The young people

It is not their fault, really; perhaps they will get over it, in time. Really they are very sweet, and kind, and nice, very nice, except when they are not. The kind thing is to be nice with them.

Often I am surprised by the young people. I am expecting something, and it does not happen. I am not expecting anything, and it happens: something. … Something is there, which I cannot quite put my finger upon. Perhaps it is the niceness. What lies behind it, I ask myself. Anything?

They have so much to say. Sometimes I am listening. On the trolley, for instance, all the young people are talking. But not to each other. Each has this “device,” and would seem to be talking to someone at another location. It is not my business to eavesdrop, but then, it is not my intention to eavesdrop, either. For I am trying to read, but my ears are too good.

What is it that they are saying, and what does it mean? I used to think I could follow an English sentence. Now I am less sure. Perhaps it is that we don’t have sentences any more, only stream of consciousness. How I yearn sometimes, for a subordinate clause.

But ah, sometimes, one of them says something coherent; or uses “irony” in a way I can decode. I think, oh, he’s a smart one; must come from a good home. I hear recognizable proper nouns. I hear verbs. The other day I heard an adverb with a verb; so sharp! Must have been homeschooled, I thought. For he looked less than thirty, yet was making sense. I hope that he is safe.

While trolleys seem local, to the Greater Parkdale Area, I have developed a notion that the condition (of niceness) may be universal.

“Zombies on the work days, werewolves on the weekend.”

This according to a young German correspondent, who has been secretly homeschooled. (It is illegal to teach your own children, in Germany; supposing, of course, that you have any. Apparently, someone tried it, and the feared Jugendamt — “Children’s Aid” — moved in.)

According to Birgitta, let us call her, while they retain certain German characteristics, such as a high degree of personal organization and punctuality (“like robots”), her countrymen are no longer a threat to anyone, “except possibly to themselves, while drinking, in their Werwölfe mode.” This is because, as a consequence of state schooling, they no longer believe in anything — good or bad.

“They do not even believe they are alive.”

“They have lost the distinction between pain and pleasure.”

They make, she added, “the perfect platonic lovers.” (I think this was intended as droll.)

And she, too, observed that they no longer talk, about anything, really, but only make sounds, “like heavy birds.” Happy birds; sad birds. Nice birds. Strange birds, who use a lot of consonants. Though they are not judgemental, as birds tend to be. Except when someone is judgemental.

Perhaps we are unfair.

Be that as it may, I call upon Saint Hilary of Poitiers, who, in the “Dark Age” of the fourth century, “could not tolerate that the specious plea of safeguarding peace and unity should be allowed to dim the light of the Gospel teaching.” (Saint Andrew Missal.)

Yes, Saint Hilary, Bishop and Doctor: pray for them.