Mall Wars:

Senior Delinquents

by William Bedford

One day, while enjoying a cup of coffee at the mall with my friend and fellow empty-nester Chester, I was amazed to overhear this diatribe coming from a teenage boy sitting at a nearby table:

“As a school-attending, part-time-job-holding ordinary teenager, I’m stuffed to the max with all those wrinklies who never stop whining about how all of us teens are little better than hoodlums. Take my grandpa and his senior-citizen friend next door, for instance. They’re forever bitching to anyone within earshot about gangs of unruly teens, meaning me and my buds, hanging around the streets and shopping malls scaring the poor seniors.

Well, I for one have had enough of their oldie crapola and I'm not going to take it anymore. The way the fossils tell it, you’d think all teens were hopped-up granny muggers or something. When do any of these moldies ever take even a few minutes to hear our side of things? That‘s what I’d like to know.

Take the other day for instance, me and my buds were just goofing around, you know, minding our own business like, when this nasty old nana gets on our case, calling us punks and asking us if we thought we owned the sidewalk, or what? It beats me why something can't be done about all these moldy-oldies who have nothing better to do than spend their time picking on innocent teens, like. The fact is, they’re the ones who should be kept out of the malls. You can hardly buy a burger without waiting in line for about ten hours behind a bunch of stumblies who can't hardly click their dentures and count their change at the same time, like.

And worst of all are the old yo-yos who whiz around the malls in their souped-up wheelchairs, trying to scare the hell out of us. This one old babe—I keep my eyes peeled for her—just loves to drive up behind a bunch of teens and beep her stupid horn and almost give us, like, a heart attack, or something. And when it comes to getting a table in the food court so you can enjoy a soda and fries with your buds, you can’t hardly do it 'cause the fossils are all sitting around crying in their diet soda about how they'll have to cut short their winter vacations in Florida 'cause the stupid government dorks have raised the health coverage premiums for snowbirds. But, they squawk, there’s oodles of noodles to spend on the punkeroos, the ones, that is, who’re not yet in boot camp.

You know, after I put in a tough day in school, I’m all bagged out when I get home, man, but when I play some cool music to relax my head, like, my grandpa, who should really be in a home for the demented, hollers like a maniac at me to ‘turn down that stupid music.’ The old cashew is so stone-deaf you have to scream everything at him a 127 times before he tunes in, but any music that's not from the Ark really dings his bell.

My girlfriend's grandma is even worse than my grandpa. She's always wheezing about us kids having no respect for our elders, and how we're all selfish brats. Yeah, right. But it’s OK for her to drive a crate that's about 99 years old and as big as a bus like she owns the stupid street, or something. In the first place, the old nana can't hardly see over the steering wheel, and that sucks, man, since I can't get a set of wheels 'cause the insurance geeks love to stiff us teens on the rates.

And talk about cheap. Just try getting a few bucks out of the old dorks. You'd think they’d be happy to throw a little scratch our way, since they're only a laugh-and-a-half away from the big chill, an’ all. Anyway, something should be done to stop these fossils from hassling us kids. It's scary, man, when you see a gang of them milling around in their stupid floppy hats and sneakers, an’ all. So let's start by barring all oldies from the malls except on pension day. What I can't figure out is why they don't stay home with their stupid pet birds and pussycats like, and leave the malls to us kids. I mean like, you know, the malls were built for us in the first place. Right?”

Chester looked at me. “Hey, I thought the malls were built for us!” he said. “I dunno, Chester,” I replied. “But who does he think built the malls in the first place?” I gave Chester the signal. Together, we stood up, pulled out our water pistols, and took aim.

Canadian Free Press “Poet in Residence” William Bedford was born in Dublin, Ireland, but has lived in Toronto for most of his life. His poems and articles have been published in many Canadian journals and in some American publications. He’s a pro at empty nesting—he has a daughter, three grandchildren (all engineers), and twin great-grandsons. William can be reached at:

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