Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Break Total Recall

The strip was full of people.  Some were walking, more like strutting.  Some were riding in the back of pick ups. Bass pumping hard from cars going by at 10 miles an hour.

Girls in bikinis.  Guys without shirts.  Every now and then you'd here someone shout "yee-haw" or "hell yeah."

Everywhere you looked people were checking each other out. Except me.  I could be found crouching in the back of a van wishing I was anywhere else in the world.

Yeah, that's right, this was my spring break circa 1989.  Keith Sweat's "I Wanna Make You Sweat" was the jam blasting from the IROC-Zs slowly passing by.  And one of the women strutting the unruly streets of Panama City, Florida was my mother.  

My God-fearing aunt was driving the van we kids (my brother, sister and cousin) and grandmother were hiding in.  "Get in the car Sissy," my aunt pleaded with my mother.

I watched as my mother soaked up the attention of the opposite sex.  The brake lights from the pick ups were like a spotlight.  She was loving it--her chest out proud, smiling from ear to ear, blowing kisses to her fans.  She was a cougar before being a cougar was presumably cool.

She knew how to strut march, she was in fact a majorette in high school. She told the story of marching in the Orange Bowl Parade every January when I was growing up.  

Just like every bad and good novel about a crazy southern lady she was stuck in the past and bruised and scarred by the ugliness of life.  A life that dealt her a hand that she couldn't handle--car accident, divorce, betrayal, mental illness, psychiatrists overprescribing--too much of everything.

To an impressionable 13-year-old girl however, it was all embarrassing.  I was embarrassed that my over-sexualized mother who was strutting the strip.  
What I find most disturbing about this picture (and there are many things) is that my makeup and hair are pretty much the same--pink frosted gloss and bad roots. Ugh.
I was taking mental notes though.  It would take years and years to reconcile all my sexual confusion.  The whole "Am I using you or are you using me" thing.  

Spring break.  Back when I was 13 I thought it was cool, but scary.  In my twenties I thought it was okay, but overrated.  

Now in my thirties, as a parent to four young children including one very impressionable daughter, I find it to be both scary and overrated.

I heard Panama City is much nicer now.  And I'm sure there are no more mullets and hopefully sunscreen is the new baby oil.  But oh hell, you better believe I'm scared.  Scared like only a completely scarred, over-exposed child of the eighties that is now a mother can be.

Thank god we are a few years away from requests of beach trips with friends. (And my answer will always be "no" by the way. I've seen too much.)

For now, I will enjoy games of UNO, complaints of being "so bored," family slumber parties and ripping my hair out because I just can't take it anymore.

"Why do you say god damn it whenever one of us gets hurt?," Lucy asked me yesterday.  Because she too is taking notes.

My 10 year old son is starting to notice women in commercials and say things like "wow look at her" about a woman in a bikini in of course, what else,  a car commercial. "You like girls in bikinis now huh?," Lucy asked her big brother taking out her mental notepad.

I vow, right here, right now to never strut in front of my children especially my daughter.  I vow to figure out how to teach my daughter to embrace her sexuality when she is a young woman and not to be afraid, ashamed, confused or use it to manipulate or pull sad insecure power plays.  I vow to teach my sons to respect women and not objectify them (this is where you, the reader, roll your eyes and say "good luck").

Looking back I feel sad for that scared 13-year-old hiding in the van.  And I feel sad for that mother strutting for approval and attention.  I also feel love and compassion for them. And I feel most grateful that I never have to be in Panama City ever again. 

This song-"Gonna Make You Sweat"-brings back horrible flashbacks, but the video is kind of funny--nothing sexier than the running man.

Just for fun, here's another fun song that brings back a few flashbacks, but some fun memories too. "Red light, yellow light, green light, go." Love the hair on classic Def Leppard.

1 comment:

  1. "Scared like only a completely scarred, over-exposed child of the eighties that is now a mother can be."

    are we sisters?