Happy 13th Birthday, Gargle!

Dear Gargle,

I’m so pleased you’re 13! Now, have you had your HPV vaccination? I wouldn’t want you to catch anything from all that webcrawling.

Now you’re a teenager, it’s likely that you’ll start telling people that you know everything, and feeling quite self-assured generally. A certain amount of swagger will find its way into your general demeanor. Especially now that your rival, Farcebuck, is starting to show early signs of insecurity, and going through more image makeovers than Madonna did, between 1984 and 2008.

There’s nothing better than arriving in your teens, and looking forward to all the grown-up stuff that is now almost within your reach. But there will now, more than ever, be questions cropping up which aren’t nearly as easily answered as those classroom ones you’ve had to deal with so far.

Why do matching socks always part ways? How do red things always end up in a white wash? And what is the proper etiquette for disposing of unopened, out-of-date condoms? (Recycling, biohazard, household waste, stretched over Farcebuck’s pint glass on a night out?). How much gel (or texturising mousse) can effectively conceal dandruff? If you notice a spot on your forehead while out with friends, should you squeeze it in the toilets and risk being noted for absence of said zit, or keep it and behave as though you would never stoop to tampering with your delicate skin in public?

Most of all, the questions of fashion and hygiene will be foremost in your mind for the forthcoming decade or so. You want to court popularity, and attract lucrative networking opportunities. You also want to avoid scandals and a bad reputation. You want to be seen at the cutting edge of technology, but you don’t want to be seen boasting about the next Betamax.

Like most teenagers, it seems like a time when you want to rush out into the world announcing that you, Gargle, are now a TEENAGER, as if no other individual has achieved the same status before. You want to party. You want to be the leader of the pack.

My advice is, like other teenagers, invest the next decade wisely. Get a good education. Research is the key, as is attention to detail. Start thinking about your future security – not just what adventures you could go on, but how those adventures could improve your life and the lives of those around you. And how you’d like to make the world a better place.

Celebrate your special day. It’s the beginning of many.

Happy birthday, Gargle 😉

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