By Karen Petree

We will never escape high school.  Good citizen that I am, I try to follow the presidential candidates, but watching the debates last week I realized there is no difference between the political stage and the halls of your local high school.

Hillary, of course, is the popular girl.  The Alpha.  The Mean Girl, depending on your perspective.  You either love her or hate her, there is no in between.  You want her to notice you, but you secretly hope she doesn’t because you are terrified.  Your parents told you not to hang out with her, but she does what she wants and still makes straight A’s.  She’s smarter than all of the teachers and knows it.  They know, too.  Even if you pretend to hate her, you secretly want to be like her.  You tried to tell on her for smoking in the bathrooms one time, but somehow it was you who ended up in detention.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz plays the high school girl whose parents think she’s wonderful and who old church ladies refer to as a “nice young lady, a good Christian girl.” But her peers know her as the reason that one kid cuts.

Fiorina is the solitary girl who plots the demise of the popular kids, especially Hillary, the object of her obsession since third grade when Hillz was voted class president. The teacher appointed Fiorina class secretary because everybody’s a winner in third grade.  She sits seething in the back row and only speaks in class to insult the gender choices or intellectual acumen of her peers.  Hunched over her desk, she scribbles furiously and furtively in a Moleskine notebook.

Rubio plays the role of the freshman debate champ who awkwardly stands up to authority. His babyface belies the cartoon manliness of his well-developed jaw, a feature he’s had since infancy. (He’ll grow into it senior year of college.)  “The student body deserves a nice dance in the gymnasium, sir! And we’ll hold a fundraiser to hire One Direction to perform!” He also won the spelling bee and demanded a letter jacket for that accomplishment.

Jeb is that gawky kid trying to figure out how to get out from under his popular big brother’s shadow. When asked the value of x, class clown George would grin like a smart ass and point to the board: “There it is.”  Jeb actually knows the value of x, but when the teacher calls him by the correct name, he forgets it.  He took a martial arts class once that allows him to summon a confidence he hopes actually exists when the bullies start to taunt him.

Speaking of bullies, Christie is the guy who used to body check his way down the halls giving wedgies to freshmen and calling smaller boys “homo,” but he’s been going to a youth group and has found Jesus. He is trying to be different, guys. Give him the space to be a better Chris.

In a desk wedged into the back corner is Carson, the stoner who slept through class all year.  He wakes up and to everyone’s astonishment, utters a bunch of words that speciously sound like they mean something related to PoliSci 101, but then you realize he is a paranoid sociopath and the drugs addled his brain. Best to let him slumber.

In an otherwise empty classroom, Rand Paul is that hip young teacher who sits on the desk and has a heart to heart with a troubled kid using terms the school board definitely wouldn’t approve of. He’s practiced this speech since the day he decided to become a teacher. He might just change a life, you guys, but you’ll never see his name on the marquee.

No one dislikes that guy more than Bernie, the tenured teacher who taught your grandpa in this very same classroom.  He doesn’t like you because your grandpa supported the Vietnam war, but nevertheless, you like him because he’s really cool for an old guy.  The school board hopes he retires soon, but he’ll outlive us all.

“Hey, ask that guy to pass us the dictionary.”  “What’s his name?” “John, I think?”  His name is Martin O’Malley.

And of course, Donald is the reason nobody gets to go on field trips anymore.  He’s the kid that is never. ever. absent.  When his teachers were in college, their professors warned about kids like him.  There will be one, they said, who makes you hate your job, who never gets sick, who makes you wish you were still waiting tables at IHOP.  After failing repeatedly to get him sent to alternative school, his teachers are debating whether or not to pass him anyway, just to get him out for good.



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