The Wave Game

 

Part of the image above shows the four corners of the village I grew up in – Caledonia, NY, population 2,201.  It was a great place to grow up in the 1970s and 1980s.  It is still a wonderful place to raise a family.  I formed some of my best and longest-lasting friendships there and I am back to see my parents there not as often as I’d like.  I’ll be using the Slice of Life Story Challenge this month to finish some of the narrative poems about growing up that I’ve started over the past few years.  This one attempts to shine a light on the creative attempts of my friends to overcome the boredom that so often hit us when we were young.

 

The Wave Game

 

Small town 1979

nowhere to go

nothing to do

 

We’re hogging the steps

at the ice cream shop

as everyone else

drives by

we sit there

just watching

 

I’m fifteen

desperate

to fit in

wanting

to stand out

not sure how to do it

not an athlete

too skinny

I’m kind of smart

but that doesn’t help

nothing better to do

than watch the town drive by

I’m fifteen

 

We all wish we could

drive out of this town

away from the heat

that presses down

and keeps us here

with nowhere to go

and nothing to do

 

We wave at the cars

and our game

begins again:

 

We guess if they’ll

only just look; or

only just honk; or

only just wave; or

do nothing –

the dreaded

“no look, no honk, no wave” –

which is

the

worst

possible

thing

that a driver could do

to fifteen year old boys

wanting

to stand out

in a small town in 1979

 

There’s Freeman’s mom

she’ll wave,

Laubach’s sister?

that’s a look and a honk,

that old lady

from my paper route?

no look, no honk, no wave

 

The looks

and the honks

and the waves

keep us genuinely amused

for far too long

(I won’t get into

the point totals

we assigned to the

myriad combinations possible)

and when we’re about to quit

my father’s car approaches slowly

as he heads home for lunch

 

“Look, honk and wave,”

my friends all predict

but he knows our game

and wants to surprise

 

He looks

he honks

he –

 

My father’s left foot

emerges awkwardly

from the driver’s side window

and he somehow manages

a barely visible

yet seemingly friendly

side to side motion

that suggests

the act of waving

 

His foot is still out there

as he drives past the post office

and on into the rest of his day

 

Laughter and high fives

friends slapping my back

“Your father’s crazy,”

Goob says, grinning back at me

and I smile too

quiet and proud

I’m fifteen

 

“Thanks, Dad,”

I say to myself

as I sit on the steps

and wait

for the next car.

 

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9 thoughts on “The Wave Game

  1. I enjoyed this poem on so many levels. The repitition woven throughout suggests constancy, and yet boredom. The desire to fit and and yet standout resonates with me.

    And then there is Dad.

    Wonderful dad, who perhaps remembers his own teen dilemma of finding his place. He wants to make his son proud, and he nails it!

    This was a fantastic piece!!!!!!

    I look forward to seeing more of your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was in a small town like that too. We were creative with our games but never were able to get a foot-wave from one of our dads. Great story!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL–no, just in writing, but I really laughed out loud and can’t stop grinning as the image of your dad with his foot out the window continues to stand out. Also, I love the spirit of yesterday–no glowing devices, no heads down, a simple wait for a wave. Capturing the essence of a middle schooler, “desperate to fit in but wanting to stand out.” Great images as you capture the spirit of being young.

    Liked by 1 person

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