Are You Sanguine?

The “sanguine” I imply is determined by the level of hope within the reader.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A few times per school year, the first floor becomes a bloodthirsty leech, ravenous for volunteers with a weakness for validation or acknowledgment from a greater power, even if said power’s identity remains vague forever. These pallid victims lie, arms akimbo like a martyr crucified as plastic pint bags fill with their warm crimson vigor. Ostensibly, this is for the sake of “saving a life,” but rumours have been suggesting otherwise.

“You’re telling me that financially irresponsible aristocrats are blowing their trust fund money on transfusions from what’s amassed at the Stuyvesant Blood Drives?” The idea of Mayor de Blasio spending more than $10,000 on blood that barely filled a Starbucks Grande cup was a conspiracy that was too far-fetched, even for my wildest Humor department article fantasies.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” my friend responded. “De Blasio, an aristocrat? He’s been embezzling and laundering money through Stuyvesant’s funding for as long as he has been involved in state government. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he wants to seize the intellectual blood that he also wishes to taint so badly.”

I decided to go undercover as a Red Cross volunteer on the day of the Blood Drive. You might think I did this for a noble cause like using journalism as a tool to point out corruption in society or for a more selfish reason like the free pizza from that expensive establishment at the ACE train station corner that’s baked with love and a pinch of crack-laced flour. But I did this for a motive that was even more pathetic: I was bored, and this drama was interesting. If I got a provocative article, volunteer hours, AND a free meal out of it, all the better.

Well, things definitely escalated by the time second period rolled around. I was in a nurse’s uniform in an ambulance going God knows where. I was worried about being surrounded by the stench of blood, but I realized that most of the student population must have an iron deficiency as it was odourless. I peeked out the ambulance window. Looked like Brooklyn to me. I realized that we were pulling up to—

“Mayor de Blasio’s house?!” NYPD squads were stationed in front of what looked like a two-story house, but I’ve experienced enough otherworldly happenings around the 11th floor pool to know that appearances are all too deceiving.

This was of no exception: a large-scale operation was occurring underground. Scientists prodded at pint bags and used pipettes and to look at pinprick-sized plops of plasma before scribbling their findings onto notepads. I frowned behind my medicine mask like a powerless Upton Sinclair, assessing the horrors of the unknown as I wheeled in a fresh batch straight outta The Pulse of The Student Body.

Suddenly de Blasio in the flesh appeared, opening the double doors situated in the center of the hubbub. His smile outstretched to the size of a Cheshire cat’s upon the sight of the blood.

“We’ll finally crack the genetic code of the best in the city, sell it to the pharmaceutical bosses, and never have to deal with any of this ever again.” His eyes sparkled and irises swirled in dreamy delusion.

Of course. Everything’s always an issue of economics and monetary gain. Like he ever really cared about “helping” non-Asian minorities or generally improving conditions in NYC schools. He was willing to even violate the delicate balance between medicine and ethics for serious stacks of green.

Yet apart from breakfast cart coffee, boba, and (maybe) benzos, there is nothing in our blood. The blood is not what constitutes us as the academically elite. This underground factory was an offense to my pride, invalidating the hours of cram school my predecessors and I attended, the sobbing over prep books and worksheets, the blood not circulating through me, but the blood (sweat, and tears) poured into these efforts.

So I did what any hero would’ve done in that moment: I slapped the mayor in the face.

No, I didn’t do that. I’m not a hero. And practically speaking, I wasn’t going to stick around and get into trouble with the NYPD. I hopped back on that ambulance because I needed a free ride to get back to Stuy in time for my Shakespearean Literature class and write my findings in a satirist guise.