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Life passes by too quickly, anyway, so pace yourself

The light barely turns green and the old duffer in the silver SUV behind me is already leaning on his horn.

After seeing my share of red-light runners, I'm erring on the side of caution, not willing to jump the gun and take the chance of being T-boned at State Road 54 and Rowan Road, an intersection that was recently ranked No. 3 for aggressive driving crashes in Pasco County.

But this guy's in a hurry, no doubt, as he makes an illegal lane change mid-intersection and leans out the window to jabber at me for not being in as much of a rush as he is.

"Where's a cop when you need one?" I think as I consider flashing him the good old motorist's salute.

He's long gone, so there will be none of that — just an irritating aftertaste as I'm left eating this guy's dust and wishing he and the rest of the world would slow down a little.

Kind of a funny thing, coming from me, a Massachusetts native who was raised not far from the very first Dunkin' Donuts where a large coffee "regular" and the harsh winter lends itself to speed walking and a recent No. 2 spot on the skinniest states list.

Southern, tropical climates, I thought, were meant to be slow going and laid back. At least it felt that way when I arrived here 17 years ago and found myself irritated by the laissez-faire attitude of the supermarket cashiers as they engaged in idle chit-chat while scanning my items at what seemed a snail's pace.

But I've adapted as I've come to realize that the years are passing way too quickly, making me ill-prepared for things like the adolescence that has recently been sprinkled like rapid-growing fairy dust on what used to be my tea-party-playing, Barney-loving, blanket-cuddling, youngest daughter.

"What's the rush?" I want to know as I realize that, given another inch or so, she'll soon be meeting me at eye-level. It's an uneasy feeling — for me and her dad, who's practicing his intimidating stare and spouting about how someone should warn her about how "boys are bad."

So I do that and opt for the pricey but hormone-free eggs, milk and meat products my local supermarket now offers, thinking that might help stem impending adulthood.

It's a futile task, I know. Especially after attending an end-of-year function at the middle school where I mistook one of the eighth-graders for somebody's college-age older sister.

This girl was gorgeous, no doubt. But her parents should cover her up, lock her in her room, I thought, while making a mental note to once again counsel my own 13-year-old as to the advantages of being a late bloomer.

Before you know it, you're all grown up and lamenting the fact that you've lost an inch or so and "Christmas is here already??!!"

The music of your times is now referred to as "the golden oldies," you're writing newspaper columns in large font and they're lampooning the women of your generation in a spot called "Cougar Den" on Saturday Night Live, the late-night breakthrough show that debuted in 1975 when you were a senior in high school, John Belushi and Gilda Radner were still alive and the premise was actually funny.

To be sure, it ain't always pretty from this perspective.

So slow it down and be a kid. Barney is good; tea parties, too. Boys are bad, and blankets, at least for now, are best when it comes to cuddling.


Life passes by too quickly, anyway, so pace yourself 07/05/09 [Last modified: Sunday, July 5, 2009 4:30am]
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