Friday, February 20, 2009

Writing sample: "Musing on Adolescence, with a note on the Flab Ambush"

Written in 2006. Cross-posted from LiveJournal.

I am part of an awkward sub-generation, between X and Y (the Why Not Gen?). We’re technically Y (I think...?), but are on the oldest edge of it (early '80s pride in the hizzle, mofo!).

My GenX friends are all marrying and spawning, which is damn disconcerting as I can barely keep a houseplant alive. My friends of my age are still drifting in and out of crap jobs and crap apartments and careers and relationships, while our older gaming buddies are dealing with breastfeeding and babysitters and building blocks. But we still relate to them better than to our co-generation-Y-ers, most of whom are not out of college yet – that's if they’re even done with high school. Our childhoods were not all that different, but sometimes it feels as though there is an abyss separating us from our parents, from the breeders, and from the emo indie iGen kids.

Net brats. They spend every free moment updating their blogs or whatever because, hell, they’re fifteen. They have decent connections to the Inter-tubes and too much free time and not enough grammatical aptitude and nothing to do but troll LJ communities and haunt forums and post angsty profile pics on their MySpace or hi5 pages. I can only thank my lucky stars that there is no permanent record of my own adolescent idiocy floating about on the net. I have a few diaries and whatnot, that’s all -- and they're safely locked away, thank you very much, far from blackmailability.

As a teen you have no car, no mentally stimulating job (and it seems that fewer and fewer overprivileged white kids are even being required to work summers at all), no way to get to and from your friends’ places without parental support or the dubious aid of an inadequate public transport system (if there even is one in your area -- welcome to America), you can’t drink, you’re screwed if you’re caught smoking or smoking up... what the hell else do they have to do except connect to each other over the internet?

You want to complain that your kids and their friends don’t leave the house? That they spend all their time online? How does this possibly surprise you? Do you remember being fifteen? ...How well? You want it to change? Don’t just over-schedule their time with bizarre community center pottery classes or intramural field hockey. Extra-currics are great, sure, but no-one likes that nonsense shoved down his throat. Give them a little leeway. Give them a little trust. If you're buying their love, then give them a moped and some independence, instead of a PSP.

Or at least cough up for a decent cable modem. You know, whatever works. Could be worse; this way their minds are getting stimulated even as their adolescent asses begin to stealthily store fat cells that won’t truly emerge until those bedamned growth spurts are done with and they can start growing out as well as up.

Isn’t that just about the most shocking thing, when it happens? When your body completely betrays you and you just start piling on the flab? Here you are, dealing with your teens and all the godawful crap they come bundled with – desperate depression and angst, an oily face and greasy hair, bouts of childishness and tantrums, cracking voices and aching limbs and cramps and dandruff and pimples, the PSATs and SATs and APs, massively stupid hormone-driven life choices like making out with that person in the back of their mom’s nasty old sedan, cliques, gossip and high school politics, gaining permanent stretch marks when something grows all at once, your first kiss and drink and joint and spiritual revelation – and just as things start to chill out, here comes the parade of lipidous cells, all piling over that teenage six-pack and throwing a kegger in your lower belly and inviting all their friends. Blech. No wonder we all go through an eight-year-long snit during that time.

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