January 3, 2008

Young, Dumb, and Full of Bud

After a small discovery I made on my home computer the other night, I now seriously doubt the future of our society. It seems that young people today are indeed...stupid.

My neighbor across the street is a hard working man who was laid off from three companies in three years and recently started working again. His wife is chronically ill with a debilitating disease for which there is no cure, and they are both working hard at their jobs to make enough money to raise their three children. Life is difficult; but, my buddy maintains that “Things can only get better.”

Introduce the oldest of their children, a teenager of seventeen who is also his father’s namesake. Just before the New Year, my friend came to me and told me that his computer was “having problems.” My neighbor is the type of guy who’d drop anything he was doing and help me if he thought I needed it. In fact, he recently replaced a bathroom door for me because there is no way in Hell that I’d be able to do it myself. I was absent that day in elementary school when the teachers took all the boys into the auditorium and showed them what tools looked like and how to use them. The irony is that I’m able to work in the Information Technology field but I can’t nail two boards together.

With that said I agreed to take his computer home and fix it so I could re-install the operating system and all of the programs and drivers at my leisure. I lent him one of my older desktop PCs for him and his family to use while his was “in the shop.” A few days later I fixed his computer and then hooked it back up it at his home; then returned to my house with my old machine. Before I put it back online on my home network, I wanted to boot this old computer up and see what damage his kids did to it and scan it for viruses and spy ware, etc. That’s when I made the discovery which caused me to doubt my faith in humanity.

One of the new bookmarks I discovered in Firefox was the MySpace page for his eldest son in the kid’s real name. He didn’t have the good sense to make up a something like “kewldoodx35” or anything like that. The page has his full name on it. Of course I checked his page out. There were the requisite dorky photos of him trying to look cool and icons of all his nerdy friends and some teeny-bopper girls who somehow associated themselves with him. Then, I noticed the “Videos” section of his page, featuring two homemade movies appropriately titled “House Beer Party I” and “House Beer Party II.”

These masterpieces were shot entirely on location in his parent’s den, obviously when they weren’t home. Starring in these productions his dorky MySpace friends. At least two of them were clearly intoxicated. I was stunned, not because I found it difficult to believe that a teen aged boy and his pals were drinking beer. No. I absolutely could not accept he would be stupid enough to:

A)Publish on the Internet under his real name.
B)Show movies on the Internet of him and his friends drinking in his own home.
C)Bookmark the page showing all of this incriminating evidence on MY COMPUTER! Wow.

Does this dopey kid realize that the parents of the other children can watch these videos and then sue his parents? Forget the fact that he shouldn't be drinking in the first place.

I am considering telling the father. This level of stupidity is too caustic to go unchecked. He’s liable to do something else stupid like go shoplifting and ask for a receipt in case he wants to return what he stole, or go drag racing in the parking lot of the local police precinct. If I drove past the school yard and caught a glimpse of him and his entourage swilling beers and trying to be low-key about it, I’d consider pretending that I didn’t notice anything for like, maybe a day, and then I’d tell his father. This act of stupidity is so bold it’s almost like he’s screaming to get caught; or, he thinks I’m the cool neighbor who won’t say anything. If my neighbor had this kind of info about my kid and didn’t tell me I’d be fuming mad. So, I am going to call him tonight and inform of my discovery. I’m only annoyed that I have to get involved in his family business at this level. I’m sure my friend doesn’t need the world to know, including me, what sort of problems he’s having with his son.

My only question is a matter of etiquette. If my neighbor murders his son, do I get him a sympathy card or help him find and attorney?

Author's Note: I spoke with my boss (I mean my wife) and she told me to mind my own business and not to tell my neighbor as he has to "raise his own kids." After careful consideration, I decided that I would lay off and pretend that I never saw the videos. I like the father and I don't want to risk bad blood between the two of us if he thinks I'm meddling.

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Two Write Hands said...

Your wife is right (and I'm not just saying that because I am one). If the kid's that careless, he won't keep from his parents for long.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi two write hands,
Two wives can't be wrong, and I am glad I listened. I heard from another neighbor that the the boy's mother and father figured out that their son had a party and confronted him. The kid confessed because he couldn't explain what happened to all the beer his father had in the refrigerator in the garage. I hear that they punished him until he turns 35. Thanks for the comment, and thanks for stopping by. -Mike.

Mike French said...

Heh Mike your wife is a wise women.

Often is the time my wife has stopped me making a fool of myself.

er ... not that I'm saying you are a fool.
er I'm getting into hot water here. Just forget this whole comment okay. In fact can you delete it?

AntiBarbie said...

It's always the ones that are looking to show off that get caught. I did my share of underage drinking too but I was very sneaky about it. If my Mom knew half the crap I pulled her head would explode.

josey said...

hehehe, wow, what a sticky situation! i'm really surprised the kid was so dumb to leave all that stuff on your computer. what in the world was he thinking?

im afraid i would have had the same knee-jerk reaction of justice you had! maybe its cause i dont have kids yet and havent developed the "mommy boss" traits *teehee* i obviously see your side, but i'd guess your wife had the wiser of the two options.

plus, the kid got what was comin to him anyhoo...so you're off the hook! but in my opinion, its too bad his parents arent somehow monitoring his (and his siblings') computer use. i think it kinda can be compared to the saying, "trust God, but lock your car." hehe! kids just cant be trusted to make wise choices with something as unforgiving as the internet. that's why they have parents!

Kimchihead said...

The kid sounds like he could use a good flogging.

Kathy Frederick said...

It was the right thing to remain silent. I've had some experiences like this, and I kept mum. As for the kid, "Stupid is as stupid does."

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Mike,
Well, well, well...I'm a fool, eh? Ha ha ha. I totally get what you are saying. My wife did save me from opening my big mouth. I owe her one. Actually, she saved me a lot over the years. Funny stuff, Mike. Thanks. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Antibarbie, I did plenty of underage drinking too. In fact, where I lived none of the bars proofed anyone and I was getting into clubs at sixteen. I was no angel, but I was no dope, either. My folks were on top of us kids and we had to work hard to get away with anything. I'm not proud of many of the things I did as a kid, but I had the good sense not to put my folks through Hell and advertise my stupidity. Thanks! -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Josey, "Trust God but lock your car." I love it. I have to say that while I am off the hook, it's still a good thing I told my wife. If I blurted out to my friend what I knew, it would have placed a strain on our relationship. Besides, I think I was more aghast at the son's apparent boldness than his drinking. What teenager at any time in history hasn't had a drink or two? I don't like it and if it were my son or daughter in the video I'd be furious. But, it was not my place to say anything and I am glad I waited a few days before I decided to listen to my wife and keep my trap shut. Thanks Josey. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kimchihead,
You ain't kidding about the flogging. I didn't write anything about the reason why he had his car taken away, why he was brought home by the police just before Thanksgiving, and why he no longer has a cell phone, and why he had his PlayStation taken away. The boy's asking for it. Thanks Kimchihead. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kathy,
Yeah, you wives are pretty smart. I have to hand it to my woman, she kept me out of trouble this time. The kid's really acting out and I hope he knocks it off soon. Thanks Kathy.-Mike.

Anonymous said...

I really had to smile at this one. Having three boys, (two of my own, one stepson)All the same age and two of them a real handful, I have gone through all this in more ways than one. They are all men now (thank God) so it was easy to smile at this post.
Trust me...I've gone through it all....Facebook, beer, computers, girls, pot...the list neverending.
I know what you were going through.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi JD,
My neighbor certainly has his hands full with his oldest son. My kids are too young to get into that kind of trouble; yet, I am bracing for it. Yikes. Thanks, JD. -Mike.

GO! Smell the flowers said...

Hey Mr Grudge,

Gotta say the Mrs is 100% on this one but 'two wives don't make a right'...or is it wrongs? Right?

All part of growing up so we can conveniently forget we were similar at 'their age' but NO, not THAT bad, this is the latest generation! :-)

How come females, after a few beers, don't have that demon following them home who in the night scatters the clothes all around the room, makes them smell of booze and turns the place upside down - or is that a guy thing?

Love the blog,
Your flower smelling buds in Dubai.

Mathias said...

Intriguing moral dilemma; why would you not consider talking directly to the kid, instead of the parents? Unfortunately, a simple discussion rarely results in significant elevations of IQ, but that may get the kid to realize that if you caught him, then others would too, eventually.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Mike you did the right thing, you just never know how the father would react. Working at a mall and being in charge of security, what you are describing is normal, I've seen it all. I have an award for you at my blog, you can pick it up anytime you like.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Go Smell The Flowers!

'two wives don't make a right'...or is it wrongs? Right?

Haha I like that...

I Have to tell everyone my theory on "One wife = one headache" in a blog pst one day. Hehe. I think it is a guy thing to come home smelling like booze and disrobe with clothes all over the room. Women drink and get very chatty...unlike when they're sober and very chatty. I hope my wife doesn't read this. I love Go! Smell the Flowers! By the way. Thanks so much for the comment and for stopping by my humble, little blog. -Michael.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Mathias,
Great idea to talk to the kid, but I'd be uncomforable doing so. It's best to let sleeping dogs lie..or sleep..or whatever the saying is, haha. The father found out anyway without my help and he's in a lot of trouble. They took away his car, his cell phone, and he's only allowed to go to school and to work. He'll learn...the hard way. Thanks so much for the comment. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Bob,
I agree with you and I am glad I stayed out of it. The dad could have welcomed the info...or hated me for getting my nose into it. Besides, the situation took care of itself and I'm off the hook.

Thank you so much for the award! I am flattered. I will display it properly in a blog post when I publish my posts at the end of the week. This is the fun part of blogging, meeting folks such as yourself who have intersting blogs with positive things to say. Thank you, I mean it. It will go up in the proper manner soon. -Michael.

Spirit said...

Goodness! Okay, I'm only 19, I never partied much but my adotive sister did. She's not the brightest crayon in the box but she was never that foolish. I mean, I know a lot of us teenagers are a wee bit off keel and tend to do stupid things but goodness gracious that's awefully stupid!

I still would have casually mentioned something but I can understand why you wouldn't. I might just be vindictive towards stupid people.

Lisa McGlaun said...


Okay...I'm in the minority. I think you should have talked to your friend and I feel that way for the very reason you initatially wanted to tell him...because if it was your child that's what you would want someone to do...to let you know that someone you love is headed down a path that might hurt them.

I'm not a Clinton supporter but I agree wholeheartedly when she said it takes a village to raise a child.

I've had a few bumps in the road with my oldest child..some rather serious and some not. I'm a diligent parent who does my best to keep up with what my children are doing. But I've learned the hard way that trust is fragile between parent and child and I don't acutally have eyes in the back of my head like I thought I did..:) Once my son reached fifteen he spent more time with his friends than with me, leaving me cut out of the loop on much of his life.

Several times, it's been because of the calls and information I've received from others that kept my son from getting into WORSE trouble. I've always been grateful..a little embarrassed and humbled but always grateful. And he's never gone to anyone afterward and tried to get revenge.

We shouldn't fear our youth. That's one problem I have with people today and why kids think they can get away with so much. They know many adults are afraid of them and what they might do if provoked.

I don't presume to tell people what to do..especially people I respect..:). This is just my opinion and what I've appreciated and learned so far.

Great Post...definately thought provoking.

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike
Congrats on the award! Enjoy it....I know there's more definitely coming your way! :-)

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Spirit,
I think most of us did some partying when we were kids. I wouldn't want my father to find out half of the stuff my friends and I pulled off when we were young and dumb. Still, we weren't brazen about our drinking. I never wanted to rub my parent's faces in it the way this kid does. Either way, the father knows about it and he's punished until his 35th birthday or so. I'll get to reading your blog and everyone else's when my job calms down a bit. I am working so late at night I am too tired to write, let alone read. I am answering these comments on a break from work. Thanks for stopping by. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Lisa,
You may be in the minority opinion, but you're still right in the larger sense. It does take a village to raise children, and by no means would have I left this family in the lurch if the video was a real serious problem. I do my best in these blog postings to hide a family's identity and I filter our some details to help in that regard. In this case, the parents already knew about his drinking party, but they did not know about the videos he posted on the internet. I wouldn't have held back information about the party, but the videos are a bit different in as much as it could be perceived that I was snooping.
If I knew that the parent's were not at home and the son was hosting a gathering with a group of underage kids drinking beer, both me and my wife would have melted their cell phones to get a hold of them. They found out about this shindig on their own when the son couldn't explain why his father was missing all of his beer. I did not want to rub salt in the wounds by mentioning the videos as well. It was a judgment call, not an easy one, but one that we made to protect their sanity.
The wife is very sick with MS. Prior to the party, the son was brought home by the police...twice...for drag racing in his car. He was also questioned by the police for paint ball shooting at passing cars with his paint ball gun which they took from him. He rang up a $350 cell phone bill in one month. My wife and I assumed that the parents were going to suffer from "punishment fatigue" if we told them. The son has since straightened out his act and they have him on a short leash. he has no cell phone, no car, and he's only allowed to go to work, school (they check up to see if he's there) and to family functions. No TV, video games, or anything for him. I had a little chat with him also at his father's request. The videos, in the long run, were the least of it. Like I said, Lisa, you're right. It's a tough thing to do telling on another kid. There was so much in this case, we let the little thing slide. Thanks so much for your keen insights. I'll talk to you soon at LifePrints! -Michael.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi JD,
Thanks! The award is great and Bob's blog is a lot of fun, too. If you haven't looked at it already (I'm sure you did, lol) check it out. BTW, your meme is next up on Mr. Grudge. Thanks, JD. Have a great weekend. -Michael.

Jack Payne said...

I've got a computer in my side den. Some 8 people use it, off and on. I am always staggered--every time I check out this computer--by the stuff they leave on it, all so detrimental, and so easily traceable.

"if something goes without saying, let it," seems to be an old-fashioned hunk of down-home wisdom forgotten by many.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Jack,
"If something goes without saying, let it." These are wise words indeed.
By the way, eight people using one computer? That's more than the type of usage an office computer gets. I can only imagine the abuse it receives. Thanks for the comment and enjoy your weekend. -Mike.

Spirit said...

Understandable, having some moments like that myself. Hope work calms down for you and that all is well in your writing world. Peace out.

Swubird said...

Mr. Grudge:

Great article. It's a tough call, but I have to agree with your boss on this one. Sometimes it's just better not to know. Plus, dealing with other people's kids is a tricky thing - sort of like walking through a minefield blindfolded. You don't really know how your friend will react to this information. Even though your intentions are good, you could still come out being the bad guy here.

Sleeping Beauty said...

Wow... I am not to off from that generation, I am only 24, so not to long ago, I was doing some underage drinking myself. But I had to pick my "parties" wisely. "Was the juice worth the squeeze?" Because my father always knew what I was doing, he was always in my mind. Drove me nuts!

But.... I have some younger sister in laws.... and then some of there friends, that do the exact same things with their myspace. Parties, boys, smoking, the list goes on and on. I freak, I go and tattle! (family and friends I can do that, lol) Their parents do nothing! These parents just do not care these days. All I can say if my kids will always be kept on a short leash and will not have a myspace or a blog. I am sure they may still get in some type of trouble, but they will not be advertising it for the free world to see.

Nice blog!

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Spirit,
Things are calming down at work and I have a bit more time to write and catch up on everyone's blogs. Just came back from Written Whispers. BTW, did I ever tell you how cool that name is for a blog? Thanks for the comments. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Swubird,
Yeah, I think my friend might not have taken this news too well. I think he's suffering from "Punishment Fatigue" with his son right now. The kid's done a lot more than just the beer party and he's paying for it now. The kid's straightened up his act, but I think the Dad wants the whole situation to go away. I checked out your blog and your story about your teachers thinking you had polio was both touching and educational. Welcome to my humble blog, and thanks for the comment. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Princess,
"Was the juice worth the squeeze?" That's a great line, and it's appropriate in this situation. I think your definitely right to tell on your young sisters in law. But it is a bit different with neighbors and folks who are not relatives. I too am keeping my kids on a short leash. My daughter is going to be 13 in another month and she has very limited access to the internet, and the same goes for my eight year old son. We know the parents of all their friends and approve or disapprove of where they go. yeah, they will have their share of trouble, but what kid doesn't? Thanks for the comment. I see your blog is up and running again. Welcome back. -Mike.