Sep 15

Kids These Days

by Jason Hardung

Last night I was killing time and brain cells simultaneously, burning through random videos on You Tube when I came across a stand-up comedy bit by miserabilist and self-proclaimed alcoholic, Doug Stanhope. Between beers and cigarettes he talked about how things today are so safe and how our generation, Generation X, will be the first generation of elderly people that will be ballsier, more excessive than the generations that follow. We’ve all heard old relatives complain, “Kids these days are out of control with their yolo, bath salts and dubstep.” Like Stanhope said, “It will be the opposite when we are old.” We were the last generation to enjoy sex, drugs, rock and roll. We were the last of the kids who stood up in the back of American made pick-up trucks, barreling down dirt roads while our dads clenched a coozy-covered Coors Light can in his crotch. The last of the kids that had their asses whooped by the principal of their school if we did something that truly deserved it. Now if a kid fucks up their biggest fear is that their parents are going to take away their I-Phone and sit them on their race car bed for time out so their little childish brain can reflect upon why they were a kid being a kid. I would’ve loved to know that when my dad got home from work and saw that I shot out a window with a BB gun, that I would get to sit on my bed instead of having a belt ripped across my ass or back handed down the stairs. Do they even make BB guns anymore? Isn’t there a law against anything that resembles a weapon anymore? Do kids still play with nunchucks and switchblades?

I was a little shit that liked to push limits, liked to shoot breakable things, maybe I deserved to have my ass beat sometimes. I can tell you one thing, the quickest way I learned not to do it again was through pain. When something physically hurts, you really don’t want to feel that way again. They don’t tame wild horses by putting them in time out. They break them, put spurs in their ribs and whip them. My problem is that I liked pain, I never learned. I didn’t want to learn. I wanted to be a kid. A kid throwing caution to the wind, breaking shit, trying new things, not giving two shits about the consequences.

I know I’m misinformed, we all are, this is the misinformation age after all, but I saw on the news that a six year old deaf kid named Hunter was told by the big wigs at his school that he couldn’t use sign language for his name anymore because his finger placement resembled a gun. They wanted this kid to change his name, or not say it out loud, the only name he’s known all because his tiny kid fingers resembled a weapon. I had shiny toy guns on my hips by the time I could walk. We played cowboys and Indians and war. And look at me, I’m 39 years old and have only been arrested on a gun charge once, and that was when I was 19, still a baby.

We played tackle football without pads on the pavement until the sun finally went down. We were dirty, our knees were scabbed, we couldn’t see the ball anymore. Today children get trophies just for participating in sports. There are no winners or losers anymore. There are only winners. When there is nothing on the line, there is nothing to be gained. What does that teach a kid? It’s okay to be you Trevor. Don’t try too hard at anything. You are no better or no worse than anybody else. You are perfect and you are average. Take your ADD medication Caleb so you don’t have any wild thoughts. Don’t think outside the box. Just grow up to build boxes for people wealthier than you all day on some sweltering factory line for a few dollars an hour, medicated out of your fucking mind so you can be mediocre. We like you that way. I’ve taken my fair share of drugs, but I did it because I wanted to, not because some money hungry doctor told me I needed them.

Most kids these days are so bland and lifeless. When I say kid, I mean 18-25 years old. I listen to them. I watch them. I am envious at how naïve they are. They believe pushing boundaries is wearing a pair of non-prescription horn-rimmed glasses, growing some crazy looking mustache popular in the 19th century, or posting something ironic like an old Journey video on their Facebook page that says, “Hey look at me! I listen to much cooler bands than this, but I have a sense of humor. Laugh with me, not at me.” We are laughing at you fuck face. You fucking Chaleb spelled with a silent H. We know you sit in your room alone at night in the same bed where you spent many a time out and blast When The Lights Go Down In The City through your I-Phone. It’s not ironic, it’s who you really are, and that’s okay. Be you, don’t be who your mustache says you’re supposed to be. If you like Steve Perry, rock the mullet. Not because you want people to think you are making fun of it, but because you really enjoy it. Wear your Free Mustache Rides T-shirt, not because all of your other friends wear it, but because you really like when some chick grinds your pale organic face like it’s the most comfortable bike seat in the world. I know I do. My face is one of those super laid back banana seats from the seventies that are probably banned now because little Holden fell off one and died and his mother started an online petition to have them recalled. Yeah, my face is a banana seat, long and soft and reeks of freedom.