Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 6, 2011

A 'how-to' for the freshmen

By Forest Walters
Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — In the four years you will spend at Central, you will learn a lot of things, some important, some completely worthless: See pg. 64, Chemistry. We feel it is our civic duty to dispense our pearls of wisdom, our sometimes stolen, sometimes purchased scholarly insight, and bestow upon you the more relevant knowledge that took us years to obtain.

Herein lies the Spark-Notes of life on the cheap. You, dear reader, stand on tall shoulders of the ill-gotten gain of our can-do, J.Crew-clad philosophizing predecessors.

Whip open your netbooks, freshmen, it’s time to take some notes.

Honor thy secretaries and never be late for class. Ever.

Each year you are issued an attendance secretary. Pay attention: This relationship is crucial. If she will let you, kiss her feet. Wink daily. Compliment her sage cardigan, with matching mock turtle ensemble, daily.

Olshansky likes smiling and small talk. Bowen is an active member at Chocoholics Anonymous and an avid collector of sweater-wearing teddy bear mugs. Mortensen likes you to notice the Martha Stewart ambiance of her office and curiously abundant supply of Tootsie Rolls.

They have heard it all. Yes, even the one about the hobo who ate your dog, the same one your older brother told. So charm and alacrity are paramount.

The main office administrative assistant secretarial branch is made up of a more complex species and cannot simply be schmoozed. It takes the smoothest of all smooth operators to win over the dream team of Kane, Nyland and Waligorski. The achievement of having them in your corner is to have reached the top of Everest. The possession of such a relationship cannot be learned, you are born with the ability to do so. You either have it or you don’t.

Run up an obscenely massive tab on your lunch account

They say you can’t charge on your lunch account. You can. They say you will get cut off from regular food and put on the peanut-butter-and-jelly train. You will. Unless you listen to us gourmands.

When you are in line to “pay” for your food, begin a ridiculously loud conversation with the individual next to you, whether you know them or not. (It’s better for the diversion if you don’t know them.) Include horrific scenarios about why you have no money. Ensure you are loud enough for the busy-lunch-lady debiting accounts ahead.

Start off small; whilst grabbing a croissant, say, perhaps, you were too busy to retrieve the funds to deter your lunch debt because you had to counsel your little brother who shish-kabobbed each and every one of your family pets. Silly little brother.

Work your way up to more complex lies. We have prepared a script for you. Going off-script is discouraged. Practice in the gym locker room mirror: Day 1, “I forgot it.” Day 2, “ ... the check is in the mail.” (The pause is crucial.) Day 3, that’s when you start walking old ladies across the street and having to spend the time you would have shaking your parents down for cash, but instead, spent your time adopting baby orphans from Malawi and building a tax-exempt kitten shelter.

Roll with the lunch ladies

Establish a relationship with the lunch ladies early on and consider it an investment in your stomach’s future. Truly, they are all peaches.

Be sure to let them know how the hairnet complements the eyes and how impressive you find the ladling technique. Those few compliments are the difference between you getting a federally subsidized-sized serving, or being the proud owner of a geographically overwhelming mashed-potato volcano, complete with gravy.

Pass AP Literature and Composition without ever reading a book

Ms. Shelley-Barnes’ stories about her life experiences are more exciting than anything Shakespeare could have written. Don’t skip this class. She drops some major knowledge. Buy your reductions on eBay, throw in the word “salacious” a few times, along with a few other sexy adjectives, semicolons and a reference to New Jersey once or twice, and you’re golden.

Understand the hierarchy of the parking lot

There are more than striped lines out there. This asphalt battleground is stained with the detritus of lost dignity.

There is territory marked by pit-bull-like mentality. Know where to park — more importantly, where not to park. Seniors are skilled with the layout of the parking lot; their experience gives them claim to the front row.

While you can park in the ever-popular CPL, there are days where you will be running late. If your first hour class is in F Building, the CPL may be a hike for you, making you late.

The only difference between your car and a substitute teacher’s car is the absence of a certain registered parking permit that may or may not be located on the upper left of your windshield. Oh, how easily they peel off.


Recent history has shown that providing the highly coveted public service of the fourth-hour daily announcements puts you in good standing with administrators. Creatively providing “NBC Nightly News” theme music to echo through the halls of Central for those announcements make it that much better.

Forest Walters is a 2011 graduate of Traverse City Central High School and was on the staff of the Black & Gold newspaper.