teenager beach party

Zoot suit riots

January 3, 2022

   So, what began as a humdrum weekend chaperone with Carol’s two oldest grandchildren soon metastasized into Carol and yours truly hosting a New Year’s Eve California beach party extravaganza for, now, six swarming, super-energized hormonal containment systems, otherwise known as teenagers. Or at least, that was how I was initially projecting the new plan. A Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello vehicle I was not anticipating from this eclectic collection from the Gen Z gene pool.

   It all began when Carol scored an unexpected three-day reservation at Newport Beach’s Crystal Cove State Park. That kicked a low-energy get together into a full blown end-of-year par-TAY with an expanded guest list. Two septuagenarians were now playing host to a gaggle of “likes” and “whatevers” – or at least that was how I was projecting it. (An abundant lay-in of wine promised an effective buffer, should things spiral out of control.)

teenager beach smores party
S’mores and something tells me something good

   The assembled Gang of Six immediately set off (ostensibly) for the nearby Shake Shack, leaving Carol and I to calculate our ability to manage bail, when the inevitable drug and criminal mischief charges would come rolling in. Or at least that’s how I was projecting it.

   Instead, the entire crew sauntered back after an hour or so, full of laughter and redolent of burgers, fries and chocolate shakes. Instead of Blackboard Jungle or Reefer Madness, it was more like Richie, Potsy, Joanie and the Fonz, et al returning from Al’s Diner.

Instead of Blackboard Jungle or Reefer Madness, it was more like Richie, Potsy, Joanie and the Fonz, et al returning from Al’s Diner.

   These kids turned out to be absurdly polite and ridiculously well-mannered and behaved. They asked permission for everything, were exceedingly respectful and seemed not to mind at all Carol and my presence. One of them has the starring role in a theatrical production of Mary Poppins, for crying out loud. What’s wrong with these kids? Their parents must be living intolerably peaceful lives, navigating their children’s teenage years like it’s some kind of ocean cruise.

   You’d think at least we’d have to step in, becoming in loco parentis for their movie choices. But no. The Disney animated versions of Aladdin and Hercules was all the violence or risqué they wanted. Seriously, what kind of lives are these kids going to have when they’re adults?

   My world was somewhat returned to balance when observing the mess the party room was reduced to by midnight. But then, they turned right around and cleaned it up themselves without prompting. Street urchins!

   But just maybe I’ll have to revise my doomsday predictions for the future of mankind. There just might be reason to hope that this generation coming up will reverse human decline. Then again…

   Carol wanted a lemonade mimosa on New Year’s afternoon. I sat on the deck, never having opened champagne in the open air. I aimed for the big bush on the patio. But the cork popped and flew high over that bush and came down right into a crowd of people happening by on the trail at that exact moment. It might be that it’s my generation that will have to get completely out of the way first before these new kids on the block can take over.

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