That Awkward Age
Boys tend to be rather clumsy and clueless from about thirteen to seventeen years of age.
It is a time of cruel contradiction: puberty starts and so does an interest in (mostly) girls yet they themselves are physically and emotionally at their most unattractive.
Their butt-ugly faces are spotty which only serves to highlight their big noses, they have chin hairs that can only seen against bright sunlight and overly-pointy Adam's apples that work overtime to produce embarassing yelps and squeaks in the middle of sentences.
My friend Di, a battle-weary mother of two grown up sons once rearranged her pearls and said bluntly, "At fifteen they're tripping over their feet and using their hands to grab every bit of food they can see. Their willies grow far larger than their brain power or common sense can ever hope to catch up with." Yes, she adores her sons and would do anything for them, but even she can see that they were about as graceful as a sackful of plucked emus and about as pretty.
Teenage boys, like teenage girls, tend to congregate in packs, albeit ganglier and uglier ones. There's lots of self conscious, hooting laughter, pushing, shoving and slouching. Armpit farts, spitballs out of bic pens and ear lobe flicking are their most natural habits when socialising together. They somehow manage to effectively communicate with each other, yet I've never seen a boy this age sit up straight or raise his eyes further than crotch-level when he's speaking, mumbling or grunting a response.
Posh Spice has a lot in common with these fellas, believe it or not. Both breeds have skinny little pencil necks with huge soccer ball heads and concave (real) chests. Both tend to have legs the width of pipe cleaners and the fashion sense of retarded blind men. It is obvious that neither listens to the wise fashion advice of their mothers, nor pays attention to what other more sensible people around them are wearing.
Shamefully, at the ages of 12, 13 and 14, I had yearned for men such as these. Young, idiotic males who could barely open their lunch boxes, let alone pick up the vibe that MillyMoo, two rows behind them, was desperately in love with their intelligent, sporty, funny, hunky side. Plus their ability to expertly throw chunks of chalk down Daniel Panizzi's unenviable bum cleavage during geography. 'Oh if only Anthony would notice me, he's the only guy in the class taller than my shoulder....'
The luxury of reminiscing about these painful crushes over two decades later has shown that I should be grateful that they were clueless. My husband tells me that, at that age, a girl would have to strip naked and write 'Take me, Stud' on her breasts in liquid paper for a bloke to get the general idea that she might be interested in snogging him behind the bike sheds after cricket practice. A shy prude like me would have died: my - admittedly unsuccessful - method of courtship was to ignore the object of my affection entirely.
Despite this, I now see these Pubescent Doofuses on the bus, in the university cafe and outside 'Game Zone' and want to reassure them. I want to clunk their shaggy heads together (to get their attention: otherwise they think I'm someone's mother about to embarrass them or lecture them) and say: "Look love, you're butt ugly now, but wait until you're eighteen. The girls (or boys) will be falling over you. In the meantime, eat well, don't pick your zits and PULL YOUR DAMN PANTS UP!"
Has there been a more ridiculous male fashion than to have your jeans so low that your frontal pubes are blowin' freely in the wind, and the bum pockets reside just above the knee? All this does is make the wearer look completely arseless, and not in a good way.
Their hands, too, seem to be huge, way out of proportion to even their noses, heads, willies and feet. My theory is that God designed it so that they had the best gathering tools for food. Having two brothers, I can vouch for this - Mum had barely put the groceries away and they had already smelled it, scooped it, eaten it. She got so desperate that she ended up storing the TimTams in the vegetable crisper, but even that didn't work: they ate their way through the meat tray, dairy case, plastic trays and cabbage in order to find the rewarding chocolate biscuit base.
Their massive mitts had amazing dexterity in terms of delicately buttering and spreading a dozen SAO biscuits without them so much as shedding a grain of salt, let alone cracking; plus they could make up a cup of Milo Mud (half milk, half milo) without spilling a drop on the counter. They could both reach the magical top 999 score on my palm-sized Donkey Kong II game, yet seemed to be physically incapable of being able to aim their jocks within a 50m radius of the dirty-clothes hamper or ascertain that the 5ml in the bottom of the orange juice carton might not be worth putting back in the fridge.
And the farting....! The pride they took in farting......! And, even in 2006, this still seems to be in the top ten favourite pastimes of pubescent boys. The introduction of beanbags as legitimate pieces of furniture was hell for me. No sooner was I settled in, ready to watch 'The A Team' than Dave would cheekily saunter pass, puff out a ripe one directly in my face and then spring off faster than the roadrunner. It would take me lots of angry writhing and swearing, "I'll get you, you little turkey/creep/pain/geek!" before I stagger out of the brown velvet prison and stop him from laughing.
All is not doom and gloom for this teenage testosterone tribe however. Somehow, their bodies stretch up and they cease hunching up their shoulders self-consciously, their skin clears and their faces reassemble themselves into something worth gazing at. It's a mysterious process but nonetheless an amazing one. If they'd only outgrow the farting.... but that's a completely different story.