Editor's note: The Plaid Dammit prides itself on consistently getting the news out to readers while the other newspapers lie around with their thumbs up their media outlets. This time we were even faster and got the story before it happened. Dateline on this 'un is...
Sept. 6, 2022 (TRENTON, Ga.)--Alarmed by the international trend of "socially distant" young people whose budding libidos were crushed by the Great Coronavirus Lockdown of 2020, Dade County High School is instituting a new "remedial sex education" class as part of the international effort to save the earth from complete depopulation. Your friendly neighborhood newspaper, The Plaid Dammit, popped in at DCHS one day this week to check it out, and brings you this report:
"We used to worry about teen pregnancy," said Coach Puff Jestin. "Now we worry that the human race will die out by the end of the century. Today's kids are so afraid of germs, they'd rather subject themselves to a French guillotine than a French kiss."
The 2020 coronavirus lockdown, that bleak spring when businesses closed, restaurants shut their doors and the entire population of the nation was ordered to stay at home, did not, as predicted, destroy the U.S. economy. Indeed, restaurants made record profits when, after the all-clear order in June, millions of frenzied Americans spewed hungrily from their homes, clutching their charge cards and babbling, "No....more....meatloaf."
Cops, detectives and the justice system enjoyed heightened job security mopping up the mayhem wrought by months of marital togetherness. Assorted husbands, wives and significant others were discovered in variously-sized pieces in vegetable gardens, crawl spaces and freezer bags throughout the heartland. Divorce attorneys established financial empires dealing with couples who had made it through the crisis unfreezerbagged but unable to face another nanosecond of wifey's ground turkey casseroles or hubby's fondness for the Butthole Surfers.
Dating services blossomed as newly single adults eagerly sampled the joy of getting to know somebody they hadn't recently gotten to know entirely too well. Suddenly, gray-haired Boomers emerging from decades of monogamy were filling out frisky questionnaires that asked them: "Do you like pina coladas?" "Making love at midnight?" "How do you feel about the Butthole Surfers?"
And as for the travel industry, the sky was the limit. After months of quarantine, airplanes roared from their hangars just as citizens boiled out of their homes screaming for fresh fields and pastures now. At every airport, conversations like this were heard:
Passenger: I'd like to buy a ticket..
Counter Agent: Where to?
Passenger: It don't matter.
Tourism boomed. Real estate agents made out like bandits as newly-liberated owners dumped on the market the houses that had become their hated prisons. Young adults snapped them up. They had to. Their parents had changed the locks. Insurance companies took a hit from the houses burned down by more emotional home-shelterers, of course. But, as the snake charmers say, who really gives a rapt asp about the insurance companies? Remember what they did to health care.
In short, the economy rebounded and America began a robust resurgence from the bleak months of lockdown. New dresses were bought as women finally had somewhere to wear them. Makeup was freshened. New eyeliner factories were revved up just in time to avert a crisis.
Caviar and clam dip were gobbled by the gallon as the ban was lifted from social gatherings. Champagne flowed as weddings were hastily thrown together by couples who had delayed them during the lockdown. (Except for ones planned by couples already cohabiting. Many of those took their rings back for store credit.)
The quarantine was over at last. Casualties had been less than predicted, vaccines had been developed and lessons had been learned. Not counting some broken marriages and a certain amount of murder, arson and infanticide, it looked like your textbook case of the Happy Ending .... except for the bit about the end of civilization as we know it.
What was the problem? The problem was....
Even as their elders dumped their spouses and twirled the tiny umbrellas in their pina coladas roguishly, it became starkly evident that the wave of youths who had just been breaking in their brand-new hormones when the lockdown hit could not be depended upon to go forth and multiply. Forbidden upon pain of death to touch anything touched by another, the "quaranteens" weren't fixin' to touch each other with a 10-foot pole. They were the first generation of teens in two million years of humanity who weren't snorting at the starting line of their reproductive lives.
Well! So much for background. Let us return now to our interview at Dade High with Puff Jestin, Dade High's head football coach who doubles as a human sexuality and driver's education instructor. (The two classes use the same car--does The Dammit really have to tell you that?)
"If we can't fix this pretty soon," Coach Jestin told The Plaid Dammit grimly, "the maternity smock is going the way of the hobble skirt. Watch what happens when I turn off the lights."
Coach Jestin flipped off the lights and flipped on a video entitled Touching is Appropriate--Try It!
"See what I mean?" he asked The Plaid Dammit.
Thrown suddenly into the dark, Jestin's students left their desks, moved six feet away from each other, and eyed each other suspiciously.
"I don't see anything," said The Dammit.
"My point exactly," said the coach disgustedly. "I've taught high school for 20 years and believe me, before last year's coronavirus scare, if you showed a video to a class of seniors you were just begging for trouble. Turn off the lights and they 'd all dive to the floor and start playing what my old man called grab-ass. Now? Observe."
In the Touching Is Appropriate video the class was watching, a male student sneaked up behind a pretty girl and snapped her bra strap playfully through her white T-shirt. In the classroom, there was a shocked gasp from the Dade seniors. Coach Jeston paused the video.
"Well, class, was that appropriate or inappropriate touching?" he asked.
A tall male student in a football jersey was the first to answer, "Inappropriate, sir."
"Kids have got to start grab-assing again..."
"And why is that, Jason?" asked the coach.
"Because he's touching something that was touched by somebody else first," said the boy, shuddering in horror. "Obviously the girl had to have touched her own clothes putting them on."
"At least he did it through the shirt," said another boy in the class. "Imagine if it had been the bra strap itself. That's right next to her skin."
The whole class recoiled.
"That's enough," said the coach. "Tristan, would you turn the lights back on?"
"Not a chance," said the teen. "You touched it before. I saw you."
"Oh, use a Clorox wipe, kid." Coach Jeston turned back to The Dammit. "You get the idea--teenagers aren't acting like teenagers. They won't even pack themselves six and seven to a car without parents and teachers wedging them in there with crowbars."
"Isn't that a good thing?" ventured The Dammit. "I seem to recall states used to pass laws forbidding kids to do that."
"Not when you consider that teens are naturally pack animals," said the coach. "Those old-fashioned bans were meant to keep them from perishing in car accidents before they could reproduce. But traveling in clumps is their regular prelude to breaking off into mating pairs. We've reinstituted the packed jalopy concept as what we hope is a prelude to backseat whoopee. We have to consider posterity."
"What do you mean?" asked The Dammit.
Coach Jeston shook his head gravely. "If something doesn't happen soon, there'll be no young people paying into the Social Security system, no new doctors and nurses training to take care of people our age in our geezerhood, no babies to keep the human race going. Kids have got to start grab-assing again."
"I don't know," said The Dammit dubiously. "It seems counterintuitive somehow."
"That's because you're still thinking along pre-Lockdown lines," said Coach Jeston. "And I get that. Who'd have thunk it? Before 2020, parents had been trying for all of recorded history to keep teenagers' hands off each other. But even in cultures where disobedience meant harsh punishment, including death, love always found a way."
"Like in Romeo and Juliet," said The Dammit, then quickly apologized for the literary reference. (The Dammit had learned through grim experience that quoting Shakespeare was a faster way to lose friends than exhibiting a dry cough and a fever greater than 100.4.) But Coach Jestin waved the apology away.
"Not to worry, Dade's a big literature school these days," he assured The Dammit. "Our boys' Chaucer team is playing in the state finals this year and the girls' Shakespeare squad took the national championship in the 2021 season. As a matter of fact, Ms. Wilson's English class next door is studying Romeo and Juliet right now. Come see for yourself." He led The Dammit out into the hall, closing the door on his class. "Don't worry, they won't do anything," he said bleakly.
In the next room, Ms. Wilson read from a beautifully bound Complete Works:
"Her eye in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See how she leans her cheek upon her hand.
Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand
That I might touch that cheek!
"Well, class, what is Romeo saying here about Juliet?"
"Oh my God," said a girl. "It means that she's, like, touching her face."
"That is so ick!" shrieked another. "Doesn't she know that is, like, forbidden?"
Thus did Shakespeare's immortal tale of teen love appear to be dying after all at the sanitized hands of the "Germ-Xers." Generations of girls had swooned at the "palm-to-palm is holy palmers' kiss" scene, but even the holy palmers' smooch was too socially undistant for the Purell crowd, and when they got to the kind with actual spit there were retching noises throughout the classroom.
"Oh, Teach, cain't we please, please go back to readin' Titus Andronicus?" begged one teen. "That was so much less disturbin'. Nuthin' worse than human sacrifice in that 'un."
"Poor young things," said Coach Jestin, leading the way back into the hall. "To save them from infection, their parents taught them not to hug, not to kiss, not to put their hands on handrails for crying out loud. Schools were closed so they wouldn't have to go anywhere near each other. They had it drilled into them to stay at least six feet apart. Is it any wonder they're having to take makeup classes in making out?"
He glanced at his watch. "I'll take you to the cafeteria now," he said. "Superintendent Jerries will be eager to talk to you next."
In fact, Dr. Hannah Jerries was already waiting for Coach and The Dammit outside the cafeteria. The always chic Dr. Jerries was one of Dade's leading fashion icons and today she wore a crisp white jumpsuit in the PPE style that had become popular in 2020.
"I hope you're hungry," said the Super, showing The Dammit to the faculty table. "We have strawberries, chocolate and oysters on the half shell on the lunch menu today. It stretches Dr. Clong's food budget but they're supposed to be aphrodisiacs and that's what counts for our sweet students, isn't it?"
"Is it?" asked The Dammit, with obvious misgivings.
"Absolutely," said Dr. Jerries. "Coming up through the system, I've taught three generations of students. There's not going to be a fourth unless somebody lights a fire under these Quaranteens. It's top of the agenda for educators all over the world. Many countries have already declared a state of emergency."
(Actually, what The Dammit had had misgivings about was the oysters. The Dammit had also heard the bit about their aphrodisaical qualities but, uncooked, they had always struck The Dammit as a little too close to snot to be any practical use in seduction.)
Dr. Leta Clong passed by, filling students' glasses from a large bottle with a French label.
"Is she really serving red wine to the students?" asked The Dammit incredulously.
"We find it helps set the mood," explained the Super. "Chocolate only goes so far."
"You know the saying--candy is dandy but liquor is quicker," said the coach.
He tucked into his oysters, and the sartorially splendid superintendent charged on with what was clearly a subject of intense concern, speaking with such fervor that her gas mask fogged over. "It's not just the fact that this social distancing will eventually annihilate the human race. Look what it's already done to our sports program."
Coach Jestin looked up from slurping an oyster. "Our football team is all but dead," he said. "You ask these Germ-Xers to tackle each other and they give you that are-you-kidding-me look you may have noticed in my classroom. There's just too much contact in the contact sports for the Purell generation. I can't even get 'em to go into a huddle. Hell, I can't get 'em to high-five."
"We had to dismantle the wrestling team altogether," chimed in the Super.
The coach nodded. "Just the sight of them boys floppin' around on the mat on top of each other is enough to make this bunch lose their lunch." He sucked up another mollusk and The Dammit began to feel the same way.
"Why do you think we started the Shakespeare squad?" said the Super. "Or the math league? Or the physics team? We needed our students to excel at something and we thought academics would be better than nothing."
"But it doesn't solve the long-term problem," said Coach seriously. "That's why DCHS, like schools all over the U.S., has adopted this core remedial sex education curriculum."
The Super began reading titles from her list: "Intro to Groping; Getting to First Base; Necking 101; Lover's Lane Basics--that's one we use the Driver's Ed car for, by the way; A Kiss is Just a Kiss..."
"A Kiss is Just a Kiss?" inquired The Dammit.
The Super's tinkling laugh was muffled by her PPE. "That was put in there deliberately to address the Quaranteens' little spoof of the famous old song. Have you heard it?"
She and Coach Jestin put their heads near each other and sang in harmony: "Please remember this: A kiss is just an unspeakably fatal disease vector...."
"I get the idea," said The Dammit.
And so, presumably does the reader by now. Thus The Plaid Dammit will sign off at this point, but not before saying,
Happy April Fool's Day, everybody!
Keep your chin up through these strange and scary times, Gentle Reader, and take heart from the knowledge that if this really is the end of the world, at least you won't have to put up with The Dade Planet's irritatin' attempts at humor anymore!
--Robin Ford Wallace