"Hellfire" by Patrick Dunne
Warning: this will be long, and this may offend the tender sensibilities of some of my neighbors in this and adjoining tony zip codes. So be it. I'm angry tonight, and I'm going to vent. Welcome to my nightmare.
Are there plenty of decent, normal parents in this largely wealthy county? I'd like to think so. But, by and large, in the Chevy Chase-Potomac-Bethesda corridor, I encounter young people who are being raised to believe they really are better than most other people on the planet, by virtue of wealth. Children who act like they've never heard the words "humility" or "decency" let alone "humbleness" or "equality." It begins at an early age here, where mommies and daddies, many of them likely working for firms that bear their own names, start the kids off with screaming and yelling and running in cafes and stores - behavior that would have brought the hammer down from my parents back in the day.
But here in Bethesda, where the median household income is more than $99,000 a year, Jason/Joshua/Becca/Brittany is a Child Who Can Do No Wrong. Despite the shattered eardrums of others nearby, these UberKinder will not be disciplined or removed from the premises. Bad behavior is coddled. "It's all an experience for my perfect child in his $500 toddler ensemble from Ralph Lauren Polo. Other people be damned! Don't bother mommy now, Ethan/Ashley, she's on her cell, making an appointment at the Red Door for a chemical peel and a massage. Go pull merchandise off the shelves - the clerks are there to clean up after you!"
You think I'm kidding? I'm not. I've actually seen and heard crap like this. Any wonder why, by the time they're 15 or 16, a lot of these kids have been turned into soulless shopping/screwing party machines? I couldn't give a damn where your kid attends prep school - if he doesn't know how to treat another human being outside of his allowance range with a degree of decency, you haven't raised him to be worth much as a human, frankly.
Tonight, I took a short break with the Sasquatch - I needed to run a quick errand, as did he. Neither one of us is fond of mall shopping, as it brings out the worst in humanity. From gangsta wannabes to the rich poseurs, it's a mass of ugliness. But, at least, the suburban gangsta kids will just ignore you at the mall. DJ Jazzy Trevor and his posse will blow you off as not being cool enough to warrant a second look. And that's fine with me. The rich kids, though, are another story altogether.
This evening, I really wanted to hit Bruce Variety - the one store in Bethesda where you can find anything you need, from needles and thread to school supplies to pirate eye patches and shepherd's crooks. Seriously. I love this place. I needed a new change purse, as the zipper was shot on mine, spilling nickels and pennies throughout my purse. Bruce would be the place! The Squatch dude needed to hit Radio Shack. Unfortunately, as we planned our surgical strike, we realized that both the Radio Shack by his place and Bruce Variety were closed. Our last, best option? Hit Montgomery Mall. Close by, with a Radio Shack and the Body Shop (where I wanted to get much needed foot stuff) inside, along with a Chick-fil-A, where we could get their fabulous nuggets o' joy for dinner. (I swear they coat those suckers with crack, to keep us hooked.)
Now, for the uninitiated, Montgomery Mall is a Hellmouth. This is a well-established fact. There are the occasional knifings, carjackings, and guys exposing themselves in front of the maternity clothes store. Yep, it's a reeeeally great place. I hate it. But even mall haters sometimes have to buy things from brick and mortar stores. Woman cannot live through online shopping alone. And now that I have no credit cards, it's a necessity for many things.
The Sasquatch made his speedy trip to Radio Shack, and I squinted my way through the Body Shop to get my "happy foot goodies." A quick dinner of chicken-y goodness, and we'd be back to our respective homes for a quiet Saturday evening. Sounded just fine.
And it was.
Until dinner was over.
And, as we left the food court, populated by tired parents and clutches of bored teenagers, it happened.
It's not an unfamiliar scenario for me. Fat woman walks somewhere. Someone who thinks a fat person is human garbage decides to point this out to friends. Hilarity ensues.
But tonight, the three rich, bored, asshole Bethesda teenagers decided to mock the wrong fat woman. Oh yes, they did.
As we approached their table, one of the trio pointed me out to her two friends, their heads spun around, and they all pointed, laughed, and the two girls high-fived each other. Little jerks. Usually, I try, oh lord I try, to ignore it. But tonight I didn't.
I have been working hard to keep my head attached to my body. But between the eye, work stress, filing for bankruptcy, family stress, the creeps upstairs from me, and the general wear of life, the last thing I need is a threesome of idiots mocking me for BEING ME.
I told Teenager #1 she was a creep. Straight out. She gave me the blank "Oh shit, I got caught" look that is followed by the "Uh, uhm, heh heh, I dunno what you're talking about..." speech. I started to walk away, but the Sasquatch had stopped. I told him what had transpired. He paused, turned, and confronted them. The one girl gave him the same crap. The two girls laughed as he calmly dressed them down. Teenager #2 wouldn't even look him - or me - in the eye. She just kept laughing while she flipped through songs on her iPod, as if we did not exist. Teenager #3, the one boy, got up, totally ignoring my friend, and walked to the trash can to dump his rubbish, and I confronted him. Before I could even get a word out, he put his hands up and said, "Hey, look. I didn't actually say anything."
"So, pointing and laughing is okay, then?" He didn't respond. The teens just blew my friend off. He wasn't one of them. He wasn't wearing labels. He wasn't some golden Bethesda youth with $10,000 of orthodontia and overpriced clothes. "It's not funny," he said to them. iPod girl continued to giggle like a fucking idiot. I looked at them and said, "Stupid rich Bethesda pieces of shit."
Usually, when it's teenagers, I try to keep it clean. I really do. But I'm tired. I'm tired of having to fight back against People Who Should Know Better.
People who are old enough to be on their own at the mall.
People who have been raised with every advantage.
People who know they are privileged.
People who don't even have the decency, when caught being assholes, to say, "I'm sorry."
"That was wrong."
No, these kids have been raised to believe they don't have to say sorry to people who aren't as good as they are. People who they think are beneath them.
Well, screw you. I've hit my limit with your overpriced trash. A designer trash bag still contains trash, kids.
And I blame the parents.
Let me tell you, Yuppie Parents of Montgomery County, I think you're doing a pretty crappy job. What do I see in your children? When I look at the Abercrombie & Fitch bags they clutch like religious icons? When I see their greedy little dull dolls eyes glazed over as they chat on their cellphones? When I feel the cold fronts they generate as they walk by?
I see a lack of things that you didn't see fit to give them:
There is no civility. There is discourtesy and a sense of entitlement.
There is no dignity. There is a cult of dirty materialism and hedonism.
There is no decency. There is rudeness, cruelty and shameless self-absorption.
Yep, I blame you, Yupster parents. (I also blame the media you allow your kids to "enjoy." That's a whole different post. Bottom line? You can control the TV and computer, hons.)
Indulging your child's every whim, investing them with a sense of self-importance at an early age? It does not help them in this life, unless you are grooming them to be the next Paris Hilton. And you know what? Paris Hilton has a lot of money, but she has no class. We've all seen her vagina. Most of us have seen her give some guy a blow job. She's been pulled over for driving while intoxicated. She gets rid of pets when they're too big for her purse. She's not bright. She thinks "hot" is spelled with three "t's"... She is a human punchline to a panoply of sad, pathetic jokes. Do you really want your kid to admire and emulate that? No? Well, then, start parenting!
Oh, and hey, teens of Bethesda! Here are some super fun facts for you!
Fact #1: I know I am physically unattractive. I'm really fat. Get over it. My lack of traditional beauty is not worthy of comment by people rendered even uglier by a lack of a soul.
Fact #2: Yes, you have more money than I have. In fact, you are currently wearing more money than I have. You have probably spent more on booze, weed, DKNY and text messaging this month than I'll make this year. But that doesn't make you better than me. In fact, it makes you a moron. Part of me wishes carpal tunnel and cancer on you for all the time you're spending with your Sidekick or Crackberry Pearl or whatever.
Fact #3: You ain't always gonna be young and pretty. And if all you can remember is the price list at Armani Exchange and that ugly people are fun to mock, your life is gonna be crap.
MoCo Parents, try though I might to find some reason to like your children, I cannot. Where did they learn to be such jerks? They say that charity begins at home. I think cruelty does, too. You're raising bullies with pocket change.
If I could have, I would have done a Vulcan mind meld on one of those rich little trolls tonight at Montgomery Mall. It actually would have pleased me to see one of them weep to understand what I've been through in the past two years and watch them melt from volcanic heat and pressure they could never withstand. They haven't been raised with enough fortitude to hack it.
I've never looked for sympathy out here. I've never looked for anyone to pat me on the back. But life hasn't been great in recent times. I am worn down. I am weary. And I have so much going in my very, very real life, I cannot hack bullshit from slimey little rich brats right now. And I shouldn't have to deal with it. I know why suicide rates are higher for people who are overweight. I know why depression is such a problem for fat people. And I know why people become hermits. Experiences like tonight make me want to stay at home. Why go out and deal with this crap? Why not just go to work and come directly home and just not deal with the evil behavior that is taken for granted in the community where I live? Behavior that is ignored, condoned, and encouraged by mentally absent and criminally indulgent parenting?
Yeah, I need to lose a lot of weight. Yeah, I could probably use some therapy.
But what's your excuse, Yuppie Mommies and Daddies?
Get your kids out of the damn mall if you're not there to supervise them. Get them off frigging MySpace. Expose them to the world outside Potomac and Bethesda. And I don't mean by summering in the Hamptons. Most of the world isn't one big super sweet 16 party.
There's a world outside this goddamn yuppie bubble. And guess what, kids? It's populated more by people like me than by people like you. And we aren't afraid to stare you in the face and call you on your arrogance and stupidity.
Someday, Yuppie Mommy and Daddy, your kid is going to mock the wrong low-class fat chick, and instead of just calling your creepy kid a "rich Bethesda piece of shit", someone with less restraint is going to smack your kid or put your kid in the hospital.
And you know what? Your kid is probably going to deserve it.
Get with the program. Wake up and smell the latte. Grow up so your kids can, too.
It is appalling to read about these incidents. The last time I was aware of people laughing at me for how I looked, I was in middle school. I don't know if people in Kentucky and Georgia are more accepting of people of larger size, or if I'm just totally oblivious to this sort of incident when it happens, but whatever the reason, I believed that our society as a whole was over that sort of prejudice.
I really am an optimist :>
Moving on, though: where is parenting going in this country? There are so many people who think of their children as pets or prizes rather than people. It's gone further than parents wanting to be their children's friend, which is also harmful. Now it's parents letting their children raise themselves.
People don't seem to understand that kids aren't born knowing how to behave. They don't spring from the womb with fully-formed adult brains.
They don't seem to realize that when they choose to have a child, they are committing themselves to 18+ years of supervision.
And many of them are refusing to make that commitment.
It sometimes feels like all the intelligent people, the ones who understand what having kids really means, are choosing not to have them. Paradoxically, their intelligence is being weeded out of the gene pool because they are intelligent.
And meanwhile, the self-absorbed, the irresponsible, the vapid are pumping out trophy children, then stashing them out of the way of their "real" lives.
You are so goddamn right about every word. Good on you for confronting those worthless shitbags.
I think a lot of the shit I'm going through with my kids is down to the fact that other parents just don't give a ***.
My kids see their peers getting a good time while behaving like worthless punks.
I won't tolerate that: I think my kids behave better than I can really expect, given the circumstances.
You know what - I've seen one too many of the sitcoms where some hapless twit gets trumped into some scheme by his / her kids, the parent looks like a moron and the kid looks like a clever kitty.
growl, pant, etc
That really sucks. Kids run rampant a great deal of the time here too. Not so much in malls at night because a lot of malls have curfews for unsupervised teens/kids. Yeeha.
We have our share of screamers in restaurents though. My bro and I never were screamers according to my mom, but if we acted up, it was either be good or we're leaving.
Good for you for calling them on their bs.
I miss Spike and Angel.
All I can say to this is AMEN and You're preaching to the choir, honey!
My friends and I have these conversations all the time about how our parents raised us to have manners, we didn't have a lot of gadgets or high tech toys, we ate family dinner together every single night, we didn't live in McMansions, we weren't given everything we asked for and had to earn most of what we did have. In my case, we didn't earn an allowance. If we needed something, my parents provided it as best they could, but they didn't indulge our every whim and fancy.
We were taught to get up in the morning and go to work, no matter how much we might hate it, and we were taught to work together as a team. Quitting, my mother would tell us, was not an option and we couldn't be fired from helping around the house and in the family business.
What I resent more than anything are these kids who have everything given to them. I've seen kids driving cars I can only dream of ever owning. My parents never gave me a car; I got to "borrow" the family car. They didn't pay for my education, I worked my way through college and graduate school. Everything I own is paid for--with the exception of my house and my car. I don't have debt and I don't own all the latest and greatest of whatever the latest and greatest thing is.
We were taught it was rude to stare or point at other people and it was even ruder to make comments about them. We were required to address adults as Mr. or Mrs. and their last name--a practice I continue to this day with anyone who's old enough to be my parent and who isn't my boss or a work colleague.
I'm not saying all this to boast or anything. I'm saying it to say, I'm sick and tired of entitled teens their irresponsible, equally entitled, selfish parents.
I'm sorry you were harrassed again this evening. For what it's worth--and I can say this since I've met you in person--those kids will never be half the person you are: kind, sensitive, generous of spirit, funny. But then, that's their loss and an enormous gain for the rest of us.
Definitely the parents, I'd say. Even if they learn from eachother as well. Mind you, the parents are probably out being successful in places like the French Riviera, so they've left the parenting with their non-English speaking au pairs, wouldn't you say that's a fair guess?
If I'd been there with you, I'd probably have smacked one with the other... Not just for being complete idiots, but for not being able to make amends for it even when being spoken to. Oh well, probably a good thing I wasn't there.
I don't know the area - but we've got people like that here too. I take comfort in being way too smart for them to even begin comprehending what my rant is all about...
I can't really say anything that these other people haven't already said.
However, if I would have been there it would have been attack of the cranky former midwestern girls...YEE HAW in JOHN DEERE GREEN!
Reading your experience made me want to haul off and punch the closest teenager. I'm seeing more and more of this - kids completely out of control and parents unwilling to take any responsibility for their actions. Children should be disciplined, not reasoned with. With no consequences, no fear of reprisal, how would even a saint be on their best behavior 24/7? Those lessons of cause and effect, violation and ramification, are learned in the early years and establish the moral framework for the rest of the child's life.
My parents showed me early on to respect others, especially when they are different from you, at all times. They also never beat me, but they spanked if I was out of line. And I knew at a glance if I was treading in dangerous waters. That fear of punishment did a lot to ensure that I stayed out of trouble. It also taught me that my actions have consequences, and I have responsibility for making good choices in order to avoid them.
I'm on board with a lot of the comments heather and jmk made. A lot of the cool, smart, decent people I know are shunning procreation, and I can't say that I blame them (1 - it's expensive; 2 - it would break my heart to raise a little girl in this society; 3 - we are all afraid of becoming another jackass parent).
Meanwhile "acquisitionists" add 2.5 children to their brood and treat them as if they are in charge. Worse yet, some of these people who have had children act as if they are extra special and need extra consideration from the rest of us because their birth control failed that one time.
We are living in a society that devalues human life and positive interaction. There are few consequences for poor behavior, particularly for the privileged. Unemployable backup dancers with probable STDs are held up as achievers. A waste of DNA heiress is celebrated for being a whore and an all-around despicable human being. No one wants to work for anything anymore. We're in sad shape, and the future of this country is ill-prepared to run a local Arby's franchise, let alone a nation.
I'm glad you said something, even if the meaning couldn't reach their tiny, entitlement-addled brains. The world would be a much better place if people took a moment, dropped themselves - through the magic of imagination - into other people's shoes, and tried to understand them. This is another incident that should be added to my forthcoming book: "The Golden Rule: Everybody Just Follow It Already And Stop Acting Like Assholes."
Don't expect anything to come from addressing the Yupster parents, though. A nut doesn't fall far from the tree.
I grew up in MoCo, graduated from B-CC in 1984. Sure, some kids were disrespectful and obnoxious then, but not the way they are now. My wife and I now live in Aspen Hill, and here are some of the things we have had to deal with:
-- Parties with hundreds of kids, parking their cars wherever, playing their stereos full-blast at 2AM, leaving trash on everyone's lawns--and all this with the parents home!
-- Motorcycles and "pocket bikes" zooming up and down the street and sidewalk for hours at a time--again with the parents watching!
-- A kid with a remote start letting his noisy sportscar idle for 15 minutes early every morning
...So, I'm with you. by the way, my wife and I are among those who have chosen not to have kids.
And there's no need to apologize for your reaction, to say it's because of what you've been going through. Those teenagers need to learn that their disrespect will have repercussions.
Wow, great story. I'm sorry those punk kids said those things. I sympathize completely.
Interesting comments, too.
I live within walking distance of PG Plaza, aka, The Mall at Prince Georges (sic). I often patronize the Food Court, Target and Office Depot. Here, it's mostly groups of young men w/foul-mouths, jailyard eyes and gang colors. If I rebuked group of jeering youths at the Food Court, I would probably punched in the face by their girlfriends.
Maybe it's because I was a teenager in MoCo not too long ago (B-CC class of '01), but I think that parents are three times the problem as their spoiled-rotten offspring.
It's the soccer moms who drive their emerald green SUVs with the phone in one hand and the skim latte in the other--utterly oblivious to the fact that the road does not belong exclusively to them. This center-of-the-universe role that people in Bethesda/Potomac/Chevy Chase think they fill is passed on to their kids like a genetic disorder.
As for kids hanging around the mall in PG County (see pgcist's comment) with "gang colors" and "jailyard eyes"--let's give the kids a bit of a break. Kids have been hanging out at malls since about the time dinosaurs went extinct, it's just that society seems to treat bratty white teenagers as less of a threat and nuisance than bratty minority teenagers.
I think that the mainstream-liberal mentality in MoCo makes people think that they're decent human beings, simply because they are tolerant of diversity, open-minded about sexuality, and they consider themselves more evolved than people in the rest of the country. That sense of superior values, superior lifestyle, superior diets, superior professional experience, etc. makes MoCo parents feel, well...superior.
Kids have been pains in the asses since the beginning of time, but as kids follow in their parents' sociopathic footsteps, I'm glad that you gave a few of them a dose of reality. Their parents certainly never will--because as long as little Johnny gets into Harvard, he can date rape and drop acid his way through life and mommy and daddy will always have open doors and wallets waiting for him back in MoCo.
Good for you! I live in MoCo, and I waited tables at a "family friendly" restaurant in Bethesda for five years until recently. Although I loved working there, my favorite part about the job was correcting the teenagers, by saying "you're welcome" when they didn't say thanks, thereby humiliating them in front of their friends; I always insisted on counting the check money in front of them and when it amounted to 2-7%, I would just leave the tip on the table and tell them they must have counted wrong. Most teenagers are like this though as far as tipping/manners go.
I have to say though, that Bethesda has it's own culture that is so foreign, nobody living outside of MoCo would understand how ridiculous the parenting is. I actually had parents who made me stand at their table for 3 min until their 5 year old said "please" and THEN the parents would not say please or thank you themselves! Not to mention that I have 6 other tables to take care of and are giving me the evil eye for not running up to their table BEFORE they sit down.
I remember one woman who made me soooo angry. I gave her and her FIVE brats excellent service on a Saturday lunch shift. They were one of 3 tables in the whole restaurant. She was wearing those J. Crew pants with the anchors on them and a sleeveless Ralph Lauren top- she was very demanding. Her children (all under 7 and blonde) were dressed impecably . As they left, Spaghetti noodles everywhere, french fries on other tables, fingerprints all over the artwork and neighboring tables. They TOOK the CRAYONS! I was sure that an excellent tip awaited me.... FOUR dollars on a SIXTY dollar check! I walked outside just in time to see them pull away in a brand new Mercedes SUV with temporary tags.
This is a stereotype of a typical Bethesda parent, although I had a few regulars who were pretty great Bethesda parents and were just as horrified as me by the alcoholic parents who let their children run full speed around the restaurant without batting an eyelash. The servers got really good at holding our ground, so they would run right into us and fall down! Anyway, thanks for the read!
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