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No More Shanghai Barbecues

March 1, 2004

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was a repeat from the summer of 2002, and there was guitar music, surf style, right off the bat. Though I've never been surfing, I did go waterskiing once and nearly lost the bottom of my bathing suit. No one warned me, see, and I recall uttering a word or two I won't repeat here. Once I got up on the skis, though, I was fine and spent a lovely afternoon skimming over waves on a lake at my parents' cabin in northern Wisconsin.

That was after I met Mr. Sundberg and before the kids. I did things then I wouldn't -- or can't -- do now. I stayed up all night some nights for no reason at all but to look for meteors or read books or watch old movies. I drove a bit faster and was pulled over on several occasions for driving over the speed limit. After two tickets, I got smart and set my radio so I could press a button and BOOM -- there was the gospel channel. When those flashing lights appeared once more, I sat up straight, hit the button and turned up the volume. Wouldn't you know, Amazing Grace rolled on out over the pavement and into the corn and that poor young officer didn't stand a chance. He nearly apologized for stopping me and asked most politely if I would consider slowing down in the future.

Well, I did slow down. Not right away, mind you, but once the kids came along I had to re-focus. No more road trips without a destination. No more Shanghai barbecues or toga nights. Mr. Sundberg's motorcycle had to go along with the futon and the '69 Dodge Dart and a significant degree of spontaneity. Not that I'm complaining. One tattoo is enough for now, and it's about time to trade in the station wagon.

Saturday night during the show, I told the kids about the Beach Boys, and Jan and Dean and the story of DeadMan's Curve and how they should always, always drive safely and they said, Let's go surfing for our summer vacation. The thing I hadn't considered is when you have children, you get to go back. I had forgotten how good it feels to color pictures of birds and read aloud and take deep baths and sing. My kids got me running barefoot again, and collecting rainwater in old buckets and thinking about things like rope swings and watermelon and what it feels like to fly. Seems like surfing would come darn close.

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