Oct 20, 2010
A Whole Lot-a Rosie
I was the last one to ride down the bumpy dirt trail and jump the ramp on my bike. All of the other neighborhood kids had made their jump and placed their markers. Bobby St. John had jumped the furthest. My brother Dave was about six inches short of him and Danny Klender just wiped out and was sitting on the sidelines trying not to let anyone see him cry. There was a lot riding on this jump. I was more concerned with not wiping out than I was with beating Bobby St. John. I knew I couldn’t jump as far as he could, but I had to at least make it over the ramp without falling on my face because it had already been established that whoever didn’t make the jump “Loved Rosie.” I didn't want to love Rosie bad enough to risk my life on a ramp made of rotten particle board and a stack of newspapers. It was worth the risk. We'd do anything to not love Rosie.
Who was Rosie? Truthfully, I’m not really sure to this day who she was. I know she had red hair and freckles and she was really, really ugly. She was in my brother Kevin’s class at school. Though until much later, I had never actually seen Rosie, she had become the measuring rod and source of motivation for just about everything we did. Whoever didn’t jump off the middle branch of the tree into the mud pile “loves Rosie.” Whoever didn’t ride their skateboard down the hill and across the busy street, “loves Rosie.” The last one home “loves Rosie.” Rosie replaced rotten eggs and chickens when I was growing up. She was used to inspire little boys to do great things. We’d do anything to avoid loving her. I once crawled on my hands and kn ees almost two blocks through the sewers in our neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri just to avoid loving her.
The flip side to loving Rosie was “joining the club.” We were always either running from something or running to something. One time I rode my bike straight down a mountain full of jumping cactus and jagged rocks, just to “be in the club.” There never really was a club when all was said and done, but the idea of being in the club if there were one was extremely appealing to an eight-year-old boy. We’d all finish a task and say, “YEA, we’re all in the club,” and then we’d go home and eat dinner, and go to sleep without another mention of the club. I guess it was just the club of having ridden our bikes down that mountain. We didn’t have club meetings or a board of directors or anything like that. It was just something we said to each other that made us want to do the same things. It didn’t really matter one way or another, as long as we could say we were “in the club.” There were hundreds of clubs we had growing up, and I was a card-holding member of them all.
As I got older I finally got to the point where I no longer cared if people said I loved Rosie. I remember actually seeing Rosie one day when we were standing in line for the bus. My brother Kevin pointed her out to me, and to my amazement, she was actually kind of pretty. I had spent several years jumping ramps, crawling in sewers, and riding down dangerous terrains to get away from loving Rosie, and now that I finally saw her, she wasn’t that bad. I also got sick of joining the club because it seemed that no matter what I did to join, there was always something else I had to do a day later. There was never a point where I was a member of the club with no strings attached. The club was becoming more of a bitch than I had previously thought Rosie was.
That was nearly forty years ago, and not much has changed today. Even as adults we’re either running from something or running to something. And it’s all based on imagined endings and peer pressure. I’ve had a lot of Rosies in my life that I ran like hell from and a lot of clubs I did stupid things to be a part of. I’ve found that the Rosies in life are never as ugly as you think, and the clubs are rarely as cool as you dreamed. I find that there are thousands of adults who live in serious bondage because they fear being called a name or being associated with a certain group so much, and there are even more who are exhausted and miserable trying to keep up with what other adults are doing.
The Christian religion has their “Rosies” as well. We have names and labels that can make or break a person in the Christian social world in a matter of seconds. If anyone dares to buck the system or think for themselves they’re quickly brought under control with names like, “Jezebel,” “rebellious,” “critical,” “angry” or “heretic.” People will do most anything to avoid being tagged with one of these crafty labels because they know the moment the stamp hits their forehead, they’re out of the club for good. They may as well leave the church, change their name and enter the FBI’s Witness Protection Program because the social networking in religion, when it comes to blackballing, labeling and name calling, is better than facebook and myspace combined.
There comes a time in life when you have to take a serious look at what you’ve become as a result of running from and to these things. Over time we compromise ourselves so many times that we don’t even know who we are anymore. I think some people walk around speaking from the perspective of “the club” so much and for so long that they can’t even hear or recognize the sound of their own voice anymore. They live their life based on what they don’t want to become and they define themselves by the things they disagree with.
I think real freedom is getting to the place in life where you unashamedly love Rosie and you absolutely hate clubs. Once you get to that place, you’ll find yourself there waiting for you. My advise is that you hook up with YOU and begin living again.
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