Summer = Carnival = Being Young

Some of the best hours of my childhood and teen years were spent at carnivals. They were church carnivals, local events where you were sure to see many people you knew, including, if you were lucky, “that” boy — the one you secretly adored but weren’t sure if he even knew you existed.

I’m not technically “young” anymore. Most advertising is not aimed at me. AARP has sent me an invitation to join them. But summer, especially a summer night, always makes me feel young. Seventeen, to be exact, and at a carnival, or at the boardwalk down the shore, with my boyfriend or with a group of friends.

Now, my husband, my daughter, and I attend a church carnival every summer. I love to look at the teenagers. They look surprisingly unchanged from my teen years in the 1970s: flip-flops, jeans, little tops with spaghetti straps, long hair. If they weren’t carrying cell phones, I’d be tempted to start looking for girls I knew.

Carnivals haven’t changed at all since I started going to them. They are places to express the freedom of just hanging out, the daring to try the ride that looks like a torture device, the urge to eat “junk” food, the need to check out the other kids. The carnival lights, the whirling machinery, the constant movement, and the noise: all these reflect the teenager’s chaotic inner life.

Although the tamest ride now rattles my bones, and cotton candy no longer gives me a thrill, I plan to keep going to a carnival each summer. I like the youth fix.

The Zipper

Zipper = Torture Device


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