Aug 15, 2015

Playing Outside

When I was a kid, I hated bright, sunny days.  I much preferred dark, cloudy, and rainy.

I know, it made me weird.  In People of the Lie, M. Scott Peck states that people who prefer cloudy days are evil, probably demon-possessed.

But I had a good reason for it:

Dark, cloudy days meant that I could stay inside and read, watch tv, or play with my toys.  But the moment the sun came out, my parents would demand "It's a nice day!  Go play outside!"

"But there's nothing to do out there!"

"Nonsense!  Use your imagination!"

They then deposited me on the doorstep with the demand that I not return for two hours.  It was 2:00 pm.

2:00: Usually I sought refuge with a friend whose parents weren't so unreasonable, but one day in the spring of 1970, when I was in fourth grade, my boyfriend Bill was off visiting his grandmother and Greg (who gave me my first kiss) was sick. I knocked on Joel's door, but he wasn't home. I was stuck "playing outside."

2:10: I walked around, admiring the architecture of the houses, trying to distinguish between types of trees, examining ant hills and dandelions.

That took about 5 minutes.

2:15: I walked to Dewey's Candy Store on 22nd Avenue, avoided Dick the Mean Boy, browsed the aisles carefully, and selected a Mars Bar.  About 15 minutes.

2: 30: I walked to Schneider's Drug Store on 38th Avenue, avoiding the Face of Pure Evil (now it's an Aldi's). I   immersed myself in Donald Duck, Casper, and Little Lulu until the clerk yelled "Buy something or get out!."

2:45.  An hour and 15 minutes to go!

I saw a boy I knew from school, and asked "Want to play?"

Ok, but play what?  All of my games are inside.

Um...when my parents were kids, they divided into groups called "Cowboys" and "Indians" and tried to kill each other.

Sounds gross! I'm a pacifist!

We could race down 41st Street.  Whoever gets to 18th Avenue first wins!

Discussion, walking to the starting line, race, congratulations: 15 minutes total.

3:00.  A whole hour to go.  Would this torture never end?

Then I started noticing things.

A teenage boy mowing his lawn. A short-sleeved shirt open to reveal a patch of his tanned hairless chest, his biceps brown and hard.

Two guys repairing a roof, one older guy, one younger, maybe his son.  Their shirts tucked into their pants pockets.  Rippling muscles in their backs and shoulders.

My neighbor from down the block washing his car, naked except for plaid shorts and tennis shoes, husky, hairy, pale.

Three teenagers playing basketball in the schoolyard, their shirts off, their muscles gleaming in the sun.

Two guys hanging out in their backyard, wearing only swimsuits, probably getting ready to go to Longview Park Pool. One massive and solid, the other slim, with a tight chest and abs.

After that, I didn't mind playing outside, at least during the summertime. It gave me lots of opportunities to use my imagination.

See also: The Face of Pure Evil.

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