“All I do is cause you problems! That’s all I do! I cause you problems.”
You’re causing me problems right now, I thought to myself. No one wants to hear your bitching and moaning on a beautiful night like this.
I turned to see where the pitiful whine had emerged from and there, sitting on the hood of a red BMW, was a skinny teenage punk looking absolutely downtrodden about whatever it is that plagues a skinny teenage punk with a red BMW. Keep in mind, this is Bellevue. And the Beamer was a little outdated. So, you know, the kid had some legitimate gripes.
Anyway, this little punk-ass was sitting there lamenting about his problems to the driver’s side window of a green sedan. After a little recon work, I was able to determine that the occupant of said sedan was a teenage girl, who in all likelihood was this kid’s significant other. Her tears combined with his complaining led me to believe they were on the verge of an impending breakup. I’m a lot quicker than I look, folks.
I shouldn’t have been overwhelmed with giddiness and amusement over what could very well be the worst moments, to date, in the lives of each of these two individuals. But I was. Because let’s face it, they’re kids. And when I was a kid, this sort of thing was just as earth-shattering for me as it was for them.
That got me thinking. Back when I was that age, I wish someone older — but not too much older — had set me straight about the reality of relationships. Parents can’t do it, because let’s face it, you never listen to your parents when you’re in high school. Aunts and uncles and grandparents can’t do it, because, well, they’re too old. Sisters and brothers can try, but at the end of the day they’re still sisters and brothers. And your friends aren’t nearly wise enough to provide any level of guidance whatsoever.
So that leaves it to someone like me. To the kids out there, heed my advice. I know of which I speak. To the parents out there, you’re welcome. I’ve just saved you a lot of time and energy. Give this article to your kids and tell them to pay attention. Shit’s about to get real.
Lesson No. 1: It will not work out.
You know what the odds are of you and your teenage lover spending the rest of your lives together? Neither do I. But if I had to guess, I’d say it’s somewhere around one-in-a-million, if not worse.
There are only two types of people in this world who can marry their high school sweetheart: the type who find the kind of true love you only hear about in movies like The Notebook, and the type who make a habit of settling. Most of these people are in the latter group, though they’re all convinced they have a Ryan Gosling-Rachel McAdams fictional affair in order, which is just not true at all. You f**king settled. Just admit it.
Look here, kid. If you do it right, you’ll be married once, while your heart will be broken many, many times. People who have never had their hearts broken don’t know how to love. It’s impossible. I imagine they conceive all of their children accidentally, likely through a hole in the bedsheets.
Fact is, you have to be hurt to know how great it feels to be in love. You do. Trust me.
So know this: you will break up with your first love, lust, crush, whatever you want to call it. You will hurt for a little bit. You will get over it. You will not die. You will bounce back and you will be stronger than you were before. And all that bitching and whining you did when things were headed for Splitsville will be the source of much laughter when you get old like me. Enjoy it. You’re young. The world is yours.
Lesson No. 2: Play the field.
As you age, the field gets smaller. When you’re in high school, the field is roughly the size of the Polo Grounds (Google it). By the time you’re my age (26), the field is more along the lines of a Little League diamond. The contrast is staggering.
You need to think of yourself as the Derek Jeter of your own existence. Members of the opposite sex (or in certain cases, the same sex) are like grounders; it’s your job to scoop up every ball that comes your way. Be a player and make a play.
Bad metaphors aside, your options are endless. None of your friends are married yet (at least, I hope they’re not) and everyone — seriously, EVERYONE — is available. We went over this in Lesson 1: it will not work out. So even if the person you really want to be with is dating someone else, he or she will become available sooner or later. Keep every door open. At the very least, you can be friends with benefits. That’s always nice.
Lesson No. 3: Enjoy it while it lasts.
The worst thing you can do as a kid is dramatize a f**king relationship. You are a kid. You have no worries in the world. You don’t know what debt is. You don’t know what obligations are. You don’t have a job that you can’t afford to get fired from. You have zero legitimate cares in this world. So naturally, your first care shouldn’t be the sorrows of your significant other.
If he or she is prone to being miserable, get out of that relationship like it’s Wal-Mart on Black Friday. You do not belong with someone who won’t let you be a kid. It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen each other’s junk, either. That doesn’t make your relationship a grown-up relationship. Grown-up relationships have financial problems and pets and mortgages and crap like that. Kid relationships have zits and test scores and those serious, serious moments when you get caught checking out the hottie walking by at the mall. That’s all you need to concern yourself with. Anything more than that and it’s not meant to be.
You will only have one childhood. When it’s gone, you’ll long for its return. If you’ve squandered it catering to someone you won’t find yourself caring about after a few months, you’ll have wasted some of the best years of your life. Don’t do it.
Lesson No. 4: No babies.
You are not a pro athlete. You are not going to be a pro athlete. Unless you are a pro athlete, you cannot afford to have a baby at 18. And since we’ve already determined that you are not, nor ever will be, a pro athlete, it’s best not to have a baby as a teenager.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have sex. You can, no matter what your elders, your youth group, or the church may tell you. You can. In most countries, people your age have fornicated a thousand times over already. You are way behind. Get going. Just make sure you wrap up.
Let me tell you something. Condoms are scary as hell when you’re a kid. No matter what happens, you’ll always assume they’re broken when it’s all said and done. Unless your dick shoots fire or she’s housing the Sarlacc inside of her, they’re not. You’ll just think they are. Because they were put on this earth to both scare you and protect you. Kind of like guns.
So do what you have to do. Just make sure you take the proper means necessary to withhold children until you’re much older, much wealthier, and much more responsible.
Lesson No. 5: It will not work out.
This bears repeating. It is the most valuable piece of advice I can give. No matter how badly you want it to work out, or hope it will work out, or dream about it working out, you’re probably wrong. This is just one of many things you’re wrong about at this stage in your life, but perhaps the most impactful.
Don’t be like the kid sitting on the hood of the red Beamer his delusional parents bought for him, whining to a girl you think you love. It’s not worth ending up being the inspiration for an article written by a d-bag like me. It just isn’t.
It’s important to believe in love and all that comes along with it. But you’re not going to find love as a high school kid. Love, at your age, is a hummer after Tolo or a window marker message on your car.
It won’t work out. It will eventually. But in the microcosmic universe of your youthful attempt at romance, it will not. And that’s not a bad thing.
Don’t be afraid to get hurt. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Don’t worry about screwing up. Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t whine like a little bitch in the middle of a parking lot.
I should go teach a health class now.