On spring break, somebody suckered me into sharing a bed with a bronchitis-ridden travel partner and, as you might guess, I started feeling the symptoms a few days into the trip. Still, it gave me an excuse to miss a few classes and reacquaint myself with my favorite teen movies. In 2004's Euro Trip, 18-year-old Scotty Thomas and his friends leave for Europe to find his German pen pal, Mieka. The backpackers move from the German countryside to the head shops of Amsterdam to the cathedrals of Vatican City, and, ultimately -- forgive me for giving it away -- Scotty gets the girl.

Teen movies depict liberation. Their characters engage in gratuitous sex acts. They take drugs and drink heavily: joints, brownies, towering beer bongs. And they enjoy a lack of parental control. Successful teen movies present wild parties or the open road, because teens love these things, and because some teens can think of nothing else.

I'm going to level with you: I didn't kiss a lot of girls in high school. What's more, my parents kept me on a pretty tight leash. (But that's like everyone at this university, right? Please say yes.) Anyway, that's why I loved teen movies. I hurried to the openings of 2000's Road Trip and 2002's Van Wilder because they depicted everything I wanted to see at that age: average guys hooking up with girls that were out of their league, and everyone enjoying freedom without consequences.

But today, house parties and making out and ill-funded road trips don't leave the same impression. As the end draws near to my final semester as an undergraduate, the depiction of crappy beer on the big screen is no longer as mystical as it once was -- it represents not the unknown, but the all too common. And the representation of falling in love and the "happily ever after" comes with a disclaimer: attraction is mostly chemical; it's staying together that's hard.

So where does that leave my appreciation for teen movies?

The first time you experience the most mysterious of mysteries -- sex, drugs and Pabst, that is to say -- is the most exciting thing you will do in your life. Working will be miserable. Weddings will be a mere repeat of our bar/bat mitzvahs. And becoming parents (sorry, ladies) will be ... ugly. But the teen movie captures the moment of revelation -- the exact second at which you put your fingers on your first lukewarm Pabst, the first time you hook up with a girl who was out of your league (okay, so she'd had a bit to drink) and the first time you get out on an American highway. As I recuperated last week in front of the television/DVD player, I could think of nothing better to say to the class of 2006 but: Dear friends, we all should've gone to Penn State.


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