By Lindsay Eckert
Tribune lifestyle editor
Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” raucously blared through my elementary school’s end-of-school party; while kids bopped their heads, oblivious to everything except the eve of summer break, as teachers looked on with dismay. The PTO-sponsored bash was headed up by my mom. She had chosen the Alice Cooper number for the party — despite the questionable character of the cassette tape’s cover — based on the song’s seemingly appropriate title for the last-day-of-school soirée. However, the lyrics for the song were not as appropriate as the party she had planned. Long story short: The song came to an abrupt halt. But, the party did continue. And later, so did the laughter.
I don’t recall the rest of the party, my memory apparently stopped when the 1990s-fabulous boom box did. But, my memory picked back up when we put the top down on my mom’s car and she jokingly busted out — you can insert every adjective that’s antonymous with melodically here — into “School’s Out.”
A 9-year-old me chimed in, giggling because my mom was clueless about the contents of the song until that moment in the cafeteria, and giggling because I really didn’t care; school was, most definitely, out for summer. We had the smiles and the sun to prove it.
I don’t recall where we went to celebrate the start of summer or what we did: likely it involved Gene’s Hot Dog Stand and Dolphin Club — both Anderson, Ind. summer spots. All I remember is the feeling of the sun shimmering on my shoulders, which I had secretly lathered with self-tanner the night before. Visual image time, folks: I looked more like a meal for the Easter Bunny than a sun-kissed kid with a Kool-Aid smile that day.
Who cares if I looked like “Atomic Orange,” of the Crayola variety. It was summer and I was ready for it. Just as I’m ready for it now, with my natural skin color this time though. Crayola would likely describe it as: “Neon Albino.” For many, the smiles provoked by summer dwindle as they sip away their half-full glasses of fruit punch into adulthood. Summer no longer means waking to French Toast sticks and “The Flintstones.” Summer doesn’t include the planning and production that goes into making mud pies in the front yard or writing stories in your backyard fort. Sure, I can’t sing a lick of “The Flinstones” theme song now. I’m also pretty sure French Toast sticks would taste about as good as Fun Dip or Yoo-hoo does to my 27-year-old taste buds. However, that glass half-full of lemonade still, thankfully, rests comfortably on my deck as summer sings its simplicity back into our lives.
Whether you spend your summer days in the office, in a factory or wrangling children until the fall, this is the season where our best memories are born. It’s the season of sounds, sights and life being lived to the fullest. So, cast that fishing line, sing a little louder in the car and play Home Run Derby a little longer in the backyard. It’s summer, folks. Bask in it.
[friday] editor/ School’s out for summer supporter