18 November 2010

Most Individual (Male), 1997

My senior year of high school was the 1996-1997 academic year.  We began by casting votes for the senior favorites list.  At least, they did.  I didn't vote.  I was named "Most Individual (Male)."  I'm not sure if they expected it or not, but as far as I was concerned there was really only one response I could have had for this.  I declined to accept.  No one ever asked me if I wanted to be considered for their ballot, and as near as I can tell the yearbook staff arbitrarily selected the students for each category.  I never thought that was fair.  I read "Most Individual (Male)," saw I wasn't up for consideration as "Most Likely to Succeed (Male)" and individuality became a codeword for "novelty."  You're likely recalling Joe Pesci's "I amuse you?!" diatribe from GoodFellas at this point and I wasn't far from that.  Maybe that's not how it was meant, but that's how I took it.

I didn't really expect to win the category, so I let the whole thing transpire with nary an objection.  When it came to be that I'd been selected, it was high time to register my complaint.  A photographer from the yearbook staff came to get me and that's when I explained that I would not be participating.  I was referred to the teacher who oversaw the yearbook staff and I made my declination known to her.  Now, as it happened, I'd just had a bicycle accident (the bike stopped; I didn't...stupid hand brakes!) and I looked like Two-Face at the time.  She at first thought I was simply self-conscious about the way I looked and offered to delay the photo until I was healed. I clarified that I had no intention of taking such a photo regardless of what my face looked like; that, if anything, part of me was amused by the notion of taking it right then and there while I was so rough.

When my position was understood, it was met with cold anger.  I'd not taken a yearbook photo throughout my four years of high school.  You know that list of "Not Pictured" students at the end of the group?  She saw to it that I wasn't even included in that list in my senior yearbook.  To my knowledge, there's virtually no evidence from my senior yearbook that I even existed, much less attended school that year.  There is, however, a photograph of some students looking at the posted list of senior favorites.  You can clearly read my name as "Most Individual (Male)" on the list.  To this day, that amuses me.