Saturday, May 15, 2010

Taking My Friends' Teenage Daughter To The Movies: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

I wouldn't say that I'm a crazy fan of horror movies, but I enjoy your classic Jason and Freddy Kruger movies. So when my friends Kevin and Amber asked if I would be interested in taking their daughter Bailey to see the new "Nightmare On Elm Street" movie, I happily jumped at the chance.

But then I realized something:

Bailey is 14. I am 30.

And this would be the first time I would be hanging out solo with a teenager since I went into the 30s realm.

And admittedly, I was a little fearful. Why? Consider this:

Bailey's parents aren't much older than I am. And, I figured, Bailey finds her parents to be uncool and older than dirt. Now, are they uncool and older than dirt? Of course not!! But they are her parents, and thus they are automatically given the "uncool" and "older than dirt" titles by their teenage daughter. It's just the way it is.

So because I'm not much younger than her parents, I feared that I too would be given the "uncool" and "older than dirt" labels. After all, it would be easy for Bailey to view me as "this uncool, older-than-dirt friend of my folks who I'm forced to hang with on a Friday night because the movie is Rated R and I need him to buy my ticket instead of hanging with my friends who won't embarrass me in public."

Buying the tickets only elevated these fears. If you're 30 or older and want to feel like you should be called "Pops", head on over to one of the AMC Theaters in Burbank, California. The median age is 16 and believe me when I tell you that you stand out like a freak if you're wearing a collared shirt and Dockers.

I felt older than dirt and uncool. Hell, I wasn't even cool when I was 20. Today at 30, I get called "dork" at least six times a day. How the hell would I be able to be anything less than a complete embarrassment to a 14-year-old girl for a couple of hours?

But luckily, however, experience kicked in.

For one thing, when I picked up Bailey at her folks, I realized that something about teenagers hadn't changed: If you're 30 or older, they won't speak unless spoken to. And honestly, when we began our drive to the theaters in absolute silence, this calmed my nerves. It made me remember that teenagers hadn't really changed all that much from when I was a teen -- hell, at age 14, I said about 7 words a week to my parents -- and the quiet time helped me to form a game plan.

And here was my game plan:

I was not going to ask Bailey the following questions:

1) "How's school?"

You'll get a one-word answer.


2) "Are you dating yet?"

You'll either get a giggle (if you're lucky), a "No" or she'll roll your eyes and begin wondering how dangerous it would be to jump out of a moving car just to get away from this conversation.

And 3) "What do you kids do for fun nowadays?"

Hands down the worst question you can possibly ask. Not only will you not get an answer -- teenagers don't do anything. They're teenagers. -- but she will spend the rest of the night 30 feet ahead of you or behind you just to make it seem like she doesn't know you.

So instead, I decided to stick with the fundamentals. I would only talk about things I know she'd be interested in. Which is why, over the course of the evening we talked about:

1) Cheerleading.

Bailey just made the cheerleading squad, and so we spent 15 minutes discussing handstands, thigh stands, stunts (I had no idea what a stunt was, but I couldn't risk breaking my momentum), cheerleading camp at UCLA, the excitement of high school football, and the fact that no one comes to the freshman games.

"It sucks that no one comes to the freshman games," Bailey said.

"Yeah, that does suck, huh?" I replied.



You hear that, people? A bond is being formed. :-)

2) How Her Parents Are Utter Embarrassments To Her

This topic of conversation, admittedly, was very dicey. At one point, Bailey brought up the fact that she avoided her parents as much as possible on weekends (as teenagers do regardless of what her parents are like). Now herein lied my difficulty: On one hand, I wanted to defend her parents. I mean, they're dear friends of mine. Hell, I've known my dad for 11 years; he was best man at my wedding, for God's sake!! On the other hand, doing so would've killed any clout I had gotten over the previous cheerleading conversation.

So I did the only thing I could do.

"Did you know your dad and I went to Vegas one time, and he blew all his money in seven minutes?" I said.

And I immediately had Bailey hooked.

Telling a story about her dad that would make him seem cooler in his daughter's eyes. Really, it was the only play here. As Bailey hung on my every word, I told the 2001 tale about how her dad and I rolled into Vegas at 4:23 p.m. one afternoon, hit the roulette table, and he was flat broke by 4:30. Luckily, I was a winner and we were thus able to buy Pop Tarts and gas.

"He did that?" Bailey asked, astounded. "I can't believe it!! It doesn't sound like him at all!!"

"Oh Bailey," I replied, "the stories I could tell you."

And then I paused.

And therein lies the genius of this plan. Only one "mildly embarrassing/cool story that won't really affect his ability to parent his daughter" need be told. You see, Bailey wanted to hear more. You could see it in her eyes. But in order to hear more, she would've had to actually ask a question. And that's just it: She'll never ask. Teenagers won't ever ask people 30 or older actual questions. It's not in their DNA. So all it took was one story. And for the next couple of hours, Bailey's dad was no longer as much an embarrassment to her as previously thought.

What more can a father ask?

And 3) Justin Bieber.

I'll be honest: I have no clue how this ever became a topic of conversation. Nonetheless, when it did, I had to be a participant. And as such, there was only one question I could ask:

Where the hell did this kid come from?

See, if you're age 18 or older, Justin Bieber just appeared one day out of thin air. No one my age has any clue who he is, what he does, or whether he actually exists. He's just a name you suddenly started hearing all over the place.

Luckily, because Bailey is a 14-year-old girl, she's a fan of little Justin by default. So she filled me in:



So overall, after what was surprisingly a really good movie, we got back in my car so I could take Bailey home. I had done very well to this point of not embarrassing myself, but I had one more trick up my sleeve to ensure I was over the hump.

"Hey Bailey," I asked, "do you like the show 'Glee?'''

"I love Glee!!" she replied.

And I pressed my CD player.

And Glee songs filled the car.

"Oh my gosh, you have the soundtrack!! That's so cool!!" she said.


I'm still "so cool."


And now for this week's:


Did you know that there are professional Rock-Paper-Scissors tournaments?

Yes, they do exist.

Not only do they exist, but those who participate in them have the following philosophical discussions:

Does Rock "smash" Scissors or merely "blunt" them?

Can a pair of scissors really cut an entire piece of paper with one snip or should, in fact, it take two wins by Scissors to defeat Paper?

Should prosthetic arms be allowed? (World RPS Society president Doug Walker says no. "It opens the possibility for infrared technology to send signals to the arm to instantly fire a throw a millisecond before it hits, giving it an unfair advantage," he once wrote.)



Read more about this here.

1 comment:

Greg said...

Ya know what? I've discovered that Teenagers appreciate being treated like adults more than anything else, out of the 2 teenaged babysitters I've had, they've appreciated my tips on how to grow their business more than anything else. Being the consultant that I am, I'm happy to proffer some free advice and they seem to like :-)