Share This Short Story
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you have probably heard about the craze sweeping the teenage nation – the Tide Pod Challenge. Teenagers record videos of themselves popping packets of laundry detergent into their mouths and biting down. They post the results, which usually involves much regurgitation, on the social media of their choice.
Like most teenage fads since the beginning of time, the result is exactly what they enjoy the most – the over the top reaction from adults everywhere. As long as adults react in horror, teens will know they are on to something.
If every adult in the country picked up a Tide Pod, bit into it right now and posted the result on Facebook, no teenager would ever do it again. We kill the cool factor just by embracing something.
Of course, first the teenagers would have to find Facebook since they long ago deemed it uncool since adults used it.
Instead of this reverse psychology, adults are openly aghast at the sheer stupidity of the Tide Pod trend. Why, oh, why, would teenagers do something so insane? What has happened to the intellect of today’s youth? After all, adults cry, we were never that dumb!
Oh, yeah? You must have all been smarter than my gang of friends.
Long before the teenage years, we had Big Wheels. An inventor looked at the boring metal tricycle and decided to reinvent it with plastic. The seat moved to just inches above ground level and the wheels made a horrific noise. Consumer groups heralded the safety factor. We made every attempt to prove them wrong.
The luckiest among the neighborhood kids had the model with a hand brake. Yes, an actual brake to improve the safety. Or, as most kids knew, to put you into an uncontrollable spin.
Once you had the Big Wheel moving as fast as possible, say down a big hill, you turned the front wheel sharply, pulled up the hand brake, and spun wildly down the road. We had contests to see who could spin the most number of times. Bonus points were awarded if you avoided hitting parked cars, curbs, or your friends.
On the other hand, bonus points were also awarded if the wreck was so spectacular that blood, stitches, and broken bones were involved. Vomiting from eating a Tide Pod is nowhere near as cool as blood splattered on pavement.
For those without the hand brake on their Big Wheel, you did your best to recreate the excitement using only your shoes. My little sister, who was quite adept at getting my brother and I in trouble simply by copying what we did, wore her Sunday shoes one day while riding her Big Wheel. My father was amazed that she wore holes through the tops of the leather shoes from her Big Wheel braking technique.
Well, “amazed” was not exactly his emotional response. And, once again, we were in trouble and my little sister gloated. Not that I still resent that fact or anything.
But, you protest, the difference is that today’s teens are doing these stunts for “likes” and “follows.” We were never that shallow.
We did stupid things for much deeper purposes. Dares. If a friend dared you to do something and you didn’t, you were a chicken. Your entire childhood would be over if someone called you a chicken.
In our neighborhood, we even had “Dare Devil Hill.” A hill so steep that no sane kid would take his bicycle to the top of that hill then ride straight down its face. So, of course, every single neighborhood kid did it many, many times after being dared and then called chicken. Because, let’s face it, sanity and childhood don’t mesh.
But, you protest, at least we didn’t video ourselves and share it for the world.
Of course, we didn’t. We didn’t have little video cameras in our pockets.
What were we supposed to do? Go borrow the Super 8 Movie Camera from dad? Buy film? Record the event? Take the film for developing? Pick it up a week later? Thread it through the film projector? Gather our friends and watch it?
Heck, we couldn’t remember where we had left our bikes most days, so we sure didn’t have the patience to do all of that. And I am quite thankful we didn’t.
It’s bad enough that I was wearing a lime green leisure suit for my fifth-grade school picture. At the time, I thought it looked cool. Now, I know the proper word was “dork.” But video evidence of our misdeeds as kids would have been too much to overcome.
Nor did we have social media. We had the rumor mill. And just like social media, you tried to put a positive spin on everything floating about yourself on the rumor mill.
When some kid confronted you at school and asked if you really rode your bike off the top of Dare Devil Hill and plummeted hundreds of feet to its base, of course you said yes. You didn’t mention how scared you were of breaking bones during the descent. Or, worse, being called chicken.
And, besides, without social media, Dare Devil Hill sounded treacherous. Dangerous. Death-defying.
No one had video evidence to prove it was only ten feet high.
Yes, we exaggerated our accomplishments on the rumor mill. No one does that on social media.
But, wait, you protest. We aren’t talking about normal stuff like breaking bones with bicycles and modified tricycles. Teenagers today are putting junk in their mouths and eating it. How insane.
Not like we ever had contests to see who could cram the most pop rocks into their mouths, those little candies that “popped in your mouth.” And just when adults thought that was insane, someone came up with the brilliant idea to pour Coca-Cola into your mouth with those pop rocks. That turned the “pop” into something that could only be described as “explosion.”
No, really, it was true. The rumor mill told us.
Remember Little Mikey from the Life cereal commercials? Two brothers decide to have their little brother try the cereal because “he hates everything.” To their surprise, “He likes it. Mikey likes it.”
Well, poor Little Mikey died from eating Pop Rocks while drinking a Coke. Really, his stomach exploded. Everyone was talking about it on the rumor mill. And thanks to that celebrity’s death, we were all challenged to eat Pop Rocks and drink Coke.
Not that I had any personal experience with that. Well, not until someone dared me. And then I had to. Or they would have called me chicken.
I wouldn’t call it an explosion. More like a really bad case of the belches. Which had its own appeal.
One further thing to prove that times are not that different. That whole “Little Mikey” story I just told about him dying because he ate Pop Rocks and drink Coke causing a fatal gastric explosion?
Yes, despite how much we believed in the rumor mill, the Little Mikey story was false. John Gilchrist, the actor who portrayed Little Mikey, is alive and well. Maybe he should eat a Tide Pod.
So, teenagers, we adults would have eaten Tide Pods if we had had them. And we would have filmed ourselves. And we would have posted it on social media. The only thing stopping us was that we didn’t have any of those things.
Since you know for a fact we adults are uncool and stupid, you should avoid doing anything we would have done. So, get even with us. Don’t eat Tide Pods.
That will show us.
Subscribe to the Monday Musings
If you enjoyed this short story, you might enjoy my weekly Monday Musing—random observations on life or a short story. Subscribers receive the complete musing in their email box each week along with links to other items I share on my website plus a gratuitous dog photo (because who doesn't love pets).
The email is absolutely FREE and is guaranteed by my promise to subscribers: I will never sell or share your email address. I will not flood your inbox with unwanted email. You can unsubscribe at any time with no questions asked and never hear from me again.
Just enter your email address below and get the fun started.
I wonder just how many black patent leather Sunday shoes I went thru getting you two in trouble? Ah, the joys of childhood!!
P&G appreciates the publicity, even if it is negative. They can decrease their TV ads spend since “the pod” is front and center during prime time viewing.