JILL BARRETT: A GENERIC OFFERING
One afternoon last summer, my 7-year-old niece and I were roller-skating in the park and talking about the finer things in life. These things, we agreed, included blue food, bad TV, parent-free zones and staying up all night. The cool thing about being a grown-up, I told her, is that you have access to these things all the time. "Oh, Aunt Jill," she said, rolling her eyes contemptuously. "You're not a grown-up."
I took my niece's remark as a compliment. Accurate, too, because society has had to drag me kicking and screaming into adulthood. I still think beer is a food group, duct tape and Crazy Glue solve any household problem and Silly String is an appropriate party favor. Yeah, I worry about my anemic IRA and am investigating retirement options. I know I'm getting older but dammit, I refuse to get any wiser.
Increasingly, I find myself having to fake an interest in other people's children and their home improvements, while I continue to decorate in yellow "Crime Scene" tape, glow-in-the-dark solar systems and bizarre votive candles that have religious tales printed in Spanish. I won't go the Spiegel route and I promise you, I won't back down on this.
I'm taking a stand on other things as well. Road trips stay, man! You hear me? And I'm not talking about those take-the-kids-to-see-the-Grand-Canyon or driving-because-it's-too-expensive-to-fly. I'm talking about piling into a car because you have nothing better to do and a few days in which to do it and just driving thataway. Or that way - doesn't matter.
Like the trip to Wisconsin I took some years ago. I needed cheese and where better to go and get it? Cheese was the final goal of the trip, but part of the point of road trips is the really weird stuff you get to see. I'm happy to report that the road from here to Wisconsin is paved with insanity. When you see a van with the logo "Hunk-O-Rama," you know you'll see some sites.
With any luck, one of those sights will be a CreteN police car. It should be cruising around the vicinity of Crete. Amazing what being a drifter - along with a handy can of paint -will do for your creativity. And somewhere out there is a photo of me dangling from the udder of a really, really large plaster cow. We encountered this cow - along with many others - on the way from Milwaukee to Madison. Yeah, sure, we could have taken a map, but we stopped over in Milwaukee for some beer.
Beer and cheese as a balanced dinner? Heart disease is something grown-ups worry about. It's fun not being a grown-up. You should try it - say, around tax time. Go on, I dare you.