Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Teen Rebellion Revisited

For the past couple of days, I've been sleeping in the same bedroom I did as a teenager. Since then, it has sat largely vacant as child after child grew old enough to leave the nest, to move away forever. I remember its original configuration with omnipresent CD player and two large speakers, which were the center of my very existence back then. The adjacent bathroom featured some of my worst moments, the end products of my first few encounters with hard liquor. The wallpaper is the same as it was then, adamantly masculine with aggressive blue and white stripes.

Twenty (gulp) years ago, I was sneakily rebellious, the first kid to apologize to indignant parents incensed about the smell of marijuana in their homes. I was a good-natured charmer who knew all the right things to say, even if they weren't truly sincere. In the vicinity of a now-closed movie theater, I came across two members of my 11th grade biology class, both girls. I was smoking a cigarette, and though they were brave enough to ask me for one, one of the pair noted how surprised she was that I smoked.

I'm afraid it was far worse than that. I drove home from wild parties far too intoxicated to have any business behind the wheel. The police busted one of them because a neighbor had complained about the noise. The cops didn't intend to arrest anyone, just to tell the party-goers to turn down the music. Instead, the arrival of law enforcement caused mass panic. One guy tried to jump over a barbed wire fence and didn't quite make it, cutting a large hole in one jeans-covered pant leg and lacerating a thigh badly enough that it required stitches.

The feminist writer Jessica Valenti once described herself in a younger age as a party girl. If that is the case, then I most assuredly was a party boy. Friday and Saturday nights were packed full of rock concerts at an open-air amphitheater ten miles away. Parties followed next. I saw some of the best alternative rock groups of the 1990's in person and can wax nostalgic about those experiences if I wish. Some of the girls got a head start with drinking, conning and flirting shamelessly with older men to buy them beer, even resorting to bribery when necessary. Supplying minors with alcohol was against the law, but that only made them more determined.

One of my sisters exceeded me in her risk-taking behavior and usage of illegal substances. I never tried to top or better her because she was very unskilled in covering her tracks, meaning my father always found out everything eventually. She had older friends already in college who would pick her up late at night when my parents had gone to bed. Sneaking out through a bedroom window, she got away with it for a while, but her repeated absences at school became too numerous to go unnoticed.

I've never told her that I know about her decision to pose nude for a website. The act itself doesn't really surprise me, but this secret is going to die with me. She had good sense enough to use a pseudonym during the shoot but I would rather she cover every square inch of her body in ink than leave physical evidence like this that will never go away. I support her right to do what she did, certainly, and the rights of all who voluntarily contribute their naked selves for the gratification of others.

I know she must have gotten a few hundred bucks for the effort. All I can say is that I hope her intention was not a result of extreme financial need and that she doesn't regret the decision in the future. As I recall, she posed nude for art classes while in college, but that has a somewhat classier ring to it. What I will say, by way of conclusion, that it does make one pause when a close family member is involved in pornography.

Thus ends another autobiographical tale of debauchery and dashed dreams. Alas poor Yorick, I knew him well.

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