Sunday, November 4, 2012


When parents ask a teenager "What were you thinking?" and the teen responds "I don't know," the parents need to realize that the teen truly doesn't know. Like the time my older son jumped out his friend's moving Suburban. Did he really think he could accelerate his legs from a complete stop to twenty-five miles an hour before he hit the asphalt?

When my friend Brent and I were fifteen and moving on to high school, we received invitations to Meet Your School night a few weeks before classes began. Moving from junior high to high school was a big step, and we didn't want to be complete dorks by not attending Meet Your School. Besides, my older sister was a school officer and promised me it would be cool, so I took her word for it. We even got there ten minutes early. And we quickly discovered that only dorks got there early. In fact, I think only dorks attended at all.

We worried we wouldn't find a seat and hurried into the auditorium. Only one other person was there—an older guy, probably some other dork's dad. We sat about five rows behind him and waited for the excitement to begin.

Brent had a touch of hay fever that day, and while we sat there, he coughed and produced a giant loogie. Teenagers are fascinated with body fluids—pus is always a favorite—and not wanting to swallow it back down, Brent expelled it onto his hand. And it was a magnificent specimen.

The next question was, what could he do with it? A fifteen-year-old boy in that situation doesn't have a whole lot of options. Walking to the restroom to wash his hand was certainly not one of them. He chose the only other option—tossing the loogie out into the air. I mean, what else could he do?

The loogie whirled through the dark auditorium like a spiral galaxy spinning through outer space. It arced downward and straight toward the one place we wished it hadn't gone—right down the neck of The Dad sitting in front of us. It was a perfect shot. A hole in one. But there was no time for congratulations. Brent and I froze into perfect granite statues.

The Dad winced. He reached back into his collar. He pulled his hand out slowly. Slime dripped from his fingers. He turned around. He stared back at us.

If you took the entire energy output of the Three Gorges Dam Hydroelectric Generators, it wouldn't even come close to the amount of energy Brent and I expended for those eight seconds trying to maintain composure while The Dad's eyes bored into us. Maybe he'd think it was someone else. Of course we'd forgotten we were the only other dorks in the whole room.

We fully expected a beating, but The Dad just slowly stood up, continued glaring at us, and walked out of the room. He came back after a few minutes and sat somewhere else. I'm not sure what prompted him to be so forgiving. Maybe he'd tossed a loogie when he was fifteen.

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