1. A teenager
2. A young person looked upon neither as a child nor an adult.
3. A young person at the same social level as adults, yet unable to interact with them for long periods of time.
(…I may have made that up.)
At any gathering, adults speak to adults. They begin conversations like How is the baby? How is work going? Have you found a new house yet? Questions that obviously pertain to them.
And when adults talk to in-betweeners (you know, when they’re in the kitchen scooping jello salad on their plate and standing next to an in-betweener), they ask the questions: How is school? What have you been doing lately? Do you still hang out with Josh?
Once these questions are answered and they have finished with their jello salad, they sit down and go back to the conversations with the adults.
This is to be expected. Because, let’s be honest, most in-betweeners are terrible at conversations with people older than them. And what are the two of them—an adult and an in-betweener—going to talk about anyway? One is on their fifth baby, getting paid more than $20 an hour, and has a spouse. The other is both figuring out what to do with their life and avoiding the creeper in Mr. Ainsworth’s class. What can the adults say to them except that they’ve been there, done that? What can the in-betweeners say to the adults except “Cool.?”
The problem is here. Adults love to talk about in-betweeners. Any story an adult can get out of an in-betweener will exaggerate that story to an audience. They describe the scenery in detail, mimic the in-betweener’s face and re-word the dialogue. They will make it their story.
And while the adult tells the story, the in-betweener texts on their phone on the piano bench. Only half listening. ‘Cause the adults are botching their story. And why would they listen anyway? No adult will ask the in-betweener to retell the story in their own words. The have created their own version of you. They already know you.
Another problem arises. The thoughtful adults realize that the stories of that one in-betweener have gone on too long. Time to give the other teens the attention, they think, as they walk towards the in-betweener at the kitchen counter, or upstairs in their room. They never talk to the in-betweener on the piano bench. Why would they? All of their stories have already been told. They got the attention.
But that one in-betweener still sits at the piano bench, having said nothing, having no stories to tell, having been on their phone for the past hour.
So really, no in-betweener gets attention from adults. Adults just like to talk about in-betweeners.