Photo by mantasmagorical on Morgue File.
Write a post inspired by your sixteenth birthday.
Ah the sixteenth birthday. As a teen it was the quintessential birthday celebration. I suppose this was because of the right to gain one’s driver’s license. At sixteen you were able to drive legally on the highways and public roads. You see, where I am from, you actually started driving much younger than that in most instances. My wife started driving a bit when she was twelve years old.
No, we did not drive on the major roads, of course, but we did learn to drive at an earlier age. We would drive the back roads, in the pasture, down field roads, in parking lots or anywhere else we could get away with it!
But, when you turned sixteen, then you were able to be official. You were able to drive a vehicle legally, basically anywhere you wanted to go. Your permit license, which we got at fifteen, was nice, but it was restricting. The permit license allowed you to drive, but only with an adult with you at all times.
But at sixteen . . . sixteen represented unabridged freedom. The driver’s license was a plastic card signifying escape, the creep toward adulthood, increasing responsibility and most of all FREEDOM!
Of course, many of these ideals were highly illusory; ideals tend to be when compared to reality. You soon learned that your parents were not going to just turn you loose to drive cross-country the day after receiving your license. While that was the case, being able to drive anywhere alone or with a friend or two, felt like liberation!
For my own sixteenth birthday, my parents threw me a surprise birthday party. I remember it well. In fact, unless it has been lost to time, we still have a VHS recording of the whole affair! The Smithsonian may be interested in it as an artifact of teen culture!
Anywho, I had been lured from the house by one of my close friends for the day, while the trap was set at home. We came back and as soon as I opened the door, everyone yelled surprise! Now, as I have mentioned in several blog posts, I am an introvert. Introverts, typically, are not fond of being yelled at and surprised when they walk into a room; a room full of people!
So, what do I do? I put on my sunglasses, (mind you I am indoors and, on top of that, it is pitch black dark outside!), and promptly go up the stairs to my bedroom! Yes, not the grandest entrance in history! I went to my room to collect my thoughts. I had to cycle my brain through what had just happened. I remember thinking such things as: What is going on? Why did I not see this coming? Who all is downstairs? I didn’t know I even knew that many people?!
Well, eventually I headed back down the stairs, still visibly nervous and shaken by the whole thing! I mingle. I do my duty as the focus of a surprise birthday party. I eventually settle in and feel, more or less, comfortable.
It ended up being a good time. There was some drama here or there; but, what do you expect from a house full of teenagers?
My wife was actually in attendance; though, at the time, she was “dating” someone else. I say “dating” because she was thirteen at the time, so there was not much going out in those days.
What did I learn from all this? First, never walk into a darkened house, especially around a significant personal date, and not be prepared for a jolt and a shock! Second, if you throw a party, people will come, if for no other reason than it’s a party. Third, friends, even close ones, can be full of subterfuge and undercover motives. Fourth, some people you are close to at sixteen, you will hardly ever see, if at all, when you get twenty or so years out. And, fifth, some of the people you like and love at sixteen, will still be with you twenty or so years out.
Oh, I did soon thereafter get my license. I was allowed to drive alone and with friends. And it was quite liberating!