By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
While television programs and commercial jingles will soon rape our earholes again, reminding us that this is the most wonderful time of the year, I'm going to disagree. That nifty little title is reserved for June 2, my birthday (see: free shots, me being the center of attention). Shoot, the holiday season isn't even the second most wonderful time of the year. That honor goes to Halloween (see: girls dressed slutty, autumn leaves, mustaches). If we have to label things — and we do, because I recently purchased a label-maker from Michaels and I'll be goddamned if I'm going to let it go to waste — this is technically the third most wonderful time of the year. Congratulations, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah (us too, us too!), you take home the bronze. But just because you are third best in the world doesn't mean I can't still find fault with you (see: heated conversation I had with Bonnie Blair, Calgary, 1988). For example, I don't like running into kids I went to school with who are home for the holidays.
But at least having a teacher/student sex scandal at your alma mater gives you something to talk about.
I stay in pretty solid contact with the people I want to stay in contact with. There are a handful with whom I should do a better job, and when I see those people out in public, we express such sentiments and bask in each other's all too infrequent company. But come holiday season, um, hello, the total randos are out there, just itching to talk to you at the bar. Since you were never friends or even friendly during elementary, middle or high school, it makes perfect sense that as adults you should re-establish a connection that you never fucking had. Maybe I'm just not a sentimentalist, but I've never felt any particular fondness for some random douchebag just because we once occupied the same space. But random douchebags certainly do.
Here's how those conversations typically go. If the person and I went to East High School together, he tells me about the kid(s) he now has but doesn't see too much because the kid(s) live with their mom — and then he asks me for money. If the person and I went to Graland together, he'll tell me about his impossibly awful profession, such as importing/exporting illegal-immigrant toddlers and grinding them into lubricants used to grease oil pumps in Alaska — and then he asks me to write about it in Westword. Until recently, I always enjoyed the conversations with the Eastheads more. At least we get to sing the hey-lo-lo, hey-lo-lo, hey song together. But now that former Graland English teacher Meredith Hollen has been accused of sexually assaulting a former student, Graland peeps, come and find my ass at the bar!
We gots to talk.
The news of the alleged affair between a forty-year-old female teacher and a male student — rumored to have been in ninth grade — at elite Graland Country Day School has been festooned across the media for weeks. As a Graland alum, what I find really interesting about this is the shock and disbelief clearly evident between the lines of every article penned. Even funnier is this subtle sense of nanny-nanny-boo-boo I'm picking up, this joy that no one seems to fess up to but is palpable in everything you see or read — that such extreme fucked-uppedness could happen at hoity-toity Graland Country Day School.
"Ha, ha," all the subtext seems to indicate. "Graland is just as stupid as the rest of us. They ain't so special after all."
To which I say: duh.
Normally, I don't like the crux of my arguments to boil down to three-letter retorts oft-utilized by fourth-graders, but really, fucking duh. If you had any doubts that Graland — or any other fancy private school, for that matter — was just as capable of crime or perversion as the rest of the world, then you've really got a lot to learn about Hilltop. In the too many years I attended Graland, I saw plenty of messed-up things, including a male teacher sleeping with an underage female. I'm not pretending Graland is "hard" in any way; the place is as soft as the netting of an old lacrosse stick. I'm just saying that crazy shit did happen there. And still does.
Which is exactly what I found myself discussing with fellow Graland alumni this Thanksgiving weekend. And while the group I was chatting with happened to comprise people I'm actually quite fond of, I'm certain that as the holidays drag on, there will be encounters with former peers who I am not remotely fond of. And to those people, I say spare me the what-are-you-up-to chat and let's just get down to the Graland-was-as-fucked-up-as-anywhere-else discourse. Then we can talk knowingly about how this little scandal must be rocking the school's halls, how not even ninth-grade girls want to sleep with ninth-grade boys, and maybe we can actually enjoy the conversation.
If not, we can talk about warm weather and baseball season, truly the most wonderful time of the year. And I can tell you what to get me for my birthday (see: iPhone).