My girlfriend and I like to hike in the woods, and sometimes we encounter teenagers on our hikes. More often we encounter trees into which teenage sweethearts have carved their initials and surrounded them with mutilated, barky hearts. Teenagers have underdeveloped brains and do not understand the benefits that quiet, natural settings offer adults, and so teenagers carelessly throw bits of plastic rubbish into the woods. I love teenagers because they are both idealistic and socially stupid; but because of their malformed appreciation of nature, I also love to imagine teenagers going over cliffs and careening toward their deaths in shoddily manufactured and thoughtlessly designed small trucks such as the Geo Tracker.
The Geo Tracker was popular among suburban teens in the early 1990s because it had a tendency to roll over and burst into flames. Suburban parents could afford the Geo Tracker, and teens could afford the gas for it because the Tracker had a small engine. It sounded good on paper, but the Geo Tracker also had a terribly high center of gravity, and it would roll over and burst into flames when teens took corners too sharply, which they were frequently doing.
I understand that my obsession with Geo Trackers bursting into flames is an unfair one. Many different models of light truck burst into flames, and this is what makes them so popular among teens. Teens are not interested in safe cars. Driving is not fun for teens unless they know that the car they are driving could roll over and burst into flames at any moment. Even thoughtful and studious teens are bored by safe cars. The ideal car for a teen would be one that flips onto its back and bursts into flames as soon as the teen takes the car out of park. Teens would find this car to be incredibly alluring because life is theoretical to teens. When I was a teen, all I ever wanted to do was to drive over a cliff and burst into flames after carving into an oak tree the initials of the girl who would dump me at my own funeral. Because careening over a cliff and bursting into a glorious ball of fire is not an option for most teens, most teens content themselves with littering in nature and defacing the woods. And who can blame them? American adulthood appears to be terribly boring and banal to most teens, and it is. I would much rather burst into flames than sit in an office and slog away at a computer. It is because teens know this that many of them litter and drive unsafe vehicles such as the Geo Tracker.
This is one of two GC Online Exclusive poems by Jono Tosch. Click here to read "When the Sun Slips Down Behind the Mountain Like a Quivering Thought."