Sunday, August 4, 2013

An Encounter of the Ignorant Kind

     I sit here now dear readers, after traversing the wilds of the Urban landscape in search of inspiration for more terrible tales of terror with which I could tell. My shambling, as it would so happen this time, found me in a local book store of some repute.
     So as I sat there, coffee in one claw and a tome in the other, I was surprised to hear the raucous cackle of teenagers from the other side of a median separating our two tables. A gaggle of teenage girls had gathered, smart phones alight and frappachinos frosted, ready to study for upcoming exams.
     Sadly, this is where I began to listen (mostly due to their volume but slightly due to an overactive streak of curiosity which will likely be the death of me).
     "...and so I'll be going to Texas Tech, because they have really nice dorms there." One girl exclaimed, to the tittering amusement of her friends.
     "And the dorms are girls-only," Another interjected a midst the laughter.
     "Yeah! That's important, because I have a promise ring, so, you know, no sex before marriage." The first girl continued, the word "sex" eliciting a storm of giggles from her friends.
     Sipping my lukewarm coffee, I rolled my eyes at the conversation before returning to my reading. That is until I heard them begin reading flash cards of vocabulary words to each other.
     "Esoteric!" A waif of a girl said aloud, eliciting a chorus of drawn out humming noises as the gathered cloud of estrogen wracked their minds of what the strange word could possibly mean.
     "Is it some kind of fruit?" One, a darker girl with a plait in her hair, asked aloud.
     "No, it means to enter a building!" Another all but shouted.
     "Isn't it, um, y'know... like, a word to describe something?" One asked, twirling her hair.
     "No, that's a noun. We're working on verbs." Corrected a different girl in a cool and imperious voice.
     "Ahem," I coughed, gathering their attention. Reveling in the combined looks of horror of being addressed in a public place by an adult, I took their momentary silence as permission to address them.
     "Esoteric is actually an adjective, meaning it describes a noun; the word actually refers to a strange or unusual quality that something might possess."
     Slackened jaws and widened eyes are all the response to my declaration, obvious shock that someone would address them in such a way. A flicker of bravado danced behind one of the girls eyes, bringing a smile to my otherwise dour (according to others) face.
     "Are you sure? That's not what the card says!" The girl snidely replied, earning nervous titters from her friends.
     With the gauntlet thrown I heaved a sigh and set my beverage down before turning fully in my seat to examine the group across from me. Spying the card in her hand, I caught sight of the boldfaced word "Emulate" on her card. I smiled at her genially and pointed to the card.
     "That card is not Esoteric, in the sense of the actual word and the status." I said, drawing everyone's attention to the now flushed girl's hand and the card grasped within. "That card means to copy or mimic, to perform similar actions."
     It was around this time, dear readers, that my traveling partner for the day, a far older Ghoul of a creature than I, returned to our little table, amusement dancing in his protuberant eyes.
     "Is he flirting with you girls?" My companion asked, breaking the tension and getting the attention off of the brave child who questioned me, a round of primping and simpering smiles his only reply as I turned back to my drink and book.
     Throughout the rest of our time in the bookstore, through our discussions of politics and religion, I kept on ear tuned to the now quieter yammering of the girls, who were acutely aware of this as I would cast them glances from time to time. Now, instead of discussing their future collegiate careers, they were actually preparing for them by studying.
     I tell you this, dear readers, as it brings both pride and shame to my withered heart: pride that I can instill in the youth a crippling bout of peer pressure with but a simple conversation, and shame that teenagers, nay, near-adults, did not possess a vocabulary that I had harnessed by age nine.

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