Young people are offensive. When I was in graduate school in California, a friend and I used to play a little game inspired by this universal truth. It was called “Who can find the most outrageous instance of behavior by a college student?” After a number of early highlights, Nick saw something that held first place for quite a while: a young man, probably about nineteen, riding his bike the wrong way down a one-way street, while talking on a cell phone—and eating a piece of pizza. (If you yourself grew up in Palo Alto you might not find this offensive, but any self-respecting Easterner will understand me.) The pizza guy was a strong contender, but even he was surpassed eventually by a piece of behavior that remains, to this day, the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. I was sitting in the library in a cushioned chair, one among several that formed a circle around a low table. An unremarkable young man took the chair opposite mine and fussily arranged himself and his things, getting ready, it seemed, for a nap. When he settled on a position he pulled out a jumbo-size Snickers bar from his backpack, tore it open and took a big bite. He chewed once or twice—and then stopped. As he held the partially digested matter in his mouth, a content look on his face, he fell asleep. About three minutes later his body twitched him awake. With his eyes still closed, he chewed a few more times, and then he fell back asleep. Another few minutes passed, he woke up again, swallowed his remainder, and then—eyes still closed—took another bite from the Snickers bar and the process repeated itself. It is hard to express how it feels to see the laws of nature violated; you’ve either seen it first-hand or you haven’t. Suffice it to say I have wished many ill things upon this young man in the years since “the incident.” Mostly I wish that he will live long enough to be offended in a library by the behavior of some member of the next generation. But I sometimes shudder to think just how extreme that behavior will have to be to shock him. Shamelessly public phone sex? Or would that seem just “borderline” to the Snickers guy? Perhaps if someone masturbated in one of those cushioned chairs, ejaculated on the floor and walked away? Would that do it? Whatever it takes, I give my blessing. Let the world collapse around us. The Snickers guy will be punished.


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