I’m feelin’ it…
Today – for the first time – I’m feelin’ it. My brain is starting to blog. I love when I’m going through my day, and my brain just starts blogging. Haven’t felt that in a while, but it feels fun. There’s definitely the customary sputtering, billowing smoke, and hiccups of starting cold, but there’s also warm anticipation blowing out of the vents as I sit frozen and shivering in the driver’s seat.
So, I have a few posts in the backseat that I hope to deliver real soon. Until then, I’m posting my January article from SHE Magazine.
Small towns can often offer intimate Christmas opportunities with charm and character that a larger locale can’t necessarily pull off: an entire community gathered around the courthouse singing Christmas songs, watching Mrs. Frances Foster’s dress catch ablaze from standing too closely to the candled sandbags, the elated sigh heaved in unison when the odd-shaped magnolia in the town square is lit with thousands of chunky Christmas lights, the youth hayrides into the depths of the boondocks, caroling at nursing homes, rambunctious little Christmas gatherings where restraint is thrown to the winter’s wind.
The options for a small town New Year’s, however, can sometimes frustrate even the most creative merrymaker – especially when she is an adolescent – too young to go anywhere out of town, too old to stay at home and enjoy Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with her parents.
Such was the case for the start of 1991. As high school seniors, my friends and I knew that 1991 would bring our long-awaited emancipation; therefore, its arrival had to be heralded in a most decadent fashion. Unfortunately, Marion, South Carolina, was running short on decadence that year, so we put our dangerously imaginative minds together to scare up some New Year’s Eve mischief.
The night began innocuously enough, as I remember it. There were about five or six of us in two cars. We probably convened at a particular Park Avenue address, as was our custom, and sat around staring at each other until someone suggested that we ride around and snoop out some trouble, and snoop out some trouble we did. We decided to embark on an all-out party search.
Coming up short in Marion, we – being the creatively mischievous type – decided to road trip to the party community of Nichols. Okay, so maybe we were creative but not all that in touch with the Pee Dee social scene. After the thirty-minute drive, we were in luck. There was a party in progress, but 1) we were from Marion; 2) we maybe knew two people there; 3) we weren’t invited. To be quite honest, the party crowd wasn’t especially happy to see us.
After an awkward twenty or so minute stay, the partiers declared that it was time to shoot some fireworks as the New Year neared. Armed with bottle rockets, the fellows around us enlivened the night with their explosives. Smoke, bright sparks of fire, screeching and popping, and an acrid, burnt smell filled the air as the fireworks exploded just a little too close for comfort. We began to sense that our welcome had been overstayed, so we darted for the cars and sped away on the muddy, hole-riddled road.
The New Year would be upon us in a matter of minutes as we emerged from the woods in the heart of nowhere. We pulled off on the roadside and began our own private celebration. The windshield wipers were slapping; the horns were sounding, “Auld Lang Syne” blared from the car radios as we danced under the stars on an unlined country road. Apparently our merrymaking disrupted the restful slumber of a nearby inhabitant of this nowhere because in a matter of minutes a state trooper turned down the desolate thoroughfare to investigate the ruckus. He politely informed us of the complaint that had been called in and sent us on our merry way.
Not ready to end our observance of the birth of 1991, our band of conspirators returned to Marion for further entertainment (having had our fill of Nichols). After some brainstorming and a late-night cigar purchase at the Sav-Way, we slowly drove around the town square and parked the vehicles behind the town Christmas tree. We exited the cars and quietly and casually approached the tree. One by one we disappeared into a small opening in the back and perched ourselves on limbs of varying heights. Once settled, the cigars were distributed, and we all lit up. Inside the tree, we could watch Main Street, which was pretty quiet at this time in the morning. We could all see each other very well as the interior of the tree was illuminated by its many strands of lights. We puffed and talked, puffed and talked, tickled with our own ingenuity. That was, of course, until a puzzled police officer stood at the base of the tree, looking up in bewilderment. He stated that he had been making his rounds, checking the downtown stores to make sure they were locked. As he moved closer and closer to the courthouse, he thought he heard voices coming from somewhere nearby, but he never saw anyone. Much to his consternation, he began to sense that the chatter was coming from the tree. Hesitantly, he approached. So there he stood, instructing us to remove ourselves from our perches.
We had a better idea yet.
“Why don’t you climb up here with us?” cried we. Although probably tempted by sheer amusement, he was steadfast in his resolve and coaxed us from the tree.
After a brush with death from the bottle rocket bombardment and two encounters with the law, I must say that I have been hard-pressed to enjoy a New Year’s Eve nearly as much as this one.
I loved growing up in Marion!