Four Teens

I was at the coffee shop the other day and a group of four teenaged boys came in. They purchased sugary drinks and sat for a while. I’m guessing they only varied in age by a year or 18 months or so. They were certainly familiar with each other if not friends from small times. I’m guessing they were in the same class at the local public high school.

But, how they were friends was what was baffling to me. I’ve heard about bus friends being exclusive of home friends. Even the girl has school friends that are exclusive of home friends. I guess we have our work friends that are mutual of our private life friends. I paused my music but left my headphones on so I could hear them.

But here they were, four boys, median age 15 perhaps. They were (I’m giving them these names, OK?):
David (not “Dave) and Daniel (never “Danny”): Unrelated, yet two boys so cookie-cutter identical teenage PacSun meets American Eagle, short hair, republican family, sheltered, mainstream America. These two will do just enough to make good grades to get into a “good state school” and a lucky legacy at a top-tier. University of Maryland and Duke. They will become archrivals because of basketball. These are our future frat-rats, doctors, and investment analysts. One may become a deputy director at the U.S. Department of Commerce. They will drink plenty of alcohol and try cocaine. They will never know how to please women but will marry and have lots of kids and live on half-acre lots. They will have affairs and repress homosexual thoughts. They will always have ideas about how the world could work better yet will never act upon any notion that could challenge the status quo. They claim to like football. One or both may be on the JV squad right now. Will definitely play intramurals in college. Forever insecure but moneyed. Periods of mopish behavior. Prized possessions of the future: BMW. Rolex (“it’s not a watch, it’s a time-piece”).

“Karbutt” (it’s a nickname, a conjunction for Carl has a big butt): The teetering borderline outcast. Scruffy, church-on-Easter, problems-at-home, confused to the ways of the world, inexperienced, positive even his brightest thoughts are incorrect, suburban mid-cast (not entirely an outcast, never entirely in the ingroup). Destined for lower middle-class existence (poverty disguised as credit card debt) and loneliness. May father children but never marry. Karbutt will be just fine at reading meters for the gas company or painting. He will develop a lifelong smoking addiction and may spend some time on antidepressants. Gets dangerous with marijuana use is prone to creepiness with the ladies. Karbutt will forever be Karbutt. He will spend some time in jail for violating probation on a misdemeanor rap. He will occasionally tell people he went to college but will say things like, “Where? Uh, Cal State Berkeley.” Forever insecure but poor. Mope. Prized possession of the future: Used Harley with a bad something-or-other.

Rowin: And, most curiously, I think of this fella as “the Canadian.” I seriously doubt he is a national of our fine neighbor to the north. But, he just felt like a snowback. What can I say, Rowin will someday discover his supernatural powers. Quietly confident. He will remain a happy virgin throughout high school but will just as happily bed down all the women in his mid-sized mid-prestige university out west (Grinnell?). Rowin will be expert at cunnilingus (“it’s the nose, I guess” he’ll say) simply through trial and error. Rowin will be voted “funniest classman” three years running. Rowin will have killer jokes about his huge nose. Rowin MUST have a guitar playing older brother and an art school older sister. He adores his mother and father, cooking with one and, interchangeably, building shit with the other. His grades are solid and he thinks most institutions are bogus. He will either own his own business (working from he’ll call with tremendous irony, “the crib”) or cash out of the “tech industry” at 30 and open a chain of childcare centers. He will forever be smarter than everyone else but won’t bother to take the SAT. Rowin will graduate from college in six years because that’s what worked best. He will love long and intensely. Rowin will cry. He will have two kids and “raise ‘em like my parents raised me.” He may become active on the city council of Madison, Wisconsin or Santa Cruz, California. Rowin will discover bicycling at the age of 40. Prized possession for the future: An old t-shirt that says: “REHAB is for quitters”.
Rowin was different. Karbutt was typical throwaway third child of an unhappy couple (or two). David and Daniel were CNN, the standardization and sanitization of America. Where David and Daniel wore clothing that appeared to be the offspring of American Eagle and Pacific Sun in a mid-air collision over the Westfield Shoppingtown (tm) headquarters in L.A. Karbutt wore something generic, forgettable, old, and wrinkled. Clean enough though. Rowin wore a t-shirt emblazoned with “REHAB is for quitters.”

Rowin’s hair was kind of Steve Nash ’04. Floppy, bowl-ish, fine, unaffected. His ears were covered as if he were wearing a knitted cap. Karbutt was probably due for a shampoo and hasn’t ever had a proper cut. D&D? Short hair, cut over the ears, tapered and razor finished. Carson Daly? Was that his name?

Karbutt agreed with everything offered in the conversation. Daniel and David discussed some football. They discussed the AT&T Congressional golf tournament (“You know, Tiger’s tournament?”). One of them offered some Red Sox information. Oh, and one suggested mentioned Harry Potter. Karbutt indicated that even though he has yet to complete one Harry Potter book, he’s seen three of the movies. Rowin independently offered that the guys should read Fight Club even if they’ve seen the movie because, “it’s so much better.” Speaing of Fight Club, “Brad Pitt was hot in that” he supremely offered. “Eeewww!!” came from the other boys. Rowin had just expressed an opinion on the physical attributes of a man. For shame! Rowin didn’t care and may have said it for shock value. It was hard to tell.

Karbutt said that he had never been to a concert. David and/or Daniel offered that thay had been to something that I’m forgetting about maybe at Nissan Center or somewhere. “Oh!” said Rowin, “I’ve been to like 30 Hootie and the Blowfish shows.” Even I was like, WTF? with that. Daniel and/or David inquired if that band was still together. Rowin assured them that they were touring right now. “How do you know?” someone asked. “My uncle’s the bass player. I don’t really like their music, but it’s fun to tour. I don’t even know if they like the music anymore.” [Note: Rowin’s uncle is apparently Dan Felber of Bethesda, Maryland; Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, Maryland; and, University of South Carolina.]

D&D joked about “rolling papers” and European travel. Karbutt’s never been anywhere and probably didn’t get the reference to “rolling papers.” Rowin laughed along but the look in his eyes was more past that situation. He knows he doesn’t have to front.

When Rowin went to the bathroom, he stopped, picked up something and asked me – an adult for god's sake! – if these were my sunglasses. God bless his incredible existence.

Hopefully things will shift so that someday Rowin can be our president – of the planet! Neither democrat nor republican. Neither USA or EU. Rowin's world.