By JAN A. IGOE
A few years ago, a miraculous machine appeared on the market. Technology finally produced something parents have been searching for since the dawn of time: a nontoxic teenager repellent.
This amazing device emits a buzzing noise at frequencies adults can’t hear, but to teenagers, it’s polka time with Lawrence Welk. Anyone under the age of 20 is biologically compelled to cover his or her ears and flee. Touted as a deterrent to loitering and vandalism, this clever contraption promises to disperse adolescents before they start erecting skateboard ramps and piercing each other’s navels.
I didn’t know such a thing existed when my kids were teens, or I would have mounted several around the house, starting with the refrigerator. One of my neighbors bought one just to protect herself from OPT, or Other People’s Teenagers. She strenuously objects to them walking, texting or breathing anywhere near her property, which is inconveniently located in a populated area. For some strange reason, would-be hermits never move to spacious, private caves in remote areas of the Outback. Instead, they plop themselves down in communities where homes are 20 feet apart, neighbors borrow sugar, and parents get mad when teen-phobic residents wage sonic war on their kids.
We decided to test the effects on our 22-year-old, who can still pick up on people whispering in Europe. Without tipping her off, we drove by the teen-proof house to observe her reaction. We were still half a block away when she grabbed her ears and started screeching in tongues. Other than her screams, I never heard a sound.
It’s still hard to believe that youthful ears are that sensitive to anything, considering their musical preferences. When you’re stopped at a traffic light and some pulsating subwoofer on wheels rolls up beside you—booming bass and mangled lyrics at jet engine decibels—you know without looking that the driver, who is immensely pleased by your contortions, is a teenager. They invented sonic warfare.
And they’re smarter than adults. Tech-savvy teens soon found a way to convert the sound we used to scatter them to a ringtone inaudible to parents, teachers and authority fossils. They’re using our best weapons against us.
The OPTs in our community aren’t taking the attack lying down, either. They’ve formed a heavy metal band that practices two driveways down from the neighborhood’s sonic boomer. About 25 kids have already signed up and 10 more are just waiting for their drum sets and amps to arrive.
Since the band formed, our neighbor’s been the one running around with both hands clutching her ears. In the interest of peace, she seems receptive to a truce with the OPTs, who will negotiate a volume reduction right after she builds them a skateboard park.
JAN A. IGOE is a humorist from Horry County who survived teenagers without the use of sonic weapons. Share your thoughts with her at HumorMe@SCLiving.coop.