Friday, March 11, 2011

Running with Shovel, Dancing with Plunger

When I was seventeen, I was cruising down the main street of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania in my super cool station wagon at a top speed of ten miles per hour. It was a warm spring day and all of my friends were packed into the car hanging out the open windows. Suddenly, I heard a knock on my window and was ordered to pull over by a police officer on foot. My front-seat passenger was issued a citation for not wearing his seatbelt and I was given a stern lecture about how it was the driver’s responsibility to control the passenger’s actions. All of this occurred in front of a school and I was more embarrassed by the fact that I was chased down by the foot patrol.

Now that I have officially morphed from an irresponsible youth into an adult with responsibilities, I often look back with thoughts of “what was I thinking?” and “why was that even fun?” At my 21st birthday party, I recall seeing a friend on the dance floor thrusting a plunger into the air like a king of the porcelain throne commanding his subjects to perform. The 21-year old me, despite knowing that the plunger had been used, thought it was funny and even wished I had grabbed it first. The responsible adult me cringes at the thought of all the germs and pulls out her bottle of hand sanitizer.

A few days ago, a friend reminded me that things are different now. “It’s not like it was back when we were underage” she texted. Abruptly I felt as old as my parents and recalled the “back when I was your age we walked eight miles to school each way uphill in the snow” statements and my grandmother’s laments of how “you people just don’t know how easy you have it” and how she had to prove she knew English when she applied for her US citizenship. Not that this was a huge effort as she had moved from her French Canadian town before she could even crawl!

Everyone remembers the lies their parents told them and the vows we made to never turn into them. Oh the vicious circle and history repeating itself! Sometimes, just for a fleeting moment, perhaps in an effort to hold on to those days gone by, I would just like to grab a hold of something stupid, even a shovel, and run through the streets of my small Southern town shouting at the top of my lungs. No worries, no concerns, no purpose. Wouldn’t that be something to behold?