The Eighth Page

B.J. Garry says GOODBYE… and urges you to visit him in prison!

It’s funny how little my habits as a Features writer have changed. In February of 2007, I sat in my single in Rockwell, intently staring at the little blinking bar in the upper left hand corner of a blank Word document, trying to think of jokes. I was never the funny kid in middle school, but what the hell, I was at Andover now, and I still held the naïve assumption that new talents would just materialize out of thin air for me and fall into my lap. I was told earlier in the day to write about what I knew. With girls, politics and math ruled out, I decided to go with my home state of New Hampshire. After a few zingers about trees, rednecks, and tax-free shopping, my passionate relationship with Features, the greatest newspaper section ever conceived by mortals, had begun. Now, firmly entrenched in the deepest bowels of Senior Winter, I sit in my room in Taylor watching the same little vertical bar blink at me, thinking of a way to eulogize my three years with Features. This section has been one of the few constants of my life here. I’ve gone from studying for my Bio 100 final under my sheets with a flashlight to filling out college applications and financial aid forms. I’ve seen friends leave school, I’ve lived in different dorms, I’ve tried new sports, I’ve taken tougher classes, I’m much less scared of the opposite sex, and I’ve seen Ryley Room become The Den. Bush is no longer president, Conan has left NBC, and people still don’t care about Kevin Federline. But Features has always provided me with an outlet for my self-expression. I’ve been granted the opportunity to masquerade as a legitimate satirist and social commentator, and if I got lucky, people would actually laugh at my jokes. At first, being a Features writer was a way to shout, “Hey, look at me!” at a big, scary boarding school where I felt like everyone was better than me at everything. I was a 14-year-old boy suffering from an inevitable hangover that came from a sudden absence of familial positive encouragement and attention that formed the basis of my self-confidence: Features became my muse. Plus, my name showed up in the paper every week, which was the only way I would let my parents know that I was still alive. Gradually, I realized (or convinced myself, I’m still not sure which) that writing for Features entailed actual responsibility. The over-inflated “Andover bubble” is constantly primed to explode under the collective stresses and pressures the student body pumps it full of. Every Friday, my job as a Features writer and editor has been to approach the balloon with a tiny little pin and ever so gently prick it to let some of the air out before we instantly patch it all up again with everything that drives us this close to complete insanity. The Features section helps all of us forget about Yale and the SAT and that math test we all just screwed up and laugh at a few jokes for five minutes. Even if I played that small of a role in alleviating some of the pressure this school sometimes shovels on top of us, I felt like I did my part to help all of us take ourselves a little less seriously and be the teenagers we secretly desire to be while we’re all growing up too fast. Ironically enough, the section has also taught me about maturity. Although other factors of my education here have certainly contributed to my development as a college-bound young adult, I like to think that writing a Top Ten at 11 o’clock with Billy on a Tuesday night with a big paper due the following day has helped put hair on my chest. Figuratively, of course. I shave all of my body hair on a bi-weekly basis. The unique opportunity Features has given me to enjoy almost absolute comedic freedom is truly something I would be able to find nowhere else but The Phillipian. I can say with complete certainty that I would never be able to help write a comprehensive spoof of Facebook or a six-page satirical newspaper lampooning our archrival or a fake news article on a faculty cage-fighting tournament in any other high school newspaper. Seriously, I’d probably get sued. Of course, my tenure as a humble servant to the Feech would not have been possible without the undying support of our readers, the Andover community at large, and my mentors and co-editors that schooled me in the trade. Thanks to our loyal readers, the Top Ten lovers, the illiterate kids, the people who accidentally open Features thinking it’s the section we’re spoofing on any given week, and everyone in between. Thanks to Jon Adler ’08 for introducing me to the section and pretending to laugh at the lame jokes I made in my first few articles. Thanks to former Features Associates Jesse Bielasiak ’11 and Ryan Yost ’11 for their undying commitment to the section and their patience with Ben Nichols ’10. The section is in highly capable hands. Thanks to Lawrence Dai ’09 and Eli Grober ’09 for passing along the eternally burning torch of editorship and for their fabulous advice on clearing up inner thigh rashes. Thanks to Sam Weiss ’09 and Alex Moss ’09 for defining the noble position of Features Senior Associate and for thinking that going to a Kid Rock show was a good idea (it was). Thanks to Ben Nichols ’10 and Greg Hanafin ’10 for completely ruining that noble position and preserving the spirit of Gary Busey in an otherwise highly anti-Busey newsroom. Thanks to my co-editor Billy Fowkes ’10. This section would have been two pages of pictures of funny hats without you, and I can’t even begin to describe how much of a privilege it has been to have you as a co-editor. Finally, thanks to my family for loving me through thick and thin, and for encouraging me to do what makes me happy instead of what gets me into college. And, perhaps most of all, for not showing any of my articles to my grandmother.