Dear Teen Me from author Sean Beaudoin (THE INFECTS, WISE YOUNG FOOL)

10.1K 163 11

Dear Sean--

Listen, buddy, what's with the princess locks? There's nothing punk about that at all. You look like an ad for cut-rate hair conditioner. Or maybe a Skid Row cover band. Let's see if we can list all your crimes:

1. Smug look.

2. Wearing bracelet of tiny Tibetan skulls on left wrist.

3. Black jeans.

4. Black jeans held up by thrift store belt, huge interlocking brass rings belt buckle.

5. Holding second can of Old Milwaulkee, no doubt more to come.

6. Inappropriate placement of candle.

Really, pal, the only thing you skate on is the plain white thermal. In fact, that's one in the credit column, because it could just have easily been a Blue Oyster Cult tour shirt with the sleeves ripped off.

What were you thinking the exact moment the flash went off? Let's guess:

1. How can I get closer to the lens?

2. My beer is warm.

3. I hope when I get home there's a rerun of Star Trek on.

4. Whose disembodied right hand is gripping my shoulder?

5. The music is not nearly loud enough.

6. Are you ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille?

Hey, listen, the late-eighties were a tough time to get your driver's license. Every girl looked like Cyndi Lauper or the bass player for The Bangles. The most popular show on TV was either Manimal, about a guy who could turn into an animal for some inexplicable reason and then bite bank robbers on the wrist until the cops came--or Knight Rider, a show about a guy with a talking car who could corner back robbers against a wall with his bumper until the cops came. It was a time of bad food, bad politics, Bad Company, bad movies and bad blood between everyone who thought Michael Douglas was the hero in Wall Street, and everyone else. At least there was the Bad Brains.

But what I mostly remember about this time was feeling like I desperately wanted to be part of a scene. Not like a bunch of dudes hanging out a skate park or four couples who road tripped to someone's parent's ski lodge every other weekend. I mean like a scene. Of writers or artists or musicians or filmmakers. People who were creating. Who all helped each other with their projects. Who were full of good ideas and inspired one another and drove each other to be the best versions of themselves. Like Hemingway and Gertrude Stein on the Left Bank. Or Faulkner and Nathaniel West in Hollywood. Or Paul Bowles and William Burroughs in Morocco.

And, actually, I think many of my friends felt that way too. But for some reason it never came to be. Maybe we were all too busy looking smugly at the camera. Or maybe we all went to college and had lots of classes where you needed to know how to do math. I don't really remember now, but somewhere along the line I blinked and suddenly everyone was interning at a hedge fund.

But I finally think I've realized what that look on your face is. It's not disdain or boredom.

It's longing.

Man, you were really dying to get your foot in the water, weren't you?

Knock off all the standing around and do something that was half-genius and half-nuts. Like go to El Salvador and make a shoestring documentary, or sail across the Pacific on a pontoon boat, or start an underground magazine about Glam Rock, or move to Nigeria and paint landscapes for the rest of your life.

Hey, despite the hair, I love you for that.

And I miss that feeling of myself longing now.

It was like an extra pulse.

I wish I had a nice, frosty six-pack of it.

Check out Teen Me and me, decades later, ready to start our own scene from scratch.

Sean Beaudoin enjoys typing about himself in the third person, as if some underfed intern were writing his bio for him. He wrote GOING NOWHERE FASTERFADE TO BLUE, and YOU KILLED WESLEY PAYNE strictly for cash, but THE INFECTS was a zombie labor of love. Sean's short stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications, including The Onion, The San Francisco ChronicleSalon, NarrativeGlimmer Train, and Spirit-the inflight magazine of Southwest Airlines. He has since been awarded free cocktail peanuts for life. Sean is also one of the founding editors of, which is hands-down the most influential site on the internet.

Twitter: @seanbeaudoin


Dear Teen Me: More Letters from Authors to their Teen SelvesWhere stories live. Discover now