High School Graffiti Tradition

The following is an account of a high school tradition: “At my high school in Arlington, Virginia, the boys’ bathroom has graffiti in the cracks where there is…it has something to do with grout. They write something that has to do with grout or rhymes with grout on the walls. I haven’t seen it, but everyone knows about it, and a friend told me there is one writing that says ‘Grout Gatsby.’ I’m not sure how it started. Every bathroom has writing, I mean, usually on doors in stalls, but it’s interesting that it’s allowed at the school – the janitors don’t get rid of it. So I think it’s about keeping the tradition and leaving your mark at the school, leaving a piece of your identity to signify that you were there.”

This is an example of the prolonged liminal space which high school occupies in one’s life. It is a time of transition from childhood to, four years later, adulthood. As such, there is a felt need to create identity and also leave part of that identity behind, to ensure that one’s mark is left. This is illustrated with the above example, showing also the remaining tidbits of antithetical, anti-authoritarian behavior demonstrated by children via the very act of writing on the wall and the ways in which the writing is utilized (to mock one of the standard novels of high school literature.)  In this way, the gap of authority and student is tactically lessened by the students.