Is Something Wrong in Grayson?

Last night, my family went to eat at Zaxby’s with a couple of the students from my church. We were enjoying our food when the restaurant inexplicably began to fill up with teenagers – some of whom I was familiar with. In fact, I got up and hugged one of the kids because I taught her last semester at the Grayson Christian Learning Center. We chatted briefly about our respective summers, and then separated, but I remember walking out of Zaxby’s and looking at all those kids and thinking:

“Man, I hope none of them go do anything stupid.”

So imagine the sinking feeling in my stomach when I woke up and saw the Patch headline, “Teenager Dies in Grayson Crash.” I quickly read the article, and realizing that the names of the students involved had not yet been released, I hit Twitter and Facebook to see if I could find anything out.

Within five minutes, I had three different responders. The names they provided were the same. Within twenty minutes, I had seven responses.

Same names each time.


I don’t know the students involved; and while I grieve for their families, there was a sense of relief that it wasn’t any of the kids I’m close to. That sounds callous, I know, but it’s what I felt. I was greatly relieved to know that neither of the two students who were injured were drinking or otherwise impaired, and I hope that that the law deals with the intoxicated driver quickly and fairly. As the police issue their findings and the families and friends involved begin to pick up the pieces, that’s all that’s left.

Or is it?

I know that DUI fatalities are random things, that they are the result of poor choices and fate. I also know that car crashes period are constants in our traffic-riddled metropolis, and it is unreasonable to expect a low number of incidents involoving teenaged drivers. Sheer statistics makes such occurances highly likely.

But I also know that the closer I become to some of our younger generation, the more keenly I am aware that a pervasive and permissive culture exists. I see it in the number of kids who are smoking weed. I see it in the number of kids who are drinking. I see it in the number of kids who are casual about sex. And it concerns me.

I’m not advocating a lockdown, or calling for a return to Puritan values (that would be dumb), but I am asking if our community is turning a blind eye to a growing trend within our youth – an increasingly cavalier attitude characterized by the acronym “YOLO”: You Only Live Once. The idea being that it’s okay to do things that you know are dangerous, illegal, stupid or otherwise ill-advised, because, hey – you only live once.

Nevermind that by doing the aforementioned dangerous, illegal, stupid or otherwise ill-advised thing, you may not live that long.

I’m guilty of promoting it. Looking back now, I’m sure that some of my younger charges have heard tales of my collegaite stupidity and thought, “He turned out okay. So will I.” But the truth of the matter is I didn’t turn out okay. I came through my period of rebellion with scars, some of which still run deep. I came out okay despite my stupid behavior, not because of it.

I’ll grant that what’s going on in our schools is nothing new. Kids have been experimenting with drugs and booze and sex and who knows what else for as long as most folks can remember. But what has changed is their perception of those things: once upon a time, it was If we do this and get caught, we’re gonna be in trouble. Now, it seems to be If we do this, it’ll be fun.

Suddenly, there’s no fear of consequences. In fact, there’s no fear of much of anything.

Suddenly, I find myself at a loss as to where we even begin to change this subtle undercurrent, this riptide of laissez faire. And it leaves me asking:

Is something wrong in Grayson?

I know I’m going to take some shots over this, but I think maybe it’s time we took a long collective look in the mirror. Your thoughts are welcomed below.

The Lonely Life (or The Post of 1,000 Tags)

It’s a lonely life in my head. I spend a lot of time thinking, mostly about things, but often enough about stuff that one might affectionately call nothing. Effluvia. Flotsam. Jetsam. Trash. Junk. For example:

Why does the hotel in which I’m currently staying not have a third or thirteenth floor?

Why do people preen in front a mirror, regardless of where they encounter it?

On a scale from 1 t0 10, how embarrassing is it to pass gas on an elevator one floor before another person gets on?

Why can you only hear freight train whistles in the dead of night?

Is America really the land of opportunity, or is that just one heck of a marketing slogan designed to trap desperate people?

What the heck is fair trade coffee, and why are we more worried about that than about lowering the homeless population in the U.S.?

Come to think of it, why will so many people gladly pay $6.00 for a fricking latte, but won’t sponsor a needy child overseas?

How do some people stay motivated in the face of failure?

How do some people live with the knowledge that their biggest dream is likely to never come true?

Can someone satisfactorily explain the following in three words or less: Snooki, Lady Gaga, Channing Tatum, Will Arnett?

If you don’t believe in God, Dr. Dawkins, then why are you so pissed off at Him?

There are good people who live their entire lives without getting a single nice thing written about them somewhere that someone else is likely to read it.

If the hotel is so nice, why do the pillows smell like someone spent a solid hour farting into them?

Insomnia: discuss.

What’s funny?

I think suede is leather that dropped out of school.

Are Apple computers really that much better than PCs, or am I just a schmuck for thinking that?

If so many people think what I write is funny and/or good, why doesn’t someone offer to publish me? Or any of the writers that I know who are really good?

The P.E.T.A. founder is certifiably insane. If you don’t believe me, read some of the provisions in her will.

Why is it that whenever I watch my favorite sports team play they inevitably lose, and when I don’t watch them they inevitably win? Are they trying to tell me something?

George Carlin would have made an outstanding college English professor.

What is luck and why do some people seem to hoard it?

Why do some bottled waters have nutritional information printed on the label? It’s water.

Sometimes the most heroic act in life involves little more than just waking up, taking a deep breath, and getting out of bed.

Single parents, regardless of how they came to be that way, deserve one heck of a lot of respect.

I’ll be completely against gay marriage when Christians who protest against it quit accepting divorce so casually. If marriage is a sacred bond between man and woman, then that bond should last longer than a rerun of Star Trek. Right now, marriage is about as sacred to most Christians as jury duty.

At 12:00 in the morning, I wonder if the only reason alcohol is legal and pot is not is because no one has figured out a successful business model that won’t hack off the drug cartels. I’m completely against legalized pot, but I guarantee you the minute they figure out a way to make hella-profit off of it, Uncle Sam will pass that law.

I’m 35 pages into Infinite Jest (out of 1,079 – and that includes the footnotes), I have no idea what the heck is going on, and yet I’m still loving every minute.

When did we stop caring about other human beings and start caring only for the bottom line? Not just financially, but in everything?

Joan Rivers isn’t funny.

Neither is Adam Sandler.

And yet both continue to make good money being not funny.

Are newspapers dead or are they merely acting like it?

When’s the last time you heard someone say “hornswoggled” in casual conversation? How about “bumfuzzled”? Or “dadblameit”?

Raise your hand if you know what the Southernism “flitter” is a synonym for.

Why will a cat lick itself but then turn away food from a can? It can’t be a matter of taste, can it?

Speaking of matters of taste, why do some people love cheese that, if it were any other food product, should be thrown away for spoiling?

What person in charge of fashion decided that small girls under the age of 15 have to wear clothes that look like Jodie Foster’s old costumes from Taxi Driver? And if we discover who this person is, can we shoot them?

If you pray and pray and pray and pray, but God doesn’t answer, does that mean yes or no or maybe or wait or all of the above?

It’s time for bed. There’s more thinking to be done tomorrow.