Tag Archives: puberty

Cringe n’ Purge: Excerpts from My Middle School Diary

Between the ages of 12 and 18, I kept a regular diary. Well, diaries. When I dug them up out of my mom’s basement this past Christmas, they comprised at least 15 volumes.

Box of teenage diaries

Pictured: a box full of shame

As I peruse these snapshots of a misspent adolescence, I realize I had a lot to say, and absolutely none of it was good. I evidently fancied myself a bit of a rebel, when I was really something closer to the anime-addled offspring of Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way and a Livejournal meme. I was the human embodiment of a t-shirt reading “You laugh because I’m different, I laugh because you’re all the same.” Witness Exhibit A: Continue reading


Puberty Books of the Damned: So You Want to Be a Model?

Brace yourselves; it’s TEENWORKS time!

But first, something fun: I am lending my voice to The Misfit Fleet, a new podcast created by  my friends Finnegan O’Riordan and Maggie Roberts! The Misfit Fleet is a steampunk series following the comic misadventures of a band of sky pirates. Something I really like about it is that it features loads of gay and transgender characters. Another thing I like is that my character, Captain Jackson Jeffries, is a bit of a dipshit. Everyone knows the dumb characters are the most fun to play. Misfit Fleet ProductionsListen to the first episode here. And listen to me try to pronounce “Finnegan O’Riordan” here. (“Fusspot O’Reacharound” was my personal contribution, and one I’m very proud of.) Now, on to the WORKS of the TEEN.

Fashion Advice

The writers of TEENWORKS included a lengthy section on fashion that I’ve mostly skirted till now, since there’s not a lot to say about it. It includes such helpful tidbits as: “Berets are fast becoming a staple of every teen’s autumn and winter wardrobe,” and “Great news…there are pants for everybody!” Eye-opening stuff. However, I seriously doubt you want to take fashion advice from the people who bring you these get-ups.

Fancy dress

Gold pants + David Bowie mullet = TIMELESS

Mickey Mouse outfit

Where do I even start.

Snowpant Leg Warmers

Leg-warmers made out of snowpants material were once a thing. Aren’t ya glad?

So You Want to Be a Model?

Imagine you’re a teen. If you’re actually a teen, imagine you’re an even teenier teen. You have your mullet, your snowpants leg-warmers, and your unreasonably large Mickey Mouse shirt. You look cute. You feel cute. So cute, in fact, that you’re considering starting a career based around your cuteness. You want to be a model. So You Want to Be a Model?When they say that “modeling has a down side,” what they actually mean is “you have a down side. Loads of down sides. Keep your day job and shovel some more of those cake pops into your face, you disgusting boo hog.” Modeling, you see, has some rather stringent requirements. Modeling: General Requirements“The emphasis today is on natural beauty,” they say, before listing a whole bunch of specs 99% of women will never be able to obtain the natural way. At a bare minimum, It’s going to require a pact with Azathoth, who will probably make you eat a baby or six. But maybe I’m just bitter. Maybe I’m exaggerating the narrow aesthetic standards of the modeling industry because I’m too lazy to achieve them–at least, the natural way. There is this modern marvel known as Photoshop…

11 to 23 years old


Twenty-three passed me by a year or two…or three…or five…ago. There’s not a lot I can do about that, unless I falsify a lot of documents. Oh well. Let’s move on to the next thing. 5'7" to 5'11"All right, that’s not so bad. I’m already five-six-and-a-half, which looks like this: Avion's wedding I just need to lengthen those legs a leeeeettle beet. Take it away, CS4! Longer legsThere we go. Let’s look at the next requirements. WeightAgain, I’m close. Depending on how hard I’m period-ing, I’m anywhere from five to ten pounds too heavy. Let’s shave a bit of that excess fat off.


I’d go further, but there’s only so much liquifying an image can survive.

So far, so good. What’s next? FaceNo fair, TEENWORKS–that’s like seven requirements! These are harder to meet, too. My face is, to put it charitably, somewhat less than ideal. I’ve got tiny eyes, a regular nose, acne, and a small mouth. All I’ve got going for me, from a modeling perspective, are a high forehead and high cheekbones, though you can’t see the latter under all the baby chub. So, let’s see. Enlarge the eyes. Shrink the nose. Widen the mouth. Delete some chub. And hell, might as well raise the forehead a little more while we’re at it. And voila!



That sure is…something. On second thought, maybe I’ll leave this one to Azathoth.

Shitty Photoshop

Nailed it?

Puberty Books of the Damned: How to Say No (Like a Sociopath)

A very bored teenage boy.

Here we go again! It’s time for another round of pointers from those Admirable Adjuncts of Adolescent Advice over at TEENWORKS. They’ve taught you how to flirt, make friends, and walk on your buttcheeks. Now they’ll instruct you on the fine art of turning someone down.

If you’ve been following the TEENWORKS method to the letter, you should be enjoying the kind of long-lasting relationship that makes your friends groan in envy. Each day should be a fresh study in unspeakable bliss, marked by moonlit strolls and amorous exclamations like the following:

I'd rather go to the movies with him than have a private audience with the King of England!

That’s fortunate, given current English monarchical realities.

But what if you’ve fallen short somehow? What if you’ve played the wrong hand, spoken the wrong line, attracted the wrong man? What if–heaven forfend–you actually need to reject somebody? How can you shake a sub-par would-be suitor?

Don’t Be Direct
One thing you definitely don’t want to do is be direct. The consequences of an improperly softened “no” can be disastrous.

A harsh no can put a guy off dating for an entire term!

An entire term, ladies! In a society that caters endlessly to the young male ego, a single “no” can break a guy. The most tedious of women’s libbers might suggest we condition young boys in such a way that they can cope when life fails to hand them everything on a platter, but let’s be real: isn’t it easier to keep training girls to cushion the blow?

“Sorry,” you might say. “Although you are extremely virile, I need to wash my hair tonight.”

“It’s not you, it’s me,” you might also try. “Your masculinity overwhelms me; also, I’m overdue for a vigorous round of buttcheek jogging.”

“Please don’t feel bad,” you could additionally remark. “I can’t be in a relationship until I sort through my problems. My vagina problems. In my vagina.”

If He Can’t Take the Hint
Sometimes subtlety runs off teenage boys like piss off a plastic bed sheet. TEEN WORKS acknowledges this. In fact, TEEN WORKS indirectly recognizes the possibility that a guy might miss the message eight or nine times.

Can't you take a hint?

The above question is from a quiz called “Are You a Caring Person?” If you choose Option A, it means you’re a callous jerk. (Whether it also means that Ben is a pushy lunatic, TEENWORKS doesn’t say.) Again, you can’t be too direct–so what do you do?

The answer lies in the immortal words of Seal: you’re never gonna survive, Dear Reader, unless you get a little crazy.

Continue reading

Puberty Books of the Damned: Butt-Walking Edition

Personal fitness can be a sensitive issue. In today’s hypertensive society, it’s more important than ever to teach young people about nutrition and exercise; but how do you prevent that instruction from shading into fat-shaming?

The authors of TEEN WORKS grappled with that very issue in the 1980’s. As is their wont, they farted out the worst, pants-on-head craziest solution ever.

No Butts About It

The woman in the fetching purple leotard is Tamilee Webb, a “fitness expert” whose expertise consists mainly of trolling teenage girls by getting them to do the stupidest exercises imaginable. When we first meet Tamilee, she highlights the singular dissatisfaction most girls feel with their butts.

In a recent survey, teen girls were asked which part of their anatomy they would most like to change. Among the top three was buttocks.

Butts was in the top three, you guys! That means butts earned at least a bronze in the Body Shame Olympics. Way to go, butts! Of course, there was stiff competition.

Many girls who are otherwise satisfied with their figures complain that their hips are too large or bulge in the wrong spots.

Move over, butts. Hips are here to knock you off your pedestal.

But wait–a challenger appears!

When asked which part of their body needs the most toning and shaping, girls often say their waist or thighs.

Whew! There sure are a lot of body parts vying for the title of Most Loathed. Hence the original title of this section of the book: Fitness! Why Every Part of You is the Worst Part!

For my part, I’m sticking with butts. If only because the page on butts contains the following phrase.

Many girls think their fannies are too large, too wobbly, or too lumpy.

The American in me sees nothing funny about this sentence. The Anglophile in me is laughing hard enough to bust a hiatal hernia.

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Puberty Books of the Damned, part 2

Several weeks ago, I introduced you to the wonders of TEEN WORKS: a set of 60’s/80’s-era puberty books I got for free at an estate sale.  These books are long, clocking in at well over a hundred articles each and covering every conceivable topic, from how to flirt to how to pretend to care about football to how to match your pink plastic belt with your oversized Mickey Mouse shirt-dress.  For this, our second foray into TEEN WORKS-dom, I thought we would delve into the most important topic of all: how to get a boy.

Step One: Identify Your Type

Everybody’s got a type.  For some, it’s the brooding guitar player.  For others, it’s the outgoing Big Man on Campus.  For me, it’s…well.  You know.

Exasperated SherlockI didn’t even say anything!
(from sherlock.tumblr.com)

But how can you pinpoint your type?  After all, there are millions of types out there, each clearly distinct from the others.

What Kind of Guy is Your Type?Psych!  There’s actually only four.  And the writers of TEEN WORKS, bless them, have provided you with a handy quiz to determine upon which of the four you should concentrate your amorous efforts.  Let’s look at some of the questions.

After school, the guy of your dreams is probablyFrom this item alone, we can see the broad archetypes they’re referencing.  There’s the jock guy.  The intellectual guy.  The artistic guy.  The, uh…likes-having-snacks-with-friends guy.  (As an aside, when I fantasized about my dream man during my hormonal teenaged years, he was generally snacking on me.)

Scandalized Gary BuseyAccording to Google Image Search, this is what “scandalized” looks like.

Let’s look at another question.

Your guy likes you best in...What the hell is a muscle shirt?  Are we talking one of those sleeveless t-shirts with slits all down the sides?  Because if any guy thinks I look best in that, he’s not a jock: he’s delusional.

Anywho, once you’ve muscled (muscle-shirted?) your way through this quiz, you receive one of four types, as personified by four hypothetical boys.

Ted, the Cool GuyTed here is the Cool One.  He knows what’s in and what’s not.  (And what’s in is “snacks with friends.”)

Jason, the JockJason is the Jock, and also the muscle shirt aficionado.

Ryan, the BrainRyan is the Brain.  He likes learning and (probably) giving jaunty salutes.

Bill, the ArtistBill is the Artist.  Should you choose to date him, beware–at some point, he will run off with Ted in search of an Excellent Adventure. Continue reading

Weird Finds: Puberty Books of the Damned

Last weekend, I went to an estate sale with my mom.  Between disappointing the host by not needing baby stuff and disappointing the host by not being able to cook, I managed to find a real gem: two ancient TEEN WORKS puberty books gathering dust on a book shelf.  The host gave them to me for free, which just proves that she doesn’t know a good thing when she sees one.

The TEEN WORKS books were first written in the 1960’s and were sporadically updated through the mid-1980’s.  They are outstanding–and by “outstanding,” I mean “alternately hilarious and deeply depressing.”  In this post, the first of an occasional series, I’ll examine why.

What If You Fall for a Nerd?
Some of the “information” in these books is legitimately heinous, but I thought I’d kick things off with a funny one.  Geek culture is so hip these days, it’s hard to remember a time where nerds were feared and shunned.  Thankfully, TEEN WORKS is here to remind us.


“I’m the amateur philatelist your mother warned you about.”

Sweet Jesus, look at that nerd!  He’s got a book!  And a pen!  And you just know his shirt was buttoned all the way up three seconds ago!  That young lady better run before he uses his magnifying glass to, um…examine…something.

Lest you think that picture is just an empty hypothetical, TEEN WORKS hastens to provide you with the narrative behind the image.

ImageLook there, behind you!  It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a guy who pays fractionally more attention to necklace clasps than might be considered typical by mainstream society!

Nothing about the bus stop scenario seems particularly shriek-worthy to me, unless Horace Stevens (fantastic name, by the way) was carving a crude effigy of Tom Selleck into his bare thigh at the time.  The only thing about poor Horace that makes my skin crawl is this:


I try not to swear on this blog, but a “jaunty little salute”?  Horace–what the fuck, man?

Anyway, now that you’re thoroughly smitten with this salute-throwing maniac, you need to figure out how to proceed.  And thank God, TEEN WORKS has your back on this one, too.

ImageI love that you’re supposed to ask yourself if your friend has a point, as if “green plaid shirts” might just be a valid reason to reconsider a relationship.  Also: radio-controlled airplanes and bugs are objectively great.  If your friend can’t understand that, it’s time to sever, dude.  You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.Image“Settling” is a real thing that happens, but the notion that dating a nerd is the ultimate compromise of your personal ambition is pure 1980’s.  Glorious.

All right, enough about Horace Stevens.  Let’s get into the really vile stuff.

Continue reading