Boys. Not mine, we only have girls:
Lately I've been reminded of how awful boys of a certain age can be. That age? Not sure, probably middle school aged, though they could have been in a final bit of grade school or early grade in high school. Let's settle on middle schoolers as a working hypothesis.
I am a normal looking guy, neither especially geeky nor notably handsome. So, to young people I am usually invisible, which is fine for me and I presume, fine for them*. But lately on lunchtime jogs I have had kids yelling obscenities at me from their bus and even throwing things at me from the windows. I suppose some of the explanation is that they feel safe. The bus is too fast for me to catch and they have a certain kind of mob mentality when they are grouped-up like that. I suspect none of these young boys would dare accost me if we were both on foot. So there is a bit of cowardice in play.
But why do it in the first place? This is not something any friend or I ever did at that age. I think class plays a role here. My office is in Billerica, which is mostly working class but I run a lot in Bedford which is mostly professional people. I have never been accosted in the Bedford part of my runs, but frequently in Billerica. It is well known that college educated professionals have much lower divorce rates than those with less education and so it might just come down to an absence of fathers in the households of these nascent hooligans.
*To confirm this, I asked my daughter, who runs on her high school track team, about this. She indicated that whenever a school bus goes by when they are jogging, their running group gets a similar treatment. Our town of Chelmsford is probably intermediate class-wise between the above two towns. It is possibly even more socially unacceptable to insult young women as adult men, but certainly less physically dangerous.
Added: I think it may always have been thus. This musing made me recall an encounter I had almost thirty year's ago. I was shopping at a supermarket in Spokane--I did most of the grocery shopping and a fair amount of the cooking when I home for the Summer from college. I ran into a man I knew from my dad's days in the Washington ANG. This guy had been a pilot or navigator and when he retired from that, he became a middle school teacher. We spoke a long time about family and whatnot, but one thing really stuck with me. He said that, "boys leave the human race for a while' but he added, "they come back".
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