1. You’re a teenager now!!!
    2. You can say swear words whenever you ass shit want.
    3. Puberty is the freaking best. For several months, your entire body is seized with overwhelming warmth as your body literally elongates. Of course, there are negatives to puberty, like when hair bursts through your nubile skin, causing sharp pain. But as your father always says, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” Speaking of Dad…
    4. Now that you’re a teenager, parents are L-A-M-E. You barely even care that your seventh birthday party caused their divorce.
    5. Time to FINALLY get a Facebook.
    6. You no longer have to hide your resentment for Lance, Mom’s new boyfriend and the general manager of the Chuck E. Cheese where you had your seventh birthday party. Now that you’re basically an adult, you can tell Lance to his face that he’s the reason your father drinks.
    7. Didn’t Mom see you peering out from behind the skee ball machine? Or did she just not care if you saw her kiss him?
    8. Three words: thirteenth birthday party! Three more words: slip and slide! This is going to be the best day ever.
    9. Lance walks in to your thirteenth birthday party and you are immediately gripped by an overwhelming heat. A seething rage flushes your supple cheeks, which Lance confuses for cherubic ruddiness. He does not know that you are no longer a boy. You are an adolescent, consumed by hormonal energy.
    10. You lunge at the crotch that defiled your parents’ marital bed, gripping Lance’s scrotum with the cruel indifference of a vice. You are emboldened by a skewed sense of justice, avenging the anti-hero that is your alcoholic father. But as you clench Lance’s throbbing testicles and look into his eyes, you notice the twinkle of innocence you once possessed.
    11. Lance has made your mother happy in a way your father never did. In an instant, you piece together snippets of arguments heard through the paper-thin walls of your childhood home, and realize that Dad never appreciated Mom’s paintings, or her body. His alcoholism was not a consequence of marital ruin but, rather, the inevitable fate of a man perpetually dissatisfied. Conversely, in six short years, Mom and Lance have shared laughs, memories, and — most importantly — love.
    12. As you stare into Lance’s eyes, grasping his genitals with the force of a thousand furious fists, you finally see that he was never to blame. He rescued your mother; gave her new life; inspired her to paint again. Awash in the dim light of a skee ball machine, two lonely hearts became one. You lay a gentle, forgiving kiss on Lance’s moist lips, but retain your hold on his groin, as if to caution him against betraying your mother’s trust. You are an adolescent now, and have the strength to defend her honor if necessary.
    13. No more braces! Popcorn never tasted so good.


E. Connors