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Brooklyn reminiscing

| Friday, September 15, 2017

Brooklyn Tech is among the more prestigious public high schools in the country, and one of New York City’s original three specialized magnate schools. Founded in 1922, the school was developed with the intention of fashioning young men into mechanical engineers. To that end, Tech has been highly successful. Tech boasts an array of proud alums, including astronauts, Nobel laureates, and CEOs.

Throughout its early history, however, the bulk of the student body would immediately join the war effort upon graduating. In fact, the tail gunner on the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped a “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, was an alum. Apart from being the sole defender of the 12-man crew, he was also the only photographer on board, making him the first man in history to witness and capture the harrowing, devastating power of the bomb. Clearly, I have a lot to live up too.

With a student body of approximately 6,000 kids, Tech is one of the largest high schools in the nation. The colossal size of the building, along with its mazy hallways and the immense volume of students, created the impression of being in an ant colony. Between classes, the stairwells would swell with countless bodies erratically speeding to their next class; colliding into each other like particles swarming in primordial soup. And that is precisely what I was. An atom. Merely one among a multitude of cutthroat type-A’s willing to do anything to get the grade.

There was no school spirit. You cannot take pride in a football team named “The Engineers.”  As incredibly diverse as the student body was (each class contained a member of every conceivable ethnic group and religious affiliation under the sun) the majority of students adhered to the same dogma: survive. Be the best at all cost, but if you can’t do that, at least survive.  

Naturally, when I found out the senior yearbook costs a hundred dollars, I was ambivalent regarding whether to purchase it. On the one hand, I definitely wanted some sentimental token of all the friendships I had made. On the other hand, I probably knew five percent of the graduating class. I was not about to drop a hundred bucks for a book littered with faces I wouldn’t even recognize. So I did the fiscally responsible thing to do. I stole a roll of toilet paper from the basement boy’s bathroom and got people to sign that instead.

Besides the relatively cheap price, my yearbook had the added benefit of being somewhat poetic. Most of the praise people receive in their yearbooks is completely unwarranted. There is simply no way that a guy I have spoken to, maybe thrice, genuinely believes that I will go on to accomplish awe-inspiring humanitarian feats. Most of what these kids write is entirely disingenuous. Might as well have them write it on a worthy canvas.

I had very strict rules regarding the signing. Each person was allowed one sheet, unless I liked the kid. They had to use a ball point pen (to avoid tearing). And I tried to get signatures in bulk, since I would have to unroll everything each time someone wanted to write something, subjecting the potty scroll to potential lacerations and pollutants. I kept it locked in an airtight zip lock bag.

Overall, I received an embarrassingly high number of signatures. Most of my teachers even signed it. Surprisingly, people expressed some heart-warming sentiments. Sure, there are plenty of lewd drawings and curse words adorning the two-ply pages of the book. But there are also sincere compliments, condemnations, psychological analyses and phone numbers. If anything, people were more candid on my yearbook than they would ever be, given a typical one. A Tibetan girl (who was really pretty I might add) even kissed it while wearing vibrant, hot pink lipstick, the imprint of her voluptuous, Buddhist lips forever encased in the two-ply roll of toilet paper. Eventually, I laminated the whole thing to ensure it survives the test of time.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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