Like birds of a feather, teen-aged boys love to flock together. And like birds of a feather, they will do in a pack what they would never do as individuals.
That's my analysis of what happened one recent Saturday evening at a McDonald's burgatarium on Bel Pre Road in Silver Spring. Diane Jacobe of Arnold, Md., owns the offended set of ears.
Diane was waiting in line with her two nephews, ages 8 and 5, for some burgers and drinks with which to celebrate a boys club soccer victory. In the next line were three teen-agers of the male persuasion.
Diane and her nephews waited for five minutes. When they finally reached the head of their line, they were told by a McDonald's employe that that counter position was closed. So Diane and Company moved to the end of the line in which the three teen-agers were standing.
The teen-agers proceeded to exchange extremely loud, extremely derogatory remarks about Diane. They called her a "dumb bleep girl" who was "so bleeping stupid" to have stood in a line that was obviously closed. When Diane shot them a look that could kill, one teen-ager said to another: "What's that bleeperbleeper looking at?" With that, Diane and her nephews left.
"I feel very strongly that McDonald's . . . .should enforce a strict policy on this type of behavior," Diane writes. "I feel it has gotten totally out of hand and it is high time something be done to bring back respect in public areas."
McDonald's reply was a classic of Corporate Bright-Side-ism.
"I have to tell you this is an extraordinarily rare occurrence," said Bob Keyser, director of media relations at McDonald's. "Most people who frequent McDonald's recognize that it is a family-type restaurant and behave accordingly. There are always exceptions . . . . We discourage it when we become aware of it."
So McDonald's doesn't feel there's a need for a foul-language policy?
"Our policy," said Brother Keyser, "is that we hope our customers bring their manners with them when they come to eat at McDonald's."
Obviously, however, not all of them do. So if McDonald's would like a little free advice, here it is:
Instruct employes to give all bleeper-speakers the heave-ho. And post signs warning those louts that that's the policy. Hoping that no customer ever says bleep to another is no policy at all.
A lovely Washington scene, as described by Jonathan Bensky of Silver Spring:
"If the physical fitness kick were only a fad, you'd never know it at the Rosslyn Metro station any working day morning.
"The number of people who walk (even jog!) up the escalator renews one's faith in physical fitness. The escalator must be one of the longest in the Metro system note from Levey: Bethesda is the longest, Woodley Park is second, Rosslyn is third . It all adds up to about 90-100 steps to the top . . . . That must be the equivalent of seven or eight flights of stairs."
Thanks to Jonathan for pointing this phenomenon out. Now maybe he can explain why these same healthful specimens will crowd into office building elevators to ascend two floors.
Meanwhile, aboard the trains, this pet peeve, from Helen Heller of Northwest:
Why do so many people sit down in one seat of an unoccupied pair and immediately place a briefcase on the seat beside them?
If you want room to spread out, you Briefcase Depositors, there is a way to obtain it.
It's called a taxi.
If you like Freudian slips of the tongue, you'll love the one Marcia Goldberg overheard a couple of weeks ago.
She was at a conference on the federal budget. A speaker was discussing allocations for defense.
"Someday," said he, "they're going to stop sending all this money to the Spentagon." No, he wasn't kidding. No, he didn't correct himself.
NOTE TO READERS: The "Herman" panel is being resumed today on the comics pages after a two-week tryout for the panel "Bizarro." Several hundred readers expressed their loyalty to "Herman." The creator of the "Bloom County" strip, Berke Breathed, is recuperating from an accident. His strip will be resumed on March 31.