and now for a This American Life style disclaimer. the following blog acknowledges the existence of sex and the fact that those of us who are 18+ (and under apparently) engage in it.
i write novels for teenagers. i do. and as that life decision goes for so many authors, i've had a day job the whole time. nowadays, my day job occurs uber-late at night between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
see, i manage a nightclub.
as the club is a 21+ venue, i thought never the YA and day(night) job worlds would meet. and then this past week we rented out part of the club to a post prom party.
three words: Scarred. For. Life.
teens. lets have a word about teenagers, shall we? while i generally do not like them in loud, walking down the sidewalk groups (sorry guys. you're annoying. lets just admit it and move on.), teens are otherwise great. on any given day i'd rather converse with a teenager than an adult. what other age group can you have a serious conversation with on say literature or politics, and immediately after convince to partake in a dance routine?
all that being said, i haven't partied with teens since i was one. and even then, i didn't party with teens. (who knew all those Straight Edge, straight A's would lead to running a nightclub? ahh corrie, if only you knew then, what you still are figuring out now... you still would have preferred reading and hardcore shows to boozing it up, but you would have wasted less time sweating over AP Calc.)
so when i saw Post Prom Party on our calendar, i was excited. what was better for a YA writer than being around the very audience they were writing for? now i just wish i could bleach my memory. no adult should have to see such sights. oh the horrors.
but before we get to that, let's have a word about party buses. is anything permissible so long as the word 'party' goes hand in hand? no, no, it's fine. it was a party massacre. or the environmental effects aren't so bad it was a party nuclear explosion. that must be it. otherwise, how are these businesses getting away with allowing teens to get smashed on their vehicles?
five party buses pulled up outside the club and spat out 200 hiccuping, wobbly legged teens. amongst them breezed in one sober wisp of a girl. the girl who visited the club numerous times weeks before. who crunched numbers with us. who did what no other adult promoter has done - ponied up a deposit, on time. who organized the travelling of 200 souls from Long Island, post prom and texted en route bemoaning the traffic. a girl who immediately became my new hero.
"Hiiii. I'm Holly." (btw, no she's not).
since working at the club, a few inches of my polite, everyone must like me, un-assertiveness has definitely worn away. i have no problem telling Mister Freestyle Rapper that no he can not smoke the joint that's as big as my head in the club. but whilst i'm still figuring out a polite way to say, "i'm sorry Madame. you are drinking a $5 well vodka drink. if you think it's weak, buy another!" Holly was born issuing commands and she wasted no time on subtly or daintiness.
"Listen up bitches. Stay on the buses."
"Because I said so. Everyone else, downstairs. Now!" whilst to me she sparkled, "We're just thrilled to be here. Thank you so much for having us."
thrilled was one word for it. no sooner had the teens gone downstairs than 'thrilled' began spewing forth.
thank you (again) party buses, puke immediately was everywhere. in the hallways. in garbage cans. near the toilets. on the toilets. in the toilets. the communal sink in the bathroom was a swamp of chunky, backed up vomit sewage the very thought of which still makes me cringe. but the puke wasn't the worst of it. the worst was that as soon as the vomiting was done (tho it wasn't ever really done), the girls on their wobbly heels, in their teeny tiny tiny dresses (what happened to the prom gowns, yo?) mounted their boyfriends and proceeded to exhibit moves that would make a stripper blush.
Managing a Club, Etiquette Lesson One: if there are no parts out, it's consensual, the couple is sitting upright, and no sex is being had, you can't break up make out sessions. i mean, it's a club. you just need the dual ability of looking to make sure everything is okay while not looking because it's gross.
Managing a Club, but being a YA Writer, Decent Human Being Etiquette Lesson One A: BUT THESE ARE TEENAGERS!
so i shone my flashlight in the face of the first lap dance couple... to absolutely no effect. and then, inept flashlight in hand, it was like the scene from Alien with those creepy pods opening around me. every single kid in the place began acting like they were the leads in a way trashy music video. the benches filled with them. the dance floor hosted the standing up version.
granted, as one attendee told me, i'm old. "you guys only do old people events here, right? like 21 and up?" but i wasn't some big prude in high school (yes i was). still this was the next level. and hello, i work Soca parties, my tolerance for raunchy behavior is pretty high. so not only was it weird, and icky in the way that makes you never want to have sex again, but i couldn't help wondering, prepare for my naivety, where the hell did these kids learn to do this (so well)? and if this is where they were at now, where was left for them to go? i think it's safe to say, bases have been blown out of the water. sex on a first day will one day be a given.
and in between these depressing thoughts and the permanent frown i'd acquired over the course of 5 minutes, weaving through the crowd like she was the host of a tea party, not a zoo of teenage de-yuckery, was a bright ray of awesomeness: Holly.
"Hiii, omg, we're terrible aren't we?" "Hiii, how are you doing? you holding up okay? i know. so gross!" "Hiiii i'm sorry, what a mess!" "Hiii! you guys are awesome!" "Hiiii, my phone has two seconds of battery life, but i'm around if you need me."
at one point, i texted Holly to let her know that all the buses needed to be out front ten minutes before the club closed. i asked a colleague if he'd seen her. he shone a flashlight on a girl on the dance floor getting walloped, er, i mean danced on from behind. the only reason i knew it was Holly was that as her nicely coiffed hair came undone from the jostling of the fine young gentleman shimmying [no that's not what he was doing, but that's the wording i'm choosing for it] on her like his life depended on it, the girl scrolled through texts on her phone. a second later she was in front of me. "Hiii, buses ten minutes before close? no problem! HEY LISTEN UP EVERYBODY...."
my favorite game at the club is playing "what have i learned."
so what did i learned for our post prom event?
1. these novels i'm writing for teens? the ones that my agent and i are so carefully editing the f word and murders out of? they're for 14 and 15-year-olds because the older kids are dealing with waaaayyy more than the f word. maybe we always were, i just needed a burn-my-eye-sockets reminder.
2. i need to channel my inner Holly much more frequently. Holly asked me what my major was in college. what being a GM entailed. that she was thinking of going into event planning. Holly, a little advice. it doesn't matter wtf you major in, girl. just be you. more and more i realize not many people can truly get stuff done in this world. Holly you'll stand out and move forward no matter what your diploma says.
so i'm saying it to you, too. we shy away from our inner Holly because we're afraid to hurt feelings or of repercussions that come from seeming too aggressive. meanwhile, when we speak our minds and give directions, mostly what other people see is someone in control. just make sure when you use your inner Holly, you don't refer to people as "bitches."
3. when hosting a post prom event (we have two more slated) triple the number of garbage cans.