2018-04-16 / Opinion

The Kids Are Alright

Brought Up Brunswick

Douglas McIntire Douglas McIntire Ah youth — the new target of so-called adult society in America. I mean, we’ve always had the cliche “back in my day” types harping on about how superior their generation was regarding style, mannerisms and music. As a side note — seriously, music indeed sucks these days — that is just a simple fact. Still, kids haven’t been the target of such visceral derision until thousands had the audacity to speak out against being used as clay pigeons in their schools.

So, if you’re a kid reading this — or being told what a newspaper is for the first time, tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re minding your own business, talking about the rash of school massacres or other abhorrent topics, like equality or marrying the person you love. Suddenly, some old person comes out of nowhere, stars and bars on their vehicle bumper next to a sticker declaring them to be a licensed “terrorist hunter.” They look you up and down before taking the butt from their mouth, spewing a cloud of carcinogenic stench in your general direction and beginning their dressing down. They then accuse you and your kind of eating Tide pods, therefore having no right to discuss such grown up topics.

It may be true, as you think to yourself, that you have a cousin who knew a kid who saw a Youtube video of someone biting into a Tide pod until it burst and tried it himself on a dare. Does that negate you from having a seat at the big kid’s table for discussion though?

Well, let me tell you a little something about Generation X. Now, I’m not saying that I did any of these things personally and I’m not saying I didn’t. Your old uncle Doug is just giving you a little insight and perspective before taking the insults of old people to heart.

Let’s start minor — burnouts. Back when any car worth driving had a big engine and rear wheel drive, we used to go to parking lots, cut the steering wheel, and floor it until we were spinning in a circle of our own incinerating $200 tires. It was good times, especially when the first frost came and we had racing slicks as our only means of conveyance. We also loved leaving long skid marks on back roads; driving a high rates of speed before slamming on our brakes.

This was a world before anti-lock brakes, by the way, and those buggers would seize up until that car stopped one way or another. The result was gliding on a river of our own melted rubber along the pavement like a two ton figure skater.

Now we step it up. After the movie Teen Wolf came out, riding on the outside of a vehicle became a thing. “Surfing” atop a car actually became a reasonable thing to do. Also, in keeping with action movie standards, hanging onto the windshield at high rates of speed wasn’t unheard of — or so I hear. And don’t worry about that lap belt saving your life if you were driving like a moron — we didn’t wear them back then.

Cars were even deadly before we were old enough to drive them. It was an age when, as a society, we still accepted smoking as normal and the larger portion of our society partook of the habit.

Firefighters have the common sense to protect themselves from the toxic veil of death. My generation? We were stuck in the car with one or both parents smoking — likely with the windows up or cracked so it blew smoke away from their faces and into ours in the back seat. Don’t worry — for the most part, we didn’t mind, just like we didn’t mind the several trips to the hospital a year for inexplicable upper respiratory infections.

We were also the generation to start piercing things other than ears.

We didn’t have mall kiosks or mildly sanitary places to go either. In the days of punk rock and the need to be outrageous, I had a friend put a safety pin through part of his tricep. Another friend drove one through his nose. There was also a kid at school who used industrial epoxy spray to make his mohawk stand up over a foot from his head.

Ah, the ’80s — the generation who used Mallory from the television show Family Ties to encourage kids to drink coffee and a time when cocaine was available in high school — I knew a guy. We were far from perfect — just look at the mullet, headbands and big hair. We have no ground to stand on when it comes to intelligent discourse or debates regarding the relative maturity of adolescents. So — I’m talking to the adults now — let’s act like adults and leave the kids alone.

Douglas McIntire is a writer and educator in the Midcoast. He can be found playing an imaginary Pac Man machine at LaVerdier’s or reached at broughtupbrunswick@gmail.com.

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