There was a story on NPR the other day talking about cruising on the Internet. It was an interesting premise and so true, but it made me think about the old American custom of cruising.
Now my ‘burg wasn’t that big into cruising. The broad street was the link between downtown and the suburbs, but downtown would close up at 5 PM, so the starting point was Malvern Avenue and the big high school there to Libbie then off to the ‘burbs and swing around the new DSF high school.
Cruising isn’t so much the travel; it is traveling from point A to point B. The reason for this travel was to find friends and possible dates. And with gas being cheap even for these old heavy 40’s cars, a group could make the trip several times. Along the way we might just pick up some more friends and leave off others.
Occasionally we would find another car and talk to them or follow them to an unknown destination like in American Graffiti. For the most part it was a way for teens to get out of the house and waste some of that summertime without homework or camp or scouts or any other organized activity our parents could assign you to.
Being a poor teen, I never bought a car. I had use of a couple of cars when I got my license, but soon found out, with the help of my parents and a judge, I should not drive. That meant I had to rely on others with cars to go cruising. Sometimes it was just the two of us riding around or sometimes we had a car full.
Sometimes the cruise wasn’t about the location or even the search, but the conversation inside the car. We gaggle like old ladies, laugh at off color jokes, spill cokes and smoke cigarettes. A simple car ride could bond people over secrets untold outside or even produce future husbands and wives. Many times the cruise wasn’t about finding new mates but finding old friends.
When we did find someone new to sit in the back seat, the driver also had to have a companion. I remember one memorable evening of persuading a friend to drive to another city with the anticipation of find a companion for the evening. I had arranged through letters and phone calls to meet with a young lady I had met in a hotel at some teen convention. We arrived at her house; I talked her mother into releasing her to strangers and climbed in the back seat. But before we could start our carnal pleasure, I asked her if she could find a “date” for my friend. She agreed to both and we wound up at another house to persuade another set of parents that we were not out of town scoundrels, even though we were. In total there was a lot of driving around, a stop at an ice cream place, some more driving around and very little messing around. After taking the girls home I had to convince my friend that I did my best, but she just didn’t dig you. A lot of persuasion and very little action were the final results of that cruise.
Today, it seems, people are cruising on the Internet. Why spend the gas money and wander around with hopes of finding out what friends are doing when we can just log on and search for what our friends (or even strangers) are saying?
It is just tough for me to cruise and pick up a date on two wheels.