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Column: Superlatives Bring Wrong Perspective

Heights Senior Staff

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

“You’re beautiful.” I have heard this phrase countless times: on sitcoms and rom-coms, at dining halls and at parties. Guys are always eager to break out the “b” word when smooth-talking a girl. I, though, have higher standards for this simple word. In fact, I have never directly called a girl beautiful before.

    My rationale can aptly be summarized by the Simon Cowell corollary. Anyone who watched American Idol, back when it was relevant, must remember the contrasting judging styles of Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell. Paula would shower every contestant with praise, regardless of how well they performed. Simon, on the other hand, reserved praise for only the best contestants, while everyone else was pummeled with snarky criticism. Accordingly, Paula’s praise was analogous to a participation medal, while Simon’s was a treasured asset.

    In today’s society, superlatives are a hyper-inflated and worthless currency. Obama is the worst president ever. LeBron James is the best basketball player of all time. Even Boston College students take part in the hyper-inflation, labeling Spaz the worst football coach in BC history. I loathe these overused superlatives. For me, beautiful is the ultimate descriptive superlative that transcends mere physical attractiveness. If and when I call a girl beautiful, I will truly mean it. Likewise, when reflecting on my first semester of senior year, I have a similar aversion to superlatives.

    From the start, first semester has an inherent disadvantage over second semester. Second semester is roughly 20 days longer and contains the prized Spring Break. While the month after Thanksgiving break is a depressing purgatory of schoolwork, April contains Marathon Monday and an impressive amount of procrastination-fueled partying. From a theoretical standpoint, my “best semester ever” would likely take place in the spring, not the fall.

    As I reflect on my current semester at BC, no obvious superlatives emerge. I took a variety of fascinating classes with excellent professors. My Capstone course in particular stood out, with its small class size facilitating candid conversations. Was it my best class ever? I’m not sure. One potential rival is eighth grade history, where I reenacted the Lincoln assassination in the starring role of John Wilkes Booth, complete with an unexpected fall from the top of a desk while shouting “Sic Semper Tyrannis!” As a Mod resident, I have helped host an assortment of parties. Were any of them the greatest, though? I doubt it. A performance by Otis Day and the Knights is a necessary prerequisite to any greatest party ever in my opinion (gold star to anyone who caught that movie reference). Finally, I have cultivated a superb group of friends over the course of my BC experience. I can discuss politics, attend a midnight movie premiere, or dominate a game of Mario Kart with any one of my friends. Are they the best friends ever? I don’t know. A two-month binge of Friends while abroad taught me that sometimes the best friendships are formed after college graduation.    
Rev. Michael Himes frequently says during class that the only time you can have a proper perspective on your life is five minutes after the dirt has been shoveled onto your grave. In a less macabre sense, this aphorism can apply to my BC experience. My viewpoint of high school has shifted since I first unpacked my clothes in Hardey Hall. I have drifted apart from some high school friends and grown closer to others. Parties back home paled in comparison to Mod gatherings. Accordingly, I’ll refrain from assessing my BC experience until I receive my diploma. Was this semester the greatest ever for me? Perhaps. Have I met my best friends while at BC? Possibly. Do I consider a girl at BC truly beautiful? I’ll never tell.

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