By Coulter Fussell
It’s peak summer. We’ve just returned from a few days at Fort Morgan down on the Alabama coast and I witnessed an amateur firework show put on by vacationing strangers on the beach that could have rivaled the original rockets’ red glare. I’m not sure anything ever shot out of the actual fort part of Fort Morgan could top what this group of random, mulleted beach dudes managed to pull off. I imagine the people on the many rigs and ocean liners that pepper the Gulf might have watched the festivities along the coastline from their spots on the horizon and considered for a minute that the people vacationing right past the Walmart at Fort Morgan were at actual, real war.
Speaking of mullets and fireworks, my big brother was having a Roman candle war on the beach in the late 1980s and is friend shot a fireball at him, in accordance with the rules of Roman candle war. The pink fireball connected with my brother’s hair and burned up the back lower-left quadrant of his permed mullet. The price of the various forms of freedom is paid in many ways.
The person I know who wants freedom the most right now is my 14-year-old son. He wants the freedom to drive a car and the freedom to get a job. Every single day he asks me for both. Multiple times! All the kid wants to do is crank a car and drive to work. What’s with the young teenagers of his generation? Are they crazy? Are they about to save the world with their burgeoning work ethic?
I tell him that, alas, in this “free” country of ours we have laws that prevent child labor and underage operation of dangerous moving vehicles. This argument is no matter to him because he counters that not only has he been offered a couple of under-the-table jobs, but that all his 14-year-old friends drive around town all the time. And they do! I see them! No wonder I witness like 25 near wrecks a day in Water Valley. Half the traffic in this town is piloted by 14-year-old boys.
As far as their wanting jobs, I respect that. Teenagers worked through the pandemic and kept the world running as best they could with their natural defenses against the disease as a shield. Maybe they learned something there that the rest of us haven’t learned yet.
Or maybe my kid is pretending to want a job because he thinks it will make me more likely to let him drive to the new Family DollarDollarDollarDollar Tree (sorry, I sometimes get stuck there) to buy a 2-liter Mountain Dew for no reason.
Either way, I’m all for it. I hope he lands an illegally-gotten job and buys himself a car. As a mother, I will rest assured knowing that the first time he cranks my very old Toyota Corolla (sorry, kid) and drives to the fireworks trailer on Central to buy himself his own Roman candles that he will be burning half of his friend’s mullet off in name of his very own financial freedom.