111 One-Minute Monologues for Teens

Audition Monologues, Contemporary Themes

 

   * Written by L.E. McCullough, Ph.D.

   * ISBN: 1-57525-237-6

   * Retail List Price: $17.00 (check online retailers for other prices)

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INSIDE THIS BOOK are 111 Teenagers, each one waiting to talk to you, eager to let you know

what’s on their minds.

 

Listen, and you’ll definitely learn a few things about their world ... and yours.

 

Expressly designed for honing the interpretive skills of actors ages 12-21, this book presents

a wide range of situations, emotions and characters expressing the dreams, doubts, joys and

sorrows of modern teenhood.

 

These are fresh, realistic and powerful audition pieces guaranteed to make a memorable

impression at casting calls.

Synopses & Excerpts from

111 One-Minute Teen Monologues

All material © 2002 L.E. McCullough

__________________________________

 

MY SPECIAL TALENT (female). Science can be a lonely calling, especially if you’re a little too handy with the dissecting knife. “I mean, when was the last time I got invited to a dissection party? ‘Hi, Lisa, we’re all sleeping over at Brittany’s tomorrow and want you to bring your collection of lizard spleens.’ People act like I’m, you know, weird, just for wanting to get to the heart of the matter. See what’s really inside things. Explore the unknown universe of a still-beating salamander heart!”

 

DESTINY (male/female). Sometimes a career just chooses you. “How did I get this great job working at the Shoe Biz Discount Footwear Emporium? Destiny, that’s how! I was walking down Mill Street coming back from recycling the family gar-baje at Grand Union — for which menial task I earn the pathetic sum of five dollaroopos to add to my so-called higher education investment fund — when I saw this piece of paper blow off the windshield of Mrs. Fernbottle’s old Plymouth. . .”

 

ALIEN PLANET (male/female). Making the grade in a brave new world. “Sure, it’s a little scary at times. I mean, what if you were suddenly set down in the middle of a hostile alien planet? You didn’t speak the language, didn’t eat the food, didn’t know the customs — and everybody looked at you like you had three heads and they wanted to chop them off bam-bam-bam! Talk about stress! Talk about panic! Talk about not knowing if you’ll be able to survive one more minute of madness and terror! And, whoa-dang — this is only the first day of high school!”

 

WORK WITH IT (male/female). Meditations on the meaning of music. “So what do you do with an already out-of-tune harmonica? You work with it. You figure out where it’s weak, where it’s strong. Which notes you can bend without breaking the tone. Which ones vibrate longer. Which holes are easiest to blow. You try to learn as much as you can from it, while it lasts. I mean, it’s just a thing. A cheap chunk of metal and plastic that’s out of tune the minute it gets made and will never ever be perfect no matter how much you tinker with it. Kinda like people, huh?”

 

A PEOPLE PERSON (male/female). Youth seeks adult role model. “People put other people on hold to take his call, and people think about him, and people wonder about what he thinks about their people, and those people tell other people what they think he thinks about their people and about all the other people who think about him all the time because they’re his people, or at least they wanna be his people so they can think about him and he can think about them and they will never-never-never not have people thinking about them, because when my dad comes home after work. . . he’s too tired to think about me.”

 

TERMINALLY SKOOCH (female). Vigilante gang member describes a gang initiation beating of a homeless man. “Just took off the training wheels on Brittany and Chantelle, yo, bump that, girlfriend, these princess shorties got my props — I vote them both in as full Kweens of Kleen! Took this hoser down like puddin, mucho phat!”

 

TREASURE MAP (male). Athlete faces a crisis in motivation. “Coach said to me, ‘Dawson, you could be the best in the county, but you live too far deep inside yourself. Sometimes I look at you flailing away out there, I don’t know whether it’s you I see, or a shadow of you coming up to the surface for a quick breath before diving back under.’”

 

ASK A SILLY QUESTION (male/female). Do the time, do the crime. “Yes, I know it’s wrong to shoplift. Yes, I know it was a very stupid thing to do. No, I don’t want to end up like mom. Yes, I want to get into a good college. No, I don’t want to get thrown off the soccer team. Yes, I care about our standing in the community. No, I don’t want to embarrass you in front of your boss. Yes, I know I hurt you very much. . . (looks up) why? Why did I steal the stupid wristwatch? Because for the few hours I was in this jail cell, I didn’t have to answer any damn questions from you!”

 

FATHER’S DAY (male). Son argues with father. “He starts yelling, ‘If I had my legs, I’d knock that filthy tongue out of your head!’ That’s my dad, always some bogus excuse for not coming through. Even when he could walk, he was a drunken loser. Hell, I bet he can walk. I bet he’s faking it, so he can weasel out of his child support and the lawyer stole his disability and mom’s relatives won’t support us. Hell, dad, that’s your job! If you were a decent father, if you gave a damn about your son — you’d get your sorry ass up out of that wheelchair and knock me from here to next Tuesday!”

READINGS IN AMERICAN HISTORY (male). Teen tries to cushion younger brother from racism. “Me and Bucky went down to Methodist to see ma yesterday. She’s been on suicide watch and some detox, too, since Tuesday. At the bus stop, we seen a Asiatic girl, college student most likely, reading one of her school books and sitting there real small and slim and flowery-like, with long straight black hair shimmering like liquid black marble and floating a little wavy bit in the cool morning breeze. Then a big fat kid come up, just about Bucky’s age not even — torn blue jeans, black spike boots, dirty white teeshirt with ARYAN AVENGERS painted on it.”

 

TIGHT AND DOWN (female). Cheerleader captain explains her responsibilities to squad members. “And I’m not even talking the physical punishment you put your body through. I’m talking keeping your squad motivated, keeping their minds clear, keeping them tight and down with each other. I’m talking maintaining the mental power and purity that comes from knowing their bodies are your body, their dreams are your dreams, their tears are your tears. Because one day, you’ll be tested. And you’ll find out you don’t cheer from your lungs. You cheer from your gut.”

 

FORBIDDEN FRUIT (male/female). Flash! Teen caught in the act of reading! “What? Nothing, sir, no, really! (pause) All right, you caught me, it’s a magazine, do I get detention for possession of contraband wood pulp? Show it to you? (grimaces) Come on, it’s, I’d rather, do I have to? Okay.”

 

SO OUTA HERE (female). Girl sees an unpleasant side to her boyfriend. “I asked him where he’d been at lunch, cause he didn’t sit with me like usual, and he says in a real nasty voice, “I was shootin hoops with my buds. That all right with you, or do I gotta ask permission first?” His friends all snickered, and I just kinda slunk away. Then after school, Rick wants to hold my hand and walk me home like nothing had happened.”

 

BRAND NEW GAME (male). Older teen reflects on young kids’ penchant for violent games. “Yesterday, while I watched the snow quiet down the afternoon city noise, like the cool white washcloth your mom would lay across your forehead when you were burning up with fever, I saw a pack of little boys on sleds skidding down the bank and yelling and throwing snowballs at each other the way little boys do. The biggest one jumped up and hollered so loud he almost fell over: ‘Drive-by shooting! Drive-by shooting! I love this game! Smoke ’em! Smoke ’em! Smoke ’em!’”

 

ONE CHANCE A DAY (male/female). Volunteer at soup kitchen has personal reasons for lending a helping hand. “I asked my grandmother why she did that, when her own family hardly had any money themselves. She said a hobo could get a handout pretty much any time. But she only had one chance a day to be kind to a stranger the way she’d want someone to be kind to her. ‘It wasn’t for their sake,’ said my grandmother. ‘It was for mine.’”

HUMAN ENGINEERING, INC. (male). Preparing for a career takes planning. . . and then some. “So, yeh, last weekend my parents sent me to take some ‘aptitude tests’ at a place downtown called Human Engineering, Incorporated. For real! They’re worried about my future. Must’ve found out I put down “Intergalactic Death-Metal Sex-Lord” on the career day preference sheet.”

 

FOREVER FAMILY (male/female). Teen recalls fellow foster child murdered by adoptive parents. “We were in the same foster home when we were ten. I liked him. He smiled a lot and was always happy, no matter how bad things got. And they get real bad sometimes. But Tommy never lost faith. Never lost hope. He never lost trust, and that’s the first thing you lose in foster care.”

OUR TURN TO GIVE (male/female). Remembering a deceased classmate at her funeral. “And if you maybe add up all the good things she did in her short life, all the smiles she gave, all the songs she sang, all the kindness she did. . . well, you hear people say you don’t get something for nothing in life, but Kimberly, she gave us all a whole lot of something every day she lived, and she never asked a thing in return. I figure now, we could start giving back.”

 

WHAT PASSES FOR RESPECT (male). Teen ruminates on the honor code among drug dealers. “I wasn’t at the showing but my sister’s boyfriend Herschell was, and he said the kid that ordered the hit bought Deric a brand new suit to be buried in. Even sent his mother a whole porch-full of flowers, just to show there wasn’t no hard feelings. Way things are round here in Stringtown these days, I guess you’d say that’s what passes for respect.”

 

WICCA IS A RELIGION (male/female). A plea for religious tolerance. “Members of the School Board: I wish to speak against the measure now before you that would ban the wearing of Wiccan symbols of worship at my school. Such as the shiny silver pentagram I myself am now wearing. (points to neck, clears throat) Wicca is a religion. And Wiccans are just normal people doing normal things. We do not worship the devil. We do not offer blood sacrifices. We do not eat babies — except on Sundays. Oops, hah-hah, just kidding, I see everybody’s awake now!”

 

NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED (male/female). Vegan confronts meat-mad father. “My father is mucho empathy-challenged. He thinks Veganism is something invented by liberals to make a parent’s life difficult. He sees the animal world as just another thing created for his pleasure, like Dockers and the Classic Car Channel and Jodie Foster movies.”

 

W.W.J.D. (female). Teen looks to Scripture for guidance in facing down a pair of sinners. “Like a couple weeks ago, our Bible group had just let out. Jeannie and I were waiting in front of the laundramat for her stepmom to pick us up, and we saw this white Bronco go down the street, realllllll slow. Two guys around our age, maybe a little older, were in it, and one had a Mr. Microphone thing and would get next to somebody and yell at them with the microphone, or say something real nasty and personal and shout it out all over the street. Then they’d laugh and drive off. Well, they kept coming back around three or four times, just messing with people and stirring up a lot of anger and fear. Jeannie said, ‘Look at those dork-butts!’ And I said, ‘Girl, hush your mouth!’ and held up my bracelet and said, ‘Think, Jeannie — What Would Jesus Do?’”

 

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE SUPERSIZED (male/female). Ever get the feeling your life is nothing but one big honking ad slogan? Probably because it is. “Hi, my name is Tommy Liz Helmut Dior Calvin Estee Fubu, and I’m a charter member of Generation Now On Sale, the good life at a great price, an original classic luxury edition beaucoup de cool at the Gap. The Revolution will not be supersized. What’cha gonna do the dew? The science of you? Got image? Image is nothing. Experience the magic of smooth, see the U.S.A., obey your thirst, just do it.”

 

KEEP IT REAL (male). Would-be gang member brags of bust. “Hell yes, I knew I was gonna get bagged up! What fool walks into a damn video store wearin a bright red doo-rag and hoody, stick a jumbo DVD in his tommies, stare the rent-a-pig in the face and think he ain’t gonna get bagged up when he hit the beep-gate? That the whole show, homey! My uncle was standin right there, makin sure I stayed down with it, know what I’m sayin, he have my back all the way.”

 

SCIENCE PROJECT (male/female). When school security meets scientific genius, something has to give. “So when the bus gets back to the garage, the driver finds the box. He freaks and calls the sheriff, and they freak and call the bomb squad, and they freak and bring in the bomb dogs, and they freak and start biting their handlers, so everybody freaks and they haul out this humongous water cannon deal and aim it at the box — which by now I’m trying to get to, but no so-called adults are listening to me — and the water cannon blasts the box into a zabillion pieces but then freaks and jumps off its axle and blows out five windows in the gym and whips the toupee off Principal Morgan before it runs out of water. And that’s why I won’t be handing in a science project today.”

 

I JUST WANT TO KNOW (male/female). Teen seeks birth parents. “Like, if you went around the corner one day, your life might take a swerve, and when you came back around, you’d be someone else, or not quite the person you were before in a major way? I just want to know who I might have been. Who I was supposed to be until fate stepped up and whisked me away to this other reality. I just want to know. I just. . . gotta know. . .”

 

LEAVE THE PRAYING TO US (female). Girl contemplates the monastic life. “My friends are totally blown out. They can’t believe it, but, yeh, I want to be a nun. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not an anti-sex thing. As far as sex, I’m, well, let’s not go there right now, okay? But look at your life as a teenager. Every minute of the day you have to do this, be there, buy that, even your so-called leisure time is programmed to the nano-second. Coming up is all the stress on college, and after that, you’re a shrieking hamster on the career wheel for the next forty years, and why? Why all the stress? Why all the pressure? What do you think you’re accomplishing?”

 

CONTENT (male/female). There is such a thing as spending too much time surfing the net. “The content of this site is about nothing. My life is about nothing. My life is a forlorn and desperate attempt to be a beneficial organism in the great compost heap of life. If you are reading this, you’re standing too close! You should immediately shut off your computer and get a life. You won’t find intelligent life on the internet, only a twisting labyrinth of endless imaginary pathways leading everywhere, nowhere, elsewhere, upstairs, in the air, unaware, solitaire, double dare, fanfare, Vanity Fair, Smoky the Bear, a millionaire in Delaware driving in his underwear, who cares — see how easy it is to spool off the main thread?”

 

HOME ALONE (male/female). Teen chafes at parents’ protectiveness. “What are they afraid can happen in two hours of me being home alone? I’m going to be knifed by a maniac? Kidnapped by a cult? Struck dead by a meteor that just happens to hit our living room? Or maybe invite a friend over and do something dangerous, like leave the icemaker in the ‘up’ position?”

 

I WANNA BE SURPRISED (male/female). Sometimes the Voice of Experience isn’t going to be heard no matter what. “I don’t wanna know the future! I wanna be surprised! Have it smack me upside the head, mess me around, lead me on, throw me for a loop, knock the wind out of my sails, send me flying! I know you want to help me, protect me, share your hard-earned wisdom. But don’t take away the surprise. That’s the best thing about growing up — not knowing how anything’s gonna turn out. And when you can’t be surprised anymore, I don’t think you’re even very much alive.”

ONLY A STUPID SLASHER MOVIE (female). Girl wonders which is creepier — her boyfriend or his taste in movies. “My boyfriend says it’s all made up, and sometimes they have a moral lesson or whatever, and he keeps telling me over and over there’s no reason to be scared of a stupid slasher movie. I guess he’s right, it’s only a stupid slasher movie. Maybe what really scares me, is how much he likes them.”

 

WHERE ARE MY FRIENDS NOW? (female). Facing violence on your own. “My friends say she’s only scaring me. My friends say maybe she won’t be there, or maybe I can call a cop and get a ride home. But she’ll be waiting tomorrow. Or the day after, however long it takes, that’s the way people like her are, they don’t have anything to lose. I don’t think she even goes to school here anymore. She just looks for people to beat up, jesus — where are my friends now, dammit!”

 

WHO’S KEEPING SCORE, MOM? (male/female). Teen resents negative incentives from parents. “Cause, it’s always that way with her. I sort out five piles of laundry, one pair of socks is mismatched, it’s major conversation for the next week. What about the other fifty pairs of correctly matched socks? They don’t exist? I mean, who’s keeping score, mom? Who’s handing out the prize for Total Perfection? Is God keeping track in some big balance book of everything I do? Ten mismatched pair of socks equals a mortal sin equals three extra months in Purgatory?”

 

ANY SECOND NOW (male/female). Tips for living with a control freak. “First thing my dad does when he sits down in the living room is grab the channel changer. He has to find it, has to seize it, has to control it — even if we’re in the middle of a show I’m watching, even if the TV isn’t on. He doesn’t do anything with it at first, just holds it awhile. Then, slowly, shifts it between one hand and the other. Then starts to finger it. You can hear the rustling noise — swip-swip! — flesh on rubber, and the creeaak-creeaak! of the plastic, as he squeezes his thumb down on the side. . .”

 

THE RESPONSIBLE PARTY (male). Teen auto thief jumps from frying pan into the blast furnace. “Got far as Rockville and run outa gas, so we held up a 7-11 and that took us to Vandalia, but then the state trooper chasin us was some crazy mother and forced us off the road into that old lady’s front porch, I think she’s supposed to live. Nosir, none of this woulda happened if I hadn’t been late for school. It’s my old man’s fault. Throw his sorry drunk ass in jail! He’s the responsible party!”

 

A BABY IS A JOB (female). Single teen mom reflects on her decision to be a mother. “When the baby was born, I called her father and said, “You have a daughter.” He was like, “No I don’t. You have a daughter.” Know what’s really weird? When I meet somebody and they find out I have a baby, they always say “That is so neat!” Uh-uh. A car is neat, an outfit is neat — a baby is a job.”

 

A BABY IS A JOB (male). Teen father defines his parental role. “Look, I’m sorry we goofed up with the birth control thing, nothing’s a hundred per cent, right? I know I’m responsible, but right now a baby is a job, and I don’t think I’m, like, qualified to handle it. I’ll pass on this one.”

 

BROTHER’S KEEPER (male/female). Sibling discontent breeds resentment. “When did I get elected family behavior cop? I thought that was the parents’ job. I am not my brother’s keeper. I can’t control him any more than they can. They should put him in a zoo with the other animals. And charge admission to go to my college fund.”

 

AN OLD BOX OF TAPES (male/female). Teen hopes music can reconcile divorced parents. “And I think about how some time when mom and I visit dad, maybe I’ll play that tape for them. . . play that song. And when they hear it, they’ll look at each other, and they’ll remember the good times they had when they first heard it, cause once upon a time it must have meant something major to them. I mean, I can’t see how two people can just fall out of love and leave each other behind, like an old box of tapes.”

 

RÉSUMÉ (male/female). Job applicant massages résumé. “Two days prep cook Sandy’s Snack Shack — (writes) “helped diners appreciate value of home cooking”. . . (raises hand) Excuse me, does “salmonella” have one or two N’s?”

 

NEVER BEEN HAPPIER (male). Young man discusses appeal of military life. “I knew there had to be more goin on in the world than that. One day I seen a bumper sticker said, ‘Join the Army, travel to exotic lands, meet interesting people — and kill them.’ So I did. And I never been happier in my whole life, bubba.”

 

ONE TEEN IN TEN (female). Lesbian teen reflects on her sexual feelings. “I’m just like you, really. Except when I hear somebody sing ‘baby, I want your love to shine for me,’ I’m probably not thinking of the same kind of ‘baby’ as you. Is that a problem for anybody?”

I PROMISE I’LL BE DEEP (male/female). Underachieving student seeks to con teacher. “Listen, teach, be a cuz and let me park my rope and you just clock it for me till school’s out. You do, I promise I’ll be deep in class today. Deep and low down. Dead up!”

 

MOM, I LOVE YOU (male/female). Teen pleads with mother to quit drinking. “You think I’m just a kid and can’t know how a grownup feels, but I haven’t spent my whole childhood watching cartoons! I can see real things going on, and-and I think, well, I know you’re really sad and. . . Mom, I love you. But I wish you’d quit drinking. Will you? Tonight? Please?”

ASK THE FASHION GODDESS (female). Expert call-in radio advice for Junior Misses. “Meredith, I have good news, and I have bad news. Good news, there are no hard-and-fast rules in fashion anymore! If it looks good to you, wear it! Bad news, navy blue and black are mega-dorkish and thoroughly offensive to me, The Fashion Goddess. If I see you on the street, I will mock and revile you! Next caller!”

 

ASK THE FASHION DUDE (male). Expert call-in radio advice for Young Gents. “The Fashion Dude is gonna play it close-up tonight and suggest you be on the safe side and wear something totally outrageous that deflects all visual attention from her, cause if she’s really a babe, you don’t wanna spend the whole night with everybody staring at her. And if she’s a crusty, you wanna be invisible, dude! Peace out!”

 

ALPHABET SOUP (male/female). It’s getting tougher to communicate all the time, when the world has been reduced to acronyms. “HIV. STD. HPV. DNA. FAQ. ATM. MTV. BET. ADD. ADHD. . . CPU-RAM-WWW-dot-CNN-GTE-UPS-AOL-APR-GNP-DVD-LSD. (gasps for breath) Better get on it PDQ-COD-FYI-TCB-ASAP-NIMBY! Look out, it’s the CIA-NRA-IRS-AKA that SOB, IMHO — look, a UFO! Heard the new LFO on MP3?”

 

CYBER-ROMEO (female). The heartbreak of online romance. “Last night I was bopping through the chat rooms, okay, when I got a random message from some guy saying, ‘Hey, babe, what’s stickin?’. Maybe it was the full moon; maybe it was the cute way he made the smiley sign so one eye was, like, winking; maybe it was that my screen name is Wild Marble 123 and his was Mild Warble 321, what are the odds of that? — but we instantly bonded! Hearts en fuego! I was a puddle! I told him everything about me! Deep desires, primitive passions, sizzling secrets — everything, of course, except our real names. That would ruin the romance!”

BRIDGE KIDS (male/female). Runaway tells a tale of life “under the bridge”. “Sure we look spiky. We want you to keep your distance, okay? Go ahead laugh at us and feel sorry for us. Hell, you can take our pictures all day, sell them to the newspaper, whatever. Just don’t get too close. The Bridge can hold only so much weight. Keep moving and don’t worry about what’s underneath.”

MORE JUST OKAY (male/female). A soothing dose of good old-fashioned pessimism. “I look around, and I don’t see very much Happy. Happy is largely absent from this sphere of existence. Who do you know who’s really Happy? My parents aren’t. My brother and sister aren’t. My friends aren’t, and neither are any kids I see in school. Teachers, no way. Can you even say a dog or butterfly is truly Happy? People in the supermarket, the mall, on the streets, even at church, none of them are Happy, so I don’t think it’s just a teen thing, a ‘phase’.”

 

PUBERTY ALARM (male). Looking at the world with a brand new set of eyes. “One minute I’m just a kid, watching TV and digging on Xena Warrior Princess swinging that battle ax — rrrrrinngg! — puberty alarm, and no way am I watching Xena with my parents in the room! Uh-uh! Change channel to Barney, but it doesn’t zap Xena from my pubosity-filled mind! Innocence abandoned, out the window!”

 

DIFFERENT DREAMS (male/female). Teen asks dad for permission to choose own life path. “My dreams are just as important to me as yours were to you. And maybe I’ll make them come true, maybe not. But I have to try, the same way you tried. I just wish you could support me in my dreams, instead of always making me feel bad cause I’m not living up to yours.”

 

WE TAG, WE TESTIFY (male/female). Graffiti artist explains aesthetic philosophy. “Why? Cause this is my world, too, and I’m gonna make it come alive! Make it rise up and speak in a new way, every day. Gonna give it brightness, definition, perspective, uh-huh, I went to art school, too. See that overpass? Blank concrete, straight dull, that overpass is a crime — Crime of Style!”

JUST PERFECT (male/female). Fatalistic teen plans details of funeral. “Shondra steps back, and from the right side comes Tony and Marcus and Jean, and from left Danesha, Maria and Lynn, each holding a bouquet of these real neat pink flowers called Autumn Joy. Which they lay on the altar, as Jesse — who should be wearing a grey cape and silver gloves — leads everyone out with ‘Never Cry for Twilight’. My mom says it’s weird to plan your own funeral, when you’re only twelve. But she doesn’t know what it’s like to be twelve years old in this neighborhood. When my time comes, I want everything to be just perfect.”

 

DRIVER’S ED (male/female). Telling dad about your first car accident. “Dad? Oh-wow, I thought I’d get the answering machine, you’re usually still at work, and I — did I want to leave a message? Uhhh-ummm, not exactly, I just thought I’d, you know, say, ‘Hi!’. So, hi! Just out driving around, had a couple errands, oh-no, I’m not driving now, no, never drive and talk on the phone, oh-no, not a problem, dad, I’m completely not driving.”

Synopses & Excerpts, cont.

I CAN DO THAT (male/female). Teen actor learns the hard knocks of auditions. “How’s that? I think a half step higher would suit my range a bit better, but I can do it any key. Oh, it’s a great jingle! I love it! Did you write it? I figured! It’s sensational! And I think I’d bring a unique sort of passion to the interpretation, a sort of insight, a sort of edge, if you wanted something like that. You don’t? Okay! No passion, no insight, no edge, I can do that.”

 

THREE LITTLE WORDS (female). Beauty pageant contestant struggles to make an impression. “Esteemed judges, worthy sponsors: it is an honor and a privilege to be a semi-finalist for Miss Teen Reconstuctive Surgery Outlet Mall of Newberry! Three words that best describe me? Hmmm. . . let’s see now, hmmm. . . that would be, well, hmmm. . . thoughtful!”

 

FOREIGN EXCHANGE (male/female). A gentle reminder that Americans teens aren’t the total center of the universe. “Hey-hey, whassup phat dog! You salty! I be chillin! Let’s bounce, homie! Boy, do I love American language! So inventive, so varied, so jiggy! So much humor! What’s not so funny is how American young people think about the rest of the world. I have made good friends here in Indiana, but it bothers me a little that they don’t know much about what’s going on outside the U.S. Or care.”

 

BREAKUP CLUES (male). Top 10 List of breakup clues for guys. “Clue Number Ten, she shows up for your date even later than usual and says she was abducted by aliens. Clue Number Nine, she replies to everything you say with the phrase “that’s what you think.” Clue Number Eight, she starts calling you by your best friend’s name. Clue Number Seven, she asks you what gender you really are. Clue Number Six, she casually remarks that her parents offered her a new car to dump you — and asks if you think gold seats go better with a blue or green dashboard.”

 

BREAKUP CLUES (female). Top 10 List of breakup clues for girls. “Clue Number Five, when you’re in the middle of a sentence, he pulls out a TV channel changer, points it at you and says ‘Mute!’. Clue Number Four, he says he’d like to have a heart-to-heart talk at a scenic location — the local landfill. Clue Number Three, he forgets it’s your birthday but asks if you can lend him a few bucks to buy a pizza for the guys watching the game back at the house. Clue Number Two, he starts the conversation with ‘I have a slight confession to make. . .’”

 

CALL ME CHRIS (male/female). Tantalizing teenage tongue twister. “Call me Chris. I crave classic cat cards and corduroy cushions. I care conscientiously for culture and cultivate a cosmopolitan coterie of cumberbunds and Q-tips, keeping correct counsel and cautionary credit in case the carnival comes and carries crates of candles across the contiguous creek. (looks at watch) Cripes! Can we continue this conversation at a more cordial confine? Capital! I’ll call you — collect.”

 

TIDYING UP (male/female). Teen frustrated by parent’s laid-back lifstyle. “I don’t mind doing chores around the house. I feel good when I’m tidying up and fixing stuff. Beats doing homework! And since we moved to this new town, it’s taking me awhile to jump into things socially, if you know what I mean.”

YOUR BEST FRIEND (male). A very angry young man explains his attitude toward life. “Anger is my best friend. It has never failed me. Never let me down. You laugh? I buried the last cholo laughed at me. Buried him! You need my anger, carnal. My anger gonna look out for you. Gonna be there for you when you’re in a jam. Respect my anger. Learn from it. Like I respect my father. He beat the crap outa me when I was five years old cause I messed up the laundry, folded the socks inside out or something. I hate him, but I respect him. I respect his anger.”

 

THINGS I’VE LEARNED (male/female). Wit and wisdom about life from a teenage perspective. “When you choose the lesser of two evils, always remember it is still an evil. If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you’ve never tried before. You cannot save your butt and your face at the same time. If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried. Experience is something you never get until just after you need it. You never really learn to swear until you get your driver’s license. Monday is a terrible way to spend one-seventh of your life. . .”

 

PLEASE TELL ME (male/female). Teen searches for reassurance. “Please tell me it’s okay to not wear the same clothes as everybody else, or like the same music or have the same hairstyle. Please tell me it’s okay to think my own thoughts and not feel I’m stupid and worthless. Please tell me it’s okay if I laugh too loud or cry too hard or care too much. Please tell me it’s okay if I don’t find true love right this minute. Please tell me it’s okay if I don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up. Please tell me it’s okay to not be popular with everybody in school and that I don’t have to hurt somebody else to be popular. Please tell me to be patient. Please tell me to hurry up. Please tell me to slow down and look up at the stars and dream about flying across the universe.”

 

JUST FOR ONCE (male/female). Teen pleads for discipline. “And what’re you gonna do if I don’t? (slams door) She’s quit even trying. It’s like there’s nothing I do that will get her to pay attention. . . I don’t want to go that damn party. I want — just for once. . . just for once, mom, I want you to say no!”

 

BROTHER (male). The bonds of brotherhood run deep. “I never got along real well with my little brother. I always figured if his brain didn’t need him for transportation, it would have killed him a long time ago. He was like a lightning rod for trouble. Hell, once he even got hit by lightning! But he’d always always shrug it off, put the blame on something else.”

 

ANYTHING BUT THIS (male/female). When you stop liking the person in the mirror. “I see people on TV, in magazines, commercials. I know they’re models, I know they’re computerized, I know they’re composites, I know they’re not real. But every time I look in the mirror I think of those other faces. Those other bodies. And I want to be them. Or, no, maybe I don’t want to be them. I just want to be anything but this.”

KEEPING IN SHAPE (male/female). Exercise mania fuels eating disorder. “Guess I’ve been dieting off and on since I was, like, seven. Always heard mom say things like, ‘I hate my hips! My thighs are grotesque!’. And dad would always laugh at people on TV, ‘Look at that piggy! Whoa, he’s a real porker! Ha-ha-ha!’. (stops, clenches fists) Pretty soon, with the right diet and enough situps, people won’t ever laugh at me like that. Not even my mom and dad.”

 

ROCK ON (male). The consolations of music. “When I’m not playing music, it’s like I ain’t even here. I’m a nobody stuck no place goin nowhere, just a big spazoid stumblin around lost in the dark. A ship driftin on the ocean, every day just blow here and there, always about to smash up and sink and drown, but this guitar — it’s my anchor.”

EMERGENCY FLORADECTOMY (male/female). Teen reflects on loss of childhood play habitat. “Tomorrow that steam shovel’s gonna start tearing down the woods. Our woods, all of it. I guess having a new video store and drug store and pizza place close by is okay. But I got my own little shovel, and I’m taking some creek stuff back to plant in our yard. Got a little tulip poplar here. And a trumpet vine would look cool on the patio wall. This salamander egg, I’m gonna take to school for a science project. Hey, maybe it’s really a dinosaur egg, and it’ll hatch and grow up and devour the new strip mall!”

 

GOOD JOB TRAINING (male/female). Inner-city student ponders true nature of corporate generosity. “So we get a lot of free stuff to pacify the natives and ease the school board’s conscience. Pre-owned videos, pencils with the erasers worn off, desks with different-size legs, used textbooks with the wrong answers already filled in, computers that don’t work cause you can’t get parts anymore. I guess they’re really just using us for a garbage dump. But, hey, this is good job training. I was thinking about going into a career in recycling, anyway.”

 

CURFEW (male/female). Facing the heat with chutzpah. “So, being the intelligent, well-trained law enforcement professional you are, you obviously know that our word ‘curfew’ is derived from the medieval French covrefeu, which was the bell rung in the town square that meant you had to put out the fire in your hearth. So, if there’s no fire, officer, how can there be a curfew?”

VOID WHERE PROHIBITED (male). Desperate times call for desperate measures. “As to my current State of Virginity — look, it’s not about who I’m hooking up with, it’s the thought that counts. And your thoughts on my behalf are deeply appreciated! But if you really must know the ugly non-details, check my web site: www-dot-I’m Ready for Action, Jackson-orgggggggggg!”

 

USING IT, LOSING IT (female). Girl debates the chastity issue. “Funny. I don’t think of not having sex as losing something. Or keeping something, either — hanging onto that mysterious it, using it, losing it, doing it, getting it on, like it is what I am all about and nothing more. Nuh-uh. I may only be a teenager, but I think I’ve already figured out I don’t want to have my life controlled by a pronoun.”

 

COLORING IT IN (male/female). Paying tribute to a murdered friend. “I don’t really think of myself as an artist. Not by choice, anyway. I really don’t want to be on my knees in the cold right now, and I’m not very good at it, either. But when your best friend gets blown away in a parking lot for no good reason, what else you gonna do?”

 

A SHELL IS A WONDERFUL THING (male). The bright side of loneliness. “What you call ‘shy and lonely’, I call “keeping a safe distance between me and the insanity of the world” — your world. Okay, so I’m in a shell. It’s not a prison. It’s a refuge, a sanctuary. And I can walk out of it any time I want. Which I plan to when I feel the time is right. Like maybe when I’m about thirty.”

 

ASPIRATIONS (male/female). Teen seeks career guidance to offset family influence. “According to my dad, I’m gonna be a minimum wage worker and then maybe graduate to being a paid test subject for medical experiments. Uh-huh, he’s always been real supportive of our aspirations. He told my sister she was gonna be a welfare queen and have three kids before she was twenty, and dang if he wasn’t right!”

 

SO MELODRAMATIC (female). Teen wonders how to tell parents about her sexual activity. “Hi, Mom! Gorgeous day outside! That’s a lovely outfit! You know, if you have to stay late at work tonight, I can make dinner. And pick up the dry cleaning, sure, no problem, oh, by the way, I’m sexually active, will you drive me to the clinic to get some birth control pills?”

 

PARENTAL LOGIC (male/female). Making sense of the hopelessly insensible. “Parents will be parents will be parents. How many times have you heard that before? They’re so predictable, so easy to woof. Yesterday, I got back from the mall, had a fake stick-on tongue stud. (sticks out tongue) Parents go ballistic. (in parents’ voice) “You’ll never wear that as long as you live in this house! Do you know the diseases you can get? You look like a circus freak! Where’s your self-respect?” Etcetera and so forth and yabba-dabba-boo-wow. I calmly remove the offending faux-accessory, and they get even more berserk. Because now, I’ve deceived them. And I’m at fault because I didn’t do what they thought I did. Parental logic — an oxymoron if there ever was one.”

ARE YOU TRULY DEPRESSED? (male/female). Humorous quiz for depressed teens. “Hey, there, American Teenagers! Want to know if you’re truly depressed? Here’s an easy 10-point quiz. Do you: One, feel tired all the time and have no energy — except for devouring a 36-inch pizza between meals? Two, feel sad or cry a lot — like whenever your parents insist on accompanying you and your friends to the mall to help you ‘pick out a few duds’? Three, feel restless and morose during school — especially when your teacher is droning on about the Hawley-Smoot Trade Tariff Act of 1930 and its ramifications on your weekly allowance.”

 

THE WAY COLLEGE IS SUPPOSED TO BE (male/female). Teen relates anxieties about college. “If I went to college, I’d be the first one in my family to ever do it. Which is cool. But kinda weird. I mean, it’s not like my parents are putting pressure on me one way or the other, but — I don’t know. I don’t know if I can handle college. And if I don’t, I mean, what if I screw up and can’t cut it and have to bail?”

 

ONE-UP (female). When love becomes a tennis match. “I've been going out with my boyfriend for about five months now. And I thought we were kinda close. I mean, we talk about a lot of deep stuff, and we always have fun and lots of laughs. But about a month ago, I found out he cheated on me with some girl he met when he visited his cousin out of state. He said he was sorry, it just, you know, happened. So, two weeks ago, I bumped a guy I worked with last summer at Dairy Queen. It just, you know, happened.”

 

YOUR HOROSCOPE FOR TODAY (male/female). Humorous horoscope for all signs. “Aries — you’ll feel the effects of the moon circling the sun and piggy-backing Venus as it sideswipes Jupiter in a double-tectonic macarena with North Dakota. Stay inside and lock the doors! Taurus has romance on the brain all day, as a harmonic convergence of planets in your forty-ninth house makes you yearn for a one-on-one partnership with your long-sought soul mate. Too bad! They’re already taken!”

 

DOUBLE LIFE (male/female). Teen discusses membership in ethnic dance troupe. “It was fun being part of a team. Fun being part of a show. Fun making people clap and laugh and shout and think of the good times in their life. Think of their home and family and friends and just feel good about themselves in a way they can’t always express now that they live here. But we can express it for them. And we can still be Americans.”

 

SLEEP! (male/female). Fighting the sleep-deprivation blues. “Say, how do you keep awake in this boring class? I read in a magazine the other day that teenagers need at least nine hours sleep a night, but that because our hormones are changing so rapidly, we can’t actually fall asleep till before, like, almost midnight. Word! Then we’re forced to get up at the crack of dawn to get to school by the ridiculous hour of 9 a.m.? Huh? School starts at 7:15? Oops!”

 

CROSSED SIGNALS (male/female). When the new technology hangs you up. “Hold on! (dials number on phone) Hello! Yes, I want to win a free trip to the Sugar Slurp Slamfest in Sheboygan! Yes, I’ll hold! Whoops! (digs in jacket, pulls out pager) My dad’s office pager! How did it get in here? (dials number on phone) Hello, umm, he’s not here right now, this is his reception — who is this? Danny! How did you get dad’s pager number? Get off the phone, I’m in the middle of an important contest! (punches button on phone) Hello, Sugar Slurp Contest Line! Oh, Amanda, yeh, that was Kimberly! Sorry, can’t talk, I’m in the middle —”

THE NATURAL WAY (female). In gift-giving it’s the thought that counts. “‘BUSTING LOOSE — an all-natural, non-surgical, herb-based breast enhancement vitamin.’ My boyfriend gave this to me for Valentine’s Day. He said it would mean more than candy or flowers. Very thoughtful, isn’t he? (reads from label) ‘Revolutionary European’formula may result in breast size increase of a full cup or more when taken daily for several months.” I guess he’s thinking we’re in for a long-term relationship.”

 

ANOTHER CHANCE (male/female). Coming clean about being dirty. “Tell your mom and dad that you’d never tried alcohol before and you just wanted to see what would happen. Parents are soft on the “experiment” thing. Then say it wasn’t at all like you expected and that you never want to do it again. That zings their protective button. Tell them the few hours of quote-unquote fun weren’t worth the consequences and you feel disappointed in yourself for making a bad choice. Never let them think you enjoyed it.”

 

AFFIRMATIONS (male). Screwing up the courage to screw up the call. “I am a happy, healthy, wholesome, beautiful, positive person. I am a unique and priceless person, coming from a unique and perfect pattern within me. (inhales, exhales deeply, then dials phone) Hi, Jennifer, this is Bed Tartley, uh, Ted Bartley. Would you like to pro to the gom with me? No, gom to the pro, pro-prom-go-prom-you-me-Bed-no-Ted-will you go to bed with me — oh, hi, Mrs. Wilinski. Did Jennifer say when she’d be home?”

 

THEY NEVER WAVE (male/female). Marooned in the suburban wasteland. “I live in this huge mansion at the end of a cul-de-sac in the middle of a suburb that is five miles by car from anything. You have to schedule ‘appointments’ with your friends so your parents can drive you back and forth like chauffeurs or maybe just drop you off at the mall. Nobody ever walks, except on the jogging trail, which you have to drive to cause it’s six miles away across the interstate loop. You never see anyone outside, except little kids who ride tricycles in their driveway.”

 

JOB SECURITY (male/female). The day you discover what makes you different from your peers. “He says, ‘What you got that book for, then?’ ‘I just like to read,’ I said, and everybody laughed and went back to talking about some new TV show giving away ten million dollars to whoever can stay the longest on a desert island. Awhile later, it came to me that for him and the others, the only time you read is when somebody makes you. Reading is a punishment. It’s the last thing you’d ever do on your own. (earmarks book, closes it) I’ll bet you a quarter everybody at this warehouse is working here ten years from now. (holds up book) Except for me.”

 

WEATHER REPORT (male/female). A highly emotional weather forecast. “Black clouds looming on the horizon, no silver linings. Cold front arriving with one hundred-ten per cent chance of snow mixed with hail, frost and subzero arctic temperatures, spawning severe tornadic disturbances in upper and lower atmospheres along with life-threatening earthquakes, monsoons and dislocation of the Earth’s orbital axis. Pack an umbrella and a ticket on Noah’s Ark. Following this morning’s math test, look for sunshine mixed with periods of unseasonable warmth and rainbows everywhere!”

 

PRIME PARTY TIME (male/female). Contemplating the nearness of violence. “He sat next to me in study hall. He never seemed mad at anybody, or like he was having problems at home. In fact, it he laughed a lot and was always pretty stoked. Didn’t say much, though. Guess I never had anything much to say to him, either, or any urge to get deep into his dibs. Then, boom! He brings in his old man’s rifle and blows all those kids away. Off the hinges!”

 

TRIBES (male/female). Trying to fit in. to a new school. “Let’s see, juicers? Jocks? Gangstas? Alfalfas? Hippies? Geeks? Bowheads? Preps? I’m flexible! They’re all the same, really. Little tribes with their own little rites, their own dress codes and talk, their own dirty little secrets they gossip about and try to hide from the other cliques. My dad always asks me, what did you learn in school today? Basically, to survive.”

 

WHOSE BREATH (male). A friend dies playing the sport they loved. “This basketball, this very one, was in the hands of my best friend Marcus when his heart gave out. When he fell to the court and hit his head and lay there, looking up at me, not breathing, probably not even seeing me pounding on his chest and shouting his name and screaming at him not to die. This basketball, this very one, was still in his hands, even as his face turned blue and his brain shut off and his soul left his body. He wouldn’t let go of this piece of leather, he would not let go.”

 

FAMILY LIFE (male/female). Family time around the tube. “I saw somebody on the news the other night saying how TV had split up family life and kept everybody in the family isolated from one another, each in their own little private world. I think they’re right. And with this family, that’s probably a real good thing.”

 

PAY ATTENTION (male/female). Teen ponders suicide. “Pay attention to phrases such as, ‘It’s no use, I’d be better off dead.’ or ‘You can have it, I won’t be needing it anymore.’ And, finally, mom and dad — when your teenager wears the key to the gun closet on a chain around their neck for three days in a row and you don’t notice or choose to say a word. . . (grasps neck chain) you can pretty much kiss that Parent of the Year Award goodbye.”

CONVERSATION PARTNER (male/female). What’s a few idiosyncracies between friends — especially the ones inside your head? “I mean, it’s not like I’m some loony-tune stumbling around the gutter raving about CIA black helicopters giving him orders through his contact lenses. I just enjoy conversing with myself, I don’t care if people hear me, I’m just minding my own business, talking to myself. It passes the time, keeps me focused.”

 

JUST INQUISITIVE (male/female). A teen suffers “cutting” syndrome. “They say it’s about anger, but not with me it isn’t. I’m not angry. Just inquisitive. I want to know who I really am. What’s underneath my skin — literally.”

 

SCOFFIN CHEDDAR FROM THE RENTS (male/female). Tips on borrowing money from parents. “Five, when you get back, give them a little change, no matter how miniscule. It assures them that you’re not a complete wastrel and that you have some degree of responsibility. Caution: do not include lottery tickets, casino chips, beer bottle caps or discount coupons to Psycho Red’s Tattoo Parlor in your change.”

 

GETTING INKED (male/female). A trip to the local skin artiste. “Do I know if I’m a bleeder? Uhh, does that make a difference? Those needles, yeh, the ones from the ashtray, would you mind running a little hot water over the tips? You know what they say, a warm needle is a good needle! Wow, is that your diploma? Oh, I see. The Board of Health wouldn’t actually shut you down in the middle of a session, would they?”

 

LAW OF THE LAND (male/female). Child of immigrants resents arranged marriage custom. “Someday I’m going to meet the person that’s right for me, and I have no idea whether they’ll be one of us or any of the other three thousand types of human beings on this planet. You have to give me that chance, mom. It’s the law of the land.”

 

A REPUTATION TO PROTECT (male). Discovering a father’s feet are made of clay — and worse. “Inside the barn it was dark except for a pair of flood lights shining down on the ring. The mayor’s brother announced the next fight, and I looked into the ring, and Reedy the TV repairman Dad used to rent the storehouse to was dragging a dog out of a cage to face a pit bull one of the Kentucky guys had brought. Reedy’s dog had a black-and-white face and funny brown splotch on his nose. It was Boo — our family dog we all thought had run away a couple months back.”

 

THESE TIMES (female). Stop the presses! Teen enjoys being with parent in public! “We make each other laugh so hard, we end up in tears sometimes and getting really strange looks from the security guards. I love my mom. I know that sounds weird for a teenager to say, but some day, when things get rough or I’m all alone, I’ll be able to think back on these times and remember what it was like to laugh.”

 

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON MORTAL KOMBAT (male/female). The roots of video game violence. “Gee, what’s the lesson there, boys and girls? We’re talking cut-throat, eat-or-be-eaten, food-chain do-whatever-it-takes-to-survive moral philosophy here. And that’s every day in every part of the world! Yeh, uh-huh, my parents tell me video games are a waste of time, a substitute for real life. Wrong-o! Video games are real life — except you can turn a video game off.”

 

FUR FIGHTS BACK (male/female). Political protest or senseless vandalism? “Last night, me and my posse made a major political statement. We heaved rocks through the window of Old Man Bender’s butcher shop, cause it’s part of the system that harms animals. We spray-painted slogans on his wall — ‘Don’t Eat Meat! Death to Animal Killers! Fur Fights Back!’. Then we shoved a big bag of dog dump through his mail slot. (laughs) And now my dad refuses to bail me out.”

 

IN YOUR FACE (female). Cracking the confusing courtship code. “There’s this guy in my history class who, like about once a day, gets up in my face, grins like a fool and mumbles my name, then walks away, giggling. That’s it! Is he just a basic wacko, or is this some special form of ‘guy language mating code’ that means he likes me?”

HEY, YOU! (male/female). A call to action for Generation Y. “And they’re right! You are about to inherit a world that You will rule! You will shape! You will permanently imprint with Your generation’s dreams, fears, loves, hates, hopes, tears! And the question You need to answer is: when Your time comes, will You be ready?”

 

RANSOM (female). A moment of violence changes many lives. “I had just shut down the fryers for the night and closed the drive-thru window, when some dude with a ski mask walks in, gun shaking in his hand. Doesn’t say a word but sticks the gun right in the new counter girl’s face, her first day on the job, the barrel touching her forehead. ‘Put your gun down and walk away before you commit a grievous sin,’ she says. ‘You can walk in the light of the Lord and be free.’He laughs and cusses her, then pushes the gun harder against her forehead.”

 

NEW SHOES (male/female). To some teens, clothes are more than a matter of style; they’re a necessity. “This new kid at school kept coming to class with skinned up knees and arms. It seemed like nobody could fall down that much, so we figured he was maybe on drugs. Or maybe getting beat up at home. Turns out he didn’t have a home. He lived at a homeless shelter with his mom. And his shoes were so worn out that the rubber part in front had come up and made him trip all the time.”

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