Saturday, July 29, 2006

"Kids! Why Can't They Be Like We Were, Perfect in Every Way?"

Do you remember the song. "Kids!" from the musical "Bye Bye Birdie"? Click on the highlighted words in this blog. It will take you to a song lyrics website that has the very clever lyrics to a great song. The chorus that I founded sings that song every few years because I find it so amusing. Here's one reason why.

Recently I was visiting my elderly parents in Houston, Texas, and I found myself in an automobile travelling south on the Gulf Freeway towards Galveston. I started laughing and my mother asked what me was so funny. I told her that it was nothing and just forget it. That was the end of that.

I will tell you what it was, though. I will tell you what I was laughing at.

When I was ten years old, I went to spend the night at David's house. David was a friend of mine from school who lived on soda pop and therefore had weak little bones that snapped like twigs. I say that because he fell out of a tree in my front yard that he had not even gotten into yet, fell a very short distance, and yet broke his arm. As an adult, I am sure that it was because David lived on soda pop and never drank milk. David also slept on his back constantly as a baby. Now I'm not so sure this is true, but that was my theory as a ten year old boy because the back of David's head was flat as a pancake cooked on a level stove in the Texas panhandle. Anyway, I digress.

Driving down the Gulf Freeway as a mature, grown man with my wonderful mother and sister, I saw the billboard that reminded me of that night at David's house. We slept in a tent in his backyard, and after some difficulty falling asleep, we started "messin' around." We were probably having trouble sleeping because it was summer time and Houston gets mighty hot, humid, and sticky. It could also have been the mosquitos that are so humongous that their proboscis will wake you up when they penetrate your epidermis. Or it could have been our conversation.

"Want do you want to do?
"I don't know. What do you want to do?"
"I don't know."
"I know! We could go climb the billboard."
"What billboard?"
"There's a billboard down the street that's right on the freeway. It's all lit up with big floodlights and we can go climb it and stand right in front of the sign."
"Neat-O! Let's go."

We walked down the street from his house to the big freeway, and David showed me how to climb up on the huge, lighted billboard. I found myself ("I found myself" is an appropriate expression, as if I fell off a turnip truck and there I was) standing in front of a giant picture of a cold, sweating bottle of beer, and beside me, my flat headed friend.

"Can anyone see us?"
"If they're looking they can."
"Well let's wave so they'll see us."

That became tiresome rather quickly.

"What if they do see us? So what? All they'll see is a couple o' kids wavin' at 'em. We need to do something that'll really shock 'em.
"What can we do?"
"I don't know."
"I know! We could strip down to our underwear and then stand here and wave. If anyone sees us then they'll say, "Oh My God! Look at those two kids there!"
"Yeah! And then the other person in the car will say, 'What kids? I didn't see any kids.' "
"Yeah! And then the first person will say, 'Those two kids on that billboard. They were in their underwear!' "
'Yeah! Let's do it!"

So off came our pants. There we stood, two fourth grade boys in our underwear standing in front of a giant bottle of Schlitz waving at people driving down the Gulf Freeway at midnight.

I know firsthand that boys will do stupid stuff. So when your kid does something stupid, don't be surprised. Don't even act surprised. But you might want to wonder what other stuff he has done that he hasn't gotten caught doing. And then you can worry about how the little demon will turn out! That ought to keep you up at night. And this'll scare you out of your wits: David became a lawyer! And as for me? I became an elementary school teacher and spend my spare time writing blogs like this that serve no purpose whatsoever!

That's why I love the lyrics to that song so much.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I wish I had been brave like you growing up.

I remember a "Leave it to Beaver" where he climbed a billboard and got stuck in a cup of "soup".

You're Beaver!