Tag Archives: Dairy Queen

Graduation Then and Now

Image by Gerhard C. from Pixabay.

High school graduation celebrations have changed since my husband — then boyfriend — and I graduated in 1971. Boy, we painted the town red.

We went to the Dairy Queen.

Today a 50-cent sundae no longer cuts it. Graduation celebrations now resemble a Times Square New Year’s bash or a Walmart’s grand opening.

Image by F. Muhammad from Pixabay.

Parents suffer from open house syndrome, in which they attempt to recreate their worlds before anyone discovers they’ve been living in squalor. Forget painting the living room. Talented home renovators add new wings, while home improvement klutzes knock out one too many walls. To offset costs, creative parents charge admission to open houses, with extra fees for use of bathrooms and chairs. Some install magnets in sofas to collect loose change.

Image by Vicki Nunn from Pixabay.

Mothers experience acute cleaning disorder. Even the gentlest women blow away dust bunnies. Advanced cases not only clean under their own appliances, they sneak next door to scrub under neighbors’ refrigerators. While most recover, chronic sufferers cannot cope with normalcy. When they run out of children to graduate, they recruit teens off the street.

Those with severe graduation syndrome also share all 50 poses of their children’s senior pictures with waiters, flagmen and ATMs.

Other aspects of graduation have changed. Cards nowadays are honest: “Congratulations! We never thought you’d make it!” and the ever-popular “Happy Graduation. Here’s money. Please leave our state.”

Although graduation gifts have evolved from pen sets in 1971 to Porsches in 2022, books remain a staple — a mystery to students, as they have waited 13 years to escape books. Still, they open Great-aunt Clarabelle’s rectangular gift, hoping it contains gold bars rather than devotionals like God Is Watching You at College.

Image by Kris White from Pixabay.

Hubby and I would never hurt friends’ feelings, so we attend open houses and force ourselves to eat piles of meatballs and little hot dogs. To honor graduates, we sample each and every cake, finishing with a sentimental stop at the Dairy Queen.

With full stomachs, Hubby and I return to a house full of junk. We’re afraid to open closet doors. The yard resembles a pasture.

We jump back into the car and cruise downtown. There’s gotta be a kid there who needs an open house.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How are graduations celebrated in your area?

Field Trip

Image by F. Muhammad from Pixabay.

As a child, it never crossed my mind that supervising a busload of screaming kids with unsynchronized bladders wasn’t a teacher’s dream. We must have pushed them over the edge.

We children celebrated with 30 choruses of “Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall”— amending to “Ninety-nine Bottles of Coke®” when Teacher threatened to return home to soul-choking fractions, verb conjugations and Norwegian exports.

Image by Wolfgang Eckert from Pixabay.

I recall only two scenes from our trip to Indianapolis. First, the governor’s office, with its kingly desk and (gasp!) gold trim on the walls. Surely, this guy wore a crown.

Second, at the Indiana State Museum, an enormous stuffed owl stared with topaz-colored eyes. We remained a respectful distance away.

The final event overshadowed all others: the Dairy Queen. I ate my huge hot fudge sundae without sharing a bite with siblings.

Fast-forward a quarter century. I volunteered to chaperone my child’s class trip to Chicago.

I handled “Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall” with parental aplomb. My charges only got lost 23 times in the Field Museum of Natural History. It wasn’t my group who knocked down the dinosaur skeleton. I felt in charge — until we reached the Sears Tower (renamed Willis Tower in 2009).

Image by Aprille from Pixabay.

I must have repressed this destination. I don’t like anything higher than one-inch heels.

No time for regret. We rocketed 103 stories up in the elevator.

Any rational architect would have designed small peep windows at the top. Instead, the area resembled a giant greenhouse.

“Come back!” I simultaneously gripped a railing and grabbed at my charges.

They escaped to the windows.

I yelled, “Don’t look down!”

“Isn’t that why we came?” A sensible girl cocked her head.

“Cool!” A nerd plastered his nose against a window. “That’s a cumulonimbus cloud formation below us.”

The wind kicked up. The building swayed like a giant Hawaiian dancer.

Hours later, I woke up on the bus. “Kids! Where are you?”

“We’re fine.” All four were eating hot fudge sundaes.

My daughter slipped beside me. My failure as a field trip chaperone shrank in the face of her loving solicitude.

“So glad you’re sitting with me.” Tears welled.

“Teacher said I had to thank you.”

I stared. “For what?”

“She knows she can finish the school year now. Compared to you, she feels perfectly sane.”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you chaperoned a school field trip?