Thursday, June 30, 2011

Teenager

One thing I regret about my secondary school life is that I didn’t play more. Yeah you read that right. For 5 years of school life I’ve only been to one camp, two outings, three competitions. Even I don’t know where the remaining time went to – I suspect my belly took it :P

And seeing people celebrating birthdays, I can hear the footsteps of my own birthday coming near, and with it the final year of being a ‘teen’-ager.

This is an excerpt from the novel Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami.

Halfway through April Naoko turned 20. She was seven months older than I was, my own birthday being in November. There was something strange about her becoming 20. I. felt as if the only thing that made sense, whether for Naoko or for me, was to keep going back and forth between 18 and 19. After 18 would come 19, and after 19, 18, of course. But she turned 20. And in the autumn, I would do the same. Only the dead stay 17 for ever.

It rained on her birthday. After lectures I bought a cake nearby and took the tram to her flat. "We ought to have a celebration," I said. I probably would have wanted the same thing if our positions had been reversed. It must be hard to pass your twentieth birthday alone. The tram had been packed and had pitched so wildly that by the time I arrived at Naoko's room the cake was looking more like the Roman Colosseum than anything else. Still, once I had managed to stand up the 20 candles I had brought along, light them, close the curtains and turn out the lights, we had the makings of a birthday party. Naoko opened a bottle of wine. We drank, had some cake, and enjoyed a simple dinner.

"I don't know, it's stupid being 20," she said. "I'm just not ready. It feels weird. Like somebody's pushing me from behind."

"I've got seven months to get ready," I said with a laugh.

"You're so lucky! Still 19!" said Naoko with a hint of envy.

For some reason this part of the story was etched deep in my brain. Must be the resonance of being the last few years of teenage-ness. And it’s quite common actually – my ex-Chinese Language teacher once told our class that on her 30th birthday, she felt unusually depressed because she could not call herself a “twenty-something” lady anymore!

---o0o---

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko “電波女と青春男”is a currently airing slice-of-life anime show directed by the acclaimed director Akiyuki Shinbo. Throughout the series this phrase always came out “Adolescence points”. In the series itself the male protagonist made a real detailed explanation!

Let's talk about adolescence points. These are points gained or lost upon experiencing something related to adolescence. The maximum number of points attainable from a single event is 5. Here are some examples.


First, 1 point: Chatting normally with girls at break, or getting something to eat with friends. Basically, these are points gained by living a normal school life from day to day. However, your adolescence points decrease as days go by. So the risk of looking back and thinking, “Man, it was fun doing all that, but it was nothing spectacular,” is very high if you only shoot for normal events.

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Next, 2 points: Talking to a girl your own age in the park at night is a good example. Any 1 point activity gains an extra point when you add situations like “at night” or “during club”. If one pointers are fundamentals, then 2 pointers are the application. With the right knack and good looks, you can gain over 20 points over your 3 years in high school.

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Saving them won't do you any good in college or at work, but when you go to die, they make a world of difference in your satisfaction with your life. That moment is the culmination of your life, when you realize just how important high school was.

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Anything worth more than 3 points is based on your own personal viewpoint. The best example is probably going on a date with someone you like, but only if it's unrequited or you aren't going out. There are special cases where they can be earned in groups.


For a cultural festival, or any other events with limited chances, you can often gain 4 points. And for things that you personally think “This is it!” with no doubt in your mind, then for you personally that's a full 5 points. Like running around town with no shame or honor for a girl, or getting a chance for victory at Koushien. Only those who step over the boundary lined by trauma and glory can sprint and attain this honor.

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How many “adolescence points” did you get? If you’re past the era already, keep the calculator away to prevent yourself from falling into despair. Not yet 20? You’re lucky, man! Go get yourself a memorable life!

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Just don’t resort to something like this.

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