Back in 1979, when the class ahead of me graduated, I don't remember any particular prank or tradition that marked us as the new senior class. It could be that my memory is bad (it is). Or that there was something that my classmates did to celebrate and I was too busy with my theatre company to participate. But, whether we marked the occasion or not, we certainly didn't do it the way my teenage daughter and her peers just did.
You see, none of us had a driver's license or access to a car. And besides, if we did race around the streets of New York at an ungodly early hour, honking and screaming ... let's face it ... who would notice anyway?
Suffice it to say, earlier this week, the residents of my teeny tiny town did notice. And they've been noticing as long as anyone remembers.
The senior class graduated on Sunday. And even though junior year finals are still two weeks away, my daughter and a hundred and fifty or so other young women (many of whom I've known since pre-pre-pre-kindergarten at Sundance Preschool) were very happy to take their place.
And to partake in a beloved ritual.
I always marvel at how nearly impossible it is to rouse my daughter at 6:30 am on a regular school day. ("Just five more minutes, mom." "Just three more minutes." "One more minute, please, I'm sooooooooo tired!") Yet, she has little to no trouble getting up at 5:00 am or even earlier when she has a horse show.
I can now report that the Senior Drive-By falls under the second category.
Each year, rising senior girls don their class tee shirts and meet at a local beach a good two hours before classes start. Their cars are adorned with streamers, balloons, foam and wax and water-soluble (we hope) paint, announcing that they are the Class of XXXX and they have arrived! They then tear through the community, out over the causeway past the gracious mansions on "the neck," along the water, through our olde town, in and out of drowsy residential neighborhoods. Honking horns and screaming all the way. The event ends when they finally arrive at the high school and take over the hitherto verboten senior parking spaces.
"No more side-street-behind-the-post-office for us, thank you very much!"
The police are aware of the tradition and by-and-large they tolerate it. Our students are not allowed to go into the neighboring town (and their students are not allowed to come into ours). This is because of a couple of accidents in recent years. One involved a fender bender near the beach. The girl who was driving left the scene because (a) she had too many people in her car, (b) the car was her parents', who had not given her permission to use it, and (c) she didn't have her driver's license yet.
Eeek. Bad decisions all around, wouldn't you agree?
The school was pretty much put on notice that if there were any more — shall we say — "incidents" (I would argue we should say "stupidity"), the drive-through would be outlawed, permanently, for future seniors.
My daughter asked if she could take my ancient (but still adorable) red Miata. We said "yes," provided that she only drive one other girl (the car has only two seats and consequently only two seatbelts) and that both derrieres must be firmly planted at all times. When I brought our new puppy up to watch the parade of screaming seniors, my daughter and her BFF each had a fist high in the air but true to their words, they were sitting down. I can't say the same for some of their classmates, and the police did stop the convoy twice to issue an ultimatum "No hanging out the windows or else."
My daughter is now officially in the home stretch. She's one of the Class of 2016. Some creative kid thought up their slogan: "We're kind of a B16 deal." (Get it? Big deal. B-16 deal. No? Nevermind.)
Being a senior at last was a big enough deal to get my daughter out of bed an hour early. For me, the celebrated drive-about marks the beginning of the last chapter of her childhood.
Not sure if I'll let her take the Miata to college or not. But, she'd better keep her derriere in her seat, regardless.
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