Sunday, May 21, 2006
Young and Dumb and full of... uh, Chowder
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I would like to share with you a primer for youth between ages 10 and 21. This is volume two of an earlier primer which was done by several other people regarding things youth between ages 3 and 10 should know about grown-ups. The earlier primer became very popular among mommies but was seldom read by the youth the document was regarding, with the exception of those kids who also would thumb through monthly women's magazines to read "Light Housekeeping" or Stan & Jan Beranstein's non-bear cartoons, and only gave a cursory glance to Joan Walsh Angland's mouthless drawings plus found Judith Viorst's column over their heads. (I was one of those kids, what can I say?) To my knowledge no such followup was ever constructed, just when the kids need it most. The age range on this primer goes all the way up to college age because as we have seen, if you are never told or taught something you might never know it exists. Herein is a list of things that teens, preteens, and post-teens need to learn about adults. Important note, kids: No amount of deluding yourself that these statements are false changes the fact that they are true, and no amount of denial that you will not enforce these things when you are age 40 will stop you from doing so. Just you wait. Some of these are repeated from the first primer, the one you didn't read and still don't know. The facts, Jack:
• Adults know when you're lying. They're not stupid, and in fact they used to be your age and told a few themselves, so it all sounds very familiar to them. They used the same words, the same body language, and the same stories. Additionally, if there were witnesses to whatever you say you didn't do, give up immediately before you look like an idiot.
• While telling untruths may be necessary in the business world later on, please try to live in the plausible. You didn't get away with saying the dog ate your homework, right? Adults have detective skills, which are only being enhanced by watching crime shows on television or reading mystery novels. Saying it was the stereo which shouted that obscene word out the car window, not you, just doesn't work when you didn't have your stereo on and it was clearly your voice. (And what does it say about you that you'd be cranking "music" with pointless swearing and no tune behind it?) Save those fibs for when you call in sick to a job because you have more fun plans, but be aware some bosses will check up on you.
• Friendship aside, don't lie for a friend or stick up for them when you know that they're in the wrong or you weren't there to see whatever is being discussed. It's easier to punch holes in your story than theirs so don't even try; Sargent Schultz from "Hogan's Heroes" had the right idea: just say I know nuzzing... and get out of the way. Some politicians have found this procedure quite useful.
• Apologies still work. They may seem cheesy but adults eat 'em up. And if you didn't figure it out when you were a kid, sincere apologies work better. Lip service either infuriates adults, or it demonstrates to those around you that you're an untrustworthy snot. You got caught, so you should be sorry... if only sorry that you got caught.
• Really, truly, you're not going to laugh when someone breaks your windows, bashes in your mailbox, spraypaints your garage, or any of that other crap you find funny right now once you're a homeowner. This isn't as harmless as toilet-papering someone's house. You're going to be pissed. You may even want blood. With that in mind, consider the consequences of your own tomfoolery. Will what you're doing for fun potentially result in getting the shit kicked out of you, or worse, if you get caught? As brave and as fleet of foot as you might be, you can't outrun a homeowner's bullet if they're so inclined to use long-distance punishment technology, and you can't outrun the telephone if they're more civilized. In today's modern society there's a higher likelihood you're on camera as well.
• Don't come crying to your parents, your kids, or others of a different age bracket when you're deaf somewhere in your 30's from thumping the bass in a closed vehicle. At least you'll be better suited for the menial labor jobs you will have been working to pay for pimping your ride like that. The rest of us are going to laugh at your deaf asses, though you won't hear us.
• When you were a kid, adults would call you on your misbehavior immediately in the hopes of giving you a concept of actions yielding reactions. Grown-ups have a second trick they use when that fails: not calling you on your misbehavior. You only think you're getting away with stuff because you don't hear objections. Ah, but just as your folks didn't trust you when you were playing quietly because you were up to something... your folks are now quietly up to something. Filling the dossier, so to speak, and giving you enough rope to hang yourself. It will all come back on you, like people always said about your school records [which as you suspected is mostly a myth], and you won't like when or where or how. If you hadn't noticed, the parents on the TV news when stuff happens have gone from claiming "we never saw this coming" to admitting "we long suspected this would happen." You're sneaky, we're sneakier, and we can keep a pokerface.
• Get over yourself, it's just a phase. Bad boys and bad girls are only attractive until you get hurt. Being a bad boy or bad girl is only fun until people and places and good jobs don't want you around. It's not too late to straighten up and fly right, so please do that before you become the trash you snark on.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The mailbox above is mine -- some shithead came down the wrong side of the road (again?) and whacked it with a bat or something. Mine isn't the only strike on the street, just the only box I've seen that's warped. I've managed to get it somewhat straight and uncrushed, and while doing so some punk who was visiting the girl next door mouthed off at me (do you see the pattern above?) so I had to have a few words with the girl's family and then him when he naïvely returned. It was rather cathartic to take out my anger about the mailbox on a mouthy teenager with his girlfriend's dad backing me up, I must say.
I talked to my hubby on the phone and my parents, then ate a salad before coming back.
Your poor mail box is suffering from physical abuse.
Did it feel good to sound like an old fogey and give that teen a good talking to?
The punk deserved it.
All your points about lying make sense to me, and they are all funny.
I can't lie worth beans. I rarely even try. I have lied on occasion, but I NEVER sound convincing.
We were being hounded about some medical bills once, and I told the guy that called that Jamie didn't live here. I said I just got this number, so the guy said he would update his records and not call again.
I hoped we would no longer hear from him about the past due bills.
Minutes later, my cell phone rang and the guy left a message for me on the phone which had MY voice on the message voice mail. My voice is pretty recognizable being that it is not a normal sounding voice. The guy HAD to know that the person who told him that no one named Jamie lived at that number was indeed... Jamie herself. Oh, crud!
I like the part about the sincere apology. They're really cool. You avoided the part about telling how to make a sincere apology. (Dale Carnegie doesnt do any better in How to Win Friends and Influence People). He says to be sincere when you're saying nice things to people, but he won't say how it's done.
I've always considered myself a pretty good liar. But after age 18 I realized that I shouldn't use the skill so frequently because I didn't have as much of a need plus I was forgetting valuable details. :) Now when I use that skill, you might never know... I'm better at the forensics now. :)
Funny about your voicemail busting you, Jamie. When I worked in consumer loan collections for a bank I got to do that all the time. One dude put a fax machine on his home line so he wouldn't get our calls... but since it was a live human (me) calling, I went over to the office fax machine and sent him the text of what he didn't want to hear. Then there was the couple who tried to act like they didn't speak English, but had totally Anglo names and their attempt at Spanish would not have worked even in the first semester of a high school first year class. I called back immediately and left my standard message plus a snide comment about their fake accent. Then there was the woman who told me, in French, that she doesn't speak English and hung up quickly... I called back, got the machine, and left the message in English AND FRENCH.
The reason why I didn't explain how to make a sincere apology is the reason why the quality assurance person at a previous phone job would tell me what I was doing wrong but not how to fix it -- "it's not something you can teach, it's something you just have to know." Which doesn't help much, but basically it comes from the inside: I think I did imply that you should really be sorry for what you got busted for; much like how customer service says you should smile when speaking because it shows in your voice, being a bit regretful for doing wrong shows in your demeanor. (And did Dr. Peale know how to be sincere?)
I'm good at acting sincere though when inside I might be saying, "I could care less. Please shut UP!"
I learned that skill as a pastor's wife for many years having to listen to people (usually women) drone on and on and on and on about problems. If the problems were worthy of a good droning, I truly was sincere, but often the problems were NOT a big deal at all, and the ladies just wanted someone to lend an ear to their whining. I HATED that!
So, I guess in that respect, I have developed a good skill of "looking" like I care.
A guy I went to college with had a philosophy about such things -- so named the "de long Theory" -- which said that you only get a finite number of brain cells, and when you hear anything it gets permanently stored in some cells, so when you hear garbage you have no use for it gets stuck in cells that could be used for better purposes. (That being said, he was a huge fan of Batman comics so 'useless info' is subjective.)