Young, loud, drunk: dangerous?

I saw your son on a recent Saturday night. From a friend’s yard I spied him walking just before midnight with his girlfriend. Well, maybe his girlfriend. The spirit of their one-sided conversation posed more questions than answers.

He might be 17, maybe 18. Nice looking kid, probably still in school, maybe a part time job. I’m not sure where they’d been that night, but he’d had enough alcohol to make him more, shall we say, exuberant than most people walking down the street.

I heard him a block away in this quiet residential area. Good pipes, your kid. The problem was the yelling wasn’t the usual joyful whoops and general stupidity that accompanies liquored up teens. He was upset; he was very upset. It seems his girlfriend, walking a few metres ahead of him, was the cause of his despair. His very loud despair.

I understand wounded hearts. While not as obvious as wounded bodies, they usually hurt twice as much. There was no mistaking that this situation was not going well. The girl calmly ignored him as she stared at her phone while she walked, so he cursed more because that always helps.

I yelled across the street, because I do things like that. Your son swore and told me to mind my own business. I told him he’d made this the business of everyone within earshot. I asked if either of them would like a ride home. He swore at me again. I asked her if she would like a ride – no, she said she was okay. I suggested he needed to cool out, head home, give this some more thought in the morning. He made up a new cuss word; pretty good if you can teach me.

Is it my business? In some ways, not a bit. Who needs the aggravation? But pretending you can’t see what’s happening in front of you is wrong. It becomes my business when you open up your circle of conflict and pose a threat, even if it’s only to yourself.

Your son didn’t sound dangerous; the most violent thing in his immediate future was throwing up. The girlfriend could use her phone for help at any point, but I was bothered by something else: that she could take this in stride. If you’re reading this and this is your daughter, you need to talk to her.

No woman, or anyone else, should tolerate being sworn and yelled at by anyone. Your son, regardless of age or emotional state, doesn’t have the right to do what he was doing. I care that he thinks it’s an option; I care that she thinks it’s okay.

I drove past them a few minutes later and the tirade – now hoarser – continued. Once again, the young woman stabbed away at her phone, unengaged in the one sided tantrum your son was throwing. I’m aware she held the balance of power; she wasn’t scared and she had access to help. But I think of the wake your yelling son left behind him on those quiet streets, and while I’d decided not to call police, someone might. He’s too young to understand that his actions have consequences that will make losing a girlfriend feel like a picnic.

Your son, no doubt a kid you don’t recognize in these words, doesn’t need cops involved in his life. He doesn’t need to be dragged home by his collar to face you – or maybe he does. I don’t know him, but I felt as protective of him as I did of the young woman.

Then again, it’s not my business.

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9 responses to Young, loud, drunk: dangerous?

  1. David Taylor says:

    This kid made his business everyone’s business by acting in the manner described. Chances are this young man has no regard or respect for his girlfriend and probably none for his own parents who, when asked years from now by some reporter, blurted out that they had done everything they could while he grew up, but he was lost to them.

    Growing up, I too acted like a disenfranchised lout on occasion and where we lived, people called the police for the slightest thing. This was Glasgow’s south side where violence of all kinds was prevalent. Especially on Saturday evenings. It was pretty much expected. I was brought home on more than one occasion by the local police who suggested that my parents keep tighter control of me. They did. It was me being an idiot. I never disrespected any girlfriends – ever. I grew up with four sisters and I was raised to know better – or be prepared to accept the consequences.

    What changed? One night a neighbour called the police regarding a disturbance. I was picked up and due to my colourful past, had charges laid against me. I was 15. And, for likely the first time ever, was 100% innocent.

    You’ve all heard of being scared straight? That was my tipping point. Being locked up for a few hours with some of the worst scum of the earth helped. Not being believed I was telling the truth about my innocence by my father – a man who I would argue black when he said white – was my moment of truth. The realization that it had come to this; years of petty and reckless behaviour I had managed to skate around. One incident that I had nothing to do with and the consequences turned me around – admittedly, somewhat reluctantly. Several days after the incident, as I was about to be hauled up before a magistrate, the facts came to life and I was exonerated – with a hearty cuff on the back of the head from a hard, grizzled desk sergeant.

    The point? If I had not been called out by a neighbour, what would have become of me? Who knows?

    But in spite of what I went through , I still (secretly) thank the woman who called me out.

    No lecture here, Lorraine but perhaps for future reference, you may want to make it your business; remember, you started down that path when you “challenged” the young man. If there is ever a next time, go all the way. From my experience, it is the right way to deal with this – for the sake of all involved.

  2. Lorraine Lorraine says:

    Nope. It was a coin toss, predicated on many things. Not least of which I couldn’t decide how old he was. Once you’re 18, things change drastically. I was looking at this from the young woman’s point of view, and also his. I have kids and I’ve been a kid. I was with Arlene, who knows teenagers even better than I do.

    Every moment is different; you have to go with your gut. This was my gut.

    • Pat says:

      Thoughtful article. When I was teaching I got to know when it was time to send a kid to the Principal, rarely, and when I should deal with the matter myself.
      You were concerned, and I think you did the right thing. Nice job “Goddess.”

  3. April says:

    I wish every young person could read this. The young woman who can take that nonsense in stride makes me worry about what she will be willing to accept from her future relationships.

  4. Beth says:

    I think you were right to go with your gut. As demonstrated by David, it really does take a village to raise a child. Hopefully this man-child is a lot nicer when he is sober.

    We have a lot of elementary school-aged kids on my street. I get a kick out of seeing them all together, playing ball hockey, racing on their bikes or, in the girls’ case, playing music and practicing dance steps in the driveway. On the weekends there is usually a slightly older lad who joins in the ball hockey. His grandparents live on the street and I assume he has a weekly family dinner. I was out working in the garden and heard the F word from this youngster when he missed a goal. I watched the game for a bit and realized this lad was acting like big man on campus and the other boys all thought he was pretty cool. After the second F word came out, I walked over to him and informed him that hig language was unacceptable, especially in the presence of the younger kids. (I can swear like a trooper when I am in the mood, but never, ever in front of my kids or anyone else’s) I could see the hostile look starting to form and was informed that I could not tell him what to do. I informed him that I would let all the parents and his grandparents know what kind of language he is using in front of all the kids. He backed down and the Sunday games have continued through the summer without any potty mouth comments.

    • Kerry says:

      I wasn’t allowed to swear at home growing up so in grade 8 I learned how to swear in Portuguese . The value of a Catholic grade school education in Brampton .

  5. Sandy says:

    My first apartment was in a quad in the lovely Mountainside area. Industrial buildings in the back and a bar across the street, with all sorts walking past on the sidewalk in front. Add to that the open access to the building and push locks on the doors, it certainly wasn’t the safest place to be. (My dad put a deadbolt on the door the day I moved in)
    We had neighbours in the apartment above us, a very young couple that fought loudly and regularly. (They also made up very loudly and regularly)
    One day I was home alone and the fight was much more heated than normal. Then things began hitting the floor. I don’t know if it was furniture or them, but it was frightening. I had the phone in my hand to call the police when it suddenly went silent. Scared me enough that I dropped the phone and ran up to knock on the door. He answered and I asked for her. He tells me she is busy. Full of my brave 20 something self, I say “I don’t care what she is doing, I want to see her here at the door and hear it from her”
    She came to the door and looked like crap but said she was fine and I didn’t need to worry. I told her I would take her anywhere she wanted to go, she didn’t need to put up with what ever crap was going on and she didn’t have to stay there. She thanked me, said she was fine, everything was ok.
    I told her it didn’t seem ok, and he came back to the door I told them both that I would be calling the cops the next time there was another fight before somebody got hurt.
    They didn’t scream at each other after that, but they also didn’t stay for long.

    It may not have been the smartest thing for me to do, but I only hope that if my son or daughter was in a situation like that, that somebody would step in and make a difference.

  6. nursedude says:

    We were recently woken up at 1am by someone pounding on our apartment door yelling for help. It was the neighbors girlfriend who was screaming that she just wanted to go home and that the neighbour was trying to force her to have sex when she didn’t want to.

    Neighbor was a nice guy when sober, not so much when drinking.

    I offered to call the police and was told to mind my own business. I told them they had made it my business by waking me up and pounding on my door.

    We tried to defuse the situation but the yelling continued so I finally just told them they were both idiots and called the police.

    Neighbour is now ex-neighbour as the landlord got fed up with his behaviours and evicted him.

    • David Taylor says:

      Age should never be a determining factor.

      Sorry… I’ve seen way too much of this growing up – I’ll still step in if I hear or see something that does not, to me, seem right. Admittedly, it may not always turn out well, but I can at least feel that I made an effort and did not sit idly by.

      And my intent is not to be judgemental – to anyone.

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