Saturday, November 14, 2009

Knowledge November - Day 15 - The Age of Awkward

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 fuzzy chin hairs that can only seen against bright sunlight and overly-pointy Adam's apples that work overtime to produce embarrassing yelps and squeaks in the middle of sentences.

My friend Di, a battle-weary mother of two grown up sons, once sat down next to me, 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 could see that they were about as graceful as a truckload of plucked emus and about as pretty.

Teenage boys, like teenage girls, tend to congregate in packs, albeit ganglier ones. There's lots of self conscious hooting laughter, pushing, shoving and slouching. Armpit farts, spit balls 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 in this age-range 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.

Teenage boys’ 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, and 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.

Shamefully, at the ages of 12, 13 and 14, I had yearned for men similar to these. Young, idiotic males who could barely open their lunch boxes, let alone pick up the vibe that bookishly quiet Katherine Read, 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 NOW Stud' on her chest in liquid paper for a bloke to get the general idea that she might be interested in pashing him behind the agriculture wing 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 walking past our house on the way to the local high school, at Red Rooster 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 boxer shorts are completely on show, 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.

All is not doom and gloom for this teenage testosterone tribe however. Somehow, their bodies stretch up and they cease the self-conscious hunching of shoulders, 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.


Baino said...

Actually I noticed feet growing disproportionately to everything else and the food grab doesn't stop at 15 I can assure you! As for the low pants, just wanna pull their undies over their heads!

Kath Lockett said...

'Pull their undies over their heads' - now *that's* a dare I might just take up, Baino....

Cat J B said...

OMG, I have two boys who I'm sure will be just like that someday, sooooo not looking forward to that age. And I already hide something in the vegie crisper but my 20 month old has found it, darn it!

delamare said...

I've been living with a 14 year old of this species for a little while now (actually his whole life, but the teenage section is relatively new), so our house is regularly overrun by gangs of gangly young men, all messy hair, big feet, giggling (really!), and bottomless pits for stomachs. One of the greatest surprises of my life has been how completely entertaining and lovable they are. That they are endlessly hungry and quite smelly is much less of a surprise.

My lovely boy just came in from a bike ride and gave me a huge hug, asking whether I'd had a good afternoon. It's like living with an overgrown puppy.

I do wish he'd pull his pants up though.

Lorna Lilo said...

I don't think they actually grow out of any of this, they just stop getting taller and start getting wider, at least that's what makes the undies look smaller.

JahTeh said...

For two glorious years, mine was a fashion plate and it cost me a mint, shoes, beautiful clothes and Monsieur De Givenchy after shave. He used to help his grandfather at the races, carrying the heavy bookie bags and had to be classy to top the old boy. Then it was op-shop overcoat to his ankles and jeans consisting of holes held together of who knows what. His last stage was oilskins, outback hat, jeans without holes and boots.
Makes me wonder what he's like now, probably his cloud is one of those grey ones, his wings are moulting and his heavenly garments are graffiteed around the holes.

By the way, that bottom photo. How did you come across a picture of my ex-husband, especially one where he looks intelligent?

Kath Lockett said...

CatJB - he's found it at 20 months? You're in trouble and better start putting some money away for your teenage food bills NOW.

Delamere, good to hear that he's lovable but again with the low slung pants...! Surely they don't expect the female of the species to swoon at the sight of 'Bonds' around their waistbands?

You could be right, Lorna, plus they get more hair in far less attractive places.....

Sorry JahTeh, he lent the photo to me, saying, "This is me at my most thoughtful. Your readers will LOVE me."

River said...

My brother and later my sons, never ate their way through the healthy stuff to get to the yummy chocolate base. They somehow managed to disinter the goodies from wherever they were buried without disturbing the upper layers at all. I'd go to my hiding places later looking for whatever I'd stashed away only to find it gone altogether or half eaten. No-one ever owned up as the guilty party.
I've never understood that low-down jeans thing and now it seems to include shorts too. The baggier the better apparently. I'm (almost) eagerly awaiting the day when some kid wearing this attire finds the whole ensemble dropping to his ankles and tripping him up. In full view of me and my camera of course.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

So funny - and so TRUE!

I didn't have such a problem with zits - but my facial hair was so wispy it was almost invisible, and I used to eat my way out of the house.

Now my two lads are in that age group and it is hilarious. They communicate with grunts ("UGGHHH! FOOD!!! NOW!!!) and my eldest is very secretive and "fashion conscious" which means he wears those baggy-arsed jeans you were talking about.

To be honest, I still have most of those traits myself (at my advanced age).

BTW - that last photo is remarkably like me.




franzy said...

The fridge is NOT a hiding place for food. Think about it.
You want to hide the chocolate from your teenage sons? Stash it under the plastic packets and curious implements in your special, private drawer of mature ladies' items. It's the only place teenage boys won't look.

And they wear those baggy clothes because they are embarrassed about their bodies and want to hide their scrawniness. Stopping staring and judging.

Kath Lockett said...

Franzy, hiding scrawiness under baggy clothes I can understand; it's the low-hung, bum-flashing that I *don't* understand.