Before alcohol, there was Truth or Dare

By Leila Sales

I agree with teenaged girls on most issues. I agree with them that singing sensation Aaron Carter is totally hot. I agree with them that The Princess Diaries are the best books currently in print. I even agree with them that pencil cases are better when they’re pink and sparkly. But, sadly, I cannot agree with teenaged girls on the issue of humor. Because adolescents think that the funniest thing in the world is when someone else gets embarrassed. And I, you know, don’t.

Take, for example, Truth or Dare, a beloved pastime of adolescent girls. Truth or Dare serves no purpose other than embarrassing people and whiling away the years before you’re old enough to drink. The problem is, you generally play this game with your friends, and you generally already know everything about them. That’s what makes them your friends. It’s simply not that interesting to ask your best friend, yet again, whom she has a crush on (David), or how far she’s gone (kissing with tongue).

The upshot of this is that truths become these complex Socratic logic problems to which there are no true answers. To escape the monotony of questions like, “What size bra do you wear?” (32A), girls take to asking bizarre counterfactuals such as, “If you had to sleep with Alex or Zach, which one would you pick?”

The true answer, of course, is, “Neither. Alex smells like rotting gourds and hasn’t spoken except in grunts since the fourth grade. And Zach is five feet tall, and when he gets nervous, he eats pencil shavings. And also, I’m not sleeping with anyone! Due to the fact that I’m 13! I am not even allowed to watch sex on TV!”

But this is not an acceptable answer in a round of Truth or Dare. “Alex,” would be an acceptable answer to this question. At which point your friends will shriek with laughter and make jokes about the deformed babies you and Alex would have. And then, if they remember, they will go into school on Monday and tell Alex that you like like him. This will cause Alex to avoid you for the rest of his natural-born life, always sitting at least four desks away, as though you might, at any minute, wrestle him to the ground and start making out with him in the middle of social studies.

Ultimately, you will live to regret this, as Alex will learn to talk in actual sentences and will discover deodorant. By the time you’re juniors in high school, you actually would want to sleep with Alex. But this will never be a possibility because he will be so accustomed to evading you that, if you asked him out for coffee, he would punch you in the face.

This sounds like a bad situation, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, choosing Zach is no better. Take my word for this. And choosing Dare from the beginning doesn’t save face, either; inevitably, Dares require you to get naked. (Seriously, who doesn’t want to see your exposed 32A chest?). Truth or Dare is a lose-lose situation.

Yet the middle-school student who points out this game’s inherent flaws will be forever branded a “bad sport” who doesn’t understand how amazingly funny it is to watch her friends prank-call the hot ninth grader on the J.V. soccer team. In seventh grade, this truly is the pinnacle of humor, rivaled only by the hilariously embarrassing stories written in teen magazines.

Teen magazines are rife with information about the horrible things that could happen to you: the fashion crimes you could commit, the eating disorders you could develop, and the mortifying mistakes you could make, provided you count “living” as a mortifying mistake. These embarrassing moments are then forever enshrined in the “Trauma-Rama” section of Seventeen magazine. A standard embarrassing story goes like this: “I bent down to pick up my backpack but my jeans were a little big so everyone including my crush glimpsed some of my underwear.” Or sometimes, “I opened my purse but inside there was a tampon. I think my crush noticed and I wanted to die!”

Every girl who writes into “Trauma-Rama” has A Crush. It’s a thing that she owns, like a $1 bottle of nail polish or multi-colored braces. The primary purpose of A Crush is to give the girl someone to follow around at school dances. The secondary purpose of A Crush is to make any everyday situation become supremely humiliating, merely by his showing up. I’m glad that I don’t have A Crush; now, when I spill hot chocolate on my shirt, I don’t have to run from the room sobbing. Crushes are nothing but trouble.

Though I guess I kind of have A Crush on Aaron Carter. Shhh. Don’t tell. If he knew, that would be super embarrassing.