Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sweet Sixteen in Rural America

Last night, as I drove to rural Greenwood Lake, New York, I worried that Jules and her friends would be disappointed at their first Sweet Sixteen party. They were all wearing semi-formal dresses, impossibly high heels, and had awaited the night with great anticipation. As I dropped them off at the local American Legion Hall, I could see through the windows that the decor consisted of blue and white crepe paper, helium balloons, and an old-fashioned disco ball. Please, I implored silently, don't let them walk in and be dismayed.

My daughter and her friends are turning 16 this year, and of course, they are avid viewers of MTV's reality show "My Super Sweet Sixteen." The show is a celebration of crass materialism and stunningly spoiled teenagers (one girl's father hired a helicopter for her grand entrance to her party). Event costs often run into six figures, rap stars like Diddy and Kanye West are booked as surprise guest performers, and in more than one episode, girls have been given hundred thousand dollar luxury sports cars that they are still too young to drive! This is hardly what Jules and her friends are going to experience tonight.

Four hours later, when I returned to pick them up, I could see that everyone was still dancing madly, their movements frozen in time by flashing strobe lights. I slipped inside to watch, and stood near a table in the back. There was a huge card which all the kids had signed, flanked by two framed, 8 x 10 photographs of the birthday girl. One was her school portrait - a fresh-faced, hopeful teenager. The other was a sports photograph with her in full catcher's gear, crouching fiercely behind home plate. Now THAT, I thought to myself is a celebration message!

Gut check on the way home in the car. Not a hint of disappointment; a good time was had by all. There is still hope left for this culture!

1 comment:

  1. I have 5 older sisters and remember their sweet 16 parties, especially because I was a boy and did not have one. It was ok though because I would not wear their hand me down dresses.