Monday, March 27, 2006

Teenager Etiquette, part the third.

Stepdaughter is now 17. She is embarking on life with a lust that certainly shames me. To a degree I'm envious; she's off on three holidays this summer and has got plans for her gap year from a university she hasn't even qualified for yet. She gets £30 a week just for turning up at college. If she does well, which she often does, she gets a bonus. My, how things have changed. At 17 I was still doing a paper round for £2.40 a week, just enough to finance my burgeoning tobacco habit.

At 17 in 1978, my social life consisted of cricket in the summer (drinking); hanging with my mates' band (drinking and smoking) and er...drinking and smoking, usually in The Swan in Tufton Street, Ashford's premier under-age drinking establishment (a status , I do believe, still maintained to this day), positioned immediately across the road from the police station. I had several "never again" moments and one or two "how did I get home" ones. Typical rites of passage stuff. Falling off your moped outside your front gate at midnight and being scraped off the bathroom floor and put to bed by your dad (oh...the emotional pain of the realisation over breakfast the next morning that, because you woke up in pyjamas and you were incapable of even blinking when you got home, your dad must have got you ready for bed. And that involved undressing you) being the British equivalent of getting dragged off into the bush by the tribal elders for some ritual cosmetic surgery.

My mum and dad weren't particularly indulgent of my drinking habits. Tolerant certainly but they had to be self-financed and if I got into trouble, be it on my own head "because we can't afford to bail you." As a consequence, I drank in the pub so as to enjoy the experience of getting slowly and comfortably inebriated with my mates. I didn't drink at home and binge drinking was unheard of.

Teenage culture now dictates that alcopops are the order of day before going out and the more vodka they contain the better. Why, I don't understand. The popular argument about vodka being undetectable only holds true when you've only had a couple of glasses and only applies to your breath. When you've had enough to affect even your minor motor functions it doesn't matter what it doesn't taste of; you'll look and sound a tit and you won't fool any doorman.

SD was going to a public party. She had asked if we could get her some booze. She's done it before and shared a glass or two of WKD before going out with her mates. A couple of times she's had a few too many while out but is usually quite cautious. We can't argue for fear of justifiably being called hypocritical but we try and impress the importance of responsible boozing and generally it works. She's 17, looks older and she'd find a way anyway. This time she said she was going to save half for the next time as she's saving up to go away. OK,fairly responsible. What we didn't know was that she polished off a bottle of cheap white wine and half a bottle of Taboo in about an hour. I'd be on my back after that. Not only that, while we were waiting for her mate to turn up, she was busily sharing a large bottle of WKD in the car with her other mate. I thought they were sharing a bottle of water. I dumped them at the venue and they seemed a bit tipsy but capable. The last thing I said was "Please stay out of trouble, I don't want to have to come out and fetch you."

I must start making a list of my stupid pronouncements and instructions. They're like reverse prophecies and probably of value to some kind of paranormal researcher. I had just returned when the phone rang "Can you come and fetch LM please, she's ill." "I've only just got back! Is she pissed?" "Yes." I have to admit, I swore a lot and violently. It was a 20 mile round trip and they were meant to get a taxi back because we were meant to be going to a neighbour's birthday party. I grabbed a bucket, slung it on the back seat and shot off. Via the petrol station because I was on reserve.There was a long queue. Good. And it was pissing down. I would hurry but hell, the rain would sober her up so I wouldn't hurry that much.

She was tipped into the car, mumbled some kind of thanks and got "Your mother's not very pleased. And neither am I. I've just driven 40 miles in the pissing rain for nothing &c..." back. Usually I steer clear of criticising her to her face because, well, she's not my bloodline and it always feels a bit awkward. But I did this time and it felt good. I looked round and she hadn't heard a word because she was slumped sideways in the seatbelt with her head buried in the bucket. Oh for a camera.

Now the embarrassing bit. We got home and I had to manhandle her out of the car while trying to keep the bucket strategically placed. She was in that state where the link between brain and legs stops around the arse and staying vertical wasn't much of a priority. My problem was that I hadn't a clue where to put my hands and now she was starting to puke. I've just about had my fill of pavement pizzas this week but I'm used to it and anyway, this was mainly wine and the water someone had thoughtfully provided her with. She was now gabbling gibberish and lots of it.

I parked her on a wicker chair well away from the soft furnishings although the suitcase that was still there from Friday evening copped the contents of the bucket when she dropped it. Her mother came down and propped her up while I fetched some water. Now we could have fun. Out came the camera and the digital sound recorder I use for my work. She doesn't know this but we have her talking complete and utter bollocks and a picture of her squatting in her bedroom with her head in a bucket. Binge drinking is to be curtailed severely and there will be a renewed familiarity with the Dyson outside of her own bedroom. I dare say my car will soon need washing too.

I believe the very apt phrase currently in common usage in the United of States is, "you are so owned." I feel gleefully triumphant.

One thing though, she was up at 7.30 am and, although she'd forgotten what day it was and thought she was getting up to go to the party, she hasn't exhibited any signs of hangover all day. Cow.

5 Vegetable peelings:

Blogger Gentleman-hobbs said...

Ditto, have the T shirt here as well.
Also agree with the gap year comment and the 30 pound a week sentiment. We
have had a son who dropped out of University having missed 2/3 of a year of lectures - then decided to have an official gap year. Our middle son has no inclination to pass his gcse's but still plans to pick up his 30 quid a week by going to college, now his only option because the school feels he lacks the inclination for 6th form. Like his brother he fancies media studies at a Uni that will take anyone as long as they get the fees. This is a waste of space degree where their are 500 graduates for every job.
Trouble is teenage psyndrome is a lot to do with easy come easy go mentality. Our empowered youth have been built up to be so full of them selves. They earn nothing in life and once they have received something it is forgotten straight after the thank you..... until the next time.
But we do love them

9:16 am  
Blogger Richard Seamon said...

I am rather thankful that SD seems to be able to motivate herself rather well and does have a career in mind. She is already thinking of dumping the media studies options for next year and concentrating on the photography, which is what she really wants to do. Not a bad thing as, due to our proximity to Manchester and the huge BBC presence here, jobs in the media are at a premium and you'll have to be outstanding to get a job (or a complete tosser, which seems more of possibility given some of the crap that's on our screens at the moment)

11:04 am  
Blogger Tennessee Jed said...

She gets a paycheck for going to college? Dang I wish America was a bit more socialistic, all most of us come out of college with is a huge student loan payment and a degree that gets you paid just enough over the minimum wage to make your loan payment.

11:51 pm  
Blogger Richard Seamon said...

Jed, this is for going to a college of further education until she's 18 as opposed to university. It's the government's way of keeping half a million 16-18 year-olds off the unemployment statistics. At £30 a week it's substantially cheaper than paying them dole money.It's called EMA or Educational Maintenance Allowance

When she goes to university she'll have to take out a loan to cover her expenses.

4:02 pm  
Blogger Sharon J said...

Is it cheaper when you consider the cost of running the college? I doubt it, but it does keep them out of trouble in a climate where unemployment for 16-18 year olds is practically a given so when you take the cost of vandalism into account then yes, it probably is cheaper after all. Sorry, just had to run that past myself :) ~Sharon

2:53 am  

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