by Jim Harris
I am just back from the lab, where I’ve been conducting experiments on the teenage brain. At the age where many people are planning their permanent escape to the beaches of Florida, I have suddenly become the parent of a teenager for the first time. It’s an experience I can best describe as being like that scene in the 1990 movie, “Home Alone,” where Macaulay Culkin slaps after-shave lotion onto his baby face. You can almost see the steam shooting out of his ears.
Yeah, that’s how it hit me. So THIS is what you parents have been suffering through all these years? How do you do it? And the answer is, of course, that you have no choice unless you want to be taken into custody by social workers. You don’t “raise” teens; you “contain” them, like wildfires, because you don’t want to be that person on the news who let his campfire get out of control and burned down an entire National Park. I’m gradually getting used to the insanity, but I felt the need to conduct a study using the scientific method.
• Question: Are all teenagers crazy?
• Research protocol: Interview other parents. Yes; all teenagers are nuts.
• Construct hypothesis: The teenage brain purposely defies logic.
• Test hypothesis through experiments: First remove the brain. Note, this does not harm the teenagers in any way, as they act exactly the same with or without it.
Chemical analysis reveals that the brain contains red, green and blue food colorings numbers 1 though 27, gum and high-fructose hot sauce. Clearly enough toxins to kill the average adult, but in the teenager, these substances actually bond the neurons into an impervious, monolithic block.
• Notes from clinical experiments:
Monday, 6:30 a.m. (the alarm clock has been beeping for 20 minutes):
“Hey, brain, why are you still asleep? You have to leave for school in 15 minutes.”
Brain (not moving): “I was awake an hour ago.”
“But you’re not awake now. What’s going on?”
Brain: “It wasn’t my fault. The alarm didn’t wake me up.”
9 a.m.: “Why didn’t you clean up all that milk you spilled?”
Brain: “Well I didn’t KNOW it was going to spill, so it wasn’t my fault.”
At this point the brain goes on a rambling discourse about this, that and the other nonsensical topic that is designed solely to forestall the act of going to sleep. When I persist, the brain attempts to lure me into an argument to keep the conversation going. When I refuse to bite, the brain goes to sleep. This entire cycle begins anew at 6:30 the next morning and repeats until Saturday, at which time the brain sleeps all day and stays up all night for no apparent reason.
Sunday, 9 p.m.: “Brain, you’ve lost five sets of keys, two wallets, a cell phone and every single thing I ever lent you on the condition that you not lose it. How do you explain that?”
Brain (barely audible): “Hamana banama.”
Brain (lower still): “Hanama bmnnn…”
When pressed further, the brain lapses into a deep state of torpor.
Conclusion: The teenage brain believes that it is in control of everything, yet accepts responsibility for nothing. It is also unaware that there are any other brains in the universe. Yes, the teenage brain does defy logic. Modern psychologists will tell you that this is just a normal human evolutionary stage. They are lying because they’re afraid to tell you the truth, that teenage brains are aliens from outer space, sent here to drive adults crazy.
I now realize that I, too, once had a teenage brain. Luckily, I survived it. But I now see that everything good that I thought I had accomplished on my own in those years was actually made possible by my mom. She was like the roadie who sets up the entire stage and establishes safeguards against every possible calamity without ever being acknowledged. I was the egomaniacal rock star who then struts out onto the stage and takes credit for everything. Now I know why she used to call me Little Lord Fauntleroy. I hope they get the Local in heaven, because I need to apologize and send you some love, mom. Hope to see you again one of these days, but right now, I gotta go put out some fires.