But that's just speculation on my part. I wouldn't have any particular insight into the uncommonly crude habits and practices of ninth-grade boys.
For example, I know nothing of the "five-minute rule." Adults joke about the five-second rule, meaning any food that is on the ground less than five seconds hasn't picked up germs and can be eaten, after say a little blow on the morsel to clean the dirt, the lint or both. Of course most hygienic adults and many children don't even follow the five-second rule, throwing out whatever reaches the floor.
If I knew anything about freshman boys, which I'm not claiming I do, I would tell you a certain group has a "five-minute rule" and adheres to it quite strictly, unless it is something really tasty, for which the time limit on the rule might be freely extended.
I also know nothing of a game called "Safety." Here's how it would work, if such a game existed. If a freshman boy were to flatulate — and I wouldn't know if that ever happens, but others might say it happens every 20 to 30 seconds — and it came to the attention of his compatriots, he would have to say "safety" before others touched a doorknob and said "doorknob." If a doorknob were touched and announced before "safety" was proclaimed, the gas source would be slugged in the arm, slug in the arm being the second most popular activity among 14- and 15-year-old boys, experts on adolescence might say.
In some houses, and I am just projecting, "safety" becomes sort of a mantra for youths, repeated over and over throughout every single stinking day, "safety," "safety," "safety," it never stops and you just want to strangle …
If I had an insight into this subject I could tell you about a certain dog I might be making up who has a stinkier-the-better rule in regard to things that go into her mouth … shoes, socks, we'll stop there. If I knew such a dog, I might tell you stories about that same dog recently staggering out of a roomful of 14- and 15-year-old boys with tremors in her legs and tears in her eyes. If this had happened I could tell you the alpha male of the domicile then walked into the room to see whether the dog had been picked on, and quickly staggered out of room himself with the same symptoms and gasping for air like someone who had been battling Iraqi chemical weapons commandos.
No serious damage would be done to the hypothetical room. Within two or three days it would be aired out and habitable again.
I am just guessing, but I would think one of the good things about boys this age is they leave a trail. Along with the smells, there are empty cups, dirty dishes, discarded sunflower seed packages, dried ice cream-encrusted spoons, candy wrappers along with soiled socks, shoes and shirts. Sooner or later, following the signs, those who are looking for such boys, and I'm not saying I ever have to do so, could find the youths.
I'm just projecting from my own adolescence and those of all my friends, but I would speculate in a couple years these same boys will be paragons of cleanliness, at least on the surface, and will be reaching for the car keys, girlfriends and for doorknobs for the purpose of leaving the house, not for the purpose of hitting someone on the arm.
When that day comes, some parents, and I am not saying which ones, may be longing for the days of "safety."