Jessie Spano is so Excited
In the original script
for that infamous episode of Saved by the Bell
it was not caffeine pills
on which poor overachieving Jessie Spano
got herself hooked.
It was actually speed.
Teeth gnashing, mind whirling, heart pounding, jaw aching
immersed in darkness
and abandoned by hope,
the Bayside High Valedictorian was very nearly felled
by a street drug worth $50 a gram
on Saturday morning family television.
It was actually censored.
But let us recall why our beloved heroine
first turned to stimulants for their artificial fuel.
It was not to chase a dragon, and it was not to seek a high;
it was not to impress a boy clad in leather
for whom nothing is ever enough.
It was instead the pursuit of a shining 4.0
and those colleges which pave the way to upper middle-class.
It was actually geometry.
Shapes flashing, numbers reeling, expectations mounting, anxiety spiraling
and axioms dancing out of reach,
Jessie Spano wanted only Stanford
as she swallowed the pills
and hoped for the serenity of being good enough.
It was actually pressure.
So as we watch her break down
to the dulcet tones of the Pointer Sisters,
hopped up on caffeine
and tripping over her privilege,
I can’t help but think
about the eerily-prescient scriptwriter on Saved by the Bell
who was penning my teenage years as well.
Shannon Frost Greenstein (she/her) resides in Philadelphia with her children and soulmate. She is a former Ph.D. candidate in Continental Philosophy and a multi-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Pithead Chapel, Bending Genres, and elsewhere. Her passions include Mount Everest, Hamilton, Friedrich Nietzsche, ballet, and literally all cats.