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The Gaucho Gazette

Highlighter Invasion

Patrick Mantoani

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Let’s think back to a time long, long ago. This was a simpler time, before we grew old, before we matured, before we knew the ills of the world. Before all this was junior high school. Whether it be Petaluma, Kenilworth, or some lesser known teenage sanctuary of immaturity, one unforgettable feature will stay in our minds forever: the Male Highlighter. First a flash of neon in the cold morning, then a glimpse of long cut athletic shorts branded with the Nike swoosh or the Target logo, and finally his whole being illuminates the foggy sky shrouding your vision. The Male Highlighter was not a rare sight in that time long ago; perhaps you were even one of them. Were, of course. Because despite the Male Highlighters’ dominating and overwhelming presence in junior high life, the species has evolved. To get a better understanding of the evolution of such a constant and prevalent phenomenon, one must understand the psychology behind such an individual, as explained by an evolved individual himself.

   The first question one may ask is simple: Why does the species never cease? Why are there highlighters in the first place? It is a simple question, yet the phenomenon is one the most revered scientists have yet to solve. To me, however, there are multiple plausible answers. I grew up short and pesky, a small boy with a high voice and small stature. I know for a fact I was not alone in my height-deprived state. The simple biological fact was that girls grew before boys. No matter how our egos agonized, the girls of junior high could flaunt their height. So, like an insect confronted by a predator, we boys turned to flamboyance. We dressed in neon and stayed in flocks as if to have our color shout, “YES, WE ARE BIG, TOO.” While it was rare to see a tall boy in neon or athletic gear, those below five foot four inches cloaked themselves in vibrant color. We formed cliques, groups of like-minded, very small individuals. We were safe.

  Then came freshman year. Like a hurricane, it swept away our notion of safety, and exposed us to the frightening truth. We were taller now…ish. And one thing mattered now more than the cliques we had formed, and the clothes that had kept us safe for so long: girls. As we rolled into campus our pompous demeanors were disrupted by the occasional scoff, a snicker, or a shake of the head. Suddenly a common fear was restored to the teenage boy once more. The neon we had trusted and plotted with for power for so long… was working against us. And so, like every species confronted by death, staring oblivion and extinction in the face, we evolved.

   As I look down at my present day outfits, I see jeans and silky shorts, I see white and blue polos, and I don’t feel the pull towards the highlighter that I once did. The Evolution of the Male Highlighter is in fact quite simple. Like any species intent on survival, in the early years we group together, hardly distinguishable; we just want to live to see another day. But as time progresses, high school life asks of us something different to succeed: individuality. To impress a girl, to seem powerful, to seem smart, clothing is all of that. So, when walking by a boy in nice clothing, let a smile fall upon your face. For we have survived, and we are thriving.

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Highlighter Invasion