1. GOOD: You are not freaked out by the human body in all its shapes and forms—you have seen so many naked people that you understand that nudity is a normal human condition. This comes in handy when you have to help a sick hospitalized friend navigate some intimate part of her body with tubes and wires.
BAD: You know what your father’s penis looks like because he always swims naked, and when he shaves, he stands at the vanity in his bedroom, naked, with the bedroom door wide open.
2. GOOD: When you are fourteen you aren’t embarrassed with confusion when someone hands you a bong because your mother has already shown you how to use a bong.
BAD: You’re smoking pot at fourteen.
GOOD: Pot has no rebellious thrill and you quickly lose interest in it and never really smoke it again in your life.
3. GOOD: You will not get pregnant in high school because your mother will make sure that you are using birth control.
BAD: You have to discuss birth control with your mother who has no problem imagining you having sex.
4. GOOD: Your sense of the world goes beyond the physical as you are introduced to things like aura readings, séances and Ouji boards.
BAD: You lie in bed terrified of the spirit world invading your room. You fall asleep each night with your arms crossed over your stomach because your mother told you it would prevent spirits from entering your body.
5. GOOD: Your best friend whose mother ran off to be the tambourine girl in a band and whose father is in graduate school is invited to come live with your family for as long as she wants.
BAD: Your parents who barely have time or energy for you, now dote on your best friend and will only give her the keys to the car because you failed your driver’s test three times and don’t drive as well as she.
6. GOOD: You are very healthy as your mother doesn’t trust the local water supply and buys Arrowhead water before most people have heard of bottled water. She also buys skim milk (and you are the only family in your neighborhood with skim milk), and bakes bread. Your father ferments his own yogurt using kumquats from the trees in the backyard. The only kind of cookie in the house is Fig Newtons.
BAD: The only kind of cookie in the house is Fig Newtons. All your friends’ houses hold better-tasting food—they have lunch meats, soda, white bread, and Suzy Q’s.
7. GOOD: You like the same music as your parents and never have to spend money on records.
GOOD: You can turn the music up REALLY LOUD on the stereo and dance in the living room with your friends after school every day.
GOOD: Your parents come into the living room and dance with you. Your mother does the Funky Chicken and your father does The Itch, a dance he invented after being attacked by fleas.
BAD: Your friends like dancing and hanging out with your parents and never want to leave your house, even though the food is way better at their houses.
8. GOOD: You don’t really have to do chores around the house as your mother “quit” being a housewife and her workload was never reassigned. Your father wants to hire a cleaning woman but your mother doesn’t want someone in the house. She thinks it’s unsafe to have a stranger in the house when there is a small marijuana orchard in the backyard between the lemon trees.
BAD: Your house is so messy that the white kitchen floor is only white once a year when your mother uses a paint scraper to get the hardened gunk off the floor and then mops it before your grandparents from New Jersey show up for their annual two-week December visit.
9. GOOD: Your parents don’t care about grades or school or attendance. Your mother tells you to sign the first permission slips of the year so that the parent signature the school has on file is actually your signature. You are instructed to never bother your parents with signatures or notes, etc.
BAD: When you get straight As, no one seems to care.
10. GOOD: Your parents don’t keep track of you and you are not expected to keep track of them. They are often gone (you have no idea where they are) and you get the house to yourself and can eat ice cream for lunch and lie on the living room couch looking at Diane Arbus photo books all afternoon.
BAD: You are afraid to be in the house alone. You worry about spirits, or thieves who are after the marijuana plants, or the uptight Republican neighbors who have a pet raccoon and who hate your family, particularly your brother who frequently abandons his Big Wheel in their driveway. You wish that someone, anyone, would come home to keep you company.
Causes Jessica Blau Supports
Baltimore School for the Arts, 826DC, CityLit Project.