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Slightly Angsty Spirit That Abides in the Choir Room (C-11) (2005)

     by Jessica

          from Phantom Phantasies, 2007


This story is mind-meltingly bad. Unfortunately, that tends to happen with parody more often than any other outcome. It’s just a genre that is super, super hard to do well. Add to that the fact that it was obviously written for personal purposes by a child, and it’s bewildering that anyone thought it should be distributed outside of


I could try to dissect it straight-up, the way I usually do, but I really don't want to make that journey again, nor do I want to spend a lot of time being savage to a kid’s writing. From the very first sentence ("Christine and Erik professed their love, unaware that someone was watching, and that they would soon be interrupted by someone") with its poor grammar and basic mistake (they mean Raoul, not Erik), it's obviously not going to be one of art’s great memories.


Instead, I will sum up the "plot" for you in moderate detail.  I will not do it without line breaks because you do not need to suffer the same experience I just did.


Part 1: Fun on the Roof Top


Raoul and Christine profess their love for one another on the roof while two unnamed speakers argue over whether or not being the Phantom is the best job ever. Speaker A points out that basement-dwelling and long hours suck. Speaker B believes that scaring people and stealing money are rad.


Christine is confused by the voices and Raoul stares at her blankly. Speaker B decides to become the Phantom, and then, concerned about copyright infringement, opts to become the Slightly-Angsty Spirit that Abides in the Choir Room (C-11). Both speakers walk onto the balcony to join Christine, Raoul, and the lurking Phantom, revealing themselves to be a pair of modern-day thirteen-year-old girls who are arguing about their fanfictions.


Raoul attempts to assert control over the situation and they laugh at him, confusing his brain. Christine has a near heart attack and the Phantom wanders out amongst everyone so the girls can start coveting his lasso and taunting him into removing his mask. The girls begin referring to themselves as convoluted acronyms (GTPHIIBTPOPO, or Girl That Had Professed Her Interest in Becoming the Phantom of the Opera, and GRATBQOE, or Girl referred to as the Bloody Queen of England).


Both girls sing "Put the Lime in the Coconut" and vanish. Christine decides to move to a foreign country to be a womens' rights activist, which I think we can all at least get behind.


Part 2: Don Juan, erm, Annoyed


The two girls have returned and are watching the performance of Don Juan Triumphant in a box. They discuss how difficult it is to pronounce "Pigani"'s name and how The Phantom Tollbooth and The Phantom of the Opera are not related in any way (true). They decide to replace their overlong acronym names with short ones (SO and IO, the Sane One and the Insane One) when one of them nearly gives the other's real name away (it starts with a J. The mystery). One of them dons a cloak and starts projecting her voice throughout the opera house, claiming she has a gun to Christine's head and will shoot her unless Raoul and the Phantom shake and become friends. The author gets tired of typing "The Phantom" and informs us she will refer to Erik from now on, even though this is based only on the 2004 film. Everyone talks about how Christine is crazy and then Raoul and the Phantom shake. The girl reveals that she had been lying about having a gun and then the theme from the Lloyd Webber musical is played by Oompa Loompas. The girls disappear. There is a Star Wars joke. Christine wonders how she got back here from the foreign country. It is the end.


I did not make up a single thing about that. Not one. In fact, I left several things out, such as Raoul's silken undies and the reference to werewolves.


Everything about this is bad, from the bizarre half-characterized and frankly racist/homophobic/ableist/transphobic caricatures (Raoul is frequently referred to as a girlish fop, while Christine is said to be moving to Halfbrainistan) to the grammatical failures to the 13-year-old-author-self-insert-fourth-wall-breaking. It is bad in every possible dimension of bad.


This is obviously a story written for fun by a teenager who was just having a good time acting out her fantasies, and there’s nothing wrong with that! It's very much like what a lot of us probably would have written at that age. I’m just curious about how on earth it got into a published collection that people are supposed to pay money for. Who was in charge here? Who decided this should be one of the four stories in this collection?


(I’d like to note that about a decade after this story was written, the author contacted me and asked to have her last name removed from the review, as it was showing up in searches connected to job applications and so on. No one should have their name forever associated with fluff they wrote to entertain themselves at age thirteen, so her name has been redacted!)

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