Cripes, I remember being a teenager, I remember it very well. I remember the angst and the awkward, the deep, dark thoughts about the condition the world- not the world outside but the one that surrounded me most immediately. I was a fairly self centered, sulky, skulking teenager at times.
Strangely enough, I had a strong “responsible” gene that greatly detracted from my “cool” status but kept me out of trouble for the most part. I was the one who drove and had access to a car for parties and so I didn’t drink. I guess I wanted to live or perhaps I just didn’t want to get in trouble. I like to think it was because I wanted to live, that I knew the limits of my own mortality. That’s probably revisionist history, though. It’s more likely I knew I’d get caught…’cause mostly I always got caught when I did something I was not supposed to do.
So I did what anyone with a bad attitude combined with good intentions might do…I listened to hard core punk rock and tried to scare the priests and nuns at my Catholic high school with my bad attitude and pseudo-rebel leanings. I experimented with hair color and doodled anarchy symbols on my Catholic School uniform. I’m quite proud to say that the year after I graduated (with honors, dude) that the school changed the student manual to reflect that they would no longer allow “odd hair color” or “defacing school uniforms.” Boo-yah.
I had access to the Teacher’s Lounge so I printed up anti-establishment propaganda and placed it into the teacher’s mailboxes. Yes, of course I got caught. That one was pretty stupid. I won an auction to play music in the school cafeteria one day at lunch, a privilege my friends and I pooled our money to gain. We spent hours making a mix tape that started with a top 40, wildly popular tune, dragged the needle across the vinyl and segued into Fear’s “Let’s have a war.” Damn, I loved that song.
They shut us down a few minutes in. I protested that course of action with the highest levels of authority at Seton High School but to no avail. One administrator suggested to me I should become an attorney after that campaign.
There was one priest I argued with most often, Father Dennis Dettenwanger (yes, his real name.) He taught most of my religion classes Junior and Senior years. I remember that it got so that whenever I raised my hand in his class senior year he drop into a dramatic sigh before calling on me. I’m kinda proud of that too. I’m proud because my questions were “why” questions. I wasn’t disagreeing, really, in fact I often came to a place of understanding and agreement usually with Father Dennis. It just took him off his course schedule I suppose and that was perhaps annoying. I get that now that I’m a parent. How could I NOT have children who fixate on “why?”
I’m certain it’s all coming to mind because my own daughter enters her High School years in the Fall. There is still so much growing ahead as I watch her sail into the choppy sea ahead and I wax nostalgic for my own youth…and then I gird myself for the gathering storm, hoping we’ve built a boat strong enough to weather it well.