The Washington Post

Gene Weingarten: Sometimes when teens press every elevator button, it is amazeballs

(Eric Shansby)

On a recent trip to Dallas I stayed at the Adolphus Hotel, a place so elegant and stately that it has survived the name “The Adolphus Hotel.” After check-in, I got on the elevator. Inside were two girls of 14 or 15 — pretty, perky, ponytailed. Each might tip the scales at 85 pounds, including barrettes and scrunchies.

I don’t think they even noticed me, because every molecule within them was engaged in intense full-body conversation, which required hand semaphors, swaying and bouncing. I tried not to eavesdrop, but it soon became plain that their friends Kyra and Kaylee had done something absolutely amazeballs behind Chloe’s back.

Gene Weingarten is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writes "Below the Beltway," a weekly humor column that is nationally syndicated. View Archive

It was at this point that I noticed that all the elevator buttons had been pushed.

My room was on Floor 10. We were on Floor 2. Settling in for the long haul, I found a pen and took furtive notes on the back of a magazine. (I tried my best to get the names straight, but it wasn’t easy; there are no guarantees.)

At Floor 3, the doors opened on a gaggle of 85-pounders. Ponytails. Bouncy. Amazeballs. I realized I had the wrong species-specific collective noun. Teenage girls swarming an elevator are not a gaggle. They are a giggle.

Mild chaos ensued. Enthusiasm trebled. Persons had not seen other persons in, like, foreverrrrr. Squealing became appropriate. OMIGOD, you GUYS!

I calculate that a giggle of girls produces 40 million ergs of energy per second.

Mikayla stepped into the elevator, as did Tessa, but Tessa got pulled back out by another. I learned from context that one of my original two girls was Lexi. The door kept trying to close, but this was deterred by urgently reconsidered entrances and exits.

Finally we were off again, with Lexi now gone but Mikayla and Shonda aboard. The elevator’s dead weight tonnage had experienced a net gain of 90 pounds. Shonda had glitter on one eyelid. Someone (I suspect, but cannot prove, that it was Mikayla) wore emphatic amounts of what I believe to be watermelon perfume.

Someone said that someone else, from Boston, had been observed by Olivia and Kaycee in the company of someone whom I surmised was unacceptable, because Shonda said, sonorously, “S.M.H.!” which apparently was hilarious, because everyone began to falsetto chatter-laugh. It sounded exactly like Alvin and Theodore making fun of Dave.

I am ordinarily an extremely impatient person, and generally I would find this sort of delay intolerable; I seldom complain out loud, but in my in-brain scenarios, those delaying me are heretics and I am Torquemada. However, as a 62-year-old man whose once-14-year-old daughter is now 32, I was enjoying this enormously. It brought me all the way back. Why, I felt a sprightly 44!

On Floor 5, the doors opened to two full-grown women. A sudden silence descended. I inferred that these women were supervisory. An urgent maturity settled on the occupants of the elevator. The women did not enter, but one of them looked me up and down in what I took to be part threat-assessment, and part threat. I attempted to project benign avuncularity. I believe I was successful because their attention quickly fell back on the girls.

“Ladies, remember, 9:30.” Solemn nods. Amazing maturity and restraint prevailed. When the door closed, there was synchronized eye-rolling.

We moved on to Floor 6.

OMIGOD, you GUYS! More door-holding and indecisive exiting and entering.

The final group departed on Floor 8 in a cloud of watermelon and chatter. The last girl out — pretty sure it was Tessa, who had reconnected with the vehicle on 7 — looked back at me. I smiled. She smiled. As the doors began to close, she said: “It’s the national cheerleaders’ competition!”

I yelled back, through the last of the door slit:


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