Five years ago when I was a younger whippersnapper in my late fifties, for Fall Break, Judy Birdsong and I rented a house in Saluda, North Carolina. That was the weekend when the brilliant South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore blew out his LCS, a seeming disaster that had me rending my garments and sending bootless cries to deaf heaven. Given the travails we’ve faced in the last two years, the sorrow I suffered over Lattimore’s not–anywhere-close-to-life-threatening injury seems a colossal waste of my precious time and a lesson in the importance of perspective.
The very next weekend, our hometown, the City of Folly Beach, celebrated Follypalooza, one of the frequent offseason festivals when the authorities close off vehicular traffic on Center Street. Follypalooza provides an opportunity for local businesses in the offseason to replenish their depleted coffers as daytrippers promenade up and down the boulevard drinking beer, purchasing sidewalk prepared food, and listening to various bands playing jazz or rock from strategically placed makeshift stages.
In the week between the visit to Saluda and the celebration of Follypalooza 2011, I had written this rather unkind comparison of the two resort communities:
Saluda’s affect – if you can use that word to describe a town – is the complete opposite of Folly’s tawdrylite. Saluda is your great aunt Christina, once a formidable beauty, now a graceful matron, whereas Folly is your second cousin Brandi who sports a giant Minnie Mouse tat on her shoulder and way-too-short cutoff jeans that slice into her thighs.
However, we wouldn’t want it any other way. As my late mother used to say, “It takes all kinds to make the world/Variety is the spice of life.” So during halftime of the South Carolina UMass game yesterday, a glorious, crisp, sun-splashed Day of Saturn, my spiritual advisor James T Crow and I walked the six blocks from our homes to Center Street to check out the festivities.
One unfortunate change from the Follypalooza of five years ago is that to imbibe on the street, you have to purchase a wristband ($2), which means standing in yet another line. The nice, chatty first grade teacher in charge joked about not feeling compelled to have me extract my wallet to provide proof that my date of birth was sometime before 22 October 1995.
As I stood in line, Jim rustled up some barbecue, and we met at the Jack of Cups where we had a front row seat for the bucking shark ride.
Yes, there were a few young kids, a sprinkling of teens, a fair share of tattooed millennials; however, the vast majority of sybarites were old enough to have AARP cards in their wallets, and I witnessed – and what a sad sight it was – doddering hippies, you know men with shoulder length white hair, dressed in tie-dyed t-shirts, wobbling along at a slug’s pace.
My mind wandered off to the nursing home of my future, and I pictured myself among wizened hippies trading stories about how in college they drove halfway across the continent to Mardi Gras while tripping on windowpane acid. “Don’t trust anyone over thirty” was once their dearest slogan, but as Ulysses once said to Achilles, “Time hath, me Lord, a wallet at his back wherein he puts alms to oblivion.”
Yet as Jim and I were preparing to leave, with these melancholy thoughts darkening my day, I bumped into a former student and her mother, a former colleague, pushing in a stroller their son/grandson “Prince Henry.”
Ah yes! Let’s focus on the positive, not the negative. Let’s quit wasting our precious time lamenting the rightful inevitabilities of existence and enjoy the bright sun, the crisp autumn day, the deep blue sky.