The Monkey & The Blue Beach Ball
As I drove by doing 70, or 75, miles per hour, I saw the blue beach ball and it made me wonder what the story was behind it, or if there was a story behind it. Randomly, it makes me think of when I was a kid and we used to sit in the back of pickup trucks in the open beds. And we would just sit there and go wherever we were going. Because it was okay to do that back in those days. But I'm sure that's not the case here, that's not the story here, But one time, not that long ago, it could have been the story here.
But it does make me wonder how exactly a blue beach ball ends up on the highway. Was the window open and some unhappy kid tossed it out in a fit of rage? Or maybe it was a parent who got mad at a misbehaving kid in the car, and as punishment rolled down the widow and hucked it out to teach the kid a lesson? Or maybe there was just a ball in the back of a pickup truck that finally got sick of being there and wanted to see what the green grass on the other side of the fence looked like.
I guess I could make up any number of stories about this blue ball but probably none of them would be close to the truth. Because I can't really imagine a scenario where this ball ended up on the side of the road at this time of year. The thing that's more striking is that right now it's the middle of winter. And the blue ball was completely inflated. So it must have happened in the last few days, 1 or 2 at most. If it happened months ago, the ball would be deflated by now, or cleaned up by someone, or taken home by someone else. But this blue ball was completely inflated. And it was sitting there minding its own business in the middle of the winter day alongside the highway. It makes me wonder, again, how on Earth did you get there?
Probably most of us will never know the answer to this question, and of course it doesn't matter at all, but it doesn't stop me from wondering. I mean, who even knows where their beach balls are in the middle of February? We were on route 78, so it's not like we were coming from the south, as if we were coming back from Florida, or someplace warn like that. No, in fact we were just coming from Pennsylvania. A state just as cold as New Jersey is in February. So again, I ask, the beach ball came from where?
When I was a kid, and I remember this like it was yesterday...actually I don't remember it like it was yesterday, but people like to say that. I remember going to see Star Wars in the movie theater. And I remember getting a piece of junk, plastic light saber. And I remember fighting with my step-brother in the back of the yellow, I think it was yellow, Toyota pickup truck after the movie was over. And I remember my light saber breaking about 3.4 minutes after the movie was over. Or maybe it was 10 minutes or maybe it was 1 minute. But I think I remember the traffic light where we were as the light saber broke. And if my memory serves, it was literally 100 or 200 yards from the movie theater. So the point is, really it wasn't that far. And in fact, we really didn't live that far from the movie theater so at best it was 10 minutes. In any event, my light saber broke and I cried. I was probably 6 years old, maybe 7, maybe 8 - something like that. Anyway, I was too young to have any perspective. I mean even now, at age 43, a little part of me wants to cry when my stuff breaks. But I'm old enough now, so I don't cry when things break I just…well break them more & buy some more, I guess.
Anyway, the takeaway here is that I used to sit in the back of pickup trucks when it was okay to sit in the back of pickup trucks, and the blue beach ball today reminded me of a time when I could sit in the back of the pickup truck and you wouldn't be pulled over by the police and thrown in jail and splattered across the evening news for being horrible human beings. And the pickup truck also reminds of the days when we would go to Great Adventure and the monkeys would sit in the back of the pickup truck or the back of the El Camino, back in those days when the cars could still drive through the monkey cages. Of course we can't drive through the monkey cages anymore because people take their new Lexus or Audi or Mercedes-Benz and the monkeys rip off the windshield wipers or the antennas or the car emblems or whatever else they can get their hands on. This is because monkeys rip stuff off the cars because, you know, they're monkeys. Exactly because of that. Because they're monkeys. That's what monkeys do. Monkeys rip stuff off stuff. If you were a monkey you would probably rip stuff off stuff.
So the blue beach ball reminds me of a time when monkeys would rip windshield wipers off cars and I guess really it just made me think of an open bed pickup truck, which makes me think of light sabers and monkeys and stuff like that. So I guess the title of this article has to be "the day the monkey ripped the light saber off the Mercedes Benz" or something along those lines. I'll figure out the title later, it doesn't really matter right now. What does matter is that the blue ball makes me think of another time, and you know, maybe the time was better or maybe it was worse or maybe it was just something else. But it reminds me of something, and I think as we get older we see things that make us think of other things. And those other things trigger a sort of avalanche in our minds. And the avalanche can be good, or bad, or neither good nor bad, or both good and bad. But it's the stuff like this that makes getting old actually a little more interesting than it would otherwise be. Because when you wake up and you think, "Wow my right knee hurts, I'm getting old," or when I get on the bike and I think, "Jesus this hill is so much harder than it used to be. I'm getting old," It's moments like these when I can have that avalanche of memory and think, hey that's kind of cool to have all this pent up memory energy in my head. It's great that a blue beach ball in the middle of February can bring back these memories like that. Because the more stuff you do, the more stuff you have, and the more things you do, the more memories you have, and as you get older you end up with more associations like this. Then more material slides down the mountain of memory when you see something that triggers it to go.
And I guess I don't know what that all means. But I didn't see a light saber on the side of the highway today, I saw a blue beach ball. And it leads me to think of plastic junk, junk that didn't last very long, junk that we buy our kids these days too, junk that adds to the avalanche of memory. And the blue beach ball was probably cried about by some 6 or 7 or 8-year-old who lost something that they loved a little, at least in that moment. It makes me think this. That someday, that same little boy or girl may be driving down the road and they will see a light saber and think of the blue beach ball they lost when they were 6 or 7 or 8.
And at the end of the day that makes me smile.