Despite the threat of flash flooding, I rather like the evening rains. It dampens outbreaks of Middle School Mafia.
Like cicadas and virulent plagues, its appearance is cyclical. Summer is the height of infestations because of the increase in leisure time and uselessness allows for greater levels of dumb-assery. (Please let me know if these descriptions are too esoteric. I sometimes fall into professional jargon.)
All three conditions must be met for a group to coalesce. However, it will dissolve or revert to a more benign form unless the group perceives an external threat. Please note: This doesn’t involve an actual threat, such as an angry parent or a patrolling officer or Mister Guy-Who-Just-Wants-To-Be-Left-Alone.
No, not at all. The perception is the key.
The tribe creates cohesion through a mutual dislike of “enemies” invented through a combination of perceived slights and talking themselves into collective outrage. After the labeling of a target (or two), what follows is an unpleasant period of name-calling in the street, loud jeering, and double-dog-daring acts.
Our neighborhood endured the latter last year, as you may recall. The neighbor down the street had it even worse. She had evening TV and quiet dinners interrupted by “Ding-dong Ditch” – ringing the doorbell and running away. For a Middle School Mafia drone, the combination of a physically disabled grandmother and a mentally impaired granddaughter seemed the perfect test of manliness. (And by “manliness,” I mean nothing of the sort.)
Fortunately, the Middle School Mafia have three weaknesses:
- Pre-twilight curfews
- Able-bodied adults who run on high-octane rage. (Did I mention Mister Guy-Who-Just-Wants-To-Be-Left-Alone?)
- Inclement weather