Here is a little-known fact â€“ schoolies are not new.
As long as teenagers have been going to school, teenagers have been leaving school. And as long as they’ve been leaving school they’ve been terrifying real people.
I mean, that’s the point, isn’t it?
What do we imagine â€“ they’re going to have a tea party and play pass the parcel?
I have friends who answer: “No, no â€“ we expect them to have a good time, but we expect them to be reasonable, too.”
But when you’re in your sixties “reasonable” has different meanings to when you’re in your teens.
In the world I inhabit “reasonable” is a cup of cocoa and a decent night’s sleep without having to go the toilet more than three times.
But in the world inhabited by school leavers “reasonable” is enough alcohol to render you comatose for three days, apart from the breaks to throw up over the balcony on the cars in the car park seven floors below.
So when I hear the schoolies are heading north (Townsville Bulletin, Thursday, November 27) I’m suspicious. Apparently we get a better class of schoolie up here, by which I suppose we mean that they get wasted in smaller groups.
Personally I don’t mind. I’m sure that, among those who are going to spend their post-school celebration listening to the echo of their stomach contents disappearing into the Magnetic Island sewerage system, there are some who will be tomorrow’s leaders.
When that time comes I hope they’ll have the courage not to be ashamed of what they did at the age of 18.
It’s what young people are wired to do — anything that rattles the cages of the previous generation. In a way you could say we are to blame for their current excesses. We set out to shock our parents by becoming sexually active in high school, growing marihuana on an agricultural scale in our bedrooms, changing jobs every weekend and coining obnoxious phrases like “Fab!”
What did that leave for our children? Challenging the social norm â€“ which is every teenager’s duty â€“ meant manufacturing drugs on a scale that makes supermarkets look like boutique delicatessens, becoming sexually active in kindergarten, and introducing the F and C words into casual conversation, also in kindergarten.
In the interests of fair play, and to counterbalance the awful sense of piety and amnesia that affects the older generations, I ask you to recall:
How many times did you drive home (in the days before breathalysers) with one eye closed so you could focus on the road?
How many times did you wake up only when the nearside (or, on really bad nights, the offside) tyres ran on to the gravel?
How many windows did you break? How many times did you leave little heaps of diced carrot on garden beds outside bedroom windows; or worse â€“ sprayed over lounge room walls in the homes of your girlfriend’s parents?
The schoolies are coming! There will be victims, of course. There always were, and there always will be, victims, and that’s a terrible thing; but there’s no point in us whingeing about the process. It was us, after all, who started it.