Irrational irritation is something I do well. You may have noticed. After all, there is no reason why the two people managing to take up an entire hallway and preventing anyone from passing should really annoy me. Getting past them might save me three seconds on my journey to wherever I’m going. And to be honest, I’m probably only heading to buy a packet of
crispschips in the first place.
I try to pretend to family and friends that I’m as laid back as Hong Kong Phooey’s mild mannered janitor alter-ego. But just beneath the surface is a raging firebrand capable of getting annoyed at the drop of a hat. And, being a parent to two high school kids, let me tell you that there’s plenty of material to keep me in furrowed brows for many a long year to come.
Now obviously, I was a pure angel when I was a kid growing up back in the UK. I said all my please’s and thank you’s, brushed my teeth, helped out around the house, and never once complained when we had to walk fourteen miles to school in the wind and the snow. With no shoes. Or clothes.
My saintliness clearly makes me ideally positioned to comment on the weaknesses of American youth, I’m sure you’ll agree. The fact is that I never wanted to be the kind of person who would be easily irritated with the actions of kids. And indeed, most of the time I try to keep a lid on it. But to my great shame, there used to be certain things that would be guaranteed to drive me to distraction.
Until, that is, I learned that American youngsters are aware of certain laws of the universe that only affect those under 16; where previously I thought that their actions were designed to annoy, I now understand that they are just trying to save themselves, their family and – indeed – the universe, from eternal harm. These include:
1. The nuclear toilet
When the Cold War was at its height, a crack team of maverick US scientists gathered together a few miles outside Pike View, Kentucky, to discuss ways of creating a ‘self destruct’ button for the United States, should it ever be taken over by the Russians. The method they conceived would astonish the world.
Having infiltrated the factories of American Standard, the boffins managed to ensure that each and every toilet installed in US homes was capable of bringing about a nuclear winter of its own under certain conditions. The task force quickly decided that adults couldn’t be trusted with the instructions for detonation, so they instead recruited fifteen year old boys as their agents of destruction.
At its most basic, the plan works something like this. If a fifteen year old boy ever flushes a toilet, then the nuclear toilet device is automatically armed. If the child then fails to pee all over the seat, the weapon will destruct within five minutes. Some of the more modern devices are a little less sensitive, and will allow the agent to pee all over the floor as an alternative safety mechanism.
2. Job creation lighting
One of the less publicized elements of the economic stimulus act that was brought into force over a year ago was the formulation of PABS, or – to give it its full title – Powering America By Squirrels. The bottom simply fell out of squirrel training when the credit crunch hit, and the creation of job opportunities for squirrels and their mentors became a central issue on the campaign trail in some key swing states such as West Virginia and Ohio.
As a result when he came to power, President Obama decreed that large battalions of squirrels should be formed, and that they be trained to operate miniature canoes hooked up to dynamos, which in turn provide power to the national grid.
So successful has the campaign been that some trainers have become fat cats off the earnings, and the United States has an unlikely glut of electricity supply.
All teenagers have been informed of this, in a series of top secret communiques delivered through the public school system. As a result, each of them is intensely aware that every time they turn off a light, a squirrel is shot dead somewhere in Findlay, Ohio. And frankly, none of them want squirrel blood on their delicate workshy hands.
3. Impending hot lava destruction
For years the newspapers have been filled with stories that in thousands of years time, the Earth will crash into the Sun/be hit by a meteor the size of Australia/run out of oxygen and lead us all to breathe through specially adapted face-mounted raccoons. Frankly though, there’s a far greater problem that threatens the human race.
For years, the molten core of the Earth has been consuming the ground above it, sucking millions of years of rock into its shadowy vortex. Where once there were thousands of miles of protective strata, now the sod is like a fragile epidermis on the surface of a molten mass.
Indeed, so perilously thin is the outer layer of our planet now that in some areas of civilization, lava has broken through the ground. Governments around the world are working in unison to resolve the issue, but in the meantime there is understandable concern that if mankind discovers this problem, there will be panic, looting and rioting across the world.
As most of the holes appear confined to domestic bedrooms, children have been recruited by specially created federal agencies to hide the problem from over anxious adults. Under-16s have all been fitted with lava detectors, enabling them to sniff out holes as soon as they occur. These gaps can then be hidden by carefully placing as many of their possessions as possible on the floor over the hole. Most bedrooms appear to have multiple holes, often resulting in all shelves being cleared of items in order that they be hastily put to use on carpets and wooden floors.
Do note that some parents have attempted to insist on the clearance of the covering devices. Owners of such parents have been mandated to implement a ‘tantrum to kill’ policy in order to avert imminent disaster.
Rest assured that the future health of the United States is safe in the hands of this house’s very own agents. To any parents reading this, please try not to get irrationally irritated as I used to. Let’s support all our children in the sterling work they do in support of this fading planet of ours.