Friday, January 25, 2008

We used to call it 'cruising' in high school

(Obtained from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

I've followed this story arc this week in the comic Zits (I like everything about the comic strip except the name) with a touch of nostalgia.

I never got picked up by the police for driving by a girl's house 17 times when I was in high school... nor did I ever sneak out of the house in the middle of the night to do it... but I did a lot of driving by houses. Over and over again.

This is what we called "cruising" back in high school -- not exactly how the word was used in American Graffiti -- but the meanings are arguably similar. In both reel life and real life the cruiser has hopes of seeing and being seen.

Of course, where I lived, out just past where Christ lost His shoes, the houses were set back so far from the country roads that you often couldn't see the house of the girl in question. Cruising was best in the the winter because there were no leaves on the trees to block your (distant, partial) view of the house. And certainly no one in the house ever knew that it was the same car going past every few minutes.

It was hardly voyeurism -- you couldn't really see anyone or anything. And I don't think it could be called "stalking" either.

It was just innocent. Innocent... and stupid... and a waste of gasoline. (And back then my parents were up in arms because gas had soared to over 60 cents a gallon.)

Back then, out in Exurbia, the roads were lightly traveled. The danger of getting into an accident was surely much less than it is now, living in Chicago proper. But Younger Daughter is apparently "cruising" with friends. The other night, though supposedly going to a girl's house just a couple of miles away, she racked up over 40 miles.

That takes some doing in Chicago.

And, yes, Long Suffering Spouse and I knew because we took note of the pre- and post-trip mileage. (Younger Daughter was surprised at how clever we were, too.)

We didn't want Younger Daughter driving our car to a basketball game at a high school some distance away. She told us the other girl would be driving. But even if she'd defied us on that one, she shouldn't have put on more than 20 miles.

Eventually, Younger Daughter said that she and her friends "got bored" and went driving. After all, we only told her not to go to this particular school -- we didn't specifically say not to drive everywhere else in the known Universe.

There's something here about the 'sins of the father' isn't there?


Linda said...

I guess I should embarrassingly admit to having done the same sort of things many times over and over when I was in high school and even when I was a little older. I guess that one could sort of call them "drive-bys" these days (minus the firearms of course!).

Come to think of it, I did a post sometime last year about doing a "drive-by" with Amanda at the home of a boy she liked at the time! Had we been stopped I wonder if that would have made me the accomplice or the actual perpetrator??

Jeni said...

Gee, we even did things like that in my day - back in the real "dark ages."
But you gotta admit, isn't it fun in a weird way though, when you catch the kids having done something you expressly told them not to do and they are shocked, amazed, at the prowess, sheer intelligence level of the old-timer to have figured something out!

Cristina said...

Ahhh, yes, checking the milage. We do that too! He was shocked one day when we "caught" him driving out of our comfort zone based on the milage. We mostly did that early on in the driving scene when it was only go from A to B and then home. Now we get to do it again this summer when 15 starts driving.

I used to cruise too. Growing up in VA. suburbs. It's just what you did. Those were good times.

Dave said...

I see some lawyerly reasoning given in her defense.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

It always has been done in the past, although today's young think they are the first.

The Beach Bum said...

Curmudgeon -

When I was a teen in Chicago we would cruise the neighborhood (6 square blocks) first to see who was sitting on their porches.

Then we would move on to 26th Street(South) and drive from Kedzie (3200 West) to Pulaski (4000 west). turn around and do it again.

Our parents rarely let us use their cars because they knew what we were doing on a Saturday night.

A close friend's older brother had a Cherry Red 1957 Pontiac Convertible. Truly a chick magnet and a status symbol back then.

3 and sometime 4 of us would offer the young ladies walking on 26th street a ride. Usually with about a 50% success rate. We would do a little light petting and kissing (the price for the ride home).

Then we would go back out and do it again.That was our Saturday night entertainment.

We would all chip in for Gas. At the time Purple Martin was 21 cents per gallon. If we racked up to many miles we would put the car on chocks and run it in reverse to turn back the odometer.

I admitted this fact to my friend's older brother a few years back at our family picnic. He said that he had already knew about it - one of the girls that we picked up was his sister-in-law (my friends wife) and she had told him the story of how they met at their wedding.

The Beach Bum

Ellee Seymour said...

Is she a chip off the old block, as we say in the UK?

sari said...

Zits is one of my favorite comics!

Kacey said...

Tell your daughter that she is one lucky kid. She gets to drive! When I turned sixtten and asked my dad to sign for my temps --- he went out in the garage and fixed my older sister's bicycle. I did go with other kids --- cruising at "The White Hut". The object was to see and be seen (just as you said) and this was the forerunner of McDonald's --- when gas was only 20 cents a gallon. Things never really change with teens. It's called the rites of passage. Sometimes people hold on too tightly. Dad never signed, so I ran off and got married --- my husband signed--- I was not quite eighteen.

Shelby said...

makes me think of that song.. 'cruisin'... I can hear the tune but I can't remember any of the words.

Ralph said...

Reminds me of when I was 15 and a friend 'borrowed' his parents VW Beetle (1965 with the metal sunroof) without his license. It was far cooler for me in 1971, but as a parent...

Heather said...

I used to cruise past cute boys houses too.

We all eventually pay for our raising.

Barb said...

I didn't know they had cars back when you were a teen. *Hide*

I've given you an award.

Lahdeedah said...

I remember cruising up and down the same strip in Nashua and, when we were really looking for the big time, Manchester, N.H.... ahhh the days.

I also have accompanied my girlfriends cruising by their boyfriends, crushes or ex's houses, only, um, we weren't always lucky, lots of them didn't live in town and lived in the boon docks.

Ahhh cruising....

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