My daughter found out the hard way that it’s hard to be a delinquent teenager in a small town. If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that we lived in a small town in Wisconsin of only 1500 people for a few years. Everyone knew each other and it was a pretty safe community. Of course, that’s the recipe for boredom for teenagers. Other than the tiny bowling alley, a Dairy Queen, and a spattering of other food places, there just wasn’t much to do if you were a teenager. Once you reached adulthood, the world opened up because of the 1500 bars in and around town…ok, slight exaggeration…there were about 150 bars, still, that makes a bar for every 10 people. Welcome to northern Wisconsin. Other than fishing, there just wasn’t a lot to do.
One evening, I received a phone call from a concerned (perhaps nosey?) neighbor. She seemed very concerned about my daughter’s whereabouts and used an opportunity to dig deeper. Since she was one of the town’s many gossips, I felt I had to tread carefully with her.
ME (answering the phone): Hello?
HER: Hello Mr. Dazeodrew, this is Gladys.
ME (carefully hiding my fear…or annoyance…or both): Hi Gladys! How are you?
HER: I’m well. How are you?
ME: I’m well, I…
HER: How’re your kids?
ME: Well, they…
HER: Are you aware your daughter is running around with a bunch of boys?
ME: Well, this town is so small the selection of girls is…
HER: They’re cruising through town in a car.
ME: Oh, well, I…
HER: Back and forth, back and forth. They’re driving me crazy!
ME (the annoyance starting to come through): Well, maybe if you move away from your window?
HER: Oh, they can’t see me. I’m hiding behind the curtain.
ME: That’s not what I meant. Anyway, I’m ok with the cruising. (Brief moment of silence).
HER: With all those boys?
ME: I’ll tell you what, while you’re peeking out of your window, let me know if they all go into a bedroom somewhere? That might concern me.
HER: Oh, I will, Mr. Dazeodrew, I will!
Anyway, my poor daughter couldn’t get a break in that small town. Everybody seemed to like to call me to let me know what my kids were doing, even if it wasn’t my kids doing it.
NEIGHBOR: Do you know what your kids are doing?
ME: Yeah, they’re eating dinner.
NEIGHBOR: Oh, well I thought I saw, well, never mind. Enjoy your dinner!
One of the reasons my daughter didn’t get a break was because she would often come home and try to tell me about her time with her friends.
DAUGHTER: Dad! Guess what we did?
ME: You started out at Becky’s house, then Josh and Jeff came by, then you all piled into Jeff’s car, then you cruised for about 37 minutes, then you stopped at Dairy Queen to see who could get the worst brain freeze, Josh won, then you went to the bowling alley and you bowled a 125.
ME: I’m a little disappointed because last week you bowled a 150. I had some high hopes for you…
The other thing about living in a small town is the lack of selection come prom time. My daughter was only a freshman at the time but was asked to prom by a senior. After getting some much-needed help from a friend getting my daughter a dress (being a small town, it was almost a 2-hour drive to the nearest dress store), we had her all ready for the prom. She looked beautiful and was very excited to be going. Then her date showed up…
Small town or not, I had never met this kid. He had chosen…CHOSEN…to dress up like a 1930’s gangster, complete with the hat. He looked sleazy, cocky, confident, and perfectly like a criminal. That crap-eating grin and belligerent attitude made me think of a predator. Now, I was concerned. I was prepared, however. I was working in my woodshop when the little Al Capone wannabe and his entourage arrived, laughing and joking and no doubt filled with thoughts of their freshman conquests they had planned for later. One look at them and I began to cut wood on my table saw while talking.
ME: So… (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr)…what time are you (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) planning to bring her back?
CAPONE (smiling that crap-eating smile): Well, you know, it’s prom…
ME: So midnight (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrr), huh?
CAPONE (giving me an incredulous look): No! It’ll be more like 2 or 3 in the morning. (I told you he was cocky).
ME: You said (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) 11 tonight?
CAPONE (still clearly not getting it): No, Mr., um, no, I said (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) um, 2 or 3 in the (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) morning.
ME: See you at 10. (Rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr).
My daughter was home nice and early. On her own, she chose never to date little Al again. Good, because it’s hard to raise kids from prison.