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Nationally Meritless

          Recently, certain parties, whom I can't name because it's TOTALLY CONFIDENTIAL, were selected as National Merit Scholarship Competition semi-finalists. This means that they had high PSAT scores and not much else. Now, this would make sense if PSAT or SAT scores were really directly indicative of your academic achievement, level of extracurricular activities, motivation, conscientiousness, etc. As it is, there's plenty of students who qualify as semi-finalists, but to whom the National Merit people clearly do not want to give money. For example, a certain party I'll call "me," who goes to an alternative school that is above "grades" or "classes" or "papers" or "math". Let me tell you, my teacher and "I" had a hell of a time trying to fill in the little boxes for each quarter's classes and grades. For most guidance counselors, the paperwork is no-brainer city, but at "my" school questions like "Do you have block scheduling?" and "What is the highest level course offered in each of the following subjects?" can leave "you" quivering and wimpering in the corner.

          Another example of the perfect semi-finalist not to win the competition is my friend, whom I'll call Zenry. (His real name is Henry, but I need to maintain my facade of confidentiality here, since I don't know how legal this all is.) He got perfect PSAT scores, but his grades are another story; once I was at his house on the day report cards came out, and, upon seeing the grades, he left so quickly to avoid the wrath of his parents that he had no time to put down his chocolate milk cup, and carried it all the way to the sanctuary of my home. Henry is one of those super-cool guys who, while blindingly brilliantly smart, is above mere "grades" and "homework" and "applying himself" and "not having a learning disorder".

          The upshot of the whole thing is that Henry and I had to fill out all kinds of forms and do terrible things as punishment for being high-scoring students. Come February, we will learn that we have not won, and we will waggle our fingers at our teachers, saying, "See? I told you that was a waste of time."

          One of the things on the form is a question that asks "What awards/recognition have you recieved?" Henry and I dared each other to write "National Merit Semi-Finalist" there, and then, because we are dumb, we both did. Another section is The Personal Essay. They demand that you detail your accomplishments, goals, personal interests, and "what sets you apart", in five hundred words, in space no bigger than this box (illustratory hand gesture here), handwritten clearly or affixed with non-glare tape. (I swear, "non-glare tape". Their words, not mine.) Slacker that I am, I used the same essay I sent to all the colleges I applied to. (Topic of your choice, ch-ching!) But of course Henry, the knight in shining armor, the motivated student extraordinairre, wrote an entirely original piece specifically for the National Merit competition. That essay, which I SWEAH TO GAHD he used, is presented for you here. Enjoy.

Everyone likes money. This simple conclusion is easily reached with some good observation and a minimal amount of common sense. Any fool quickly learns the value of wealth in this world before the tender age of 12. It is left up to philosophers to debate the true reason of the human drive for monetary superiority, and while I do consider myself an experienced intellectual, I have never made any claim to the effect that I am a philosopher. I like to think practically, and I have heard many a tale of the optimistic college boy starving to death on his campus because he couldn't afford food. It has become a familiar experience to wake up in the dead of night, panting for air, sheets soaked in sweat, with images of emaciation fresh in my mind. For me, it is question of necessity, not philosophy. Money is, and will be, my only way to get food.
          Fortunately for me, my guidance counselor conceived a brilliant plan, and produced some documentation that was coincidentally in his possession at the time. Apparently I had become a semifinalist in the most prestigious and inherently good scholarship in the known universe. The pressure of those millions upon millions of sleepless nights was lifted that day, and there lies only one further obstacle ahead of me in the obstacle course that requires successful completion in order to provide the true elimination of said pressure. That obstacle is, of course, this essay.
          Basically, I am now expected to right 500 words extolling my accomplishments in order to prove to you, gentle reader, that I was made of the right stuff. I was asked, very politely, by the aplication, to explain what sets me apart. Honestly, everything about me sets me apart. Springing to mind come the qualities of ungodly genius, unbridled drive for perfection, and unparalleled potential for success. The one thing about me, however, that really sets me apart, is painfully obvious within an instant of meeting me. In fact, I need merely place myself in a crowded room and I will receive a disproportional amount of attention because of this blessing from above. Even my closest friends are jealous of me, and I have been plagued by betrayal and deception since my conception.
          What sets me apart from the rest of the applicants, and what makes me far more deserving than any of them of a fantastic scholarship package, is, quite simply, my unprecedented good looks. Never in history has there been a more attractive individual than I. Some people cause heads to turn; I cause crowds to follow. Some people can stop traffic; I stop air traffic. I exude raw sex appeal. I stink of it. Scientists want to study my hormones, and producers of aphrodisiacs want to sell them. I am the ideal of beauty.
          Thus, my argument is perfected. It is clear that I am the most deserving candidate for any sort of award anywhere. I need money to buy food, and I am the most attractive person there is. It would be rather silly to give a scholarship to an unattractive oaf. Stastistics show that success is directly proportional to attractiveness. In fact, net worth is increased exponentially by sex appeal. I am the most reliable candidate, period. End of discussion. I'll make it worth your while. **wink**


- Laura