Yesterday I witnessed about fifteen teenagers outside my window, yelling and carousing on the street. At first it was just a hormone-pumped afterschool impromptu get-together. One boy hollered at the girls, “I’ve got bigger breasts than all of you put together!” This might have been true. He wore three layers of baggy cotton, who knows what man-boy boobs bloomed under his Sean Johns? I was sure someone was going to bust out the boombox and they were going to have a dance-off, but then I remembered this wasn’t ABC Family.
There was more indistinct yelling. Then I took another looky-loo out the window and a circle had formed. One kid, who looked about fifteen, started into a full-throttle run and rushed into a little boy with a wheeled-Spiderman back-pack. “Ooohs” filled the crowd. Someone said, “Are you going to treat him like a dog?”
The crowd moved out of view, the fight escalating down the street. I could only see a few stragglers but the talk was still loud and angry.
Then I heard, “RUN!!!” The group broke up, the way birds gather and seperate mid-air, some running down the street and others onto the sidewalk. A teenager appeared alone, briskly heading toward the others. I could see a silver stick in his hand.
The three boys who had fled down the street yelled back, “Only pussies use weapons!” “Yeah,” another chimed, “Only pussies use knives!”
Then I knew the stick wasn’t made out of wood. I called the cops.
The operator asked me what my emergency was and I told her about the teenagers, the weapons, the running. By then, a woman was outside, telling the kids to get off the property or they would be charged with tresspassing. The boys looked at her dumbly, like they were just there admiring the landscape job and the current state of Washington politics, not about knifing some kid apart. Her voice grew louder and she said, “Get out! Get out!”
“What’s happening now ma’am?”
“Um. I think they’re going away.”
We spoke for a few more minutes and the operator took down my information and said I would probably get a call later.
Before I had Nathan, I would most likely wonder where the hell their parents were and what kind of parental philosophies were implemented that would lead to this. But now, it’s likely they have wonderful parents who genuinely care about them and their futures. But amongst those whom you want to impress, it’s easy to forget what parents have instilled. It’s much cooler to be a bad ass when your mama isn’t around and you have an audience. Swear words are exhilarating when you know you’re not going to get into trouble.
When I was their age (oh crap, the words I thought I would only say *after* I got my AARP card), the girls were just as vicious without weaponry. In junior high, there was a girl named Divine who singled me out, snickered after me when I walked down the hall, scrawled my name on desks and stalls. In junior high, bathroom walls were dirty speakeasies, with Sharpied-lines like, she’s easy, she’s a bitch, she’s a whore (oftentimes, these words were misspelled. If you’re to call me a whore, please, spell it correctly. And FYI, my seventh-grade class, asshole is one word.) Hearing the word, “bitch” was demoralizing enough and the girls in my junior high wielded it like a sword. Divine and her friends surrounded me after religion class, accusing me of talking about her, which I didn’t, but that didn’t matter, especially when other girls were waiting for her to lunge at me.
There are cheesy snippets of wisdom I want to tell Nathan like, “Show me a man who resorts to violence and I’ll show you a man who’s run out of good ideas.” That wasn’t pilfered from Little House on the Prairie, though I’m sure Ingalls would have said it, but from an episode of Doug. Dear Lord, let me have a Doug instead of a Damien.
An officer called me later that night and asked if I had heard anything else. I said no, that they probably had gone where they were supposed to be, at home.