May 042004
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

Final essays are approaching. Evil older brothers to final

exams, the essays eat up precious out-of-school time, count for

loads more than they should and all cluster together like a hive of

killer bees. You don’t want to go in there half armed – they’ll

sting you to death and lay their eggs in your hair, which when put

through the metaphor filter, translates into “they’ll give you

paper cuts and make you flunk so you have to retake the class.”

First, read the description of the assignment thoroughly. Look

for parts that are emphasized or were mentioned specifically in

class. These could be points that would be good to play up in the

essay, as the teacher obviously feels they are important. Next,

toss all that garbage and do some free association writing, which

is basically just hitting whatever keys look the most adorable.

Next, run spell check, which will turn even your most nonsensical

constructions into English words.

This will be your introduction paragraph. In a lesser essay,

this paragraph would be like a teaser that would describe the

contents. That’s for the norms and conformists. Here instead, the

point of this introductory paragraph is to make the rest of the

essay sparkle in comparison. Teachers love it when you show


Next, explain your topic as briefly as possible. It’s probably

boring, so the less time spent on it the better. No matter the size

of the essay, the time spent explaining your subject doesn’t need

to be larger than a sentence or two. This is called the “theist

statesmen” interchangeably called the “thesis statement” and since

this little guy says everything your essay would otherwise, it’s

the only part of the essay you really need.

How to fill the rest of the essay, then? Most teachers are paid

a healthy sum by various companies to ensure that no backpack

survives the crushing weight of final papers, so there’s probably

at least sixty pages left. Old-fashioned techniques would expound

upon the thesis and introduction. This is clearly a waste of time.

Teachers are like anyone else – they crave entertainment.

Teachers like quotes. You’ve probably heard all kinds of rules

for proper citations – they mention this for a reason. They want

loads of quotes from famous people, and the more obscure or ironic,

the better. If you can find a quote from a young Hitler saying he

loved bagels that would be gold. Look for Da Vinci saying art was

only for women. Slather your paper generously with these tidbits,

and your teacher will give many a dry, aristocratic guffaw.

If you run out of quotes but still haven’t run out of space,

don’t panic – summarize. If you had done one of those boring

traditional essays, a summary would be a refocusing for your paper.

But for this paper, the summary should just be a quick list of all

the great quotes you’ve found so far. “Hitler – Bagels. Da Vinci –

Women. Frogger – Trucks.” Then summarize this summary even further,

“Hitler Frogger Trucks.” Continue to summarize infinitely, until

your paper collapses on itself like a dying star.

I hope you saved room for dessert – the conclusion. This is the

best part of the paper, not only because it means you are done and

can return to whatever debauchery interests you most, but also

because this is like the mint on the pillow of the paper. Here, you

will want to refer to whatever the theist statesmen was going on

about, and ingeniously tie it in with the aforementioned string of


For example, if your topic was about appropriate writing

techniques, mention that teachers would love the styles mentioned

in your guide as much as Frogger on a bagel loved Hitler in a


Johnathan is a sophomore studying English. This fall he will be

moving from the opinion page to the Dish on Thursdays.

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