“Out here in the fields,
I fight for my meals.”
– The Who, Baba O’Riley
Whoosh! High tide shattered the shores of Panama City, Florida, retreating back into the ocean like a fickle woman. As I breathed in the sights and sounds of the wasteland affectionately known by the Delaware Fighting Blue Hens as “The PCB,” I wondered out loud to my compatriots – How did we end up here?
It was our spring break and we were just looking for fast kicks and a rip-roaring time. We were seniors, after all, on deck to launch headfirst into the real world. This trip was more than a superficial jaunt; indeed, it was an epitaph to the adolescent experience.
“I feel cold,” said Adam, the runt of our group. It appeared we had been sold on Panama City under false pretenses –not knowing the temperature would stay tepid at best. The pools too chilly to prove inviting, the wind gusts blowing sand into our eyes as we squinted helplessly for the path ahead. In such a climate as this, there was only one thing left for us to do.
For our beers, it was always Wal-Mart. I saw the mammoth structure as a landmark of a bankrupt culture, a consumerist nightmare pulled straight from Philip K. Dick. According to lore, this particular Wal-Mart had outsold all others in alcohol sales over the previous three years. The place was, simply put, a madhouse …
Being Ivy Leaguers, we could scarcely survive a day without completing a portion of our studies. At this juncture, we toiled over an especially intimidating tome: “The Wire.” As we marveled at the urban plight of flexible accumulation, I wondered out loud what it would take to keep the devil down in the hole.
After our pre-game, we bravely traversed the Florida badlands in search of proper civilization. Instead we discovered Hammerhead Fred’s, a local speakeasy ripe with our University of Delaware counterparts. We were instantly overcome by a sea of Axe body spray and Greek letters. We couldn’t breathe and it was rapture.
“I’m afraid,” said the runt Adam, who I’ll confess could not keep his devil down in the hole!
Summarily I abandoned my compatriots. Staggering woozily along the Panama City strip, my boots met with the smut and bodily fluids of my fallen brothers and sisters – those currently being ferried to the other world, where they pump stomachs (and souls, perhaps).
I couldn’t help but gaze at the stars, and wonder whether she wasn’t looking up at the same stars. She waited for me back home, my Penelope. I yearned to return, but privately I wanted to stay in this place forever. To eschew adult responsibility for that much longer, to remain an in-between.
The next thing I knew, I was standing in a Dippin’ Dots shop, long abandoned by those who preferred their ice cream non-dotted. The lone barmaid asked me, with her oddly alluring toothless grin, “Where are you from?”
I told her I didn’t know anymore.