Why I hate being Sixteen

Written by Sarah McCulloch

Looking back on my previous article, I was irritated at being so close but unable to do so many things. Now I can have sex, smoke, join the army, open an ISA, and buy scrap metal. How does it feel? Well, it feels like I can have sex, but not watch it, I can kill myself with lung cancer, but not liver failure, fight and die for my country but not vote in it, and open an ISA, but not have a credit card to put money in it. But hey, at least I can buy scrap metal! And, rather amusingly, "be used for begging". Can't wait to try that one.

The strange laws of the country I live in hold you criminally accountable for your own crimes by the age of ten, but prevent you from holding the government accountable until the age of 18. Despite, now being considered old enough to buy aerosols (because solvent sniffing when you're under 16 is SO much worse than an over sixteen shooting up), I will be, amazingly unable to drive a lorry until the age of twenty-one. Bizarrely, although I cannot be trusted on the roads, I can be trusted in the air with a similar sized metal object of death, as Commercial Pilot Licences can be earned at the tender age of seventeen.

And being female, I shall never have the opportunity to work in a mine (it's the principle, dammit). AND I still can't bloody drive!

Another crap thing about being such a tender and innocent age is that you enter into the realms of "Youth", which is almost inevitably followed by "crime" or preceded by "delinquent". As an older teenager, I am apparently at fault for all my nation's ills. It is my generation that are burdening the NHS with our amazing flabbiness and violence, my generation that are wilfully committing crime simply for kicks rather than to feed our heroin habit, because we're too high on wacky baccy to notice other drugs, and my generation that are rutting in the streets, fuelled by under age drinking and treating abortion like the morning after pill.

I personally can't say I've ever noticed this, but if the tabloids say it, it MUST be true! Maybe I live in some sort of parallel universe or something, but the people I know only vices are getting harmlessly drunk and falling over lampposts.

Ok, maybe a few are in thrall to the magic dragon as well, but no one I know has stabbed anyone, even though, according to the papers, we're all armed to the teeth with the latest in machine guns and flick knives. The flick knives, of course, I am now legally entitled to buy. Oh, happy day.

So, the actual opportunities made available to me are fairly half-arsed now I am of legal age, made more so by the vindictive attitude of anyone over thirty that if I wasn't the Kennedy assassin, it was only because I was a glint in my father's eye.

But what of the ongoing saga with my two chums, Annabel and Ruth?

Annabel has somewhat calmed down, as much as someone whose brain halves have seemingly never met can, and has finally stopped dancing everywhere. In a shock move that took the school by storm, she acquired a boyfriend, although not without her lust going through Russell (or rather, down on, in his case), Matt, Pete, Daniel, and Dave first.

However, despite her disappointment with his education- the words "trailer" and "trash" or, for the more home grown readers, "chavscum", come to mind- he has proved a worthy lad and Annabel has been happily doing what rabbits do for nigh on seven months now. Due to certain differences (she loves fashion, mobile phones, and being an it girl, I enjoy the military, setting fire to things and talking about the Pope with my friends) we have split apart, and I would be surprised if Annabel features in future articles (I can see "Why I hate being thirty-five" now...).

Ruth, on the other hand, has somewhat evolved. From being a constant worrier, she took the "Let's milk Sarah for all the help I can get" angle fairly early in the year, and never really let go.

Naturally, she never feels the need to return this help, being the most selfish person in the entire world, her one contribution to my life being recording an episode of "Fingersmith" off the telly. I, on the other hand, have been talked into baking her a cake, giving her six hours of my time to help her build a pedal car because she was freaking over a deadline which she didn't bother to inform me was actually three weeks in the future, and serving refreshments at a quiz at her local church, which had me tensed for four hours (Baptists are scary people) straight and took me two hours to calm down again.

Oh, and have I mentioned she's refused to go to the prom to give me moral support, to go on a walk with me (on two different occasions, to two different places), to attend my Joshua Society (Me and about five other people, talking about religion. Gets fiery sometimes, but generally wetter than the sea), the list goes on.

She has also managed to singularly fail to keep a single promise she has made to me this term, with the exception of once lending me some hair gel, to the point where she refuses point blank to make any at all because I get so angry. I can't think which one pisses me off most. Hmm, no, I think it would have to be her lame apologies where she sidles up, justifies in her own mind completely whatever rude and obnoxious thing she's decided to inflict upon me this time round and waits expectantly for forgiveness. When, quite understandably in my view, she doesn't get it, she acts all aggrieved, as if I've just vowed to murder her unborn children or something.

So, why do I put up with it, with this detestable abuse of trust of which I am perfectly aware but have made no moves to stop?

It's an interesting question (as are most asked by me, not to blow my own trumpet), and one to which I believe I now know the answer. The reasons I allow Ruth to cheerfully walk all over me (with hiking boots and thirty pound pack) are that:

a) I'm a relentlessly helpful person who is seemingly incapable of refusing a request of help from anyone, despite my gruff image, and Ruth knows and equally relentlessly exploits that and:

b) the fallout from not acceding to Ruth's every pathetic whim would be that I would be bereft of a friend I've had for five years and am deeply attached to, despite the depressant effect she occasionally has on me. Even platonic love forms incredibly strong bonds. A more practical consideration is:

c) that I would have no-one to sit next to in registration, which is a powerful incentive to make up with someone if you sitting alone on your arse, wistfully staring out of the window. Idly speculating what your teachers look like having sex and then trying desperately to erase such speculation from your mind only lasts so long, you know. I do love her really, it's only in these articles I let myself get mad (mostly)...

To summarise, not a lot has changed from the last article. My writing style has become more fluent, and my GCSEs are weeks away, rather than months, but Ruth is as irritating and charming as ever, and I STILL cannot sodding drive. Oh, just you wait, things will be better next year; I'll be able to be interviewed by the police without an adult present...