Enjoying the Ride
I fought authority Friday, and authority won.
The scene was University Park Mall. Myself and three friends escaped campus to take part in that rare opportunity to get off campus and join the wonderful world of retail and free enterprise.
After shopping, we made our way toward the doors nearest the food court. I noticed something I hadn't when we first got to the mall — a miniature merry-go-round with three horses.
Seeing it made 10 years of my life vanish. I was back in my childhood, right there, next to the cheesy bathtub display at the U. P. mall. Only a quarter to ride? There was no way I was passing this up.
I desperately searched my pockets for the change to make this early childhood relic come to life. I could see the excitement in my friends' eyes when I finally found a quarter. They knew they were in for a good time.
I dropped the quarter into the slot and away we went. Three of us, almost uncomfortably crouched in the amusement ride, giggled nervously as each of us secretly felt stupid for riding the brightly colored miniature horses. But deep down inside, we knew we needed this. We needed a release — a return to the innocence we'd been missing for years.
As the merry-go-round slowed down and our heads came down from the clouds, one of my friends felt a tap on her shoulder.
In walked "the law."
"Do y'all want your ticket together?" a strong, arrogant voice asked behind us. "You guys know you're too old to be on that thing."
And there it was — proof that mall cops truly have nothing to do. Did this guy, reminiscent of a body-building, bitter ,academy reject, really have nothing better to do than destroy the youthful spirit of three carousel-riders and their friend, who gleefully looked on? Was he really going to give us a ticket for lawfully paying for a quick ride down memory lane?
Those damn college kids, with their radical tricks, he must've thought. Who do they think they are on that merry-go-round? What kind of statement are they making? I better stop this tomfoolery at once.
It's a good thing he was worrying about four fun-loving college students and not, God forbid, shoplifters.
We left the mall that day with many questions. The incident left us spinning — what was our role in society, as students and young adults? Were we really too old to be young? Were our tax dollars paying this guy to trail innocent mallgoers obviously committing no crimes?
As short and as seemingly unimportant the ride was, it was the greatest thing we did that day.
We fought authority and, now that I think of it, we won.
We showed those fat cats in blue that fun has no age limit. We showed Father Time that he has nothing on us. We showed ourselves that we can go back — back to a time when we had no worries, no bad grades, no internship letters. We triumphed that day in not only exercising our rights as quarter-paying, adventure-seeking individuals, but also in enjoying life. We didn't want to draw attention to ourselves, or test the laws of U. P. Land to see just how far crazy college kids could go.
We just wanted to ride. And we did.
The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Inside Stories for Tuesday, September 21, 1999