By Alyson Noel
Last Saturday, I took part in an author panel where I was askedâ€”How do you write in such an authentic teen voice? I expected you to be fourteen!
To which I repliedâ€”But I am fourteen.
I wasnâ€™t lying, wasnâ€™t trying to be coy about my age or revive a well-worn punch line, because the truth is, for better or worse, deep down inside Iâ€™m still stuck in adolescence. I mean, sure I can legally drive, vote, and drink (though not all at once). But just because I have a standing appointment at my hair salon where it takes two hours to recreate the color of my youth, just because, through some enormous fluke, I ended up with a house, a husband, and a handful of credit cardsâ€”the usual trappings of a grown up lifeâ€”that doesnâ€™t mean Iâ€™m an adult.
I never feel grown up. Iâ€™m not even sure what it means. Grown ups used to be my parents, teachers, and characters I watched on TV. A grown up was June Cleaver with her sweater sets and pearls tucked neatly beneath her apron, a grown up was Lauren Bacall exchanging witty, sophisticated banter with Humphrey Bogart in the old black and white movies my mom made us watch on rainy Sunday afternoons. A grown up always wore shoes that matched her handbag. A grown up was able to make her point without ever resorting to slang.
I donâ€™t own an apron. I live in flip-flops or Frye boots depending on the season, and carry whichever purse holds all of my stuff. I blast my stereo when I drive, singing at the top of my lungs, like I did at sixteen. I over use words like totally and awesome, and when Iâ€™m especially enthusiastic am known to say, totally awesome! I still get rock star crushes. I still act immature and giddy when Iâ€™m with my friends. I still struggle with a problematic T-zone.
So you can see how getting inside a teenagerâ€™s head isnâ€™t all that big of a stretch.
Though I do remember back when I was an authentic teen, back in the days when everyone over twenty-five seemed old, thirty tragically old, and forty downright ancient. And how my mom tried to explain it, telling me how despite the accumulation of birthday candles and wrinkles, deep down inside, she still felt like a kid. And how every time she caught her own reflection, she couldnâ€™t help but thinkâ€”whoâ€™s that old lady?
At the time, I just laughed, thinking she was, well, old.
But now I know she was right. Because depending on the day, Iâ€™m 14, 16, or at the very mostâ€”25. But rarely, if ever, do I feel grown up.
What about you? To quote my favorite birthday cardâ€”How old would you be if you didnâ€™t know how old you was? And how does it shape what you write?
Alyson Noel is the author of Faking 19, Art Geeks and Prom Queens, Laguna Cove, Fly Me to the Moon, and the upcoming Kiss & Blog (May 2007). You can visit her at: www.alysonnoel.com
Oh, thanks you guys- all of you! I’m so glad to know that I’m not alone-that I can share my juvenile tendencies with such esteemed company!
I loved you blog, Alyson! And I loved finally meeting you last Saturday.
My M-I-L firmly believed that calendar years meant nothing. The mind is ageless and the rest doesn’t matter. She ALWAYS told anyone who dared to ask that she was 21, including her own kids. Birthdays were only celebrated until a child reached that age. And she must’ve been in her sixties when she taught her granddaughter how to do cartwheels on our front lawn!
As for me, I was old and worn out at 16 and didn’t expect to make it to 18. But as the song says, I’m younger than that now. And I’m damn happy about that. ggg
Aly, right there with you! I am, at most 18…though my mirror lies to me, I pay no attention. My favorite expression is still ‘Bite Me’, and singing and chair dancing in the car is just part of my life.
Jeans and tee shirts rule my world and barefoot over heels, any day!
Who wants to be a grownup???
I get this, and I’ve been an “adult” for a lot longer than you have. In my 10X mirror at home I see the wrinkles and puffiness and all the things I really don’t want to think about, but since the mirror is small I really don’t see all that much in one fell swope. I really hate to go to the mall because the have all those big pillered mirrors in the middle and when I walk by I’m like your mother, wondering who is that fat old woman standing in my place and I just want to bitch slap her for not respecting my personal space. I am still a cute young chickie in my mind and I’ll never think of myself as being all grown up. I am giving up birthdays and I’m going backward this year. I had enough of getting “older” ,it SUCKS! I can’t wait to read Kiss & Blog and Fly Me to the Moon. They sound great. Why aren’t you signing it at OCC.
Michelle 😉 who is really 17(it was a very good year) instead of 55
I *loved* this!
Especially the part about the slang. I’ve been stuck on “Sweet!” You know, like “shibby”.
The other day my little one asked, “Mom, can you say another word instead of sweet?”
I’m totally with you on this, Alyson. I’m really about 16 most of the time. I’ve been married 25 years, and when someone calls me Mrs. Black I still think they’re talking to someone else!
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