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Normal Gossip Returns, In Search Of A Teenage Dream

Normal Gossip logo with cartoon characters gossiping
Illustration by Tara Jacoby

There’s a reason why pop culture keeps coming back to the narrative wellspring of teenage mischief: it never runs dry. The world of adolescents is a simultaneously delicious and disgusting mixture of rules and freedom, expectations and experimentation. Living through it feels like dropping a shot glass full of Baileys into a pint of Guinness and chugging for your life. Even the goodest of the good kids usually have a story or two up their sleeves.

I was a “good kid.” I could tell you about the afternoon I spent in the scrubby manzanita-studded wasteland behind the dump, smoking pot for the first time with the two coolest seniors on the nordic ski team. I could tell you about Mariposa and the “cranberry juice” in the Nalgene, or Santa Cruz and the fateful decision to drink many, many glasses of strawberry milk and vodka. I could tell you about making quesadillas in my kitchen the summer before I left for college, deeply stoned and yet convinced that my mom and brother suspected nothing.

But I don’t have to, because we can all just listen to today’s story instead. It is different from my stories and yet it is the same. It hews straight to the core of all those strange and magical and excruciating moments of coming into selfhood via fucking—or even just imagining what it might be like to fuck—with one’s own brain chemistry.

Our guest this week is Katie Barnes! Katie is an award-winning journalist and author covering the intersection of sports and gender. They work at ESPN and their debut book, Fair Play: How Sports Shape the Gender Debates, chronicles the evolution of legislation and policy affecting women's sports and transgender athletes.

Kelsey and Katie kicked off Season 5 with a discussion about norms and the flow of information in sports journalism, and ripping into one of the biggest questions of the moment: When will Taylor Swift date a WNBA player? Then Kelsey regaled Katie with the tale of a teenager with big dreams and tens of dollars to spend on making those dreams come true.

You can subscribe to Normal Gossip on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever else you listen! You can follow Normal Gossip on Instagram here.

(The transcript for this week’s episode can be found here.)

And if you have some good goss that you want us to hear, the email for that is normalgossip@defector.com, or phone it in to 26-79-GOSSIP.

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