Tidewater Log: Thanks for meeting with me today. Do y'all want anything to eat?
Gene: No, I'm good.
Skip: (grunt noise)
TL: While Skip's busy texting, let me ask you, Gene, to describe the heinous, out of control situation at MacArthur Center.
G: Everyday, especially on weekends, as many as 40 teenagers hang out in the mall - walking around aimlessly, looking at stuff they don't intend to purchase, and making our older shoppers feel uncomfortable.
TL: Is this true, Skip?
S: Huh? Yeah...I mean no. Sometimes we buy stuff. All we're doing is hanging out and talking.
G: Yes, but you have to realize that they're talking, quite loudly I might add, about social networking sites, video games, cell phones, popular music - the sort of things our older shoppers are unfamiliar with. That, along with the fact that most of these teens have full heads of healthy hair and slim builds make our older shoppers feel...old.
TL: Okay, let's say that all the teens promise to spend at least $5 on something and limit their conversations to topics old people understand - like the weather or "Dancing with the Stars".
G: That sounds doable.
S: No way. You can't tell us what to talk about. And there's nothing that costs $5 in the entire mall!
TL: Well, how about hanging out somewhere else in Norfolk. There's Waterside, or the Naro, or how about that church with a cannonball in it?
S: Laaaaaaame. No thanks.
TL: Is going to the mall with a parent out of the question?
S: Totally. No way.
After being told that we'd have to leave if we didn't order anything, we continued our conversation in the parking lot.
TL: Could you befriend a stranger in their 20s to accompany you to the mall? With a car, perhaps?
S: Yeah, I guess so.
TL: Good. Problem solved. Gene, out of curiousity, what did you want to do when you were Skip's age?
G: I wanted to pitch for the Red Sox...or become a marine biologist in Australia.
TL: What happened?
G: Well, I don't know. It seemed like I had forever back then. Me and my friends would hang out at the beach or Ocean View Park just doing nothing. Time kept passing by. I got married, had two kids, got divorced, developed and conquered a drinking problem, jumped from job to job, and just ended up where I am now. It all flew by so fast.
TL: Are you happy?
G: Yeah, for the most part. At least I have a job.
TL: Good point. What do you think about that, Skip?
S: (texting) Huh?
TL: "Huh" indeed.
Skip and Gene then shook hands, but Gene later confided that Skip's handshake lacked meaning and sincerity.