At the Tivoli
by Lorrie Colin Spoering
Hordes of high school kids. They look so young.
Lanky, gawky high school boys. Smirking, laughing, gathered around a
table. Trying to look like you belong here. It is painfully obvious you
do not. You want to look older, like MEN, not the boys you are.
You are boys. You still almost believe in cooties.
I can't help but watch you as I wait for my food, so endearingly young
and cocky and not aware.
Then I wonder:
which one of you is smacking his girlfriend?
which one of you is too scared to go home?
which one of you is thinking about death?
which one of you is worrying everyone will know you're gay?
which one of you has never been kissed?
And those girls, the ones you glance at occasionally, they are just as
bad as you-- wearing their expensive clothes and flipping their hair. I
can see them stretching, straining, breaking out in a sweat trying to
reach the REAL WORLD, but becoming giddy and giggly that they are
sitting on a college campus and everyone MUST mistake them for other
You have no books and it is finals week. You are so young, so influent. No
one mistakes you for anything. You are so 15 16 17 years old, like babies almost.
But i know at least one of you:
is wondering where the bathroom is so she can puke.
is nervous that scars from the foiled suicide attempt are showing.
is developing a crush on her best friend.
is hoping last night really was the last time he'd hit her.
is curling around a baby inside her, too terrified to get any help.
I want to do so much for you, these strangers on the food court. Even as
you sneer at me, I want to envelop you, save you. I want to push you all
back into childhood, though, I suddenly realize, for some of you, it was
surely worse. I want, then, to push you back into a little fetal form,
tucked away deep inside, insulated from everything. Safe.
You all want this adulthood so much and I can't express how bad the view
looks from here.
But you just have to learn it. You have to hike up the fucking mountain
and see for yourself. And then spend the rest of your life wishing yourself back to the bottom.