INTERN has been avoiding her computer as if it were a dreadful viper and instead been taking lots of 20-mile walks in the hills, where she is ironically much more likely to encounter an actual viper. This weekend, INTERN and Techie Boyfriend went to visit Techie Boyfriend's family, and INTERN got to hang out with his 16 year old sister, who is an eleventh grader at a bonafide American Highschool.
Now, you need to understand that for INTERN, American highschools are somewhat mythical places she's only ever apprehended through movies like Clueless and the dozens upon dozens of YA manuscripts she's read that take place in their locker-bejewelled halls. INTERN herself went to a Canadian highschool, which is a whole different animal. INTERN's highschool did not, for example, have a cheerleading team, or a stadium, or even the omnipresent Lockers that nerds at American Highschools are routinely stuffed into. INTERN's highschool did not have a Prom (the significance of which mystifies INTERN to this day) and one did not need a Hall Pass (wtf?) in order to relieve oneself in the bathroom. There were no "freshmen" and "seniors," just grade nines and grade twelves, and grade twelve was just grade twelve, not an insanely overburdened Senior Year on which the fate of the universe hung.
So you can imagine INTERN's fascination with the very different (and shockingly consistent) version of Highschool she's encountered in YA novels and manuscripts. If she is to believe what she reads again and again and again, highschool life in the US is always EXACTLY and UNDEVIATINGLY like this:
"Cherryville High is ruled by a ruthless posse of popular and pretty (but mean and anorexic!) cheerleaders named the Blossom Squad whose leader (more like a sultan! or a supreme court judge!) is a frigid ice queen named Stacey (who gets what's coming to her sometime in the third act when it is revealed that she has Issues!).
The Blossom Squad dates the Football Team (known as the Cherryville Stems!), which is composed of sweaty, muscular teenage boys who like to throw Raging House Parties when their parents are out of town (house parties at which their unfortunate tendencies towards date rape and alcoholism tend to come out) and who occasionally succumb (briefly!) to the romantic charms of a non-Blossom Squad female, dump her by leaving a nasty surprise in her Locker (how did he get into her locker???), then take her back at the last minute (usually in the final moments of Prom).
If you're not in the Blossom Squad or the Stems, you are by default a Pit (i.e. a cherry pit, but also a Misfit! with Misfit Issuuuuuuues!) You have a best friend (who is gay! or of the opposite sex! or nerdy about biochem to the point that she practically qualifies for a guide dog to help her navigate the world outside the science lab! but who ultimately fails to understand you in at least one Key Respect!) If you are a Pit, you might try to lay low, but there will eventually be something (ummmm....supernatural power? illicit romance w/Stem?) that will put you directly in Stacey's (like, the frigging SULTAN of the Blossom Squad's) crosshairs.
Whatever happens, it all gets wrapped up at Prom, which is more important than ANYTHING and at which there is generally some kind of massive showdown between Blossoms, Stems, Pits, and assorted bit characters like Hummer limo drivers and parents."
Luckily, hanging out with Techie Boyfriend's little sister for a few hours was enough to reassure INTERN that American Highschools are not, in fact, all exactly like that. Some notes from their conversation:
-nobody gives a crap about Cheerleaders and Jocks, not even cheerleaders and jocks.
-manga = cool
-i can haz cheezburger = hilarious.
-no mention of Prom. (why no mention of Prom? is Techie Boyfriend's little sister INSANE or something?) Most American Highschools don't even have one of those Olympic Countdown Clock thingies like Vancouver had.
-novels about various wars you have to read for English class = boring
-online comics = hilarious
-being a furry = totally valid life choice
-nerdy furry cheerleaders, peaceful rastafarian football players....A-OK.
-short attention span = yes
Naturally, this is only one conversation and not enough to *completely* dismantle the portrait of American Highschools INTERN has been reading about for so long. What's going on with this Cheerleader/Jock thing, anyway? Why do so many people write about that stuff? And are all these clichees real somewhere, or is it time for a massive collective update? Present and former American Highschool attendees, please advise.