It was a gloomy Labor Day afternoon in 2009 after I had just returned to Iowa after a long weekend at home. I had just gone on my second Minnesota State Fair visit the day before, so it would have required a lot to get my motor running after that sensory overload. But my old friend, the skate park in my neighborhood, came through in a big way.
I was out for my afternoon walk, taking the same route as always past the skate park. Just as I was walking by, a car pulled up and from the passenger seat stepped out this adorable 15ish long-haired light brunette. I may have seen her at the skate park before, but it’s hard to identify specific faces because the park itself is about 30 yards from the sidewalk. She was the classic picture of summertime mid-teen innocence as she walked away from mom’s car, wearing a pink tanktop and a pair of dark jean shorts, as cute and as feminine as a girl could possibly be. Mom drove away as the girl entered the skate park, but as soon as mom was out of sight, it was clear something fishy was going on here.
From out of nowhere behind the entrance building to the nearby city pool (at that point closed for the season) emerged this pretty dark-haired brunette in a green top and a denim miniskirt who started walking the direction of Little Miss Wholesome, who walked away from the skate park and met her, almost as if they had been prohibited from seeing each other. I was keeping a close eye on them as they headed back to the empty pool parking lot. Luckily, there’s a network of sidewalks that encircle this parking lot, so I altered my walking pace to keep tabs on these cuties. With guilty looks on their faces, they were chatting on their cell phones while very slowly walking through the empty lot. Finally, after about three minutes loitering in this empty lot, the girls headed for the grassy corner of the lot and I spotted what looked like a white cylinder in the mouth of the light brunette….and the follow-up exhalation of cigarette smoke confirmed my suspicion.
The girls sat on the grass just off the parking lot pavement and I leered their way every few footsteps. Obviously I wish I had a better vantage point, but I could still see from a distance much of what I needed to see. Strangely, the other girl wasn’t smoking. That’s not to say that she hadn’t just sneaked a cigarette by herself given that she emerged from this parking lot just before the girls met up. But at least for now, only the wholesome cutie in the pink tanktop and jean shorts was smoking. I caught two more exhalations of cancerous fumes from her mouth before I walked out of sight, and also caught her hocking up two lugies and spitting just to her left. It’s becoming an epidemic, albeit a cute one, to see these new teen smokers spitting after almost every drag from their cigarettes.
At this point, I hurried home, got my car and drove back hoping to see her again, but when I got back in about 10-12 minutes, neither of the girls were there any longer. I drove around the area and looked into the skate park, and the girls seemed to have just disappeared. Only about an hour later, however, I was driving to Fazoli’s to purchase my takeout meal and discovered she was back at the skate park sitting there watching the skaters. When I drove back, she was walking with a young boy, but not smoking. Still, I got a close-up look at her and once again said to myself in amazement, “SHE SMOKES!!!” God I love living in this town next to this blessed skate park.
The other thing I loved about this sighting was the dynamic with the mom dropping her off. I wonder if mom knows she smokes? If not, here’s a clue, mom: YOUR DAUGHTER IS SPENDING TIME AT THE LOCAL SKATE PARK!! I don’t think they let you through the entry gate of this skate park unless you’re addicted to nicotine, even though the first rule on the list is “No Smoking”. Labor Day is near the end of the skate park’s annual shelf life as the weather gets cooler and kids are more distracted with school activities, so unfortunately I didn’t see her again since then, but am hopeful that by next spring she’ll return, ideally with a more established smoking habit.