This was three years ago. For the record, I was shocked by the 'real' grad parties I saw. I've been clubbing since I was sixteen, and working in a Casino since I was eighteen. Mostly I don't drink. On a party evening, I'll have one drink, drink water for a couple of hours, and maybe have one more. I've been around adults that drink my whole life.
What surprised me was the extreme hard-core mission of American high school students to get as absolutely [censored] up as possible. When I say I was looking for a party, I didn't really mean the chemical end. After most the guys drove away from the last stop of the evening, I made tea while the girls heaved off the back porch. Many of them discovered the next morning that they had seriously blacked out. We're talking 'The O.C.' with uglier people.
Here in Latin America, and in Europe, the legal drinking age is 18, kids are exposed to alcohol much younger, and yet they have far less drinking problems. My theory is we have more trouble in the states, because we say 'no' so much. I think kids are more driven to experiment when they are 'rebelling'. Also, a person learning to party at a club is surrounded by bartenders, friends and bouncers to keep them out of trouble. (Or teach them the consequences of getting in trouble.) In California until you are 21, the kids just find a house where there are no parents home, and get totally screwed up with no supervision. Plus it's a cool thing to do, because it's against the rules.
I know I'll get flack for this (or I would if I was 'mature' enough to understand), but the best thing I saw the whole trip was a group of parents who got together, bought the booze, invited the kids, and took all the car keys away, stayed sober, and gave rides to everyone. Te kids got things out of their system, and everyone stayed safe.
When I say that I think these grad-nights are 'sick', what I'm referring to is the culture that I believe perpetuates the increasing 'daring' of young Americans. By not talking to kids about alcohol, by not exposing it to them, you make it a mystery, and increase curiosity. By outlawing it, you inspire many of them to bend the rules. I say, take out the mystery early...I know from experience, it kills the curiosity and desire to do any kind of drug.
The other problem is that everything is so 'safe' in society that young people get bored. I don't know why, but I could rarely get my peers to go play in the mists and redwoods with me. Then again, everything is 'safe' now. For awhile, I lived in the same town where my father grew up. They damn up a river every summer to make a swimming hole. Back in my father's time, there were rope swings, wrestling matches, and you could climb out on the other bank. These days, it's cement, life guards, no diving, no horseplay...safe! So who went? It was inside, video games, boredom, until they discovered drugs. (In an affluent, area, top 5% school in California, I was first offered marijuana by classmates at age eleven. I denied, for the record.) Things go downhill from there. Nasty, legal pharmaceuticals are pumped at them, too.
It creates a tense, violent, chemically dependent society of young adults. Sorry for rambling on, but it is an issue of great interest to me. I have interacted with folks my age in three countries of Latin America, four countries of Europe, and three states of the U.S.A. The American kids I met were the most heavily regulated, the most likely to break those rules, and the least happy.
I really should stop now, I just think it's interesting and critical. I've seen so many parents who were crazy in the sixties, that think the best way to prevent their kids from being the same way is to lie to them about it.
I don't think everyone is this way, I meet a lot of good families, and a lot of good folks in my travels. It's the public school system that is a bit scary. I also think I get the need for such stringent rules in the States has do with the numbers, and the numbers of people from vastly different backgrounds and societies. There are too many people who would just go crazy if things weren't against the rules. It's a shame, though.
Somehow, this all explains why numskulls prefer DVDs to books. I know it!