Being Stalked by the Metamorphosis of Life at age 17
This painful narrative tried to take off toward the middle--but then somehow fizzles at the end. Kinda like life. (Kenneth.)
Be forewarned: This is a pretty much, sad account in narrative form about me, age 17, driving my first brand-new car right off the lot, (Dewel Emerson Auto Sales--Hamilton Ala., no longer there)a gem of a ride: my 1974 Plymouth Duster, two doors; vinyl rolled seats, a vinyl top and a 318 cubic inch engine which is dedicated to all gear heads: eat it up, man! I loved that car. I did. In 1974, church congregation, mine, mostly old folks but good at heart, would always caution me about two things when I would meet them on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m., These, (I will not publicize the denomination) folks were sticklers for being punctual.
These well-doing folks would tell me the evils of "worldly things" and how I should not love the world or the evil elements therein and while that was settling in my young mind, I was told that my age, 17, was a definite "walk in a land mine course," and with that, I just had to ask: "Is it me and my age, 17, headed for a walk in a land mine course," or do you think that all seventeen-year old's are headed toward destruction?" I wasn't being respectful. Not one big, but very truthful. I was preoccupied about it being only one year away from signing what life that I had for the Selective Service and The Draft, so why not be honest--old or whatever age? The man who asked about my age got his feelings hurt. I knew that he felt this way for he never offered to shake hands with me from that Sunday forward.
What, pray tell, more sensible readers, was I supposed to say? "Yes, sir. I know that me being 17 means trouble with a capital "T" and that stands for trips up and down the highway with a lovely young girl beside me with the wind whistling in her hair," but I couldn't. I just let the truth be told and let the waves of hatred start breaking on my life. On the downside, if I "had" told this man about the lovely girls whom I wanted to date and ride with me in my car, I guess that would have been the same as the church giving me a One-Way Ticket to The Lake of Fire. Punctual and strict.
My 1974 Plymouth Duster, I forgot to say, was black in color with factory-trimmed gold stripes. I felt like I had an "in" when it came to getting the girls, but you know something? At this time in my chaotic seventeen-year-old life, getting girls was not my primary goal. Actually I had no goals to speak of. That is why God made mom's. I could always count on my sainted mother to always keep me reminded that I was in need to be employed. Yes, mom. I am aware of the need to work. I will find a job soon and pay for my new ride, I would say often. Listen. In 1974, I was using the slang, "ride" before the Hip Hop section of Los Angeles, Compton to be exact, started using it. I am not lying.
Being 17, honestly, was very monotonous. Maybe not for you, but it was for me. Get up at 6 a.m., drink black coffee, watch WBRC, Channel 6, Birmingham, to watch Country Boy Eddie (no longer there) get to work before 7 a.m., punch the timeclock, slave around 8 hours at less than the Federally-based Minimum Wage and head home to start it all over again. The guinea pig running on a wheel now pops into my mind. This was the best metaphor in describing me, the 17-year-old version of me.
Ever now and then, one of "those" girls whom all 17-year-old guys dream about would appear as if someone in a secret lab near my town had summoned her. Imagine this. She looked in every way like Gal Gadot, the girl who broke box office records as "Wonder Woman," and I for one, do not have any problem with her, the film, or her acting whatsoever. Sometimes I wonder why girls like Gadot did not exist in my hometown? Not a complex question. Einstein would grow bored quickly if he were challenged to answer this question. I would ask you, dear readers, do you think when I meet God in Eternity, He would mind me asking why He didn't send Gadot to Hamilton, where I lived and was very lonely for a girlfriend like her?
Here is my point: in about the time from being 17 and then 21, something happens to people of all races, tongues, and national origin. I wish that I had Sally Jesse Raphael here with me to discuss this thing that I named: The Metaphormosis of Life, so she could enlighten me and I could publish (this) candidate for being an award winner. I miss Sally so much. Her show had what people in the 30s called "Pizz-azz" and if you are in the entertainment field and have pizz-azz, you have better than a decent chance to taste success by the trainloads. Your face in every magazine color, your name on the lips of employees who still use a break room for a needed 10 a.m. cup of black coffee. Pizz-azz has to be the key to all areas of success.
When my Metamorphosis of Life began, I was 20 years old--still riding around on weekend nights, talking to my (few) high school friends, burning gasoline, and trying hard to find a working network to help me meet a girl like Gal Gadot, but in my day, she was not even born. Rats! But I would have loved to met her even before she became a "Cinema Darling" for most heterosexual males across the world. Can you blame her?
The moment, the exact moment that I recall being absorbed by the Metamorphosis of Life was on (a) Friday, at 4 p.m., June 14, as my time card clicked in the timeclock signalling me that it was now the weekend! No overtime to work. Time to ride with the wind--talk with buddies, talk about girls, money, and jobs. There it was. The chemical/chromosome make-up of my physical body was changing as the topics of money and jobs came into view when I met Gary Childers who was now out of high school and following along with the Dumb Sheep like me growing deeper and deeper into a annoying, life-sucking routine that spelled: Adulthood.
Oh, how right my chemical make-up was. I almost wept. But if I had wept, my friend, Gary, a World-Class Prankster, would have it all over town in mere minutes about me crying about something sensitive. Sensitive? Us? The Ruralites of The South? May be. I didn't find any other clever answer. Adulthood: the proverbial Black Wolf in Sheep's Clothing had bit me and taken a chunk of my youth that almost disabled me.
Now instead of talking about how hot a new waitress was at some teen hang-out, I began getting interested in things like: saving money for the future and rainy days, things like that to make matters even more chaotic, our jobs became like obsessions with us. It was why certain things the management did certain things with certain methods and why didn't we, although we were of seniority status, were paid the same as a newbie fresh out of high school--things like this. In fact, I can remember a certain Saturday afternoon in late July 1974, when Gary, his brother, James, his buddy, Allan and myself, were parked peacefully at the courtsquare in our hometown--just yakking our lives away and the job (and some Military talk) was so intense that we witnessed two hot girls in their early 20s, one a Golden Blond and her friend, an Auburn Redhead both with long flowing hair flying in the July wind in the driver's 1969 Chevelle and with a twist: it ran Thrust glass pipes that made the car sound like the twister on the film, "Twister," with Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. We guys loved that sound.
But even the blond and redhead weren't near enough to cause us to check them out because our mindset was, and I now feel so ashamed to say this, our future and what we were headed on doing for a 20 or 30-year stretch. Adulthood. What a volatile mistress. One night she loved us and the next night kicked out butt of of her apartment with no breakfast.
My buddies and I didn't see the change from teen to adulthood all at once. No. I know that it was not all due to us being slow learners, stubborn maybe, not to suddenly throw our arms into the free air and shout, "We have arrived, World!" We did in our time, do a lot of things that can be considered then and now to be stupid. Lasting things that bear bringing up at every opportunity when we meet somewhere with our wives with shopping list in hand and one eye looking at us for these girls knew us. We confessed most (but not all) of our teenage shenanigans. We had to leave something on the cob for us to dream about.
With the progression of change from youth into maturity, there went chasing hot girls, playing our music loud as technologically-possible, talking and laughing at full-speed with no worry if the sun were going to rise again in the east in this day and time. We were young, alive, and full of youthful ambition. Much like and compared to ambition being fresh water poured to the brim of a 55-gallon barrel and day by day, that drum which represented our lives, was, without out noticing, was drained out every so slow--never to be gained again.
With that fact came children, mortgages, receding hairlines, spreading midriff's, being fired for no reason, going to college (the first time) when we knew that just working was not enough. And watching our children grow slowly into those carved ruts that we carved and now stumbling along to fit into our tracks.
Adulthood: The First Cousin of Depression. Maybe next time.
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© 2017 Kenneth Avery