If you've ever shared a roof with teenagers, you might have read the pathetic tale of Jared Cano and thought to yourself: "Well, as bad it might have been at times raising Murgatroyd and Skippy, at least it wasn't this bad." • You've certainly reached the dark side of parenting when the cops show up to arrest your bundle of joy on charges of trying to blow up his old high school, which is only his old high school because he was expelled after he was accused of stealing a gun.
And then things seemed to go downhill.
Cano, 17, has been charged with — and you might want to take a breath here — possessing bombmaking materials; threatening to throw, project, place or discharge a destructive device; cultivating marijuana; and possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
A prank in the offing at Freedom High School, apparently, this was not.
And so Master Cano sits in the slammer awaiting what promises to be a not-so-pleasant fate. We may not know this kid, but we've all met variations of him.
Over the years, Plato the Elder and his brother Zeus the Younger arrived home with all manner of new friends in tow recalling the bar scene in Star Wars. This often resulted in an exchange of glances between the Sunflower of Saks and myself as if to say: "Ohmygawd, do we have enough gin on hand?"
There were black enshrouded goth types, glazed-eyed weirdos and kids who seemed less motivated than Moammar Gadhafi's food taster. There was one lad who pulled a knife while the Bombshell of Balkans was driving him home from Catholic grade school.
As far as we know, none of these charming young men never posed for a mug shot. Strange as many teens can be, most of them eventually grow out of the adolescent weird gene. Most of them.
But as the Jared Cano story unfolded, many of us who have experienced the "I hate you"/door-slamming/sullen/monosyllabic/grunge sour bird of youth years could relate a bit. And those were just the days when they were in a good mood.
Perhaps the more jarring element to the story was this young man, within the confines of his bedroom, was allegedly building a bomb powerful enough to wreak mayhem and havoc, and supposedly engaged in growing a bumper crop of marijuana. Well, at least he exhibited some skills as a multitasker.
Any parent will quickly concede that there are things that go on in a teenager's bedroom that confound the rules of logic, hygiene, physics, good taste and the Kyoto accords.
A simple question, I suspect, that has been on everybody's mind:
How is it possible Mrs. Cano, who was sharing an apartment with her son, did not notice Jared Cano had a Unabomber starter kit in his bedroom, not to mention a burgeoning marijuana farm?
Not to be terribly presumptuous, but even though our sons' rooms often looked like a tornado-ravaged city, we're reasonably confident we would have noticed if one of the boys had been attempting to assemble fuel, shrapnel, plastic tubing and timing devices to make a bomb.
This is not a hobby on the order of collecting magic cards.
At the same time, growing marijuana indoors requires intense lighting using 600-watt lamps, constantly running fans and water. Didn't Mrs. Cano, or the apartment's landlord, notice the electric bill was rivaling the Citrus Park Mall?
A teen's bedroom is indeed a place of parallel universe wonder. We're still curious about whatever happened to the pet snake that went missing 10 years ago. Very curious.
After a while you learn whatever that is under the bed, stays under the bed unless it starts to move. You also learn at some point to simply accept the teenager's room is sort of foreign soil where you have limited jurisdiction.
We were fortunate. Although the boys left behind a toxic waste dump when they went off to school, we never had to worry about hiring a defense attorney.
A terrible turn of events has been avoided. And one can only hope a troubled young man with issues will get the help he so obviously needs to deal with his demons.
There are plenty of Jared Canos out there: lonely, detached, angry, different, sitting in their bedrooms late into the night, planning, plotting, conspiring — wanting.
They may not be our sons, but they could be.
So it never hurts, from time to time, to sneak a peek in their bedrooms.