Chinese Fire Drills and Other Politically Incorrect Things from my Past

Back in high school in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa, we did whatever we could to stir up some fun and sometimes some trouble. It was a simple existence: go to school, do homework, think about and look for boys.
With no cell phones or social media to organize anything, kids spent a lot of time driving around looking for other kids to interact with. Boys from other high schools!
My friend, Joan, had access to her parents’ car on a regular basis. She would often call up and say, “Susie, come over. Let’s go downtown and scoop the loop.”
My answer always would be, “Sure! Who else is coming?”
Debbie, Phyllis, Debi, Sue, Joan, Karen, Dottie, and I would climb into the white 65 Ford four door sedan and head downtown. Sometimes we would bring a carton of eggs, rolls of toilet paper, or just ourselves.
I was conflicted when we egged someone’s house, as in, I sat in the car. The others called me chicken. It was my conscience keeping me there. Once my dad’s car got egged, and all I could hear was how it ruined the paint, and if he ever caught who did it . . .
The toilet paper was less destructive and much more fun. I didn’t mind sailing a roll up into a tree. It would blow away or get rained out later. It was just paper. One summer night we were so bored, we moved patio furniture from one side of the street to the other side, laughing hysterically. It was midnight. We thought we were so funny.
But the biggest thrill was going down Grand Ave, straight into downtown Des Moines, where, if you played your cards right, you might meet a guy from the East side, the North side, or the South side (we were from the west side). Of course I never actually met anyone, but I got my chuckles in by watching my braver girlfriends hang out the car windows and give out their phone numbers to guys in souped-up cars while we waited at the stoplight.
Joan would rev up the engine, laughing at the thought of her parents’ sedan keeping up with a Camaro when the light turned green. We would look longingly at the single guy or his one buddy riding shotgun. Meanwhile there were five or six of us, squealing and laughing when Joan would call out, “Chinese Fire Drill,” and we would jump out the three doors (Joan never got out), run around the car and get in another door. How politically incorrect for 2018! Back in 1971, it seemed like harmless fun.
One rainy evening we took a bag of marshmallows with us and threw them at the cars we liked. This caused a problem because one guy thought they were eggs and got mad. They bounced off his car and rolled into the gutter where pigeons would find a sweet treat the next day among the wet leaves.
Perhaps our riskiest behavior was when Joan had to babysit, and we had no car. Phyllis, Debbie and I would put on our short shorts and go hitchhiking. Only teen boys were eligible to pick us up. We lived on the edge of the big city, next to cornfields, so the only guys who ever stopped were farm boys coming into town to find some girls, or fast boys from the East side looking for girls with long legs and no brains in their heads.
Once we rode with a boy from our own high school. He drove so fast that I couldn’t wait to get out of his car. He later died in an accident where the skid marks indicated he had been going 100 mph on city streets.
Ah yes, we did stupid things. Debbie is a grandma now, married to her South side guy she met at the roller rink. Joan is still the sensible one. Phyllis died way too young, Debi and I connected on Facebook, and I’ve lost track of the others.
I ended up in California, and my eldest will marry a man of a different ethnicity. The Chinese fire drill thing would offend him.
I am sorry, future son-in-law, that I was so clueless in my scoop-the-loop days.
And I am sorry, youngest child, that I called someone a transvestite when the correct term now is transgender.
I am old. That’s the word we used when I was your age.

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