Yearbooks are going out soon (probably?… maybe. Are there gonna be yearbooks?) Regardless, this seems like an ideal time to offer a few tips for the great challenge that is the yearbook comment, based on my own high school yearbooks. Going through them, I've been delighted and confused by some of the comments, but mostly confused. High school students are bad at recognizing the enormity of a lifetime and the relative insignificance of a year of school. As a result, when your friends look back on your comments in their high school yearbooks, there is a good chance they will read your writing like a rock discusses philosophy: without any evidence of understanding. But if you want to write in someone else's yearbook, and you want this signature (and your memory) to be rubbish in a few years time, this is how you go about it.
If you want to leave a bad yearbook comment, the first thing you need to do is start working on an elaborate signature. Something with lots of cursive flair. Make loops that cross over other letters, dot your "i"s with massive circles, cross your "T"s across the page, and generally make sure that nobody could possibly read your name without a map. This will ensure that years later, the lovely comment you leave will be entirely unappreciated, because nobody will be able to decipher who left it.
There is literally a signature in my sophomore yearbook that looks like a butterfly with a mohawk and an elephant's trunk.
Reference only inside jokes. Inside jokes are great between you and your friends today, but when a few years go by - or even a couple decades - there is a 98 percent chance these will mean almost nothing. Then you will be the kid who summed up an entire academic career with "Dolphin; Do I have to say more? - Matt M." YES Matt, you need to say more! I have no idea what in the world you are talking about. I cherished our friendship too. Have a great life.
Be fake clever. I can only hope that you know the difference between fake-clever and real-clever. I can't teach it to you. What I can say is that Laura doesn't know the difference: "Wes, I hate when people only say 'Have a Great Summer,' so I said more than that. <3 Laura." You are a riot Laura.
Write in a weird colored ink across text that is printed in the yearbook. Reading off-color pen written on top of printed text is a treat.
Wait, no. This is just the worst and you are the worst for doing it.
Take the yearbook of someone you don't know and, in large, bold letters, write something like "JEAN-PAUL PRADO IS COOL!!!" If you are doing this, you are not cool. I'm sorry you weren't cool. Quit ruining my yearbook.
Write "Have a great summer." Ok, so Laura was right, this sucks. Especially when it is someone who is a great friend. If you want to leave a bad yearbook comment, show your friends that they aren't worth your time by writing "have a great summer." Do not mention what you enjoyed about them or why you valued them. I'm Talking to you, Michael Achstein! (Miss you bud)
Anything that is especially short. Rachel, it's lame that you only had "<3 Ya" to say. And mysterious, unsigned person that just wrote "HI!" in shiny purple pen, you too.
Sign multiple pages with the same garbage. SERIOUSLY JEAN-PAUL PRADO, you are not cool.
Forget to finish your comment. Someone wrote "It was fun having" and just kind of left it there. Nice.
Be vulgar. You are going to be tempted to curse, and if you want to leave a bad comment, commit to it. Make comments with lots of profanity and references to sex acts. You are an inconsiderate person, so it shouldn't bother you when your friends show off their yearbook to their parents, or their grandparents, or - maybe years from now - their kids. Nope, you have the foresight of a nat and the perspective taking ability of a senile cat, and you really don't care about these people anyway. This should be a no-brainer for you.
Yes, I seriously have a bunch of them in my yearbooks. Some written quite large. I can't even suggest what they say here without being disgusting.
Leave your phone number for someone you don't really know. This is weird. If you're going for that "maybe if I make them really uncomfortable, they will want to hang out" vibe, this is it.
Don't use your full name. Write just "Jason" and hope that in 20 years they know who that is. Make it a chore to look through the yearbook to find a person with the same name and think: could it be them?
So those are some of the ways I would suggest leaving bad yearbook comments. If you want to avoid leaving a bad comment, try doing the opposite of these. Leave thoughtful comments. Say something that will make someone smile twenty years from now. Use your full name (or at least leave a last initial).
Now get out there, and prepare for the hand-cramps to come!
(Originally Published May 27, 2016)