Come close, I have a secret to tell you. It wasn’t Al Gore who invented the Internet, but I know who it was. Teenagers. Just ask them.
In my non-writer life, I teach high school. I have learned several important things while teaching. First—teenagers know everything (this probably won’t surprise anyone who has a) been a teenager or b) parented a teenager) , second—teenagers believe teachers can’t hear, so they will talk about anything in front of them, third—it’s highly entertaining to keep your mouth shut and listen to the massive amounts of misinformation they spit out and swallow.
I have also become fairly unshockable. I might have already been that way since I write erotic romance, but I guess that’s up for debate. That fake news story about the guy who stuck the canned cinnamon rolls up his… well let’s just say I bought it for about ten seconds, so I guess that still makes me somewhat vulnerable to surprise. I mention this because the topics of conversations among teens have changed a bit since I was at that all-knowing, omnipotent age.
My friends and I talked about things like what might happen after a nuclear war, the meaning of life, and some things all teens still discuss—who was having a party and when, and who had ____________ (fill in the blank with beer, pot, etc.). We talked about going to college and what we wanted to do with our lives.
Here’s the conversation I stopped in the middle of a computer-based class I facilitate during what would be my planning period:
“When you get the harness, I can show you how to put it on right, cuz if you ain’t got it on right it ain’t gonna work.”
“Some boys let you do it.”
Yeah, you’re right. They’re talking about strap-ons and butt sex. So I say…
“Y’all need to change your topic of conversation right now. We’ve had this discussion before about what is and is not appropriate to talk about at school.”
Eyes pop wide open. Everyone stares at me.
“You know what we’re talking about?”
I smile when what I really want to do is laugh my butt off. “I know this might come as a surprise to you, but you did not invent sex. And again, discussing strap-ons and harnesses in class is not appropriate. Change the topic.”
So, at this point, I’m sure there are some out there saying that was all you did? Well, let me ask you something—would you smack your puppy for messing on the floor before it knew better? I’m house training because—you guessed it—someone hasn’t already done that with these students. That’s part of the reason many of them end up in alternative ed.
However, I have to think they’re not totally different from many teens these days. However crude their conversations might be, they also—I’m forced to admit—have something in common with the teenagers of my time.
They know it all. They have it licked. The world is theirs.
So my amusement is also tempered with nostalgia. That’s what we were all like before we actually had to start living life. Imagine if we could hang onto some of that boundless arrogance and optimism.