Sunday, May 30, 2010

Of Enchiladas and Encephalitis

A couple nights ago I met up with some old friends from high school. Our numbers are dwindling, and the groups get smaller with each successive reunion. We’ve scattered, dispersed, changed. It’s the inevitable fact of life that people leave—you yourself leave—you move on. When I was younger, this bothered me immensely. Now I’ve accepted it for what it is and instead look forward to new meetings and encounters, and cherish all the more strongly the relationships that really last.

Anyway, the six of us met downtown for some good Mexican food and chattered on with our requisite catching up on the past semester’s activities. We’re a science-heavy group, and all but one of us are Biology majors, so despite our differences in curriculum and locales we had a lot in common to compare and contrast our “shared” experiences.

Afterwards, we tromped off to a nearby park as twilight fell, passing on the way an odd production of Shakespeare. The play was A Comedy of Errors, but the set was clearly St. Louis, and the actors were all wearing Cardinals uniforms. I’m not sure how well Shakespeare translates to modern-day Missouri, and I’ll never know since I couldn’t hear their words through their overly-exaggerated but poorly enunciated hick-British accents and lack of microphones. We walked on.

If I thought up a list of the most dangerous things for children to play with, gigantic rocks might be up there, following piranhas and machetes. But apparently playground designers beg to differ, for in the middle of the park sat a giant fake rock. “Fake” in the sense that it was obviously not naturally occurring (unless a meteoroid had struck the center of Springfield, MO but forgotten to leave a crater), and if you tapped on it hard enough it sounded hollow, but you would also cut and bruise your hand for it looked and felt very rock-like. It was probably about eight feet tall at the highest point, and had crude “natural” steps coming up one side. All the other sides, however, were either vertical drops or actually slanted backwards, probably to discourage climbing but really having the exact opposite effect. There were, of course, no warning signs anywhere about parental supervision. A tiny plaque on the side of the rock said that it was recommended for children aged five to 12 and might cause death if installed over concrete. Luckily, the park directors had installed it over shredded tires. Safe! Painful on the feet! Enough to cushion a landing, but not enough to prevent a neck from being broken if someone tumbled down headfirst from the slippery precipice!

So, of course, we climbed it. Including the backwards-slanted side, which had neither handholds nor footholds, and which I completely failed to summit after nearly mooning everyone else in the party and destroying a day’s worth of upper body strength. There were also a handful of young children—no parents in sight—who fearlessly joined us strangers and catapulted themselves from the sides while I winced. The guys in our group attempted jumping and rolling from the top (success) and doing a back flip off the walls (repeated complete failure, accompanied by multiple pathetic sprays of tire shreds).

Afterwards, we sat and talked in the dark. A baseball game at the nearby stadium ended, and there was a pretty cool fireworks display. We ooh-ed and ah-ed appropriately.

Topics of discussion ranged from the extraordinarily efficient microflora in cattle stomachs (did you know that you can cut a hole in a cow’s side entering the digestive system, leaving it permanently open to the outside world, and everything will be hunky-dory?) to the ruthlessly cutthroat and competitive industry of apple farming and copyrighted fruits (those hybridization laws are intense) to whether or not you could kill someone with a Taser if you first dipped them in salt water and them positioned the probes far enough apart. Yeah, we’re nerds, I guess.

Eventually we parted, this time for at least another year. It had been a nice meeting, with good food and good old friends. Some of us were going off to summer classes, others to continuing research products, some to jobs.

We’ve all entered the real world.

We’re grown up.

I’m grown up.

When the hell did that happen?


Annah said...

Your pictures are absolutely beautiful and different. Loved stopping by.

Mozart said...

Thanks a ton! I try to only post my own pics, unless I get really stuck and need to 'borrow' something from the web. Thankfully I haven't had to do that in a while. Which means some photos are pretty out of context, but whatever. ;)

secret agent woman said...

It happens when you are not looking. :)