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August 14, 2007

Nation’s Young Await Return to Caste System of Backpack Coolness

A Codependent Collegian Special Report

By Billy Pilgrim, Codependent Collegian Rogue Editor

Once, it seemed, America’s youth could rest easy when July’s stuffy, languid afternoons waned and August came, with its shorter days and cool, open-window nights anticipating autumn. After all, the fall semester didn’t begin until after Labor Day, and there was always plenty of time to prepare one’s terms of surrender to the assorted confines of yet another school year.

Choosing the Right Pack: Popularity’s Vicious Game of Russian Roulette

But now that thousands of school districts across the country have inched their curriculums into the last week of August, many students are left scrambling to get the best clothes and supplies; and none is more precious than the backpack, which has become the hallowed barometer of student coolness on that ever-important first day of school.

“When I was in elementary school, I had all of August to whine and bug my parents for new school stuff,” explained Timothy Barthe, an eighth grader in downtown Seattle. “But our first day this year is the 23rd. Can you believe that? It’s a goddamn Thursday. That means I have less than two weeks to get myself a new Jansport or Nike, or this is gonna be another long year of kissing locker metal, I can tell you that.”

Other students reiterated Barthe’s anxiety over the impending school year and the heightened peer pressure for name-brand backpacks.

“Two years ago, Margie Pandernock graduated from middle school as the poor chubby girl that everyone threw chunks of meatloaf at during lunch,” sermonized Vicky Sandoval, a sophomore in Lewes, Delaware. “But that summer, she lost like, twenty pounds and when we all came back to start high school, she had a $90 Puma bookbag that you can only get through mail order. Now she’s co-captain of the cheerleading squad and was ranked seventh on Wyatt Cooper’s famous list of Lewes High Hotties. Coincidence? Um, I think not.”

So as the liberty of another summer draws to its fateful close, students across America are left to whimsically reminisce about their backyard adventures, and at the same time, suffer the impending malaise of schoolyard conformity.

“Dude, I’m gonna be a senior this year, and I’ve had the same stupid monogrammed L.L. Bean backpack since I was twelve,” huffed Jon Grummer, a native of Austin, Texas. “These next ten months are my time to shine, but I don’t even know where to begin: do I get one of those elaborate hiker jobs with all the extra straps? Or should I go urban, and get one of those messenger bags? Man, after this nightmare, applying to college will be easier than feeling up Rachel Wilson. And let me tell you from experience—that chick stuffs.”

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