Making a Myth

I’ve completed the screenwriting Masterclass by Aaron Sorkin, and I’m now taking David Mamet’s Masterclass on dramatic writing.  I’ll post later about my experiences with the Masterclass lessons and website; for now, I’ll be posting some of the assignments I have to complete for this process.

The first one from the Mamet class is coming up with a myth or legend; the parameters of this assignment were simple:  it doesn’t have to be true, but it has to be believable enough to be engaging and keep a reader’s interest, and it has to include information that isn’t really possible to confirm or deny.  So, here’s what I submitted:

            Anyone who’s ever gone to my high school knows about Alan Park. The guy’s a legend. I graduated from Garvino High School thirty years ago, and now I work there, and even today’s students know about him. Today, just like years ago, you can hear students refer to him when someone does something awesome” “Dude, that’s a total Alan Park move!”

            Alan Park attended Garvino High in the fifties. Or the nineties. Or the sixties or seventies – no one’s really sure anymore. He was already a legend when I attended in the eighties, and today’s students swear he graduated only a couple of years ago. He was that kid who got away with everything: pranks, ditching, epic parties, massive scholarships…the stories are endless.

            In 1981, seventeen teachers got their houses toilet-papered in a single evening. That was Alan Park.

            Seven years later, Alan took three different girls to Prom – and none of them ever knew about the other two. Three dates, three limos, three after parties. Alan Park was a genius.

            Alan never showed up to his 12th grade AP Calculus class, but he got an A in the class and a 5 on the AP test.

            Some guys in the Class of 1993 claim that Alan Park hacked into the school’s (then brand new) computer system and changed their Physics grades. For free.

            Back in the day, Alan was always known for wearing his his Walkman headphones (much more conspicuous than today’s iPod earbuds) all the time. Never took them off. Teachers supposedly didn’t blink when he wore them during tests, and they had no idea he was playing tapes with the answers on them.

            Two teachers in 1992 nominated Alan Park for Student of the Year.

            The 1976 senior class prank – swapping the teachers license plates with those of local police patrol cars – was credited to Alan Park.

            Reportedly, Alan arrived at the Class of 1969’s 20 year reunion with a full Secret Service protection detail.

            Alan Park supposedly wrote the script for the 1985 school play. Today, stories are told about his performance in it as the King of the Ancient Greek Underworld. (I was IN that play, and I don’t remember the guy who played the King; maybe it WAS Alan Park.)

            People keep telling these stories year after year. One story about Alan Park that will not die: as a sophomore, he went into the crawlspace above the chemistry lab, wired a tape player into the PA system, and played crap disco music throughout the school. Security and Administration couldn’t figure out where the music was coming from, running around like idiots trying to catch him. Three hours later, the music stopped – they never found him or his equipment, but everyone knew it was Alan Park. (Depending on who you hear the story from, this happened in 1978, 1982, or 2004.)

            Six teachers in 2009 say he was the best student they ever had.

            One teacher in 1972 told his student that she was the only staff member to have Alan Park arrested.

            Alan Park reportedly got his only failing grade – in U.S. History – in 1959.

            Here’s what I know for certain about Alan Park: nothing. I’ve been hearing stories about the guy for over 30 years, and I know absolutely nothing about him. If ALL the stories are to be believed, Alan Park is over 200 years old, attended Garvino High for over sixty of those years, got all As, never went to a single class, and left a legacy of mayhem and practical jokes that caused permanent damage and left zero evidence. Alan Park is Asian, Latino, African-American, and/or Eskimo; he’s tall, he’s short, and/or athletic; he’s alive, he’s dead, he graduated long ago, and he’s still enrolled at Garvino High.

            Actually, there IS one thing about him about which I am 100% certain: Alan Park is who every high school student secretly aspires to be.

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