May 26, 2014

From here, youth appears far from proverbial waste

Youth, they say, is wasted on the young.

Youth, they say, is wasted on the young.

Poppycock, I say to that. Of course, by using that archaic word, I show how long removed I am from being among the young.

I was, however, among a good number of them on a recent Friday night in Bloomington, Indiana.

There, I found myself at an event billed as a “puppet slam.”

It’s hard to describe.

Suffice it to say that there was a wide variety of wacky unusual things going on. Zombie cake, anyone? Living puppets and puppet masters? Water balloons flying out of a window? Karaoke caterwauling? Papier mache mermaid holding an “Art is a lie!” sign?

All of that and more. Plus there were dollar beers at the bar.

It was a blast, even for me, who appeared to be significantly older than anyone else there that night.

These were young people who were definitely not wasting their youth.

They were embracing the experience in a way that only young people can.

As a rule, middle-aged people don’t cook up things called puppet slams.

And their youthful enthusiasm was contagious. How else to explain why I was carrying a five-foot chimney sweep brush on my shoulder, or why I had a sign that read “Industrial strength toothbrushes are the wave of the future.”

Strange, yes, but it just seemed like the thing to do at the time.

I was there with my oldest daughter, my guide for the weekend spent in a vibrant college town.

And if only for a brief time, I was able to embrace the fading remnant of my youth that flickers weakly still.

You’re only as old as you feel, right? Or as Satchel Paige said, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”

Not long after my Indiana sojourn, I had another chance to be among another group of youngsters who were taking their youth and running with it.

Literally running.

If you’ve ever been to a father-daughter grade school dance, you know what I mean.

If the energy generated by a gaggle of sugar-rushed 9-year-old girls could be harnessed, our dependence on fossil fuels would be at an end.

Like the puppet-slamming 20-somethings, my youngest daughter and her friends are more than deserving of their youth.

Which when you watch children playing, it seems absurd that anyone, even a glib English writer, could possibly conclude that they are wasting the gift of their childhood.

Run with it while you can, young people. Run.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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