I’m subbing for the librarian, so you know the kids in this class are the good guys. If you choose “library science” as your elective, you’re a poindexter. Truth.
So I ask these scrub-faced seniors to confirm or deny my suspicion. “Does it seem,” I say, “that most adults are mad at you before you’ve done anything wrong?”
They’re such goodies, they think about it a sec before nodding.
“Yeah,” lacrosse-star-guy says. “Soon as you walk into CVS they’re tailing you, like you’re going to pocket a travel toothpaste.”
A girl with Heidi braids chimes in. “All but, like, one of my teachers hates me.” She has a cello case next to her. How do you hate the kid who plays cello?
I’m on a mission to prove the teen-haters wrong. This blog is how I’m going to do it. Here’s exhibit A.
I am stupid. I walk my dogs without leashes. One of my dogs is a master hunter. He was the homeless guy; he’s had to hunt for food. So we’re walking on this path that follows a stream. Next to the stream is a set of woods. Next to the woods is a major road.
A deer screeches across our path and into the woods. My dogs—my precious, everything dogs—screech after it. They’re gone. All that’s left is the woosh of nearby traffic.
Understand me, I am flipping the eff out. My babies will get killed by cars, and I’m helpless. If I go into the woods and head left, what if they went right? Or vice versa? If I’m screaming their names and moving, how will they find me, the moving target? And if military logic says a lost soldier stays in his last known location, shouldn’t I stand still and scream their names? Okay, flipping. The eff. Out. And screaming.
A human figure comes limping toward me from a quarter mile away. Through the woods. In a leg cast.
“I was out feeding the cows and heard you. You okay?” this Superman of a teen says.
“My dogs!” I gack out.
“Oh, they won’t get to the road,” says Super. “That road’s a way off.”
Then he limps his broken ass off through the prickers. The poison ivy. The ticks. In a leg cast. Two minutes later I hear, “They’re coming!” And there’s my babies, barreling at me with slathery grins.
I force this kid to tell me where he lives, practically at gunpoint. I will be giving him that 20 in my wallet.
Pull up to his house, knock on the rattly screen door, and a big guy with a beer answers. I compliment him on the job he’s done raising his son; he goes, “My son? Bah.”
So broken-legged kid rescues two dogs, puts hysteria-lady on ice, and tries to wave off a free $20. In exchange, from the adults, he gets “Bah” and a gun to the head. And it’s teens that are sucky? To that, I say this: bah.