Because I Can
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Poseidon sends his best wishes to all!
I have a three day weekend, so today my daughter The Spare and I drove down to the beach.
After all these years of living in New Jersey, I still haven't gotten used to the fact that you can get in the car at 11:00 and be at the beach at noon, or a little afterward. Where I grew up, getting to the beach was a long, boring ordeal that included a picnic lunch along the side of the road, sitting at an ant-infested table under a saggy pine tree.
Not now! The beach is a hop, skip, and jump. And to me, it's always a miracle when I haven't yawned once, and I'm crossing the causeway into Ocean City.
The day was picture perfect -- too cool to wade, but otherwise sunny and pleasant. O.C. was crowded, but not as crowded as it is in the summertime. All the stores on the boardwalk were open. Spare and I brought back two pounds of salt water taffy. I didn't know you can freeze it! You read it here first!
The amusement parks were open too. Spare took me into one that she had been in before, just to show me which scary rides she'd been on. And that's when I saw it. The carousel.
It was an old-fashioned carousel with lovely old horses, three across and each with its own color scheme and pose.
Something grabbed hold of me. I said to The Spare, "Let's ride the carousel!"
She looked at me as only a 15-year-old will when her 50-year-old mom proposes doing something that basically appeals to no one over six.
As I dragged her to the ticket booth, she loudly protested that this was the most embarrassing, most humiliating, most ridiculous thing she'd ever been asked to do in her life. What if news of this gets on Facebook? What if -- all the bored gods forbid -- someone she knows sees her?
And yet she followed me to the ticket booth, and into the line for the carousel, and onto the carousel, and up onto a horse. All the while shooting me looks of dramatic dudgeon that didn't fail to mask her enjoyment of the experience.
So we rode the carousel to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Meet Me In St. Louis." When it stopped and we got off and returned to the boardwalk, I said it was the most fun I'd had in a long time. She said I ought to get out more often.
Then I told her, "You don't understand. Why did you think I wanted to ride the carousel?"
She said doggoned if she could figure it out, except that I'm always doing weird things, there was nothing new about this one.
I answered: "Yes, I am weird. I'll give you that. But I rode the carousel because I can."
A year ago this week I was in rehab for a hip replacement, wearing hospital socks and practicing going up and down steps. I needed help getting in and out of my clothing. Twelve months later, I can walk 16 blocks of boardwalk (up 8, down 8) and get on and off a carousel horse without any assistance or pain.
This was more than just a "let's see if I can get on a carousel horse" experiment, though. Youth is a state of mind. The minute you become too old to get on a carousel, you might as well pack it in. When does riding a carousel stop being fun, if you aren't disabled?
Today, riding a bright carousel horse as it whisked in circles and bobbed up and down was my act of praise and worship. You don't need a fountain to be eternally young.