Falconry. As I stood in a muddy field an hour’s drive north of Toronto, a large falcon perched on my arm, I realized that the Andover community might enjoy reading about my adventures beyond Phillips Academy. I also contemplated what it might be like to wear an eye patch, as the falcon stared directly at me licking its beak. After an article about my falconry expertise, I went on to write stories of my encounter with Jared the Subway spokesman, my frustrating morning trapped in a Spanish bathroom and the night I spent sharing a bed with a stranger in a Washington D.C. hotel. As I shared my experiences with the community (losing respect while gaining pity), I began to better understand myself. I am grateful for the opportunity to have participated in this weekly introspection, and I am pleased that others may have enjoyed reading about my escapades. Beyond the personal narrative, I am proud to have created a fake news section within Features. While The Phillipian foolishly reported All School Meetings, Academy business and student sentiments, Features published stories about the Penis Statue, Pine Knoll’s struggle with venereal disease and Grandparents’ Weekend rioting. To coincide with the Andover vs. Exeter athletic competitions, Features printed a special Fake Exonian issue that parodied our rival school. It was the year’s largest undertaking, and I enjoyed every minute of editing and writing. In the past two years, I have pondered the clash of fiction and reality. What if Jafar went to Andover? What might an excerpt from Darth Vader’s diary look like? How many movie characters can I publish images of without being sued for copyright infringement? I realized my obsession with cinema villains (especially Jafar) as I crafted pieces that threw classic characters into normal situations. My Features career would not have been possible without the support of the Andover community. I would like to thank all of my readers: my two friends, the Penis Statue, my caring teachers, my loving family and my most loyal fan, Mrs. Causbie. I am confident that as I hand the eternal flame of Features over to Lawrence and Eli, they will fondle it with grace and skill. It has been a pleasure to work with them this year. Beneath my watchful eye, they have trained well and have endured the blows of my hickory stick. What’s next for me? I’m retiring to a gated community in West Palm Beach. I’ve asked the Academy registrar to hand over my diploma now, so that I might enjoy the rest of the season.