We walked our dogs in the neighborhood on a recent Saturday, and as we passed the elementary school, we couldn't help but notice all the teaching aids scattered everywhere. There were no textbooks or No. 2 pencils, you understand, but just about anything else you can think of was in abundance all around.
Most obvious were all sorts of discarded juice containers. Well, "juice" in the sense that something liquid and sweet had once filled those bottles, cans and pouches; I suspect the contents had included sugar and high-fructose corn syrup but very little fruit.
On the shoulder of the road was a 64-ounce juice bottle, the kind that fruit punch comes in. Now that was one thirsty pupil.
I've never seen a kid chugging a jug on the way to school, though. More likely, the bottle had flown from a passing car as the distracted driver watched all about while hyperactive children ran off their juice ration.
Other juice containers were strewn about, and we were glad the tykes were staying hydrated during the overly warm days of early autumn. Lying on the grass, too, was half an apple - sort of pre-juice, I suppose, with no sugar added.
Our dogs stepped over a flattened object that had once been a can before countless cars and feet had turned it into a fritter no more than one or two molecules thick; in fact, it was barely aluminum at all, just a painted label that had once said, uh, "beer." (I'm pretty sure that can also had flown from a car; that, or recess has changed since my time.)
Lying at the foot of the school's sign was an empty cigarette package. They were menthols. I guess some kids still like to act as though they are Kool and the misspelling doesn't bother them. It will someday.
There was other stuff on the ground. Enough candy wrappers to make it look like the day after Halloween. An AA alkaline battery, unlucky lottery tickets, a snaggletoothed comb and, for whatever reason, one gym sock.
I would bet that most of that litter came not from the youngsters, who are being taught better inside the school, but from the adults among us who never bothered to learn anything.
That's why I take no chances with my own trash. Whenever I'm driving and finish a juice bottle or stick of gum or half an apple, I just toss the litter onto the floorboard of my car. (OK, maybe not the apple, but everything else.)
I'd rather mess up my car than the streets, especially near where kids are learning about the world we're leaving them.
moore words: The passing of Leave It to Beaver TV mom Barbara Billingsley reminded me of a word that sounds like her name but means the exact opposite of her career: "billingsgate."
Hundreds of years ago, a fish market on the Thames in London, Billingsgate, became infamous because of the foul, ugly language used by the women who worked there. It's still a word for vulgar, abusive speech.
This is probably the only time billingsgate and Billingsley have been used in the same sentence. And the last.
Reach Glynn Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org