Last night I had the privilege of reading an excerpt from my Grade 11 journal at Sara Bynoe‘s Teen Angst Comedy Night. Sara has been hosting Teen Angst readings (essentially verbatim readings of angst-filled diaries, fiction, and poetry written in the teen years) since 2000.
I saw the Facebook page for this event a month or two ago and thought it would be a laugh to sign up to read some stuff. Unfortunately, my adolescent diaries remain at home in Saskatchewan, so I had to pull only from my last two years of high school, which, while a little less hilarious, still had plenty of drama. The entries I shared revolved around a non-boyfriend “boyfriend” I dated for three weeks at the end of Grade 11. I concluded my reading with a loose-leaf poem I found tucked between the pages of my journal, about the aforementioned non-boyfriend “boyfriend”. It was titled “Letter from the Unloved” and finished with the line, “WHY DON’T YOU CALL ME ‘BABE’ ANYMORE?!”. I think it summed up my feelings about this particular fellow nicely. Needless to say, this young man has not called me “babe” for quite a number of years now.
I was surprised by two things during this evening: firstly, even though I was embarrassed at my naivety, and my listeners found a lot of humour in what was very serious business for me at the time, I felt oddly supported, as if all the people listening agreed that this non-boyfriend did me wrong, and definitely should have continued to call me “babe” if he knew anything about good manners. The sympathetic warmth of the listeners at Teen Angst reached back in time and made my 17-year-old feel just a little bit better and a little less alone.
Secondly, although I knew this evening would be funny, I wasn’t quite prepared for how much fun I would have. I laughed so hard I cried. Words cannot describe how hilarious and outrageous the writings of teenagers are. I unfortunately do not remember the list of the readers so I cannot credit them properly but a few choice phrases I will remember forever include:
“Nosferatu, I got you”
“Hitler was a moustachist”
(From a teen girl’s attempt at beat poetry)
“I hate ___’s purse. It’s way too small. It looks like a stoner purse.”
(From a young man who really liked the book “The Outsiders” and also several young women, but maybe not their purses)
“Go to bed.” “NO!”
(A 12-year-old girl describes how her planned rebellion will go down)
Sara Bynoe MC’ed the evening and shared her touching poetic tribute to Kurt Cobain after his death, and her 14-year-old self’s thoughts about writing poetry in general, which she writes that she enjoyed doing despite the “screams of adolescents”. Our evening also included a game involving Sara reading angsty song lyrics as if they were teen poetry and the rest of us having to guess what the song was/who wrote it for a prize of a toffee.
I couldn’t contain my excitement when Sara read, “I’m never alone/I’m alone all the time”. I shouted out “GLYCERINE! It’s GLYCERINE!” and the toffee was mine. Oh yes, Gavin Rossdale, you melt my heart, you and your lonesomeness and dirty hair. Thank you Big Shiny 90s Volume 2 compilation CD. You have made me cool! Finally!
Making good segues was never a talent I exhibited in my teenaged journals and I don’t feel the need to do it now. In conclusion, Teen Angst was great and Sara is great too. If the event comes back to town I’ll definitely try to do it again. I laughed my face off and almost peed my pants. A good time was had by all.
(But why doesn’t he like me? Sigh……………I guess we’ll never know.)