Humor by Jen Lancaster

"You know what I blame this on the breakdown of? Society."

Spoken by barkeep Moe Szyslak in the "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace" episode of "The Simpsons," these words have never felt more true than today. You see, last night I apprehended two individuals who had (allegedly, of course) jimmied open my security gate and were busy touring the (purportedly) possible points of entry in the front of my house when I happened upon them.

What these (suspected, mind you) trespassers failed to comprehend is that hell hath no fury like a middle-age woman in a fuzzy pink robe hopped up on a winning combination of allergy medicine, "Alias" reruns and anger.

The second I realized what was happening, I fancied myself a high-kicking, martial-arts-knowing, wig-flipping CIA operative like Miss Jennifer Garner starring as Sydney Bristow. I sprung into action, my catlike reflexes on full display.

At least, that's how I like to imagine I looked. In actuality, I expect anyone who witnessed the scene unfolding found it more reminiscent of "The Andy Griffith Show's" Gomer Pyle yelping "Citizen's arrest! Citizen's arrest!" while galumphing down the street waving an iPhone that perfectly matched his housecoat.

Fortunately, my husband can run more than half a block before collapsing in a heap of pastel terrycloth, so he managed to detain the (assumed) perpetrators until the police arrived. The (possible) miscreants were weighed down in the kind of layered hippie clothing last seen praying for a miracle at a Grateful Dead show, so they weren't exactly truckin', either. My point is they were caught, likely more a function of the Chicago PD's quick response and less because of my valiant efforts.

As my husband and I conducted our post-mortem of the event, we discussed how it feels like society has gone downhill since we were kids. Growing up, I couldn't even fathom the idea of a potential home invasion. The greatest crime I could name back then was that Brooke Shields didn't personally respond to my fan mail.

OK, technically, I wrote to hit her up for some free Calvin Klein jeans, but still -- I'm sure she had plenty to spare and my letters were charming. (What comes between you and your Calvins, Brooke? Apparently your terrible attitude.)

Anyway, through our debate I figured out what the catalyst has been for our societal slide. Our problems didn't start with the Republicans or the Democrats. They weren't caused by Ted Turner's introduction of the 24-hour news cycle or the Cold War or the mortgage industry.

The blame for our downward spiral can neatly be placed at the feet of Starbucks.

Don't get me wrong -- I greatly admire how the Starbucks Corp. runs its business. I respect their use of fair-trade products, their concern for the environment and their groundbreaking efforts in providing benefits for part-time employees. More important, I adore Starbuck's consistently high-quality products so much that at any given time my blood type is basically "Iced Caramel Macchiato (With Two Splendas.)"

The problem is that once consumers started paying four bucks for a delicious coffee, they didn't want to throw it out before heading into previously beverage-free bastions like stores, churches, classrooms, etc. My theory is that our compulsive Starbucks consumption prompted us to stop following the "No Food or Drinks" rule. The issue here is that this tenet had been just as much of a societal pillar as "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and "Respect the Sabbath" and "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service."

I firmly believe that being allowed to circumvent one of the very basic rules of society has opened the gateway to our growing more lax in all things moral/ethical/legal.

Now I'm not claiming that the Java Chip Frappuccino Blended Beverage is directly responsible for two (alleged) idiots attempting to gain entry to my home. Although, really, that's for a judge to decide. However, I worry that our culturally cavalier attitude toward basic rules could lead us down the slippery slope to complete and total anarchy.

Now, I guess the real question is: Can I bring a coffee to court?

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