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That's Awful! This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   That's Awful!

by B. S., Shrewsbury, MA

Was told once by someone-who-should-know that I had no right to criticize if I didn't follow the same doctrine. "Practice what you preach," he said and I've been thinking about it in what is hopefully an objective manner.

So on one side; fine, go ahead and keep all your promises and your idioms. Study Ben Franklin's best maxims rigorously and commit them to memory so that they may be quoted at opportune times. Try telling a college student that "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise" and that same student will say, "Sure, go tell that to my Physics 101 professor who keeps me up nights divining Newton's apple and other fruity delights."

Keep your faith, never deviate and if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

Ah! Listen to the silence.

If everyone spoke only when spoken to, it would be a quiet world indeed and along that same line, children should have their tongues cut out in order to be seen-and-not-heard. I watched on TV when CNN covered the riots and the man who dragged another man out of his truck and bashed his head in with a brick is of a higher caliber than the people who stood around saying, "God, that's awful!" The next shot showed some policemen kicking this poor sod into the hard cement and the shot after that showed the whole damn city kicking each other around.

"God, that's awful!" I said, but I didn't really mean it. What else could I say? If I'd been there I may have smashed the window of the local 7-Eleven and taken my rightful share of Hostess products. As the saying goes, "When in L.A. ..."

And on the other side, give in to your hypocrisy and I've got all these catalogs sitting here. J.Crew, L. L. Bean. You know, the ones with the pictures of people having-more-fun-than-you'll-ever-have. I shouldn't talk, however, because I've just ordered a pullover and I might be better off sewing a J. Crew label onto the back of my neck and be done with it once and for all. The pullover comes in nine different colors: canyon, natural, pine, stone, maroon, lake, hunter, fire and port.



I tossed back another swallow of the port wine, spilling a little on my pullover, and cast my last dollar bill off the edge of the canyon and it floated down ... down, sliding over the stones and into the lake, swirling 'round naturally like when Eeyore interrupted the Poohsticks game. It was evening and the pines cast maroon shadows across the water, their crests ending at the door of the hunter's cabin where the scent of kerosene was strong and a fire glowed serenely through the cracks.



Do I seem evil? Yes, I'd probably steal a Twinkie if everyone else were doing it. I'd take it and stick it under the nose of the CNN news anchor and say, "I bet you don't know how they get the cream inside. Neither do I, but I know how to get it out." Then I'd bash it with a brick and when the yellow and white bits spotted his red tie and pin-striped suit, I'd say, "God, that's awful," and really mean it.


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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