I’ll see you in the parking lot

We’ve all been to magical places. Lands and times that while we’re in them allow us to deny the urges that make us lame.

As a youngster one such place was a hunting cabin in the Catskills where I saw my first Playboy. My buddies and I flipped through the best and worst pictorials of 1988 without fear, because we were fairly certain that a nun’s power to see and hear all – which kept (keeps) us St. Paul’s kids leashed in like an invisible fence – could not penetrate a mountain shed in the outer reaches of Delaware County.

As an adult, another happened to be some guy’s lawn on Magazine Street in New Orleans, where a pretty girl complimented my hand sewn Mardi Gras cape. “Aren’t you a pretty little princess?” she said. And for a few hours, by God, I was.

All of us have been there. For some it might have happened while wandering through the logistical and cultural wonders of New York City, or the alien Redwood trails of Northern California. Many have visited worlds beyond Hogwarts in the wave pool at Enchanted Forest and underneath the stars at the Unadilla Drive-in. Under the Red Mill Bridge in Norwich, cars going over sound like freak thunder claps, the loudest you’ve ever heard, and rock-skipping records are set every day in the summer. Or at least they used to be. Magic can happen anywhere; on the other side of the world or down the street.

Of course it’s not magic, magic. It might’ve felt like you could fly, but that was only a mixture of sunshine, burnt hot dogs and easy laughter talking. Sometimes ordinary things can stir up a weird potion in us, let us be ourselves.

I glowed for days after playing a few innings of Wiffleball in a slanted parking lot, tailgating before a Syracuse football game. We ate breakfast sausage links (a friend calls them sodium darts), smacked line drives (a few spiraled off some random cars, the ball was really carrying), and watched a gentleman impale his Lincoln on the trailer hitch of Suburban while trying to do a 50-point back-in. He shook it off. His wife did not. Have fun at the game!

No one did.

By the second half I was pretending the Orange were the Harlem Globetrotters. Watching them cough the ball around in all directions and manners was hysterical set to that famous whistle. Nobody else thought it was funny.

Magic’s not the same for everybody. To other people one’s most otherworldly experiences might seem boring, even stupid. If that weren’t the case, we’d all spend Saturdays with family and friends getting lit and acting silly in one of the many wonderful parking lots our area affords (So what if there’s no game? I’m a firm believer in pointless tailgating. Especially if you’re a Syracuse fan). Understandably, however, eating Fritos from a hatchback is not everyone’s idea of wonderment. Just like a scrapbooking party would make me want to die a little. To some they are enchanting. We can’t compare our magic times and places to someone else’s.

But know there are good times, magical times, always yet to be had in our lives. I think we forget, or maybe I do. And they happen in the strangest or most ordinary of places (secluded shed, parking lot). Sometimes it depends on one’s frame of mind (buzzed, high blood pressure). Sometimes we have no choice in the matter. We just stumble in. Enjoy it, because it doesn’t get any better anywhere else.

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