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Three Meter Zone | JD's Bunker | Poetry | Chapel | American Journal



Just Havin' Fun

J. D. Pendry

In our youth, our hearts were touched with fire. - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Five years spent inside the DC beltway is equal to ten thousand stuffed shirt, put on your blue uniform, I'm here because it's expected, I'm uncomfortable, it's hot and I hate it social functions. It's also hours of watching people ooh and ah over the ice carving (seen one seen'em all) and standing in line while the fat guy wearing a chef's hat fries you a little skillet full of pasta - "Sir we have Alfredo, meat sauce, and a very zesty tomato sauce which would you prefer?" Many hours of listening to some plump wife with big hair, big teeth and too much red lipstick on asking, "ooh, did you try the shrimp? And the mushrooms, ooh the mushrooms." It's where happiness was finding a cool adult beverage, a secluded corner and enjoying a six-pack of those little tiny roast beef sandwiches slathered in mustard and horseradish. "Yes ma'am, I did try the shrimp, very good, beeellllcccch, oh my, excuse me. Go ahead, walk away. Geeze, good thing I didn't fart."

The first couple of hundred times at these socials is ok. Then the novelty wears off and you wonder, Ok when's the fun start? Really, it was Groundhog Day. Same faces, same did you try the mushrooms, same schmoozing, same, well you get the point. It was a thing - not fun. I started wondering if these folks could remember fun, or was fun ruled out in lieu of being proper and cultured.

Men, who had lived in the mud while trying to blow up other men looked and acted real proper. Their Ladies always hanging on their arms (is it the left one or the right? - never could get that straight) and sticking their pinkies out while sipping wine or better yet - sparkling water. And on their faces and in their eyes you could read -LET'S BOOGIE, DUMP THIS CHARDONET AND SHRIMP COCKTAIL BABY AND GIMME A BEER AND A CHILI DOG, I WANNA BELCH AND SCRATCH AND JUMP UP AND DOWN AND BELLOW OUT A HOOAH ONCE IN A WHILE like we used to when we were young...and our hearts were touched with fire. But, for some reason they all maintain decorum. It's expected, and after all they're now - uhhemm - sophisticated, learned adults and holding their pinkies out, speaking in muted tones and saying yes dear the ice carving is marvelous is well... fun. Gag.

Tonight I attended another social function. It was quite professional and sophisticated actually. I got all spiffed up in my Blues, bow tie the whole works. We had a receiving line. An honor and color guard as good as any I've seen performed a flag ceremony while posting the national colors - very impressive. There was dinner followed by the standard speech. Then some awards were passed out. Afterwards the colors were professionally retired, again - quite impressive. Then the fogies (the learned adults) left.

Suddenly, ties that were around necks ended up around heads, shirts were on backwards, people were jumping up and down, turning cartwheels, singing (YMCA no less), dancing the electric slide, standing in chairs playing air guitars and singing along with the DJ - nobody sat, nobody stood by the punch bowl, nobody asked me how's the damn shrimp, and everybody was having unconditional...FUN.

Now, some of us have to maintain our bearing and some form of self-control. That's how we're conditioned as learned adults. So I kept my jacket on. Kept my cute little bow tie on. But inside me that leftover teenager was saying LET'S BOOGIE! All of you old farts will be proud. I maintained, kept control, remained true to my learned adult sophistication but... inside those shoes my toes were tapping to the music, my sprit had a tie around its head, and mentally I was out there turning cartwheels.

You see the people I was watching. They were high school students. No one ever told them the definition of fun. They reminded this old guy that sometimes ya just gotta cut loose and not really give a crap if your pinky is sticking out. I think we should all try to get back a little of that fire in our hearts. For me, it was just another reminder about why I took this job... If you hang around with old guys too much, the fire in your heart may become a puff of smoke or it may fizzle out altogether in the drippings of an ice carving.

© 1999 J. D. Pendry