Who else knows every single thing about music and books and movies but also knows how to use hash oil but also houses a private, expanding and infinite constellation of feels and thinks? Nobody! Weirdly, teenage girls have it the hardest: nobody likes them, because stop shotgunning one another with loud inconsequentials on the subway, OK? And because they are messy and self-serious and uncontained and are always, like, stroking their filthy accessories and iPhone charms in this grossitating way. I’m a professional girl, and when I am with two or more teenage babies I feel like they’re going to combust and just period and period and period all over me. But, but but but, they’re all anybody thinks about, looks at, looks at with their dinky in their hand, wants to be, has shit to say about. Teenage girls are as full of secrets as Gretchen Wieners’ hair but exist at the center of contemporary society, which is fucked, right?
Also, for every post-teenager girl, her teenager-self is a lodestar. The interim between adolescence and a 21st birthday, or whatever, is characterized by absorption and experience and wrongthink and total psychic, psychotic distress, true, but every year after that is just editing. Actually, yeah: Adulthood is just making a Pinterest out of what you liked when you were 15, basically. Shit, guy.
A DAILY SCHEDULE If you are a teenage human girl, hi. I love you. The squeezes I want to give you, girl… I’d crack your bones like Nicki eats your brain, dig? Anyway, it’s Friday, and what you need to be doing is downloading Do The Right Thing, which is not specifically a Teenager Movie but that is as or more crucial an experience as any rando Selena Gomez vehicle, and then text your friends to come over way later. Then I want you to get the fuck on your bike or skateboard and side-wind somewhere to commune with your girls and just, like, rub your sweat on each other and seal joints for each other with your tongue-tips and probably go swimming naked with boys because you want to look at them but only go with boys who pretend not to look, or look with the dignity and respect of a blind elder statesman, and then way later after you’ve watched Do The Right Thing and had multiple, mental les petite morts about ice (trusssssst me) go out to the yard and sink in, watching stars or satellites or just your phone’s screen, fading in and out in the dark until morning, when you go eat some pancakes to come down a little softer. There’s other stuff, about watermelons and cooking syringes and vodka, but learning how to be bad is even funner than being it, dangerous angel. Anges dangereuses! Ooooh, that’s even better.
Usually my, like, advice-manifesto is to emulate the behavioral patterns of rich old white men. Like this: “When you get old and confident it’s so great because you do whatever the shit you want, like rich old white men. Seriously? Let rich old white men be your Spirit Animals when it comes to pursuing only and all of what amuses you.” Maybe that’s too triple-black-diamond for the moment? Look, I like every new year that I am because “more” is a better birthday present than a telescope and water skis (that is a reference to the 1980s, but I’m not sure why?), AND if you’re a certain/the right kind of person your eventual oldening will mostly be an opportunity for better material items and (the price you pay is sometimes sobbing in parking lots, and you have to try harder at having friends, but otherwise it’s cool), rendering teenager-ness a period only distinct because of how you remember exactly where and how that dude rubbed your pussy-area outside of your jeans because something about how your hormones operate makes any and all sexual encounters imprint on your memory, forever and ever and ever, with total recall whenever you close your porcelain doll-eyes. Anyway, that feeling of tilting your face out the window of a car on a 6 AM hot-white highway isn’t about “16,” it’s about “choices.”
It’s not how skinny you are that makes grownup women want to be you (after all, the skinniest skinnies are born-again Orange County fortysomething moms of ten who have actually but secretly accepted Lululemon as their lord and savior); it’s how much you don’t know what you look like.
There is more drama in talking about “drama” than there is in actual drama. Actual drama and its affect is slow and undulating, with occasional cracked whips; actual drama is not a narrative to be chewed and chewed and chewed like three pieces of cherry Trident. I do an experiment sometimes where I don’t talk about anything other than logistics or ideas, and totally avoid the stuff of girl-drama, of random commentary littered with emotional landmines, or more explicit gossips about this girl or this girl or this girl. It’s rilly rilly hard.
NOT ALL THE LESSONS
Like, I was in my twenties when I did an all-time number-one enormous bong hit so suddenly, so unrestrained, that my lungs burned like a prairie fire, and my friend Shaun had to drag me down two flights of stairs and into the bodega to buy ice cream that I didn’t so much “eat” as let fall like wet slugs down my throat. Oooooh. You learn more about drugs after A Certain Age (25?) because you stop being afraid of/respecting them.
SCHOOL BUS BLOW JOBS
Did you hooknasties ever actually do that? Hand jobs in the very back seat of the Greyhound bus going home after a concert are one thing; public and performative blowjayjays are quite another.
… Posting tired, garbagey know-nothings about this social epidemic of teenage girls being bitches to other teenage girls is being a bitch to teenage girls.
Related: Teenage girls as nerds. They’re the most nerds. Listening to teenage girls talk about something they like is so, so, so much worse than listening to guys who are into gaming or whatever, because at least those dudes have been made comfortable with sexual and social rejection and know enough to incorporate some shame into their enjoyment. Teenage girls have no kind of barrier between themselves and what is rad, which is useful because they also tend to, like, engage in the interests of the boy they like for nefarious get-him-to-ball-me purposes. Experiencing the benefits and flow and investment of high nerdery is fucking legit for girls, so don’t the fuck worry about it when your judgmental-fingers are itchy to be like “How dare she wear those nerd glasses!” and so forth. SHE’S LEGIT. Can you even be illegit when you’re a teenyboppermonsterthing? Probs not.
I spent basically every moment between 15 and 18 with one of two sets of boys: one set for drugs and make-outs (or “make-outs-plus”), and one set for Settlers of Catan and complicated pranks that required paperwork and binders. That is just regular.
Y’alls know that the Beatles and Bieber and whoever are cardboard stand-ins for girls, right? Teenage girls—the younger, newer, or more socially retarded ones—develop these insane, inane realness-feelings for teen idols (OMG remember the Teen Idles????? I STILL LOVE YOU IANNNN) because they have a sticky, steaming, teen-witchy cauldron of sexual interest and frustration in their bellies, but nowhere good to put it down (heh, “put it down” is my most favorite way to compliment somebody because they never know what it meeeeans). It’s very lesbionic, and as we all know, every teenage girl is a lesbian. (Not in the Frank Ocean way of, like, when you love and kiss and fuck someone it is interpreted by dumb-dummies as the sum of your sexuality, but in the “all teenage girls want to get up on each other” way, OK?) But that’s too shamey and horrible and impossible, so instead all of those melting Rocket Popsicles are routed down another sexual waterslide: boys, whatever boys we decide we like all at once. That part is really boring, just because there is nothing to distinguish one of those boys from the others. It would be different if collective girl-crushes were on cokey British maybe-trannies again, right? (I was really into Edward Furlong as a tiny youth, because it seemed like he smoked.)
“Bored and rural-poor, lord, at 35, right? I am the best 17-year-old ever / Worked these sands / I won’t go back again / Quitter quitter one boy bitter—rough luck / Man to man, hand to hand, fight 40,” and “Everyone choose sides / The whole to-do of what to do for money / Poorer or not this year and hell’s the difference / Let’s talk plans / And luck said, double damned,” etc. etc. etc. The Wrens are my fourth-favorite band ever, after Black Flag, Joy Division, Zep… and tied with Built to Spill. If you want an abstract, objective-correlative understanding of what happens to most people when they grow up, that’s it. FUCKING DARK AS FOREVER, RIGHT?
Whenever I privilege the historical behavior of my sometimes-terrifying teenager-self, who was a pro-surfer of psycho-sexual-marijuana-variant sine waves, I wonder if it is the same, or better, or worse than the way dentists daydream about their own teenager-selves, all those grown-up, ever-present football player rapists? Hmmm.
You don’t think your dad already knows you’re thieving? It’s less conspicuous to take one mickey of gin than a sloppy inch of everything, and throwing up without the assistance of any carbohydrates or water will have a less violent, purple-y edge, later.
I mean, the best part of being a teenage girl is the teenage boys. Let’s be real about this. There is no existing subculture more deserving of exhaustive eye-rolls than teenage boys, but they are also just… cute.
TIP: teach them how to wear condoms as if it’s sexy (LOLOLOLOLOit’s not) by giving them hand jobs, putting on a condom, continuing hand job, taking off the condom, the right way, where you’re pinching the theoretically-jizzy part, then more hand jobbing, then doing it again with another condom, and so forth. Not only will you remain unpregnant and probably/maybe uninfected, you will uncover a Secret Thing About Life, which is that people will do anything you want them to do if you’re a trickstery Sun Tzu with a big Lipsmackersy smile about it.
THE BEST THING
The best thing about being a teenage girl, the best thing about being a girl at all, is the tendency and ability toward unfolding, with the readiness of a cootie-catcher that has within it the potential for every single truth, reality, maybe even the singularity. Like, girls are so excited to be impressed upon, to experience, to be privy to something they weren’t five minutes before. I love this! It’s the best.
But then after you want to know everything for a decade you start to… know it. Like, by now, I can make these lists, of girly demands and commands—this is like this, that is like that, you are and should be and need and want and know this and this and this, don’t call boys and be tough as stale cookies and keep your mean-girl cunting to a minimum because the universe will punish your milk-glass skin, or whatever—and I can do all of this fast, can pull up these thin golden threads from any nation of Girl World, and I get paid for it with money and attention and admittance into the narrow confines of adult women, who want their pals to have specific knowledge and rulesyness about boys and sex and girls and friends and everything else around you.
It starts to be easier and more instinctive to be colder, closed-er. Even girls who are chill as fuck start to stay home alone sometimes, just to shiver. But inasmuch as more and more becomes known and maybe even remembered by you in your life, as much as you can better predict and fulfill your needs and standards, this way of being jaded can grow and fill a space and get hard as a rock—jadeite! —and that’s the worst and most common tragedy. Every time I say, “This is how it is,” to you or myself, I also think, I screeeeeam-think, like scream-think so hard that it hurts me, “Maybe not.” Because, I hope not. And then I go blow the dust off a dandelion wishie and consider how much I still don’t know, don’t want to know, not yet.
Follow Kate on Twitter @KateCarraway