The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Friday, October 12, 2007

SEX AND THE MODERN TEENAGER: Recently at a small social gathering in New York, a teenager asked a prominent American social philosopher what, in his opinion, was the major difference between adolescents and adults in their outlook towards life. The philosopher, a kindly man always willing to give the young the full benefit of his long years of study and reflection on a wide variety of subjects effecting life here in this our Great Republic, thought for a moment and then said that the major difference between the two groups was that teenagers obsess about sex, whereas adults obsess about money. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course; it is definitely possible, as recent history has shown, for adults to obsess about sex and money with equal intensity, but in the main, the sex/money dividing line holds up to all the rigors of statistical analysis.
We all know that adults obsess about money because they have to; bills do not pay themselves. Why then do teens obsess about sex? Everyone knows the conventional answers about hormones and growing up and all the other pat answers people would have us believe, but these reasons do not hold up under close scrutiny. The real reason, however, that adolescents obsess about sex is because they can. Your average American teenager lives in one of the very few socialist entities still extant: the nuclear family. This entity provides the teenager with clothing, food, shelter, medical care, transportation, and free laundry services with little or no monetary input from the teenager.

Indeed, many a teenager no longer sees these services as services that someone must pay for, but rather as rights that they are entitled to by virtue of their adolescence. In return for these benefits, the teenager whines, complains, refuses to clean up their room, listens to what passes for music amongst his or her cohort at an extremely high volume even when told to turn the noise down, and obsesses about sex, which they usually imagine to be a recreational activity without much biological consequence, like trying to get a tan or cracking a match near their bare backsides after having too much to drink and then passing gas. With all of their material needs met by their parents, the average American teenager can lay back and let the tidal surges of hormones drift over them unabated, allowing their minds to wander aimlessly through endless scenes of reproductive biology too baroque for any pornographer who wants to stay out of the slammer for a long time to re-enact.

This may also account for young people’s enduring fascination with socialism. A social system where all material needs are met, all social divisions are torn down, is just the sort of thing that would appeal to an idealistic teenager, the ideology combining all the benefits of adolescence, some of which are mentioned above, and few of the negative aspects i.e. the dreaded teenage pecking order. The problem with this system is, as adults know, that it doesn’t work, but that’s all right with teens—they don’t work either and somehow or other the money keeps coming in.
Adults know that this sort of adolescent attitudinizing is all poppycock, when it is not busy being balderdash and codswallop too. Teenagers can have black and white attitudes towards life and society because they are without adult experience and so have not learned that the world is largely immune to their notions of fairness; you can ask any Cubs fan about fairness and you’ll get an earful about the unfairness of life. In our modern world, a person knows that they have left childhood and adolescence behind and finally reached the semi-fabulous state of grown up when they know, deep down in their hearts, that these two statements are and always have been true: that life is not fair and that there is no free lunch. Somehow, some way, at some time, someone is going to have to pay through the metaphorical nose for the free lunch. This is simply the way it is, this way and not some other way, as Cormac McCarthy put it, much as some teens may not like to hear it.

Some adults fight the logic of this, of course, usually those who have done well in school and see no reason why their early scholastic success should not entitle them to lord it over the scruffy kids in shop class for the rest of their lives, and when they find this is not possible, they become academics. This is probably why socialism and its apologists exist only in the academy; a system that promises people whose sole qualification in life is that they were good at doing their English homework in the eleventh grade and ran twice for the student council complete and utter domination over every aspect of a given society’s social, political, and economic life will attract those people like loansharks attract deadbeats with a hot tip about Mile High in the fifth race at Aqueduct. That’s just the way it is, I guess, some things will never change.

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