The VICE Guide to School

Going to school in the 21st century is much like it's always been, i.e. like walking a horrible, horrible tightrope of anxiety and embarrassment. Lucky for you, I possess the authority to help guide you through this terrible time. So spit out that gum...

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Aug 1 2012, 5:00pm

School is the worst thing ever, but it's something we all have to endure. (Unless you're homeschooled, but then you have to spend all day with your mega-weirdo parents, and that's way worse.) Old people will constantly tell you that "your school days are the best days of your life." But all that means is that they've somehow fucked up so bad that their life since school has actually been worse than school. Can you fucking imagine? Yuck.

Going to school in the 21st century is much like it's always been, i.e. like walking a horrible, horrible tightrope of anxiety and embarrassment. The only difference now is that if you fall off that tightrope, everyone will know about it a lot quicker, because we have the internet and mobile phones to help us spread information about who in our grade has a 7 PM curfew and who's the only virgin to have ever lived, ever.

Luckily, I possess the authority to help guide you through this terrible time. So spit out that gum, put your phone away, and pay attention.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Every kid in public school wishes they were in private school, and every kid in private school wishes they were in public school. It's a grass is always greener type situation, even though the grass in public school is covered in urine and maintained by self-loathing, overweight community college graduates whose sole reason for sitting in a room with you for eight hours a day is the promise of a yearly two-month, daytime television-filled vacation. Private school kids want to be in public schools because they have a reputation for being edgier—the girls are all totally slutty, and the boys come from the wrong side of the tracks. While that may be true, public school is also filled with unbelievably stupid children raised on professional wrestling and beef, many of whom are probably already riddled with diabetes. Being forced to exist with these little ogres means you actually have to hide the fact that you're smart, lest you catch an ass-kicking from a bunch of future grocery store managers. Maybe you'll want to keep your school books in a pizza box or pick up some slang to throw around outside of the classroom. If anybody asks why you're doing some Poindexter shit, just say you're trying to holler at bitches. Why join the chess the club? Bitches. Why take AP English? Bitches. Why act in the school play? BITCHES.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS

Oh, I'm sorry, is your superior education and head start in life getting you down? Just kidding, I bet you're actually really down with the common man. Your dad probably has a copy of Ham on Rye resting under his monocle and 40-year-old Macallan single malt. I don't really have any advice for you, pretty much everyone I know who's been privately educated wears Opening Ceremony and has a personality disorder they pay people to ignore. Either that, or they will go the other way and develop a sense of shame about their privilege. Which leads to them shaving their heads, starting to talk like low-end drug dealers, possibly even becoming low-end drug dealers, and generally trying to copy the people who rob them on Saturday nights. This will either be permanent, or they will snap out of it at 18 when they realize no one is falling for it and, more importantly, no one likes low-end drug dealers.

(Brushes chip off shoulder, flicks hair.)

UNIFORMS

This is mainly for you private schoolers out there, although some public schools do require uniforms now, which is a bit like asking the janitors at the Port Authority Bus Terminal to wear tuxedos. I hate to be the one to break this to you, but no amount of tactical ripping or oversized safety pins is going to prove that you're the last living punk or Sylvia Plath's natural heir. For now, try and appreciate the homogeny of it all, because pretty soon you'll have to dress yourself. Every. Single. Fucking. Day. Just know and take solace in the fact that every school uniform in the land is ergonomically designed to make perfectly adequate looking boys and girls look like sacks of baked beans.

GIRLS: Contrary to what old dudes on the internet believe, no one looks sexy in plaid or skirts that weigh more than a wet dog. Attempting to sex things up in any way is futile, and means you'll be spending your mornings grooming, when you should be spending them sleeping. Also, covering spots with excessive Maybelline matte mouse doesn't hide them; it makes you look like Mars (as in, the planet).

BOYS: You may think having one of those weird stubby ties makes you look like a straight-up G, but girls aren't impressed by them. In fact, schoolgirls aren't generally gonna be impressed by much that you do, because you're a boy, so you're going to spend lunch either a) smoking, or b) eating cafeteria "food" and washing it down with chocolate milk. Basically, you're going to stink. Oh, and you're going to get lots and lots of boners—remember to hide these securely behind your waistband. It doesn't matter how old you are, no one likes a guy who stinks and has a boner.

PE

Obviously, you should try as hard as possible not to attend. Feign a four-year period, repeatedly break your own ankles, wear an offensive double-sided T-shirt... Anything. But, if you do have to attend, do as little as possible, as badly as possible. Eventually your teacher will give up trying to motivate you when they realize you have the hand-eye coordination of a two-month-old baby and you'll get to be that person who holds the stopwatch during rope climbing forever.

SCHOOL AND SEX

Nope. I don't care if the kids at your school look like the kids at the school in Gossip Girl. JUST DO NOT GO THERE. Really. Eventually, your year will hear the siren's call of cheap booze and, before you know it, it's basically mandatory to give at least one BJ to a classmate. Sure, it'll seem like a great idea, part of life's erotic tapestry, but EVERYONE HAS A VIDEO CAMERA THESE DAYS! TRUST NO ONE. Believe me, as soon as some power-hungry tween is scoring points from footage of you with a throat full of disappointing, hairless dick, you'll wish you'd listened to mom, not Kim K.

Fortunately this never happened to me because I am approximately three-feet taller than every single person alive and discuss my menstrual cycle in public. I am repellent. I have, however, listened eagerly while classmates describe other classmates' genitals in great detail (and then texted everyone I know about it, obv. And NO ONE has a big penis when a giggling girl's describing it).

SCHOOL DANCES

How drunk can you get beforehand in the parking lot sharing a bottle of Sprite and Vodka with six of your friends? How many Cheetos can you eat? How many asses can you slap to "Party Rock Anthem"? How indiscreetly can you finger a girl in a room of 150 people? How depressed will you be two years later when someone tags the photos on Facebook and then they are there forever and ever and ever and you realize that you can't make up a character for yourself at college like your parents did? School dances exist to provide answers to these questions. Make sure yours are the right ones.

SCHOOL TRIPS

Figure out who you'll sit next to the day before, steal something from the gift shop, don't eat your sandwich on the bus or in a manner that will repulse people. Easy.

Also, I know a girl who let her boyfriend eat her out in the toilets at a gas station on the way back from a school trip to the zoo. Don't do that.

CATHOLIC SCHOOL

Better start thumbing your rosary with sheer, wanton gratitude, because if your Catholic school is anything like mine, you're in for some golden moments. I attended Catholic middle school, meaning the high point of my high school career was sex education, which consisted entirely of us watching a VHS of a fetus being aborted in the ninth grade. Thanks to this, I didn't find out what a urethra was until I was 16 (16!!!!), and I asked a sexual health nurse why I didn't have to change my tampon every time I pissed, because obviously girls piss out of their vaginas, duhhh! Excuse me, what? Another hole? Mortifying.

The only way you can deal with Catholic school is to GTFO. Honestly, it's so lame. Once you've sat through weekly mass for a couple of months, the prospect of attending a shitty school with metal detectors, or a boarding school filled with children called Dionysus Trump-Kennedy, becomes the stuff of wet dreams.

Fascinating and Fun Faith School Fact: I was confirmed by a priest who is now in jail on 23 counts of child molestation. Get some brochures for secular learning institutions NOW.

HOW TO COPE WITH BEING AWKWARD / THE SCHOOL SLUT / INDESCRIBABLY STUPID / OBSCENELY CLEVER / FAT

If you are too awkward/slutty/stupid/clever/fat, there are things you can do to amend this, but quite frankly, I wouldn't waste your time. Ninety-nine percent of the people you go to school with will disappear into the ether never to be seen again beyond an Facebook timeline of underwhelming Christmas parties and unplanned pregnancy. When you leave, you will only stay in contact with two people. True story. I know it sounds lame, but just put your headphones in and try to stay out of the way of anyone who could beat the shit out of you.

Oh, and try to remember that almost everyone you don't like will probably end up working with their moms selling stuff door-to-door. You will develop, out of necessity, a personality. Looks fade, especially when you're hot enough to get impregnated at 16. When you've got a great personality, the sky's the limit. Kinda. I mean, a shitty middle-class job is the limit. But you'll be able to stay up as late as you want!

BULLYING

Bullying is basically the same thing as sleeping with prostitutes: Fun, but really, really bad for everyone involved. You're basically ruining someone's life and unleashing the potential for complete, ironic karmic comeuppance upon yourself. In fact, there is a very real possibility that your victim will use the memory of you pointing out their weight/poverty/race/virginity/dead mom as fuel on their path to becoming an unholy success, and return to your life to crush you financially as retribution. Also possible: You will have helped a self-harming alcoholic along their path to an early death. Well done, you fucking butthole.

CYBER BULLYING

Ooooooh. Ouch. This one's horrible. Cyber bullying is the absolute complete and utter worst, because unlike normal bullying, the scratched-knees and eating-lunch-in-the-toilet type of bullying, it will follow you home, squirrelled away in your phone, and travel with you everywhere. It is also where parents' and teachers' advice excels in terms of uselessness. They basically grew up in a simpler world, and no one ever bullied anyone by fax. It's very, very, very easy for them to tell you not to use "social networking sites," but frankly, you're 16, most of your life takes place on one.

HOMEWORK

All homework is to be done in the first ten minutes of the class immediately following the one in which you were assigned it. Or just copy it, the teachers don't read it and you have better things to be doing outside of school, thanks.

PROM

My thoughts as I traveled to prom went something like this: "Why am I the third person in a two-seater? Why is this jumpsuit threatening to dice my labia in its steel vice? Why did I pay $150 to spend the evening eating mashed potatoes with people I hate? Why am I so sweaty?" Basically, prom is BALLS and you are going to pay the price in sweat, blood, fake tan, and acres of Taffeta. Unless, of course, you're a boy, in which case you just have to rent a suit and douse your ballsack in Brut.

It's not some "last hurrah" to celebrate your school days, it's a competition to see whose parents can spend the most money with the least taste. And every single one of you who chips in for the limo, dances to Flo Rida, buys the corsage, stands there, fixing your parents with a starry-eyed, slightly Oedipal stare for the camera, condones it. So just don't.

MOBILE PHONES

It works like this: boys who use BlackBerries probably also wear those offensively beige chinos and sexually harass 13-year-olds via BBM. Girls who use BlackBerries use them solely for tweeting unpleasant things about their friends and taking pictures, but NEVER EVER for phone calls. I don't know why.

Meanwhile, pretty much everyone with an iPhone only uses them for taking grachewitous (geddit, "chew") pictures of their lunch on Instagram, or their Supreme snapbacks, which incidentally, still look ridiculous in sepia. If you don't fall into any of the aforementioned camps, then well done! You have better things to do than stick rhinestones onto electronic devices, or send pictures of your cock to people. You can rest easy in the knowledge that no one will steal your phone during PE and that you are exempt from conversations about 3G access and "going over my minutes."

FIGHTS

School is in some respects like every TV drama depiction of prison. Well, only really in one respect, which is that if you win a fight on your first day people will probably leave you alone. That is unless it's a school full of dicks, in which case it might just set you up for a few years of getting hit in the face. Another thing to bear in mind is that it's far easier than you think to kill someone. Think about that when you're stamping on someone's head or hitting them in the face with a protractor, because society has no sense of humor when it comes to dead kids and you could end up in prison; and it's a lot harder to get out of prison than PE.

DRUGS

It's happened. Someone has sauntered into class with an awful, enigmatic, self-satisfied smile on their lips. They are probably pretty attractive, with exciting older siblings. To a whispering and excitable audience, they divulge that they got "pretty fucking blazed" over the weekend, and you immediately start to hate them a little bit. This is how your class at school gets interested in druuuugs. Cheap, low-quality weed, pilfered from an elder sibling. What an anti-climax.

The first thing you need to know is that half of your class is bullshitting: no 15-year-old smokes an eighth to themselves and "just jammed to some Phish, man," so tell them to drop the hippy bullshit, because you know they were really white-faced and puking in a sink. Secondly, there's no pressure to "do drugs." Really! You may have an amazing night, but you might have a breakdown because your brain is full of weird chemicals already.

It's probably wise to try out your illegal substances with a wise older cousin to see if it's really for you. Otherwise you'll end up buying some horrible pills from a sociopath at a festival, then chewing your gums to slithers and disappearing into a black psychological hole in a field full of people who neither know or care for you.

Booze though, that's fine and dandy. But you ARE going to puke. In public. And your parents WILL know. But it will be funny for about a month afterwards.

OTHER SCHOOLS

Just because another school happens to be located half a mile away from you, it doesn't mean that they're your sworn enemies and you have to Spaghetti Western each other when you see them walking down the sidewalk. Those kids are just like you, really. You are one and the same. Besides, who wants to get hurt over the honor of their school? There's not enough choice involved to make it worth the beef. Unless you go to one of those ghetto schools that backs onto a private school's vast badminton field. In which case, go nuts! Pick through the pile of debris and hurl all the bricks you like.

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