Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Basics

The Basics

By Allison Adams 06-11-10 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun 06-12-10

Once when our family was sitting in a restaurant, a boy walked by our table and he and my son exchanged a casual nod with one another.

“Who is that boy?” I asked my son.

“A guy who sat behind me in class last semester.” He replied.

“Oh! How nice! What’s his name?”

“I dunno.”

I remember wondering then how my son could sit in front of someone every day, for three and a half months, and not know his name.

A girl would be able to name everyone in her class. She’d also know who her classmates’ families were, and where they lived. She’d learn that basic information on the first day of class, within minutes of making eye contact.

Boys rarely make eye contact with another human being. They really aren’t social creatures. They really don’t care much about knowing the basic things like someone’s name, or where they live, which is why I didn’t hold out much hope for learning anything from my son when he came home after spending a week at camp.

Gaining the basic information from him would involve a slow, methodical process, which is sometimes as successful as getting the proverbial blood out of the proverbial turnip.

I knew I had to pace myself, and lower my expectations.

“Tell me about your roommate.”

“I had two.”

“Oh! How nice! What were their names?”

“Um. David. And, ummmm ... Joe.”

Um David, and Um Joe.

A girl would have known, and cheerfully volunteered her roommate’s first name, middle name, and surname. She’d have known her roommate’s nickname, and how her roommate came to be nicknamed. And, she’d have revealed the new nickname she’d given her roommate to take home with her, and shared all the fun the two of them had coming up with it.

“Oh! How nice! Where were they from?”

“Um. David was from … ummmm … somewhere in Iowa.”

Honestly – I was impressed he knew that David (if that was his real name) was from “somewhere in Iowa”. I was really expecting to hear something a little more global, like “North America”.

“Wait. Nope. Not Iowa. He was from somewhere in Ohio.”

A girl would have known exactly where her roommate lived and she’d have been able to recall it without hesitation. She’d have also known where her roommate was born, and where her siblings, her parents, and her grandparents were born …

“Oh! How nice! Ohio! Where in Ohio? Dayton? Akron? Cincinnati?”


… and she’d have told me all about her roommate’s great-grandparents, and their adventures following their Ellis Island landing …

“Toledo? Columbus? Cleveland?”

“Yup. Cleveland. I think.”

… and she and her roommate would have fantasized about how exciting it would be to someday live in a foreign country. They would have shared with each other their dream to someday study, work, and live abroad. They would have talked about all the wonderful new people they would expect to meet.

“Oh! How nice! How about the other one?”

“Other one what?”

“The other roommate. Joe. Where was Joe from?”

“Ummmm. Lemme think.”

Girls make sure they know the basics about one another. By basics I mean name, address, phone number, favorite color, favorite song, favorite food, favorite TV show, favorite movie, and favorite place to shop. Basic information also includes details about boyfriends, best friends, hobbies, hairdos, and their dream wedding.

I didn’t expect a biography about these boys, but honestly – how can someone spend a week sharing a room with a person without wondering where that person will be headed when its time to go home?

“I think he was from Kansas.”

“Oh! How nice! Where in Kansas? Topeka? Wichita?”

“Ummmm. Nope, I don’t think so.”

I suspected that these boys would not become pen pals.

“Dodge City? Kansas City?

“Uhhh, that sounds right. Kansas City.”

“Oh! How nice!”

I didn’t believe for one minute that Joe (if that was his real name) was from Kansas City, but I still wanted to find out how the camp food was, and what kind of activities he engaged in.

I needed to save my strength.



By Allison Adams 04-01-08, Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 04-01-08

All I can say is, it’s a good thing we were buckled-in.

The guy in the car ahead was bouncing up and down in his seat, giving a thumbs-up sign to somebody – I don’t know who. I glanced back to see that the pair in the car behind me was engaged in giddy conversation. My son and I sat silently in our car – just waiting for the green light.

Suddenly, without warning, we were thrust forward with a force I have never experienced. It was as if we’d been hit from behind by a speeding-jet-propelled-rocket ship-locomotive-bomb. Like we’d been fired from a cannon.

That’s it. Our car was a cannon ball.

My eyes slammed shut. I couldn’t breath.

By that, I mean – I couldn’t breath. I thought to myself, so this is what it feels like just before you die.

We were hurled ahead with so much velocity I think we had to be taking on some “G’s”. G-force – like the astronauts experience when they blast into orbit.

But I was no astronaut. I had a horrible feeling in my gut, and I really, really needed to breathe.

After what seemed like an hour, but was probably just a nanosecond – we came to a stop. Or at least a slow down.

And I breathed. Oh, thank the Lord! My eyes popped open and I peered ahead and tried to assess our situation. But before my brain was able to process any information I’d gathered in my split-second scan, I was pressed back into my seat and our car propelled forward with great speed and plunged into a black abyss.

Again – I couldn’t breathe.

I thought of all of you who have been through a similar situation, and lived to tell about it. I decided right then that I had to take control and tell my body what to do.

So, I shut my eyes tightly, and ordered my lungs to breathe. Hallelujah! It worked!

Then I made the mistake of peeking again. It was black as pitch all around; I could feel we were headed for a steep curve. I had no way of steering. I was completely enveloped in fear. My body was in shock. It quit responding to my generalized requests to breathe. I had to get more specific.

Inhale! I ordered. Now, exhale!

I knew I had to continue to command those two things, or I would die for sure. Inhale. Now, exhale. Inhale. Now, exhale.

I was sure we were hanging upside down.

Inhale. Now, exhale. Inhale. Now, exhale.

No. No. We were SIDEWAYS! (Oh, hello bagel and cream cheese from this morning!)

Inhale. Now, exhale. Inhale. Now, exhale.

I heard screaming. But I couldn’t tell if it was coming from the guy in the car ahead of me, or the pair in the car behind me, or me.

I felt another terrific jolt and I was sure our car was upside down again. I felt the sudden rush of air, and my hair slapped across my face. I couldn’t move my arms or legs – but I was breathing. Barely.

Inhale. Now, exhale. Inhale. Now, exhale.

“Momma! Are you okay?”

Oh! In the middle of this save-yourself-nightmarish event, my son was concerned for ME!

I didn’t want to frighten him. Didn’t want him to know that I was SCARED TO DEATH. But I was unable to even turn my head in his direction. And unable to open my eyes. And unable to move mouth and utter a sound because I could only concentrate on TWO THINGS.

Inhale. Now, exhale. Inhale. Now, exhale.

I felt several short jerks. I heard what sounded like the rush of air being released from a compression tank. Puhleeze, let it be oxygen!

Almost as suddenly as we exploded on this journey from H – E – double hockey sticks, our car came to an abrupt stop.

“Momma! Are you okay?”

I was finally able to turn my head and look at my son – who was laughing so hard he had to hold his gut.

“You looked horrified! That was awesome!”

Awesome? Not the word I’d use to describe that so-called “joy ride”. But I was so busy trying to control my spaghetti legs as I slithered out of the car and onto the platform, my scrambled-eggs-for-brains couldn’t come up with a come back.

Disney’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster had rendered me (among other things), speechless.