Puberty Is What’s Up

An investigative report.

Illustration by Tavi

This month, Mrs. Kaplan taught us all about investigative reporting, and asked us to do a report of our own, locating sources, taking interviews, and trying to answer questions. I was going to do my investigative report on Yetis, but my father said that I could not travel to the “goddamn tundra” to get the scoop, so I chose puberty instead, mostly because I wanted to know about periods in case I get mine soon. And because when I said “puberty” at the dinner table, my father freaked out a little and coughed on his wax beans, which serves him right for not allowing me to follow my dreams.

For this assignment, I talked to five sources:

Janice, a fifth grader who knows everything about sex from her older sister, Missy
My mom, who did not like this assignment at all
Tony Flavio, the 11th grade boy who mows our lawn
Missy, Janice’s sister, part-time babysitter, full-time 10th grader
@heycoolteenz, a professional Twitter account run by the teen-outreach marketing division of Z&P Personal Grooming Products, Inc.

1. How would you define puberty?

Janice: It’s your period and stuff. Like, your pits start to stink and you grow hair and you need a bra and you sometimes get zits and you have to, like, shove a tampon up your lulu when you swim in the ocean so that the sharks can’t find you.
Mom: You know how a caterpillar spins a cocoon and then emerges as a butterfly? Puberty is the cocoon. OK? All set?
Missy: I would define it as “the worst.” And tell Janice to stay out of my room. I know she’s been going through my stuff. She leaves a trail of glitter wherever she goes.

2. What is discharge?

Janice: All I know is that my sister’s friend’s cousin totally did it with Tony Flavio, and she got, like, discharge fever. For serious.
Mom: Um, do you know when it rains, but uh, before the rain, there’s a bit of mist in the air? That’s it. That’s what it is.
Tony Flavio: It’s when you get out of the military.

3. What is a tampon?

Tony Flavio: When a girl’s wearing a tampon it means that Red Storm is playin’ at the theater and the parking lot’s full, know what I’m saying?
Janice: They’re little cotton bullets that you stick up your hoo-ha so that you don’t bleed all over the place. Missy calls ’em ding-a-lings-with-a-string, which makes my mom so mad!
@heycoolteenz: Yo! Got the flow? TeenzTampz can stop that flood o’ blood, and so can our RadPadz! #swag #dopeprotection

4. Where should I expect hair to grow? And what should I do with it?

Janice: They’re called pubes, OK? Because they grow in your pubular area. You gotta get your facts straight.
@heycoolteenz: Hair, hair, everywhere! Under your arms and way down there! On your lip and on your nips! Take it off with Smootharama Wax Strips! #waxinandchillaxin #dopehairremoval
Mom: Beautiful gardens grow in unexpected places and are tended to in a variety of ways. OK? We’re having chicken for dinner. You love chicken!

5. What should I do about body odor?

Missy: I dunno. Just take showers, clean all your parts, and wear deodorant, and you should be all right. And you can shave under your arms if you want, but you don’t have to. Is it true that you’ve been talking to Tony Flavio? Did he say anything about me?
Tony Flavio: A man who wears cologne shall never be alone. I read that on a bathroom wall once. That’s solid advice, right?
@heycoolteenz: Thinking about entering the Hunger Games? Be sure to stop sweat with TeenDreamz deodorant—even if you kill people, you can still smell fresh! #forrealz

6. When should a person buy a bra?

Mom: You know how we can always tell that spring is on the way when the crocuses start peeking out from the ground? That’s when you need a bra. When your crocuses start peeking out.
Missy: During the semi-annual sale. There’s some good deals there. But there’s also always some girl hovering over the 36B section like she owns it. I’m always all, “Uh, hello? You’re not the only one with 36B breasts on this friggin’ earth, so let me dig through the bin without your Auntie Anne’s pretzel breath all up in my face, gawd.”
Tony Flavio: Valentine’s Day? That’s when my brother buys them.

7. Will my skin change at all?

@heycoolteenz: Zits are the pitz! Stop that acne before it stops you, hot crew! Use our Zappity-Zoo system and blast that blemish for maximum hotness appeal! PLEASE RT #zitsaredumb
Missy: You might get zits, you might not. I sweat a lot more than I used to, but I stopped using Strawberry Blazter [Z+P], which made me break out and smell like a sweaty popsicle, and that seems to work. Did you ask Tony Flavio if he gets zits? Or if he has a date for homecoming?
Tony Flavio: My arms get tan from the sleeve down during baseball season. Missy asked about me? What’d she say?

8. What is a vulva?

Mom: OK, um, well you know how we have a front yard, yeah? And then we have a front door that goes inside the house? And uh, the front yard is still technically part of the house, and has all kinds of neat parts. Sometimes there is grass on the yard…um, John?! I need a glass of pinot! Now, please!
Missy: All I know is that you better not go on the internet and say “vagina” when you mean “vulva” because people will flip the eff out on you, OK? Just trust me on this.
Tony Flavio: My uncle drives one, it’s all right, you know. A decent ride. Sound system’s a piece of shit, though.

9. What is a nocturnal emission?

Janice: It’s when a boy has sex with a ghost. And he doesn’t even know it, because he’s asleep. And then he wakes up and his sheets are all sticky—’cause of the ectoplasm, obviously.
Tony Flavio: That’s when you gotta bring your car in and make sure it’s registered and shit.
Mom: It’s a very natural thing that happens to boys, that’s all. Remember that time in second grade when you dreamt you were in the bathroom at McDonald’s and you wet the bed? It’s like that, but not pee, and probably not involving the bathroom at McDonald’s, though, I mean, who knows with teenage boys. John?! This glass isn’t going to refill itself. [Reporter’s note: Dear Mrs. Kaplan, PLEASE do not share this with the class. Thank you forever.]

10. What are menstrual cramps?

Janice: You know when Bella was having Renesmee, and she was all, “Ahh! My stomach is being torn out from the insides!” I guess it’s like that, only you just take some aspirins and use a heating pad.
Missy: It’s like being kicked with steel-toed boots from the inside. But it gets you out of class 85% of the time, so it balances out.
@heycoolteenz: Got crampz? Knock ’em out with CrampStamp. Our special Eaze-Itt blend is guaranteed to do the deed! #pleaseignoretheratpoisonrumors

11. What is PMS?

Missy: Ugh. It’s like when the Willy Wonka girl eats the gum even though Willy Wonka is all, “Bitch, don’t eat that gum,” and then she fills up with blueberry juice and has to be rolled away by Oompa Loompas? Except instead of blueberry juice, it’s just water, and you don’t get rolled away by Oompa Loompas, you just roll around trying to get into your jeans.
Janice: It stands for “Period Might Start.” Or maybe it stands for “Pissy Mood Sequence.” I can never remember. But I know it’s happening to either my mom or Missy when they start crying at commercials and watching The Notebook.
Tony Flavio: That’s Plymouth Middle School, Home of the Panthers!! What up, class of 2009?!

12. Is there anything else I should know about puberty?

Janice: It pretty much makes you a sex maniac. My sister totally got busted making out with Tony Flavio at the movies by our Aunt Kathleen. Like, tongues and stuff. She’s probably gonna get discharge fever.
Mom: Yes. I just ordered the entire Judy Blume collection for you on Amazon.
@heycoolteenz: #trendingtopic #whydogirlsalways #coolteenz #periods #acne #keepitfreshyall #swag #onedirection
Missy: You’ll survive. Shout-out to Tony! I love you, baby!
Tony Flavio: Be on the lookout for nosy family members when you’re out on a date. Oh, and seriously, if you want to feel those 808s, don’t drive a Vulva.

Conclusion: It appears I am in for a lot of sweating, bleeding, potential shark attacks, cologne, and 808s (?). And I’ve possibly been exposed to discharge fever. Not quite the tundra, but an adventure nonetheless.

P.S. Mrs. Kaplan, Tony Flavio wanted me to tell you that he hoped you were still “fine as hell.” He also said that if I included this compliment in my report, I might qualify for extra credit. Just throwing it out there. ♦


  • mayaautumn April 26th, 2012 3:13 PM

    oh my god, this is so FUNNY! made my day..

  • Susann April 26th, 2012 3:16 PM

    Wow, this was just amazing! I think I never learned as much before ;)

  • Flower April 26th, 2012 3:19 PM

    i am literally crying with laughter over this.
    i need to do something like this for a school assignment.
    brb still crying

  • Fortune_Goddess April 26th, 2012 3:21 PM

    Another brilliant piece by Pixie. I love you, Pixie! You’re my role model.

  • ShockHorror April 26th, 2012 3:25 PM

    this is too wonderful.

  • Sahara4895 April 26th, 2012 3:25 PM

    I love this post, it was hilarious, and I also love Tony, who is also hilarious.

  • argigle April 26th, 2012 3:30 PM


  • suburban grrrl April 26th, 2012 3:32 PM

    The Twitter stuff legitimately killed me.

  • teenager April 26th, 2012 3:36 PM

    gotta get on that TeenDreamz Deodorant #swag #teenlife #YOLO

    This was the greatest, I want a person like Tony in my life

  • Libbyxoxo April 26th, 2012 3:41 PM

    Hhahahah that was amazinggg

  • Abby April 26th, 2012 3:42 PM

    Oh my god hahaha this is the best thing ever. I’m totally calling my boobs “crocuses” from now on.

    Also, if I ever have to tell a man I can’t have sex with him because I’m on my period, I’m saying this. “Red Storm is playin’ at the theater and the parking lot’s full, know what I’m saying?”

  • Nishat April 26th, 2012 3:45 PM

    Oh my goodness hahaha. I want this to be real. You are such a talented writer :’)

    I haven’t even finished reading yet!

  • Kaede April 26th, 2012 4:17 PM


    • Abby April 26th, 2012 9:36 PM

      I love how you nonchalantly slipped in that “BANANA” hahaha.

  • Jenn April 26th, 2012 4:39 PM

    brb dying

    • Jenn April 26th, 2012 4:41 PM

      also, do you think Rookie could actually make a fake Twitter account for @heycoolteenz because I would totally follow them!

  • KinuKinu April 26th, 2012 4:42 PM

    OMIGOODNESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!That was the most HILARIOUS thing I’ve ever read in my life.The mom parts were funny.That is my mom all the way.Vulva……I kind of just now realized that is a name of a car and a body part.I don’t usually think about that stuff!All I know about cars is they have pedals and a steering wheel.*lie*I should try to write in the perspective of another person even though it won’t come as funny or awesome.I’m gonna make myself do it tonight and see how it goes.This is glorious and I cannot wait for more :D

  • whodatgal April 26th, 2012 4:51 PM

    This made me laugh :D good vibes here!

  • Pashupati April 26th, 2012 4:58 PM

    It reminds me of that episode in Beautiful People (the TV adaptation, don’t know if that was in the books) where Simon asks his mother what is a vulva and she answers it’s a car. Well, obviously.
    I’m cracked up.

  • awesomelikeapossum April 26th, 2012 5:01 PM

    YES. this is great.

  • SweetThangVintage April 26th, 2012 5:14 PM

    “When a girl’s wearing a tampon it means that Red Storm is playin’ at the theater and the parking lot’s full, know what I’m saying?”
    I laughed SO hard at this.

  • violett April 26th, 2012 5:15 PM

    Oh man! This, this right here! Big love for Tony Flavio, can he PLEASE feature on Ask A Grown Man?!! (pleasepleaseplease)

  • nattydubbz April 26th, 2012 5:23 PM

    literally peeing. thins is hysterical.

  • caro nation April 26th, 2012 5:34 PM

    Jane: But I wonder what the boys talk about.

    Daria: A group of boys all in the same room with a male teacher?

    Daria & Jane: Nocturnal emissions.

    • giov April 26th, 2012 7:43 PM

      caro nation, because of you I feel less alone in this cold, cold world.

  • firstcomestherain April 26th, 2012 5:58 PM

    This is brillant!

  • Marian K April 26th, 2012 6:08 PM

    This is too funny!

  • Kaetlebugg April 26th, 2012 7:31 PM

    This actually made my day SO MUCH BETTER. Thank you Rookie! #pleaseignoretheratpoisonrumors
    loling so hard

  • Jamie April 26th, 2012 7:40 PM

    omg 808s joke totally slayed me. as in i am dead rn

  • MissKnowItAll April 26th, 2012 8:00 PM

    I love how I don;t even understand what even went on over here :)

  • back2thepast April 26th, 2012 8:11 PM

    Duuuuuddeee. Gold. So glad no one is home right now, i just fell off my stool. No really, i’m not even kidding

  • AnguaMarten April 26th, 2012 8:51 PM


  • bedazzledbandannas April 26th, 2012 9:34 PM

    omg why is @heycoolteenz not an official twitter page? :(((((
    PLEASE RT #zitsaredumb
    best thing ever.

  • Jessica Vixenelle April 26th, 2012 9:42 PM


  • northernground April 26th, 2012 9:58 PM

    Crocuses hahahahahahahahaha!
    Please do more with these characters.. I’m loving them.

  • anton April 27th, 2012 12:02 AM

    hahahaha this is perfect!
    tony and misty forever

  • Adrienne April 27th, 2012 12:40 AM

    I love this so much!! Tony is hilarious, but your mom is the best!

  • angelicanism April 27th, 2012 12:54 AM

    Oh my gawd this is superb. In fact I’m going to go follow @heycoolteenz right now…

  • maddzwx April 27th, 2012 1:56 AM

    haha love it #forrealz

  • SpencerBowie April 27th, 2012 2:13 AM

    #OneDirection HA! funny as crap! <3

  • eireann April 27th, 2012 3:14 AM

    Well done. I laughed so hard! xo

  • Maddy April 27th, 2012 3:07 PM

    I lol’d. This rocks. Pixie, you are hilarious.

  • Maddy April 27th, 2012 3:13 PM

    Ah! I hadn’t realized there was already one, I accidently spelt it right. Pixie, if you want it down because it’s your work, I will take it down in a second.!/heycoolteens

  • Ellie April 27th, 2012 3:21 PM


  • soretudaaa April 27th, 2012 5:38 PM

    i lost it at “pubular area”.

  • abigail April 27th, 2012 6:45 PM

    They actually made the Twitter account:!/heycoolteenz

    • Maddy April 27th, 2012 10:11 PM

      Except I don’t think it’s them…

  • MinaM8 April 27th, 2012 9:51 PM

    I was reading this on my cellphone yesterday and i almost got caught trying to make myself stop laughing!

  • unefillecommetoi April 27th, 2012 10:51 PM

    LOL tony flavio!!!!!!!! “my uncle drives one…” hahahah it’s the best… “it’s when you get out of the military”

  • ivoire April 28th, 2012 1:29 AM

    I have died laughing. I am a spirit. Janice is the BEST. And I have to follow @heycoolteenz!

    • ivoire April 28th, 2012 1:31 AM

      too bad they don’t exist :(

  • Lily April 28th, 2012 4:31 AM

    this actually made my day

  • TheGreatandPowerfulRandini April 28th, 2012 7:19 PM

    Hahaha where do you come up with this stuff.

  • Sputnick April 29th, 2012 2:04 AM

    I went to Poulsbo Middle School, and our mascot was a panther…This is verging on the supernatural, you guys.

  • KatGirl April 29th, 2012 5:28 AM

    “My uncle drives a vulva”… that puts a really gross picture in my head but it’s soooo funny.

  • MissKnowItAll April 29th, 2012 2:47 PM

    Holy Shiz! I just got it!
    “Red Storm is playing at the theater and the parking lot is full” is also the best thing I’ve ever heard. Weirdly enough, I heard my friend saying it to her boyfriend and I was just there like “wtf?!”
    PS- One Direction hashtag ftw!

  • Whatsername May 1st, 2012 6:50 PM

    omg, the hashtags. I’m DYING.

  • lalalalauryn May 21st, 2012 11:09 PM

    This is quite possibly the greatest thing I have ever read.


  • Aria May 26th, 2012 5:27 PM

    LOL! SOOOO funny!!! Glad I read it!!

  • Lulli June 5th, 2012 8:39 AM

    This is so funny.

  • StrawberryTwist April 28th, 2013 3:22 PM

    Are these real interviews?! ;D hahahah I cant believe people actually thought this stuff based on their responses. :) This is too awesome

  • sezthecat November 9th, 2013 8:30 PM

    I read this in class and I snorted rly loudly from trying not to laugh out loud!! Pixie u r my hero