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This Week in Teens

Fall Is Here and Teens Are Still Lighting Themselves on Fire

The first leaves are turning color. Like a teen's body, the weather is going through changes. But even as time passes, some weird stunts are apparently too tempting to resist.
September 19, 2014, 6:30pm

Be careful, teens. Photo via Flickr user imcomkorea

Do you feel that brisk air? As I gaze out my window, there's an indoor palm tree and a box of promotional sex toys blocking my view. If I stand up, though, I can see it: The first leaves are turning color. People are testing out new jackets, perhaps prematurely. Like a teen's body, the weather is going through changes. But even as time passes, some things never change. As it was in the beginning of summer, so it is today: Teenagers are (still) lighting themselves on fire.


This week, an 18-year-old in Boise, Idaho, flipped his SUV after his 16-year-old passenger lit his armpit hair on fire. While it's unclear where the teens were going, it seems likely that the fact that the accident occurred at 5:30 AM might have played a role. Neither the driver nor any of his four passengers were wearing seatbelts, and three of the teens were sent to the hospital with serious injuries. While cars can be a great source of freedom for young people, they're also 3,000-pound shrapnel delivery devices. According to the CDC, "Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for US teens." It goes without saying, then, that in addition to things like texting or playing with the radio, drivers should avoid having themselves lit on fire. Otherwise that trip home from a bonfire in the clearing can quickly turn into a visit to the ER—or worse.

Here’s the rest of this week in Teens:

Do you really trust that sauce on your burger? Teens are messing with your food. Photo via Flickr user Doran

T he idea that disgruntled employees do gross things to your fast food has long been a trope of bad movies, but does that actually happen in real life? Of course it does! Teens have a natural inclination to rub their genitals on anything. Combine that with a salary of $6/hour and some guy who wants his burger faster and you've got yourself a recipe for some extra-secret sauce. At a Texas outpost of Papa Murphy's, an 18-year-old employee who was upset that a customer ordered a pizza around closing time was caught rubbing his scrotum on said pizza by said customer. The customer then asked the employee's age. "You are old enough to know better than to put your balls on someone's pizza," he said, which seems like a bit of a fallacy. Probably you're either always the type of person who might rub your balls on someone's pizza, or you never were.

Juggalos in happier times. Photo by Peter Larson

E very story about the Insane Clown Posse is funny, so here's the exception that proves the rule. At 4 AM on Sunday in Ohio, a boy wearing an ICP mask broke into the home of his former friend. His friend's mom, failing to recognize him (because of the clown mask), saw him standing over her son's bed and shot at him with her boyfriend's gun. She says she didn't realize she'd actually hit him, so she didn't call 911. It's a little weird that she found the situation serious enough to warrant a gunshot but not serious enough to warrant calling the police, but maybe she just had drugs or something she didn't want the police to see? What matters is that the intruder's friends didn't call the police either, initially. Presumably because they didn't want to get in trouble, they waited over an hour to dial 911. By the time the boy finally made it to the hospital, it was too late, and he died around 6 AM. Because the friends waited to call for help, they're now being charged with murder. Yes, the Facebook photo of the deceased—stunned look, backwards hat, light chin hair, gold chain, lanyard, "Westside" hand sign—make him look exactly like someone who would get shot breaking and entering in an Insane Clowne Posse mask, but that still doesn't make this funny. As the presiding sheriff of the situation said, "It was a bad decision on top of a bad decision."

Jack Kerouac, perfect teen. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

In historical teen news, new evidence suggests that perennial yearbook quote source Jack Kerouac truly was the ultimate teen. Sure, we've long been aware that, in addition to writing a novel that young people love to pretend to have read, he was also a huge football jock. But did you know that he also wrote love letters as a teenager? Well, he did, and they're super embarrassing. In one of the newly up-for-auction letters, he describes his dream date to a friend and promises to "worship her with quiet dignity," before admitting that, "I am afraid that God-damned Jew Sokolow has already asked her.” In another letter, he implores his pen pal to have sex with a girl, writing, "Lay her you babe, and we’ll have a twice weekly fuck for the rest of our lives, which is really LIVING." Nothing screams "adolescent" quite like romantic whimsy, casual racism, and an intransigent focus on getting laid.

T he fundamental oppositional forces in the life of a teen should be parents and teachers; as such, the true cutoff for teendom is 18. After that you've got adult problems, with parents and teachers being replaced by capitalism and the void. Sensing adulthood approaching, a teen in Milwaukee spent his last days as a 17-year-old engaged in an extended crime spree. Together with some friends, he's been charged with a week’s worth of car jackings and robberies at gunpoint. The cops finally caught up with him after a high-speed chase, at which point he told police that his birthday was the next day, and that he was trying to "do as many robberies as he could" before turning 18. Unfortunately for this guy, there's a pretty good chance that a 17-year-old who commits a violent crime in Wisconsin will be sentenced as an adult.

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