Apocalypse (Not) Now

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By DeeDee Corbitt Sauter

It’s the end of civilization as we know it. Probably due to some political scandal in combination with the upcoming generation of poorly behaved teens and young adults. Or so I’ve been told.

They say that the kids these days, specifically the teens, lack respect, have no sense of responsibility and only know a world dedicated to videogames. Also that they are not accustomed to hard work of any sort.

I watch the news; I am not in the dark. My favorite show characters deal with forensics, plot twists and unexpected villains. Sometimes the perpetrators end up being troubled family members or the progeny of loving parents. It’s a dangerous world.

This generation may very well be the last to enjoy a civilized world filled with plenty of water and modern conveniences, a direct result of their maudlin attitude and slacker ways.

Now that my oldest is a teenager, I have the unfortunate opportunity to meet and greet teens of all shapes, sizes, colors and odors on an almost daily basis. Call it naiveté, but so far, my six year-old seems more bent on destroying our race with his behavior than any of the eating machines that rummage my kitchen pantry.

A herd of pubescent youth gathered at my home recently. I am not sure why they cannot seem to smell each other, but no one is ever offended. Regardless, they frolicked (is that word permitted when describing a teen’s behavior?) with nerf guns, ice cubes and latex balloons while they ate an enormous amount of junk food. They were so grateful for everything that I offered, which means they are welcome back any time so that I can experience the feeling of
exuberant gratitude.

At some point, one of the attendees, a 14-year-old girl, emptied the contents of her drawstring bag onto the kitchen table on a double-dog dare.

What she considered important could be a fascinating insight as proof that the world is not nearing the end. At least, not with her assistance.

It started with a small glow-in-the-dark rubber ducky sporting a tee shirt and tiny sailor hat. That was probably the last thing I expected her to pull from her bag. A school notebook and an assigned paperback came out next, along with a gray speckled travel umbrella and an iPhone. I did a double take. The working charged phone was not in her pocket, her hand or on the table next to her. It was actually in the bag. She was with friends and did not feel a need to interrupt their time together. I could learn a lesson from that.

Next she showed us a family crest key ring, still in its package; a well-worn, purple kazoo; an unsharpened personalized pencil advertising fire safety; and a plastic fork she had taken from the kitchen table at the party she was currently attending. The final treasures were a green plastic good-luck St. Patrick’s Day coin, the program from a play she was in and a box of expanding dental floss.

After the astounding show-and-tell that elicited laughter, giggles, and cheers, we concluded that there could not be a better collection of valuables in all the world.

Someone without insight would assume that she could easily replace each item at a discount store for a few dollars. They would be utterly mistaken. Cheap replicas could not embody the stories and history of the treasures she carried.

In a time when I am systematically eliminating extraneous and nonessential decor, this young lady is collecting one small, seemingly vital object at a time that stand as sentimental reminders of family, friends and great times. It all fits into one satchel.

Now I could be greatly mistaken, but anyone who carries memories with them for all occasions cannot be plotting to
destroy the world. Firstly, weapons of complete domination and annihilation cannot fit into the bag if it’s already full of trinkets. Secondly, she is clearly not bent on a totalitarian profession if she is nostalgic.

On the other hand, I recently ran across a herd of about six teen boys. None of them were carrying bags. Because of that, I could not be sure of their intentions.

I gave them a wide berth because you never know, they could be the cause of the end of the world.

DeeDee Corbitt Sauter is a resident of Northern Virginia. Her column, “Tambourines and Elephants,” appears monthly in Prince William Living.

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