An Encounter with Punk Rock Kids at Ralph's

BY RYAN RITCHIE

I'm standing in the bread aisle at the grocery store when these three punker kids coming near me. Two of them looked like they were just getting into punk. Or maybe they just weren't as interested as their friend when it came to transforming themselves into a walking, talking billboard because the third was your quintessential patches, buttons, safety pins and liberty spikes punker.

I watched as they pretended to shop for candy. "Probably gonna steal something," I told myself.   

And then it hit me: I was the old guy frowning on teenagers just because of the way they dressed. I hated the punk costume when I was their age as much as I hate it now. In high school, I preferred a shaved head, Descendents t-shirt, Dickies and Vans to Mohawks, Exploited t-shirts and boots, but what I really hated then and still hate now is thinking that these kids--or any kids of any style--were pilfering candy bars because of their clothes.

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Bread in hand, I hoofed it to the cashier. In doing so, I had to pass the punkers. The punkest one - if there is such a thing - was rocking a sleeveless jean jacket with a full back patch of a band called the Casualties, a current band from New York City. "Fucking newbies," I said, carrying on my conversation to no one. Ah, but next to this was a blue Germs circle and an Angry Samoans patch. As Snoop said on "Tha Doggfather," I caught the vapors.

I got even more upset at myself because when I was their age, I worshiped the Germs and the Angry Samoans too. When I think about it, I guess I still do, but to a much lesser extent.

If punk circa 2009 means anything (and I don't know if it does), it has to piss off old people. In this regard, these kids succeeded. Walking home, I couldn't stop thinking about these three. How mentally I distanced myself from them, only to discover we had more in common than my knee-jerk reaction led on. How, even though I despised the way they looked, it was necessary for their growth as individuals to tell old fogies like me to go fuck myself.

These days I've got slicked back greasy hair, black-rimmed glasses and an array of couture sweaters, but I'm as punk as I ever was because I'm still swimming upstream, doing what feels natural, including getting pissed off at three teenagers whom I've never met.

I didn't stick around long enough to find out if they got their candy bars or not, but my guess is they did. How they got it, well... maybe I don't want to know.


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