My friends and I were of the opinion that our school’s authority figures were more or less out of touch, irrelevant and unaware of the things that mattered to us — and, I think, many of us also knew that the things that mattered to us … didn’t really matter. The game of “growing up” was exactly that: A game. We got baffled sometimes when Someone In Charge would get terribly serious and grim over something that was barely worth noticing.
It’s worse now in some respects — just let a kid show up in school with a toy gun and see what happens, and let’s not forget that in our society kindergarteners have been charged with sexual harrassment — but the valence of authority’s stupidity appears to be about the same as ever.
It’s good to know that the current crop of trouser dribble is facing the same kinds of problems, more or less, that I did. In a blatant fluff piece, the WA Post goes on the offensive about how hard it is for current school administrators to handle slogan tees. Tees that read things such as “yes, but not with u!,” “Your Boyfriend Is a Good Kisser” and “two boys for every girl”. (I personally find the second one amusing. It would be outright hilarious if a guy was wearing it. The third one just sounds like a good idea.)
I was disrupted, though, by the following comment from an administrator complaining about how hard it can be to read the slogans and decide if they’re acceptable (under fairly vague definitions) or not.
“It’s almost like a live-action Pac-Man game. You see them coming through the hall, and they’re trying to avoid you,” said Myca Gray, an assistant principal at Gar-Field Senior High School in Prince William.
Ignore for a moment the issue of kids playing dodge-em with administrators, and look at the complaint.
A live-action Pac-Man game?
Jesus Horatio Christ, has this (wo?)man not played a single video game since 1981? How can these administrative types possibly hope to even know what’s passable and what isn’t, when they’re not even slightly aware of the culture, when they likely view the idea of a kid having a webcam as a wide-open invitation to molesters, when they believe — honestly believe — teens are doing Rainbow Parties, but refuse to listen to plausible denials? (And so what if the kids are doing those parties? Where’s the harm, precisely? There’s a strong argument to be made in favor of practice, isn’t there?)
Here’s another sign of irrelevance:
One day, Assistant Principal LaTanya Catron saw sophomore Paula Akanni wearing a tight black T-shirt that said, “I AM TOO HOT TO HANDLE.” The word “Hot” had gold studs on the letters.
“Are you too hot to handle?” Catron asked with a smile. “Is that for the boys?
“It’s for nobody,” Akanni replied, walking away.
I guess it’s a good thing we couldn’t see into Ms. Akanni’s head. I’m reasonably sure I have an idea what was going on in there: Fuck, get a clue and get off my back already, you lesbian cunt!*
And lest you think this is a problem limited to adults, here’s something from a kid who got old fast.
“When I see a T-shirt that says, ‘100% single,’ then you’re compelled to go up and talk to them,” said Paul Barrett, 17, a senior at Osbourn Park. “But if they’re not single, it’d kind of [tick] me off, like they’re a tease. I wouldn’t let my girlfriend wear that.”
He wouldn’t let his girlfriend wear something? What a prat. Looks like the College Republicans will be getting his membership application pretty damn soon.
The girl wearing the “yes, but not with u!” shirt was also forced to explain herself to an adult who either had an agenda and was trying to push it onto the shirt, or who had an agenda that involved trying to prove the girl had an agenda.
Keana said her shirt’s message was ambiguous. “It could mean, ‘Yes, I want to go to the movies, but not with you,’ ” she said. “If I wanted to be sexy, like on MTV, I would just buy low-cut tight shirts.”
What it means, folks, is what it says; it does not say “Fresh free milkshakes”. It would seem some school administrators would benefit from attending classes right alongside their charges. Why not revisit some of those English courses that require you to think and apply rational interpretations to words, before you try to find “inappropriate” messages where none exist?
How is it possible, after all these years have passed, that I can still get so worked up about school authorities busting kids’ balls? I think it has to do with the idea of free expression, and with the tremendous disservice adults do in apparently always assuming the worst of kids — working under the impression that kids will always, always break every rule placed before them, must always be kept in line and under containment, will — at the drop of a hat — just rip off their clothes and fuck each other silly. (As though, again, that would be a bad thing somehow.)
Yes, kids push limits. Yes, they test boundaries. Yes, they want to get laid. And yes, it’s all a giant game to them. What seems to be lost on school authorities is that everything is a game. All of life is a game. It’s the biggest fucking live-action Pac-Man game in the world … and the second you lose sight of that, the second you take your eye off the fun and free life-ups in it, is the moment you lose the game.
Get off the kids’ backs. They’re not murdering each other, they’re not doing terrible hard drugs, they’re not taking too many chances with sex, and they really are doing all right. And if they want to wear a shirt that pushes the edge a little, so the fuck what?
Pushing, testing, trying and exploring freedom is what the US is really supposed to be about, after all.
* Don’t even bother; I know that’s “inappropriate” to write, but in context it fits, and anyone who protests it will automatically mark him– or herself as being one of the clueless masses I’m mocking in this piece. If you can’t imagine why I’d put those thoughts inside the head of a teenager being hassled by the admin, well, all I can say is you either forgot your high school years … or lived on a different planet back then.
No related posts.
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.