Teenager from hell
March 22, 2001
A friend of mine called frantically the other day asking me to have
a talk with his out-of-control teenage boy. He explained that his son was
running around with gang members getting tattoos of naked women on his
arms, piercing his body in locations that would make a grown man shiver.
He exclaimed that his son wears baggy pants that's even too big for
a sumo wrestler, and shaves his head like a human light bulb. He said that
son has dropped out of school, drinks alcohol and smokes pot 24-7.
I sensed that my friend was at the verge of nervous breakdown and his
son's behavior had practically shattered his life. I can not begin to describe
how surprised I was to be asked a favor of such magnitude.
Having a number of bounced checks per month, a few hundred outstanding
traffic tickets, stacked of unpaid credit card bills, a bad temper, compulsive
gambling habits, frequent trips to the local nude bar, and a nasty chain
smoking tendency, does not exactly qualify me as role model. I am also
not equipped to give advice to teenagers since I can't stand the punks.
People who give advice are generally bright, rich, and successful --
I am not. Nobody wants to listen to a poor man talk. The way I see it,
teenagers are like a nasty pimple on the middle of your forehead. It looks
ugly if you leave it there and looks even worse if you pop it. So you might
as well live with it till it's gone.
Since political correctness is not one of my virtues, I told my friend
what I think of teenagers. I also reminded him of my loathsome habits and
recommended a professional counselor, who is hell of a lot more qualified
than I would ever be.
My friend acknowledged my rather unpleasant nature and added that his
wife was horrified of the idea of having me talk to their son. But he insisted
that a man like me who's been around the block a few times might be able
to relate better to his son's problems. I reluctantly excepted.
I arrived at the mall and went straight to the food court where I found
my buddy's teenage son sitting at a table with sunglasses on his face,
listening to rap music, which was blasting out of his headphone. I sat
down at the table and looked at him apprehensively. He was jamming to a
spin by Snoop Doggy Dogg and was ignoring me completely.
I waited a minute or two; then I reached out and pulled the headphone
off his head. He jumped up and yelled, "Mageh marizi?"
I told him to sit his ass down or I was going to stick the headphone
up his you-know-what. He looked around for a second, trying to act cool,
then sat back down on the chair.
"Listen to me carefully. I hate teens; to me, you are nothing but
a zit factory who's wasting other people's air supply and the earth's natural
resources. I am not your mom or dad. I will slap you so hard, your head
will spin like a record."
He smiled and said, "First off, there are no records nowadays you
stone-age moron. And if you dare to slap me, I'll have you arrested for
child abuse. This ain't Iran where you can hit people and get away with
it. This is America, you old-fashioned jaahel! You touch me and you'd be
in jail running away from a horny 300-pound convict."
Okay. The score is one for the kid and none for the grownup. I was defeated
badly; this kid is smarted than I anticipated. It's time for plan B.
"Listen kid. Your parents are good people. They mean well. They
gave up their home and life in Iran and came here to make a better life
for you. They want you to become a lawyer or maybe a doctor. They hate
to see you look and act like a loser. They want the best for you."
The kid looked at me nostalgically for a moment and said, "That's
all you got? You are weak. You have no punch-line and your voice lacks
authority. Your presentation sucks. I have been against teen counselors
and therapists who'd eat you alive. Where did my parents find a loser like
you? You've got to be joking."
I reached and grabbed the kid's jacket. I was ready to smack him silly.
The kid started yelling, "Child abuse; grownup beating up a kid!"
I let go of his jacket immediately. People around me were giving me
nasty looks. The kid smiled at me and said, "Told you!"
I was pissed off. But I was out of ammunition already and couldn't think
of anything else to throw at him. I was confused. I thought, What the hell
am I doing here? A skateboarder was intellectually beating me up. This
was not good for my ego at all.
Let's give it one more try, I thought.
"Listen young man, I'm speaking of experience. You got to go to
school and study hard to be somebody in this country. If you want to make
money, if you want fast cars, beautiful women, exotic vacations, you've
got to have an education and market yourself to get all that. Nobody will
give you a good job while you have rings in your nose. No one will give
you an opportunity to be someone if you look like a punk. You'd be poor
for the rest of your life. You'd be homeless."
The kid stood up, garbed his Walkman, looked at me, shook his head,
and said, "Man, you are sad. Don't you know my dad is a multi-millionaire
and I'm the only child? I'll be inheriting a fortune when the old man hits
the bucket. I'll never have to work. You're pathetic. You didn't even do
some research before you came here. What a waist of time. I am outta here."
The kid jumped on his skateboard and left the food court. I immediately
pulled out my cellphone and dialed my doctor. "Hey doc, does my insurance