Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Young and the Electric

In my observations as a teenaged spy for the outside world, I've noticed many a strange thing. Teenagers, it seems, are in fact strange and foreign beings that live by their own social conventions and hierarchies. They are outsiders from the rest of society, which I suppose explains why hundreds of thousands of fights are fought between teen and adult daily. True, they're both players in the same game, but each one is playing by different rules. Clashes are simply expected.

In terms of everything else, though, teenagers are just like little adults only with little capacity for conversation.

Yet over the past few weeks, I've noticed something strange. Something I'm surprised has never occurred to me before, but now that it's here, it seems very, very real.

The rules of romance in the teenaged world are shifting. Love used to be a thrill; quick glances during Chemistry, notes passed in the lunch line. Sure, a date was as expected as a cell phone by the rest of the teen scene, but at the same time it was exciting, a wild chase from first period all the way to seventh. Romance was sharing a stolen rum & coke at a ska show. Love was painting pictures of each other on pieces of rotting wood and hanging them above your bed. Teenagers experienced love in its most basic, primitive form, and no adult can ever dispute that.

But now, love is something different.

Granted, teenaged romances haven't exactly had a long-standing history of longevity, but relationships seem to be getting shorter, faster, to the point. Love is not movie stars and rock songs anymore. Girls aren't the daydreamers, the picket-fencers, the lovers of upholstered upholstery and 2.5 kids. Love in the eyes of a sixteen year old girl used to be sparkling soda-pop showers and the ground opening up beneath their feet. Love was epic and new. It was top ten songs on the radio and kissing under the blacklight. Now, love is a temporary tattoo.

Love in the teenaged world is a boomerang of gossip and kissing both girls and boys in the school's willow tree. It's about always riding shotgun and never having both feet on the ground. Love is about lip-gloss stains on lapels and making out to the Plain White T's. And it will never be about caring for a person ever again.

Amidst this mess of algebra and infidelity emerges a new brand of teenagers unlike anything you've ever seen. Teens that will crash cars just to be the center of attention and break hearts under the stinging syringe of stiletto heels.

These are the new romantics. 

These teens believe solely in prom dates and arm-candy and follow the Carrie Bradshaw perspective of sex, lies, and a damn good story to tell. The new romantics believe in reconciling through others, a playground she-said-he-said for the high school era, and they will always date the undateable just to say that they climbed that mountain and stuck that tiny tropical umbrella into the top. The new romantics are children of excess. They're slam-dancers, they're flirters, they'll sing your praises one minute and as soon as they've finished they'll shank you in the neck. They are fierce, flawed, and fabulous. They are teenagers, god-dammit, and nothing can hold them back.

And this is what makes them great.

No other branch of American society could ever get away with such vulgarity, yet the new romantics can bat their eyelashes and not only get away with it but also get a free drink and a new Myspace friend. I truly believe that this is what makes such teenagers so misunderstood: they simplify things to the lowest common denominator. And adults don't like that. If a problem arises, the new romantics will look at you blankly and say "Well, we'll have to fix it." And they will. Grown ups like the complicated, the complex, the impossible. Even if they really can't handle it, at least it makes them feel like real, live adults instead of just twelve year olds struggling to walk in size nine shoes.

Adults forget to step back from their formica desks and button-up shirts and see the world for what it really is. They ignore what the new romantics shake like a martini tumbler every night. Adults forget about fun. Sure, if they wanted to have fun they could always go see a Jim Carrey movie or go drinking with co-workers at the local Chili's, but what about real fun? Limitless, worry-free fun? New romantic kind of fun?

Ladies and gentlemen of the work world, listen up, because you only get one shot at life and being irresponsible is the best part of this hundred years we get on Earth. Go out into the world, folks, not as parents and siblings and employees of the month, but as prom queens and high-rollers and class presidents and jocks. Go out as the kid voted Most Likely to Start a Revolution. Go out as surfers by day and poets by night. Go out into this great big world, ladies and gentlemen, taking a cue from your local Angela Hayes and Jeff Spicoli, and leave the house not as grown-ups or adults, but as new romantics.


Extra-Curricular: Tilly and the Wall - Nights of the Living Dead
Photo by Cybele Malinowski

5 comments:

Ms. Mix & Bitch said...

Well said from the gal I hear has a very serious, long-term AND long distance boyfriend...

Romance rules. Don't be fooled by cheap imitations.

M. said...

I've been discovered! Terribly hypocritical, aren't I?

I think the whole new romantic thing is more of an observation of teenagers than an encouragement to them. I can't say I exactly respect what they stand for, but I enjoy the fact that they can do the insane and get away with it. They're just one of those curious social hiccups that you're fascinated by. Like chimps who've learned sign language.

It's just an oddity that you can't look away from.

cfoley said...

i love this beyond words. it's completely true and completely false at the same time. i can't speak against it for fear of being hypocritical but i can't speak for it for the same reason. gotta love being a teenager. if you can love it or hate it, you might as well love it.

jesse said...

So I was rereading this blog right now, and I don't remember if I ever told you about the recent events in my life. So! that.

M. said...

Tell away, Macaroni.