The “Stupidity” Choice This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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You would probably guess – just knowing that I live in a trailer park – that I’m supposed to be some slacker who enjoys smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, and you would probably guess my sister would be, too, because she lives in the same lousy home I do, and you’d be right about her – she does.

But she didn’t start out this way. At the beginning of the year she had been in the advanced math class for eighth graders, Algebra 1, a class I took as a freshman. But now she is an average student in an average class. I know she has the intelligence, but I also know she forgot how to use it. “They” helped her forget.

“They” are your trailer-park stereotypes, the ones you make fun of – and for good reason. To me and most people, they all look the same: sagging, oversized pants, an emotionless frown, and a stench that reeks of tobacco, and sometimes alcohol and marijuana. I didn’t really care what they did or how they lived their sad lives as long as it didn’t involve me. But it did when they smoked their cigarettes at my bus stop, or blasted their rap music while we were playing basketball. Oh, yeah, it also involved me when they started hanging around with my sister.

I saw major differences within a week of school. She was demoted from Algebra 1 to pre-Algebra and one day school called saying she had skipped and received a three-day in-school suspension. I also noticed behavioral changes. We used to both enjoy jokes at the expense of the “real park kids,” but then she started saying that whatever they did was their choice and it had nothing to do with me. Also when she wanted something, she started trying to use force. This didn’t work on me. Although I’m not much bigger than my sister, I’m considerably stronger. She started to smell like tobacco and alcohol and her grades continued to slide. When I asked her if she had been smoking or drinking, she would say no. I couldn’t argue, because I had no evidence, so I started looking.

My “pre” park sister would have known better than to leave incriminating evidence in her backpack where anyone, especially a nosy older brother could find it. There were a couple of letters bragging about her adventures skipping class, and some to a friend about a “cool” teenage girl shelter in Portland where she was going to ask Mom if she could move. I didn’t think my sister was capable of pulling off a stunt as bad as even asking my mom, forget going there. Most alarming, though was one note in which she said she wanted to sleep with a particular boy again. When I asked her about it, she denied everything, saying it was a note to her from a close friend. I’m a fairly smart kid; I didn’t believe her for a second.

As any intelligent, immoral person in my situation would do, I tried to blackmail her. I didn’t aim for monetary gain, just my sister’s well-being. My terms were simple, I didn’t want her hanging around with the “park kids” anymore. She agreed and that pact worked for a couple of days until she stole it and destroyed it.

A few days later on a Monday night she told us she was staying out until 10:00 with her friend, Jane. When she didn’t come back we didn’t worry, she often broke her curfew. Early Tuesday morning I started searching for her. The first place I tried was her friend, Jane’s. I wasn’t surprised when her mother answered the door and asked where her daughter was; however, when she showed me the letter Jane wrote her proclaiming she was hitchhiking and had run away to live in a girls’ home in Portland, I was shocked. I knew my sister had gone with her. I told my mother and the next day she and Jane’s mother had both girls taken into police custody and Jane’s mother brought them back. My sister was ready to defend herself as soon as she walked in, saying she only went in support of her friend, and it was my ridicule that made her run away.

I know what made her run away. The “park” kids showed her an appealing way of life with no responsibility. Their philosophy (in my words) is “If you want to mess yourself up, it’s your choice.” I don’t remember learning that stupidity was a choice.

Now my sister is under their influence more than ever and there is nothing I can do except state my obvious opinions about the situation. I can’t use force, I’d end up in a hospital. I might be able to take some of them in a fight, but even if I won, they would avenge their loss by teaming up on me.

Although there is little I can change in my situation, I can take pride in being their opposite, totally opposing their ideas. So can many other people, who rise from conflict without letting it affect their way of thinking. As for my sister, she can live her life the way she wants; however, this will not come without my persistent persecution of her and her friends because this is my life, and I’m going to live it the way I want to. I’m not going to opt for the “stupidity” choice.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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