For months and months and months after he’d seen the old ice-cream freezer in my house, Mikey wanted to make ice cream. I always put him off because I didn’t really KNOW how to make ice cream. Finally I read a recipe in the cook book my Aunt Martha had given me so I knew. It was just — as I always believed — frozen milk with other stuff added in. Then came a day, one of the best days of my life and maybe one of the best days of the boys’ lives. On the way home from the BMX jumps, we stopped by the store where I bought salt and everything we needed to grill burgers and roast marshmallows — and make ice-cream. Mikey was over the moon, plus I was letting him sit in the middle front seat of the Ford Ranger so he could shift. Really, when is life better than THAT???
I know not every late-30s/early-40’s woman hangs out with a half a dozen kids, but we were friends.
Mikey and his brother lived about a block from me, up the alley. Their friends from school hung around on weekends. I had a truck. The BMX jumps were at the urban wilderness park where I hiked. The rest is history.
We got home from our hot afternoon — August 15, 1992 — and I set Mikey up with the ice cream freezer. I gave Jason a can of WD40 so he could see what was up with the old Ford in the back of my back yard. Jimmy disappeared and I found him in my room writing a story on my Macintosh (old school, black and white screen, etc.). Mike Smith — the tragedy of the long story that was our lives — was still around and he just helped out generally. Mike Smith was a natural athlete and a charismatic character with a prescient home tattoo of flames on his ankle.
I was still making the video of the boys at the jumps, so I hauled out the camera and video taped that late afternoon as part of the film we were making. It’s all on videotape in my “studio” play room, whatever. I also took still pictures that evening and I”m happy I did. It turned out to be a very important day for everyone in that yard.
And the ice cream was good. We put strawberries on top and Mikey didn’t even mind being pretty much the only guy turning the crank.
My theory of life and maturation is that we have to go through all the stages of life sooner or later. I missed out on my adolescence, so I had to make up for it. This happened in my early 40s. I was floundering around trying to figure out where to go next with life and this transition — the one I’d missed — was necessary if I was going to move forward. Since I don’t want to write a true confessions here (fascinating though the story is!) suffice it to say that when I think of the music I grew up with, I think of bands like Primus, Alice In Chains, Nine Inch Nails, and Ministry, not The Beatles. I was a huge fan of industrial punk music (still am). It was a natural transition from loving hardcore in the 80s.
I have a clear and happy memory of going to a movie with some friends and sitting in the back seat on the way to a bar, singing “Jesus Built my Hotrod” with Gavin. “Jesus built my hotrod. It’s a love affair, mainly Jesus and my hotrod.”
So, Gen X? Thank you for the music.
What was it like being 19 at age 41? For one thing, I wasn’t underage, but I might have had to buy a six-pack at a 7-11 for friends (from Europe, truth). The people I hung around with were mostly in their 20s. I was pretty well-preserved (at that point) and the only giveaway (according to one of my friends) was my “old lady hands.”
Music. The Boys on Bikes (with whom I hung out more than anyone else, the kids in my neighborhood) were at the age when people define themselves by the stuff they listen to. My truck had a tape deck (88 Ford Ranger) and out of that thing blared Metallica (often) Pearl Jam (not for long) and then the day came when Jimmy (age 16) said, “You’ll like this,” and plopped a Sex Pistols tape in. Of course I liked it. I’d always liked it. That was followed by Dead Kennedy’s (“Holiday in Cambodia” was their favorite but it’s profoundly truthful so why not?) Then there was Fart No More.
That whole moment of my life was filled with hiking, mountain bike riding, concerts, friends and music. Teaching? I was earning a living. I remembered thinking that the whole idea of a midlife crisis was stupid but I was having one.
As I write this blog, I listen to a radio station in Kansas City that plays this music every morning between 9 and 10 (their time). It’s great. Brings back my youth.
(featured photo: Hallowe’en costume. It made people scream because they didn’t see it until they got close enough)
Daily Prompt Adult Visions As a kid, you must have imagined what it was like to be an adult. Now that you’re a grownup (or becoming one), how far off was your idea of adult life?
“You’re Peter Pan. You have all these kids following you around. You know why? You never grow up.” A long ago colleague’s take on me.
I walk away from my office chagrined and confused. Thank goodness my friends are waiting in the back of the truck. “We going to Mission, Martha?”
“I have to just drop you off and go home and get the dogs unless you want to go home with me and get the dogs then go.”
“We’ll go home with you.”
“Yeah, I’ll go see my mom for a minute.”
“Cool. Let’s rock’n’roll.”
“I got this, well my uncle Jim made it, you’re going to like it.” Tape in tape deck. Air instruments deployed.
“You know what, Martha?”
“No tell me.”
“What’s weird is you’re just like us. I mean except you’re a lady and stuff and you’re smart, and you teach college and shit, but otherwise, you’re just like us.”
“What do you mean?”
“You just want to do this, don’t you? You just want to ride your bike and hike with your dogs and hang out with us.”
“That’s true, Craig.”
“Martha! Martha! Martha! Martha!”
“My horse pooped.”
“Yeah, they’re good at that. I gotta’ go grade papers. See you later alligator.”
“See you later blablerbater.”
He’s close to getting it.
And so I sit here, a retiree, a senior citizen, writing this prompt, thinking about the question, looking something like my maternal grandmother, wearing my favorite Clash t-shirt and wondering what I thought it would be to be an adult. All I ever thought it would be was inevitable. My childhood was serious. My teen years even more so. I learned during those times that without a spirit of play, a person is lost. I think what many think of as being an adult is someone without that spirit, without the ability to “Jump Death.”