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Life's Little Lessons

My mama brought me another cardboard box of memories from her attic.   It contained the summer of '90, all sunshine and neon and teased bangs.   It was the summer of a sublet in Athens with my best friend.  

It was the summer of M.C. Hammer, Milli Vanilli, Ghost, Die Hard 2 , and a depleted ozone layer.   It was the summer our next door neighbors, all boys, threw their trash over the rail of their back balcony, attracting a never-ending trail of ants to the condo complex.   It was the summer of cheesy people in the parking lot of O'Malley's, of life-guarding, of anatomy and physiology, of labeling cadavers in a cold lab on south campus, of boyfriends and break-ups.   It was the summer I had more time and more fun than any one girl should have been entitled to in the Classic City.

And it was the summer of questions.   My time capsule held a long-forgotten list on which someone had scribbled, Lucy's Why Page.   It enumerated my young life's BIGGEST unanswered ponderings; now silly and trivial and self-centered and juvenile and stuck in time:  

1. Why don't townies bathe?

2. How do townies keep their skin so deathly white?

3. Whose grandmother did they steal their clothes from?

4. Why is Christie Brinkley married to Billy Joel?

5. Why can't we touch this?

6. Why did Paula Abdul wear her hair in a whale spout to the Grammy awards?

7. Why can't life be like the movies?

8. Why are all bathing suits neon?    

9. Why do some people, who really shouldn't, wear bikinis?  

10. Why are there teenage mutant ninja turtles and not senior citizen clone ballet frogs?            

11. Why do boys like cars?

12. Why do boys tell girls they love them when they hardly even know them?

13. Why do boys' bathrooms stink?

14. Why do they all want to be number one?

15. Why doesn't anyone ever say, "I want to be number 15.   I can be satisfied with that."

16. Why did Joey tell us he "only talked to the girl" before we even asked?

17. Who made up words and decided what they mean?

18. Why are all professors stuck in the 1970s?  

19. Why don't their denim leisure suits ever wear out?

20. Why does everyone say "Dude?"    

21. Why doesn't Dianne's bathing suit fit her?

22. Why does Dianne always want to play sharks and minnows?

23. Why does Dianne always ask us for goggles?

24. How do ants know who hasn't taken the trash out in three weeks and how do they get in through the walls?

25. Why doesn't the coke machine ever work?  

26. Why do small animals stick their heads in plastic 6-pack rings?

27. Why do sea animals eat plastic bags?

28. What's happening to all of the butterflies?

The box held no clue to who Dianne is, although there was a pair of goggles in it.   But at the bottom was a letter that raised all new questions about the summer 0f '90.   It's a break-up letter, and I recall intending to let him down easy, albeit cowardly.   It wasn't a summer to have a one-and-only.

       But why do I have the letter?   Did I write it and not send it?   And if I didn't send it, does that mean we never broke up?   And if we never officially broke up, is he still my boyfriend?   Does this mean I've got to tell my husband I have a boyfriend?   What will he say when I deliver that news, that I've had a boyfriend for the last 20 years that neither of us knew about?   Should I find the guy and just make it official?   Would that be crazy?

Well, probably no crazier than the summer of '90.

(Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist, freelance writer, and author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny.   She lives in Thomson.   Send comments to and visit Lucy's Web site,

Web posted on Thursday, May 20, 2010

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