I went to the mall a few days ago.
It couldn’t be helped, really. I had a hankering for a specific kind of candy and I can only find it at a candy store at the mall. Otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered. I’m not a big fan of malls. They’re noisy and crowded and the people who work the first-floor kiosks are dangerously disrespectful of my personal boundaries, especially the girls at the sea salt scrub kiosk, who won’t take no for an answer. I’ve taken to faking mobile phone conversations when I walk past to try to avoid their assault.
The aggressive kiosk workers were nothing (on this particular evening) to the loitering teenagers. The little punks were everywhere – outside the dollar theater, by the fountain, in the bookstore, on the escalators, in the parking lot. I couldn’t avoid them, and believe you me, I tried. It was simply impossible – the buggers had taken over. And they were OBNOXIOUS. Laughing, shrieking, pushing, shoving, kissing, running, loitering, fighting. Absolutely unbearable.
I was a teenager once, and I was a lousy little punk. The other kids my age were worse. The lot of us should have been routinely beaten – would have done us all a world of good. But I tell you this now: we were nothing, nothing, to these little jackasses at the Superstition Springs mall.
It’s entirely possible that age has changed my perspective and today’s teenagers seem more obnoxious. But I don’t think that’s it, and as I tried to get through the parking lot without committing involuntary vehicular manslaughter (what ever happened to looking both ways, kids?), I started working on a theory.
If a goldfish is kept in a small bowl, it will be a small fish. It’s not going to overextend itself if the room just isn’t there. If you put that same goldfish in a large tank, that bugger’s going to grow to an alarming size. I believe that teenage obnoxiousness is much the same.
I grew up in a small town, rather isolated with about 6,000 people on a good day. Because the town was so small, its teenagers could only get so obnoxious. The multifariousness of our misbehavior was limited. We were in a small fishbowl and didn’t have room to grow to our full obnoxious potential.
Kids down here, on the other hand, have the whole of Maricopa County at their disposal. They are free to grow to levels of obnoxiousness heretofore unknown. Big pond, big fish. Big city, unbelievably obnoxious teenagers.
So parents, I’m begging you. Take your teenagers out of the city. Put them on farms. Lock them up in their rooms. Send them to detention facilities. But mamas, don’t let your kids grow up to be creepy gigantic goldfish. Or they will be good for nothing and contribute nothing to society. Then they’ll have to sell sea salt in a mall kiosk. Is that what you really want?
Oh and in case anyone's interested, I'm also working on a Prophylactic Juvenile Incarceration theory but don't have much evidence so far on account of I can't find any twelve-year-olds to lock up for nine years.