Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



If the National Security Agency were to wiretap a high school* and then listen to the recordings, it’d hear a few phrases repeated again and again: “Dude,” “Duh,” “No duh,” “Intellectually invigorating,” “Swag,” “Oh, man,” “Ostentatious” and “When it’s finally summer, I’m going to...”Joel Kwartler

*For all I know, between writing this and going to press, it will come out that the NSA has been wiretapping college, high school and daycare classrooms starting in 1593 when the word “patriot” entered the vernacular and gave the NSA the authority to do so.

Now, let’s imagine you’re an NSA surveillance listener. Which of those phrases sounds most threatening to you? Hearing “dude”? Perhaps the foreboding “no duh”? Or even the incredibly ominous “ostentatious”?

Personally, I’d listen to “When it’s summer, I’m going to...” statements. They could be dangerous in so many ways. For example: When it’s summer, I’m going to beat him ... in tennis. Or: When it’s summer, I’m going to burn everything ... currently in my locker. Or even: When it’s summer, I’m going to absolutely slaughter everyone ... and their dogs. In ultimate Frisbee.

These are all common phrases thrown about in the halls, especially during early June, as students’ minds drift from their scholarly pursuits — not that our minds were on them to begin with — to the cancer-causing, greenhouse-gas-heating, radioactive sunshine out the window.

But one thing I’m sure you’re just dying to know is: Do teens really carry out their boasts? Do we really burn our notebooks and homework to ashes? Sleep for 20 hours every day? Play Frisbee while in a hot tub while watching a movie while riding around the neighborhood on a bike while tweeting while eating ice cream for the remaining four hours a day?

In order to maintain my journalistic integrity, I took a few seconds to ponder this question instead of hastily writing whatever offered the most to talk about. Then my mind drifted to the cancer-causing, etc. sun outside, and, after I watched a precarious hot tub movie theater pedal past my window, it occurred to me that no, teens definitely don’t follow through with our plans. None of us sleep for more than 18 hours a day.

The real question to ask is: Why do teens make so many outrageous statements? That’s a good question, but in answering it, we must be careful. The last person to attempt psychoanalysis of the teen brain was John Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt, and, well, we know how that turned out: He became a schizophrenic wanderer who thought people were always calling his name. Frankly, I don’t find that unusual — the teen brain is so complex that it is sort of like Schrodinger’s cat. Teens might have brains, but, then again, teens might not have brains.

The root of the “when it’s finally summer ... “ sentiments seems to come from our attempts to give ourselves hope. Sure, we may have just pulled the 30th all-nighter of February*, and our fingers may be dropping off from taking so many notes, but, come summer, it will all be better.

*It’s not even a leap year. (This isn’t an exaggeration, unfortunately. Would I exaggerate something this serious in a column that itself is about such a serious topic?)

The other catalyst for the frequent summer daydreams is, of course, a cultural flaw. We unrealistically inflate the summertime expectations of teenagers. It doesn’t help matters that teens start looking forward to summer as soon as Sept. 6 and as late as Sept. 7.

So, let’s return to the original question — Will we act on our words? — and what it means for you. While some of our more outrageous claims are obviously hyperboles, it’s not unusual to hear of teens who actually take drastic action. You probably didn’t know this, but Billy Joel even wrote a song about arson investigators questioning teens about their smoldering Cold War history notes that supposedly ignited a major blaze, titled “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

It’s pretty unlikely, however, that we’ll run into any issues in Lake Oswego. Aside from the usual inflatable scarecrow casualties and teens who swear to “move every potted plant I see this summer and make the police blotter 60 times,” we should all be thankful our exclamations simply arise from a desire to live in a year-round summer.

The point is, summer has arrived once again, and although that might mean nothing to you, I can promise you that each and every teen will be happy until August, when it occurs to us that we only have a month of summer left. In other words, parents, try not to get between a teen and his/her summer. After all, you certainly won’t be hearing, “When school finally starts, I can’t wait to...”

Joel Kwartler is an incoming senior at Lake Oswego High School. writes a regular column for the Lake Oswego Review. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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