As the saying goes, “Kids will be kids.” And yet, is that proverb still legitimately allowable for explaining away the behaviors of the current generation of children?
I’m not so sure, especially after what I observed in the checkout line at our local grocery store.
The line was short. It included a group of three vibrant but unkempt kids in their early teens, followed by an elderly woman, and then myself. The kids each had a 20 ounce bottle of Mountain Dew Code Red. The woman bore a basket on her arm that she’d not yet unloaded onto the belt for scanning. In it she had a box of crackers, two cans of soup, coffee filters, a box of spaghetti noodles, and a snack pack of stringed cheese. I had two gallons of milk, one in each hand.
The three kids jostled and laughed, pushed and spoke crassly, consuming more personal space than was necessary, ultimately ending with one of them, a young girl, bumping into the lady and causing her basket to tip just enough so that several of her items fell to the floor. And what did the culprit do in response? She didn’t apologize, but rather laughed—admittedly it was a laugh of momentary embarrassment—and then she finished the transaction and scuttled away with her cohorts.
Setting her basket on the belt, the woman went to pick up her items, although I got to them first. She thanked me, and in the gentlest of grandmotherly voices, began a short commentary on the growing disrespect she’s been observing in kids, and how what just occurred was another certified example.
“How has it gotten to this?” she said, bringing her speech to the man in the clerical collar beside her to an end.
“I have my suspicions,” I replied, putting the last item on the moving belt. “Although, no matter how far out of line these kids get,” I continued, “it’s nothing that a sewer clown probably couldn’t handle for us.”
“What?” she asked.
“Those are the kinds of clowns that eat kids,” I said. “A handful of sewer clowns with red balloons here and there in America and I’d bet things would change. One thing’s for sure,” I continued, “they’d probably stop protesting the NRA.”
“Never mind,” I said, realizing she’d completely missed the reference to Stephen King’s novel It. “It was just a joke. I guess just know that as a parent, I agree with you and I’m doing everything I can to steer my own kids in the right ways.”
“Well, at least someone is,” she answered and then went into how, unfortunately, her son’s kids are proving to be entitled brats in need of a significant course correction, and had her husband been alive today, he’d have provided it.
The moment ended and I made my way home. I put the milk into the refrigerator and then sat down to open a fresh bottle—the Shackleton Blended Malt Scotch Whisky—which is a deliberate attempt at recreating the Mackinlay’s edition that accompanied Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew on their infamous survey of the Antarctic in 1907.
I suppose the Shackleton edition was perfectly suited to the previous narrative, especially since both the elderly woman and I would do everything in our powers to recreate particular aspects of bygone eras, times when kids spent their days riding their bikes, playing outside, doing some chores here and there, and then taking the extra bit of spending money to the local grocery store to buy a candy bar, and never for one second believing it acceptable to exhibit wildly disrespectful behavior in public lest parents discover and exercise swift judgment.
The odds that we’ll ever return to such societal standards are slim, just as I’m suspecting that it’s anyone’s guess if this Shackleton edition truly met its mark in the attempt to return to something that would have been preferred by an intrepid and discerning explorer of the highest class.
Now, having said this, the whisky is pretty good, just not exceptional.
The nose is buttery—the salted and oily kind—and it offers a mere tap of peat followed by an even lighter wash of malt. The palate agrees completely with this assessment, although as the peat’s efforts increase, along with it comes a subtle citrus and a drop or two of vanilla.
The finish, I’d say, is medium, but also steadily warming, which I’m guessing would have been more than acceptable in -50 degree temperatures at the bottom of the world. And as it warms, it invites thoughts of singed barley bread—not unpleasant in the conditions, but certainly not what you’d expect to enjoy back home.
On the other hand, when considering the current state of affairs in our culture, “back home” might be all the more reason to become an explorer in Antarctica. At least the natives—the penguins—know how to keep decorum in a line. And they certainly dress respectably.