Meat and Potatoes of Life: A summer scheme’s remembered

| July 19, 2013 | 0 Comments
Lisa Smith Molinari

Lisa Smith Molinari

Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer

On any given summer night, the teens of our great nation take to the streets of their respective towns, in search of something to do. They can be seen outside pizza joints, ice cream stands and movie theaters, doing what teenagers do best: hanging out.

Except for parachute pants, banana clips and Pat Benatar, things were pretty much the same when I was a teenager.

After summer chores, like grass cutting and weeding green beans, sometimes supplemented with an hour of laying out coated in tanning oil, I was released by my parents to search for fun in our little western Pennsylvania town.

The first step in hatching a plan for the evening was a telephone call to my best friend, Patti (except for that boring summer when she had a boyfriend), on the rotary candlestick phone in my bedroom. The second step was to confirm that neither of us was invited to a party (a rarity) or had a date (not a chance). The final step was to decide on transportation, which was almost always my dad’s enormous 1977 Chevy Blazer.

I’d pick Patti up at her house, and after applying copious amounts of lip gloss and making sure our bangs looked just right, we’d cruise the town.

Our journey always started with a drive by the local arcade. “Games 101” was a hangout of sorts, and although Patti and I didn’t really give two shakes about Asteroids or Ms. Pac-Man, we knew that the arcade was a veritable command center, where all information on teenage social events was collected and disseminated.

Sometimes, we scored big and received word of a bonfire in Bennett’s woods or a party at the house of a classmate we all referred to as “Meatball,” but usually, Patti and I drove around for hours, all glossed up, trying to not look too desperate.

Some nights, we’d scrape together a few goofy girlfriends and go to the local drive-in movie theater, the Palace Gardens. Refusing to spend our hard-earned grass cutting/ice cream scooping money on overpriced admission, we employed certain well-known strategies for avoiding the normal admission price.

For example, on nights when the Palace Gardens offered a one-price-per-carload special, we’d pack nearly a dozen teenage girls, big bangs and all, into one vehicle. On regular admission nights, we’d reduce our costs by hiding two unlucky girls into the dog crate my father built into the back of the Blazer. It was a struggle to keep straight faces while driving by the ticket booth.

If we were feeling particularly daring (or cheap), we’d sneak into the Palace Gardens by crawling through an opening in the fence. On one such occasion, six of us made the attempt.

We had heard rumors that the management was cracking down on teens who refused to pay by lacing the fence with some kind of foul concoction made from watered down cow manure. We all knew that nothing could ruin one’s chances of getting a boyfriend like stepping in poo, so we were particularly cautious that night.

Using hand signals, as if we were executing a special ops raid on an Al-Qaeda compound, we snuck through the woods and permeated the fence without any mishaps.

Or so we thought.

The nightly double feature included the new hit “Porky’s,” but once inside the fence, we headed straight for the large group of loitering teens near concessions. On the way, we realized that one of our comrades had been hit.

“What’s that smell?” Peggy whispered.

Our sniffing noses soon found the source of the pungent odor: Andrea’s Jordache jean cuff had been tainted by the enemy’s foul biological weapon.

Poor Andrea spent the evening at a distant picnic table so as to avoid humiliation, but the rest of us had a great time mingling among the cars under the stars on a balmy summer night.

And now, when I see today’s teens acting out their own midsummer night’s scheme, I remember my youth, smile and hope that all their dreams of summer fun come true.

(A 20-year Navy spouse and mother of three, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” appears in military and civilian newspapers and on “Stripes Military Moms” website, www.the; follow @MolinariWrites.)

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