For what they’re worth, a few words for you teens

  • Monday, August 9, 2004 9:00pm
  • Opinion

Not sure why I’m writing this.

The folks it’s aimed at are probably watching Britney and Snoop Dog on MTV and couldn’t care less about the ruminations of some old fogey.

Still, with school soon to start, a few words to the teenagers out there.

This is about minefields. They’re everywhere in life and you’re about to start crossing them.

We’re the folks you see on the other side – adults. The scars we have are from the mines we stepped on. It’s given us something called “experience,” which is the ability to recognize mistakes we’re about to make again.

What we’re trying to do is wave you away from those mistakes. You call it “butting into your business.” It’s always been that way between us. Probably won’t change any time soon.

But you’re in high school now and beginning to make choices that count.

You’re thinking, “Choices, what’s the big deal?”

Answer: The rest of your lives and some really ugly scars you could do without.

So, here’s a bit of arm waving from us to you.


Really simple advice here. Never stop.

You need to know how to read and write. You need to know how the world works. You need to know why water boils, planes fly, boats float, ice expands and computers compute.

Want to understand why nations keep screwing things up? Try history. You’ll find that nations have done stupid things since forever. If you’re up for it, read a little series on Rome by a guy named Gibbon. Good stuff. Still applies.

Pay attention to that overworked soul standing in front of the class. He or she can help you find the answers. For sure, those answers aren’t going to come out of a video game – no matter what level you get to. Ignore learning and the quacks and charlatans of the world have you cold.

Hate school and thinking of dropping out? Remember this one thing: Ignorance hurts. Forever.


Good Lord! It’s tough enough out here in the real world with all of your brain cells working. Fry a few and you’ll start falling behind those who are staying straight, working hard and getting ahead.

Need a picture of where you could end up? Check out some of the folks sleeping in parks and carrying cardboard signs asking for change. A while back (in, maybe, high school?) many of them thought, “What’s the big deal, dude?”

Worst case, we get to bury you from some damned overdose.

Drugs and dead ends. Almost a one-to-one relationship.


Sit down and watch mom and dad pay the bills. It’s an education. Once they finish paying the rent, electricity, phone, cable, water, food, clothes, car, credit card, medical, dental, life insurance, home insurance, car insurance, carpet cleaners, drape cleaners, yard waste, veterinarian, garbage, and other bills (believe me, I’ve missed a few here), they get to pay taxes. And the folks in government have their hands so far into our wallets you wouldn’t believe it.

So, you ask: “What’s this have to do with sex?”

Well, if things get a bit out of hand, 1 + 1 can equal 3. It happens when you least expect it. This can present you with a world of problems – not the least of which are the bills (see above) you aren’t going to be able to pay on what you make working for Burger Doodle.

So, when the hormones start flowing, think about all those bills. Might slow things down a bit.


Choose carefully. Hang with the ones who seem to be moving on to bigger and better things. The ones who never make the police reports. It’s like sports. You never improve by playing down. In short, if you run with the hard cases, odds are you become a hard case.

If in doubt, listen to that inner voice that’s saying; “This crowd isn’t up to any good. We need to get the hell out of here.” It knows what it’s talking about.


Find the thing you love doing. The thing that, while you’re doing it, makes you feel great. Everyone has one. Not enough of us have the guts, however, to pursue it. The ones that do, though, stand out in every crowd. They’re the ones whose eyes are always smiling.

You can stand out but it requires guts, stamina and effort. It’s well worth it, though. It’s where real self-esteem – not the bogus stuff they hand out nowadays – comes from.

Dumb stuff, right? Boring as all hell.

Sounded that way when we were young, too.

Works, though.


Larry Simoneaux is a freelance writer living in Edmonds. Comments can be sent to:

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