Real Stuff: "Our Thing"

"When I was a junior in high school, I suffered from a condition that troubles many teenagers: not much money and no way to get booze." -- From Real Stuff #4 (Fantagraphics, November 1991).

Read the other Real Stuff stories and listen to Mark's interview with Dennis Eichhorn here.



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  1. Y'know, I have a problem with this. Not the burglary -- the assumption that teenagers have any great need for alcohol in the first place.

    My circles never did. Doesn't mean it was absent, but few people were drinking in significant quantity.

    We've successfully changed the social equation so kids who smoke are largely considered idiots rather than cool. I think it's time to start thinking about how we can achieve the same with kids who drink to excess just because they' re getting away with something or think it shows they're "adult" when it's actually proving they're far from.

    Yeah, I know, this is a slice of the author's life, at a time and in a place and so on. And yes, I'm being a bit idealistic about this. But I'd have been much, much happier if the word "troubles" in the very first panel was changed to "troubled", past tense.

    Be careful what expectations you set. Kids can read them, and will live up -- or down -- to them.

  2. The surefire way to get a child to want something is to forbid it. Stigmatization only works if being an outsider / part of an outsider peer group doesn't appeal - and it does, a lot. Loosen up a bit, teach children that drinking is ok in moderation and you won't have the binge drink / teen drink problem.

  3. Partly agree too. Some do embrace "loser" status. They are lost and bloody hard to get back. And they do damage - to themselves and within their peergroup. That's the worst part of stigmatization - children don't have perspective to deal with it when it happens to them, and you do see a "well, fuck it all then" change happen sometimes. Smoking, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, "risky behavior", personality problems, academic problems, nearly every emotional disorder, and I could on - in some way or another the foundation is a self-esteem issue. Paint a line and say once you cross that you are bad - and some will cross it, and believe they are bad.

  4. A thought that keeps popping up when reading Real Stuff: "Christ, what an asshole."

  5. Often heavy drinking shows the teens have serious problems. In Def Backderf's comic My Friend Dahmer, Derf notes Jeffrey Dahmer was getting drunk every day, to try to drown out his inner demons (he fantasized about having sex with cadavers.)

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