The hotel breakfast attendant, Tamika, watches them move through the buffet line like a pack of caffeinated Golden Retrievers.

Montgomery, Alabama—my hotel breakfast tastes like reconstituted pulpwood. The biscuits are hockey pucks. But the coffee ain’t bad.

I stand in the food-line behind two teenage boys wearing soccer uniforms. They load their paper plates with enough food to last an entire winter.

They are laughing. Smiling. Youth is a potent drug.

One boy displays his phone to the other. “Did you see THIS video?” he says.

“Oh, DUDE!” says the other. “That’s the BEST.”

“I know, the BEST!”

“Totally.”

Also in the dining room with me: more kids who wear uniforms. Twelve-year-olds, thirteen-year-olds, fourteen-year-olds, and their sleep-deprived parents. The kids are sipping dangerous amounts of orange juice and making lots of noise.

One kid listens to music on his phone—for the benefit of the entire dining room. This music sounds like a diesel engine warming up on a January morning.

More kids in uniforms exit the elevator. They walk through the dining room with loud voices, fixing their plates in a frenzy.

The hotel breakfast attendant, Tamika, watches them move through the buffet-line like a pack of caffeinated golden retrievers.

So we can see, at this point, that there are more kids in this article than there were when I started. The lobby is full of them.

But the truth is, I like being around young people. They don’t talk about osteoporosis, gallbladders, goiters, arthritis, or the paramount importance of fiber. To them, everything is wonderful, new, exciting, and “the best.”

I overhear these kids using the word “best” at least fifty times per paragraph.

“Have you tried these eggs?” says one boy. “They’re the BEST.”

“I know, right?” says the other. “But did you try the cheese? It’s the BEST.”

“Totally!”

The alleged “cheese” he’s talking about is not the best. It is the kind of industrial cheese that can sit on a counter for six months at room-temperature without turning green. This bowel-locking cheddar has been used on hardened war criminals during interrogation procedures.

But there are no middle territories with children. They are giddy about everything.

On the other side of the dining room is a girl in a soccer uniform who starts dancing to music on her cellphone. Dancing at breakfast.

The dance, Tamika tells me, is called the “Floss.” This dance involves swinging the arms in front of the body, with clenched fists, simultaneously flinging the hips side to side.

Four or five other kids begin dancing the Floss along with the girl. Soon, eleven children are dancing the Floss while I eat my morning fiber.

Laughter ensues. The girl even coaxes her mother off her seat. The mother cannot do the dance, but God bless her, she tries.

Tamika is behind me, watching the kids. “My kids do that stupid dance all the time,” Tamika says. “They’re obsessed with it.”

“I don’t get it,” I say. “Why?”

“Prolly ‘cause it’s fun,” says Tamika, who tosses her rag on the table and shows me how to do the Floss. Tamika is a good dancer.

A girl across the room sees Tamika doing this dance, and gets excited. A few more children are dancing the Floss now. I feel like I am in a science fiction movie.

Breakfast is over, I bid goodbye to Tamika, who is wiping down tables, amused with herself.

When I get into the elevator, I am sipping coffee, smiling. I don’t know why I’m grinning, but I see my face in the mirror. It’s official, I’m smiling.

Kids do this to me. I remember when I was like them once. I was excited about everything. Impulsive. Perpetually happy. Able to eat government cheese and finish the day like a hummingbird.

I was once a boy with too much energy, who never passed up an opportunity to go fishing, or buy a comic book, or hide an exploding cigarette in my uncle’s carton of Marlboro Reds. I don’t know when I changed.

The elevator doors shut behind me. I set my coffee down. I try to remember the moves Tamika showed me.

Let’s see here.

One arm goes like this. The other goes like that. Carry the two. Suddenly, I’m dancing the Floss in the elevator mirror, shaking my money maker like it’s Christmas morning.

The elevator doors open. An elderly couple is looking at me. I stop dancing.

“Going up?” I say.

He shakes his head. The doors close.

It’s going to be a good day, I can feel it. No. Not a good day.

The best.

29 comments

  1. Sandi in FL. - November 2, 2018 5:44 am

    Thanks for the chuckles, Sean! I have to admit that I tried dancing the “Floss” based on your description, and I’m a grandmother, not a teenager! Hope you have a spectacular day.

    Reply
  2. Dolores S. Fort - November 2, 2018 5:46 am

    Kids have a way of doing that to you, Sean, at least in spirit anyway. That’s why I keep volunteering in the 8th grade to help them learn about economics and how to balance checkbooks, etc. They keep me on my toes, and I love it!

    Reply
  3. Lucretia - November 2, 2018 7:59 am

    ….Yes, The Best…Never Grow Old, Sean…Lucretia

    Reply
  4. Janet Gray - November 2, 2018 8:16 am

    Having taught those hormones in tennis shoes for 35 years, I have seen it all. They are a fearless bunch. Been on many a field trip and some a week long. They make you smile!!! You can’t stay mad at them no matter what. If we could bottle whatever it is that keeps their energy high then maybe we could presribe that for a bunch of crabby old people who have forgotten that they to were once a carefree teenager. Keep working on that floss. My grands all do that too!! Makes me laugh. I’m still working on” do the Freddy” from the 60s.

    Reply
  5. MermaidGrammy - November 2, 2018 11:19 am

    No, dear – you never changed. Thankfully

    Reply
  6. LeAnne Martin - November 2, 2018 11:42 am

    Now I’m smiling too. You’re the BEST!

    Reply
  7. Kristine Wehrheim - November 2, 2018 11:55 am

    I don’t get that dance- but then when I was their age we danced weird too😀

    Reply
  8. Kathy Grey - November 2, 2018 11:58 am

    Sean, the thought of you dancing in the elevator made me smile and laugh — before 8 a.m. That is a rarity! Thank you. 😁

    Reply
  9. Lydia Mason - November 2, 2018 12:09 pm

    Oh, if only I could write like you. Thanks for starting my day off right. You are the BEST!

    Reply
  10. Jan - November 2, 2018 12:30 pm

    Would have loved to ride in that elevator to witness that and given it a try myself!

    Reply
  11. Edwina williams - November 2, 2018 12:46 pm

    Totally!🤣🤣👍🏻💕

    Reply
  12. Liz Watkins - November 2, 2018 12:46 pm

    I love this!!!!!

    Reply
  13. Connie Havard Ryland - November 2, 2018 1:07 pm

    I’m totally laughing out loud. Have a great day Sean. Love and hugs.

    Reply
  14. Janet Mary Lee - November 2, 2018 2:49 pm

    Bless you for remembering what it was like to be young! I probably would have taken my coffee and ran…well hobbled non briskly. You had me in stitches, totally!

    Reply
  15. Jack Quanstrum - November 2, 2018 2:56 pm

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Youth are grand! Everything is the best. I am around my grandson and his friends often. The scenario is the same. It’s all fun all the time. Great story!

    Reply
  16. Edna B. - November 2, 2018 2:58 pm

    Such a fun chuckle for my morning. I would have loved to watch you dancing in the elevator. You’re really the best, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  17. Charlie Hopkins - November 2, 2018 3:34 pm

    Long ago, while Mom Junior Leagued, I was charged with the care of our 3 and 4 year old daughters. Taking the easy way out, I took the to The Galleria. As we walked through a department store, the girls broke into dance to the stores muzak. I grabbed the 4 rear old and asked “What are you doing?” She replied-“We’re having FUN Dad, just like you said”. Now, when my Grandkids and I hear any appropriate tune, we all dance- even in the elevator.

    Reply
  18. Marilyn Karr Warner - November 2, 2018 3:36 pm

    Hi Sean…I considered myself as a fair to middling dancer from the American Bandstand era…so when my grandchildren showed me the floss I gave it a go…the kids fell down laughing and love to imitate my version of the floss to each other while continuing to fall down laughing…oh well, granny is good for something even if it is just entertaining the precious grandkids. Love your writing…first thing I look for every morning. Thanks, Marilyn Warner…from a wide place in the road called Detroit, AL.

    Reply
  19. Charlu Kent - November 2, 2018 3:56 pm

    I love dancing (badly) to music on NPR. Today it was Freddy Mercury….💙🐭❤️🕺🏻😎

    Reply
  20. Summer H Hartzog - November 2, 2018 4:00 pm

    One of the many blessings of having adopted our grandson. As the 60 year old parent of a 7th grader, I know exactly how to do the Floss 🙂

    Reply
  21. Alice Grimes - November 2, 2018 4:21 pm

    You are the BEST! Don’t forget that!

    Reply
  22. Laurie A Wasilewski - November 2, 2018 4:27 pm

    Delightful, Sean. Thanks for the smiles!

    And try as I might, I haven’t mastered the Floss yet 🙂

    Reply
  23. Shelton Armour - November 2, 2018 4:46 pm

    Thanks for the smile.

    Reply
  24. Ann Syfert - November 2, 2018 5:31 pm

    Sean, This was a hoot!!!! Totally!!!!

    Reply
  25. D moore - November 2, 2018 9:08 pm

    First real smile of the day…you’re the best.
    Floss on dude, right?

    Reply
  26. annie - November 3, 2018 12:52 am

    This is breakfast at my house when all the Grands are here! LOL!!! Wow! Can they eat! 🙂

    Reply
  27. Joy Johnson - November 3, 2018 12:16 pm

    You are the BEST! You had me laughing before my first cup of coffee was gone. In this world of sadness I thank God for you.

    Reply
  28. Carol - November 3, 2018 1:52 pm

    Bet you were the best !!
    Love ya!

    Reply
  29. Robert Chiles - November 3, 2018 4:37 pm

    What a writer!! The Best!!

    Reply

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