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Hey kids, TPing is not a crime!

September 07, 2002

Last Tuesday, very early in the morning, some locals spent

considerable time and effort to toilet paper (TP) more than 60 trees

on the median of Mesa Verde Drive West. Farther down the street after

it turns into Placentia Avenue, words were TP'd on the hillside at

Fairview Park. There are conflicting reports about what was written.

I have heard that what appeared was a combination of "freshman die,"

"'03," "sailors" or "Dad -- please buy more TP."

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It's all part of a back-to-school tradition.

Bright and early the next day, the city cleanup crew was on foot

and in cherry-pickers pulling the TP off of the trees.

But wait -- there's more! The next morning, the TP bandits struck

again. This time, they TP'd not only the median of Mesa Verde West,

they also decorated the trees on both sides of the street. The total

amount of TP'd trees could easily have topped 100.

And later that morning, the cleanup crew was out pulling down the

offending paper.

I know that there are a lot of folks who believe that TP bandits

should be sentenced to a year in line at the DMV, but I'm not one of

them. Any teenager will tell you that TPing a house, for example, is

not a random act of violence but a carefully planned and executed

mission perpetrated on someone they like.

Kirsten Miller, 14, is the daughter of good friends Kathy and Dave

Miller. Kirsten may or may not have ever TP'd a house but either way,

she is qualified to discuss the matter. So, I asked her how some kids

might choose the victim's house.

According to Kirsten, the process is not rocket science.

"Sometimes, it's a matter of who has a good house to TP," she said.

Kirsten reported that one group of kids once went to TP a house only

to find that someone else had beaten them to the punch.

My friend and colleague Marisa Luiso told me that when she was a

teenager and her friends had a slumber party, anyone who was invited

but did not appear was subject to a TP party.

It may come as no surprise that parents are often in on the plans.

Kathy Miller, who would never, ever condone such behavior -- no way,

no how -- said that she knows of moms and at least one dad who have

driven the getaway car.

Miller doesn't see TPing as vandalism and neither do I. "It's not

malicious. It's a normal step for teenagers."

Vandalism is the kind of act that is mean and which has the

possibility of permanently altering or destroying the object(s) of

the action. That's not a legal definition, that's my take on it.

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