In a classroom, a group of eighth graders dressed in skinny jeans, shrunken cardigans and obscure indie rock band tees gather around a long, rectangular table. Various hairdos include: clip-on feathers, angular Emo bangs that obstruct an eye and side ponytails secured with Japanese animation character hair bands. MALINA, their Sunday morning Hebrew school teacher who often turns up to class sans lesson plan hoping that she'll manage to impart some tiny morsel of worthwhile (if vaguely Jewish) knowledge in her adolescent minions, flips open her laptop to take notes.
MALINA: Today's topic: Why are adults so terrified of teenagers? I mean, aside from all the scientific facts about the teenage brain still pruning and the collective fear in our society that you're all going to cave into peer pressure and do drugs and flunk out of school and get into a car accident and turn into one of the cast members of 16 and Pregnant?
ALLISON*: (with a purple stripe in her hair and a 1980's Madonna-esque head band) That show is great. It's kind of weird and pathetic at the same time.
JONATHAN: (short, huge hair) The girls are all fat.
ALLISON: Duh, that's because they're pregnant.
JONATHAN: Even after they're pregnant they're still fat.
MALINA: So do you think teenagers get a bad rap in our society?
MARGOT: (cute, rainbow-colored braces) We definitely do, which is pretty ironic all things considered.
LUCAS: (Vans sneakers, hooded sweatshirt) I love the word irony.
MALINA: How is it ironic?
MARGOT: Because adults are the ones that are totally messed up. Hel-lo, Do you ever watch daytime talk shows?
ALLISON: Hipsters are really into irony. But not as much as theater geeks.
LUCAS: Irony is the new awkward.
ALLISON: I want to die an ironic death.
LUCAS: I want to die doing something epic. Like falling from a building.
MALINA: Are you suicidal? Because if you are I need to report you to the office.
LUCAS: No, I'm not suicidal. I swear. I'm just really into using interesting words like 'epic' and 'irony.'
JONATHAN: People don't even know what irony means anymore.
AMELIA: (big, frizzy pigtails and a tartan plaid skirt with matching tartan plaid lunchbox with Hello Kitty on it) I prefer metaphors.
MARGOT: At my school everybody uses hyperboles. My friends plays the mandolin and she's always like, 'I've been playing mandolin since I was six months old,' and I'm like --
AMELIA: The mandolin is so cool. Everybody should play the mandolin.
MARGOT: And then I've got another friend who went to Montréal for two weeks and she comes back and she's like 'I'm totally fluent in French now -- "
MARGOT: And she can't even say the sentence in French.
LUCAS: I love the English language.
ALLISON: The English language can go die.
AMELIA: We should all be British.
MARGOT: Duh, British people speak English.
AMELIA: Duh, I know. But everything they say sounds so much better. Especially swear words.
JONATHAN: We should all speak one language.
ALLISON: OK, John Lennon wannabe.
LUCAS: Personally, I think we should all use really good diction. And way more sophisticated words. I mean, in every day language. Like, instead of saying 'healthy,' we say 'salubrious.' Instead of saying 'carefree,' we say 'insouciant.'
MALINA (raising her hand): OK, we're getting way off topic. It's awesome that we're discussing the English language and it actually sort of makes me long for college, but I was asking you why you think there's so much... tension between adults and teens?
AMELIA: Maybe because grown-ups want to be young again?
LUCAS: I'd be in accordance with that statement.
MALINA: So you're saying that on some level adults are jealous that their lives are passing them by when yours has only just begun?
ALLISON: Please don't start singing that Carpenters song again. You did that last week.
AMELIA: I think it's more about a loss of control over us. They can't dictate what we do all the time like they used to. We're not babies anymore, even though they still think of us as babies. They know they have to let go, but they can't figure out how to do it.
ALLISON: This is when parents start doing things to (she makes air quotation signs) understand us and (air quotation signs) get to know us better, like reading the Twilight books and listening to Hip Hop music. Even though they keep messing up the lyrics because they're spoken really fast and they're all losing their hearing.
MARGOT: My parents are always like, 'I was your age once,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, but things are way different now.' You didn't have iPods. You didn't have cell phones. You didn't have school bullies posting gross photos of you on the Internet.
MALINA: Maybe your parents are intimidated by how much you do know and how little they can relate when it comes to certain areas of your life. Maybe it makes them feel inadequate, or even helpless.
JONATHAN: Possibly. My parents are really bad with computers. My dad is always asking me to help him program the DVR and my mom still can't figure out how to use email. And my dad just joined Facebook but he keeps writing these long notes on people's walls when he should be messaging them. (A brief reflective pause) Facebook may be the great cultural divide between young and old.
MARGOT: Facebook should kick off everybody who's over the age of 40.
MALINA: Great. I've got one more year of Facebook.
ALLISON: Wait -- how old are you?
MARGOT: Duh, how bad is your math? She said she's going to be 40.
MALINA: (defensive) In a year.
LUCAS: My whole thing is that I'm not sure grown-ups give us enough credit for how sagacious and perspicacious and intuitive we are.
JONATHAN: What does sweating have to do with anything?
LUCAS: (rolls his eyes) Perspicacious. It means having insight.
AMELIA: My parents are always on my case to read. I'm like 'I read! Leave me alone!'
ALLISON: What are you talking about? You've been reading the Patrick Swayze biography for two years.
AMELIA: Don't make fun of me. I'm underlining and taking notes.
ALLISON: I read all five Harry Potter books in one night.
MALINA: What's one thing that you know how to do that your parents do not?
ALLISON: I can make prison make-up.
MALINA: Prison make-up? Really?
ALLISON: For mascara you use Vaseline and then grind up pencil lead and you mix it. For eye shadow you scratch off the pigment of pictures in magazines. You want to look good in prison.
AMELIA: How'd you learn how to do that?
ALLISON: My drama teacher. I just love him. But he's just a mess.
MARGOT: See? All adults are a mess.
AMELIA: Yeah, but all my friends are a mess, too. My best friend is going out with two guys and she can't decide which one she likes better. She just can't get her romantic life together.
MALINA: When you say 'go out' you don't mean actually go out, right? You mean text or Facebook or pass notes to one another in class?
AMELIA: Well, yeah. Nobody actually goes anywhere.
LUCAS: It's just relationships now. There's no such thing as going out on a date. It's like instantaneous. Whenever I like a girl my mom's like, 'Slow down speed racer!'
JONATHAN: I don't have girlfriends. I just have friends.
ALLISON: I have a lot of friends and I don't know why. I'm such a horrible person.
LUCAS: I don't believe in the idea of best friends. Why would you limit yourself to one person? There are six billion people on this planet. (Points to Jonathan) What about little Timothy in Vietnam who made that sweater vest you're wearing?
JONATHAN: How am I going to be friends with Timothy?
JONATHAN: He's seven. He doesn't have Facebook.
MALINA: If he's seven and making sweaters he likely doesn't have a computer.
MARGOT: There's a whole world out there: Grown-ups, kids, animals and plants.
JONATHAN: What does it all mean? What does life mean?
LUCAS: The only reason we have civilization is to entertain ourselves until we die.
AMELIA: And others.
ALLISON: Screw others.
LUCAS: Others are great. Without others there wouldn't be us.
JONATHAN: (Looks at Malina) So are you scared of your kids turning into teens?
MALINA: No. I'd be more scared of them not turning into teens. Of course, change and growth are always a bit difficult, but on the upside, they'll be able to dress themselves, go to the bathroom themselves and I won't have to watch The Fresh Beat Band.
MARGOT: Aaargh, my little brother loves that show. (Singing, everybody ignores her) "It was a great day, it was a super way, to spend some time together..."
LUCAS: (To Malina) That's intense. See that's a normal response.
MALINA: I'm a really normal person.
LUCAS: You're a pretty awesome teacher.
MALINA: Thanks. You guys are pretty awesome too. You don't scare me at all.
The school bell rings.
* All names have been changed
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