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"Almost There" Girl Robots

Hello and good day!

You might not believe it, but once in a while a Target parking lot is more beautiful than mother earth's most majestic stretch of virgin landscape. I was standing directly underneath the sun on a clear hot day. It was dead out there, deader than I've ever seen it. Just a long square tract of concrete jungle, sparsely filled with cars.

There were a couple of stragglers every now and then, coming in and going out through the automatic doors. I was holding a sign promoting our soft serve. I have a routine I follow. I stand in a given spot until at least one person acknowledges the sign and asks me where we're located. I'd been standing there for a long time, squinting my eyes against the sun and feeling beads of sweat roll down my back.

Other than a few crows cawing from up on Target's roof and cars driving down the main road in front of the center, it was dead quiet. And then I heard them chanting rhythmically from deep in the recesses of the lot. They said the words in mimicked electronic robot voices.

"Almost there. Almost there. Almost there. Almost there. Almost there."

It was a group of quirky teenage girls, marching lockstep in a single file line. They had their heads hanging down stiffly and were moving their heads back and forth as if their necks were controlled by metal gears. Their arms stuck straight out from their shoulders and their elbows were bent at a ninety-degree angle, their forearms and hands hanging straight down.

"Almost there. Almost there. Almost there. Almost there. Almost there."

For whatever reason, they'd decided to act like a group of robots, and nobody was there to see them but me. I'd put them around age 13 or 14. To give you an idea of their fashion sense, the lead girl had on baggy black pants with zippers all the way up and down the legs. They were completely unfunctional zippers, a pure style play. She wore a plain white t-shirt, had a pale face, and her hair was dyed green. The rest of the girls were adorned in a similar vein.

I heard a high-pitched shriek. "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"  looked towards the shriek and saw two new girls climbing off a bus at the bus stop. They came running and screaming and positioned themselves at the back of the line. They assumed the robot character of the group and joined in on the chanting.

"Almost there. Almost there. Almost there. Almost there. Almost there." And then they all disappeared into Target. Beauty is certainly subjective.

For a people watcher like me, this was the Sistine Chapel right here in my little town of Issaquah, WA. I could really appreciate it because I understood exactly what it meant.

But before I tell you what I think it meant, I have another sighting to share. I've been sitting on this one for a while, because it wouldn't take up enough space on its own. One day, I was taking cardboard boxes from our chocolate shop out to the dumpster. The dumpster is located inside a metal fence. I was throwing flattened boxes up over the lip of the dumpster when I heard the scraggly voice of a teenage boy.

"Ah! Dude!" he yelled. Then a group of teenage boys broke into a loud chorus of laughter. I spied through a gap in the fence. They didn't know I was there. There was a group of young men standing in a sloppy circle behind the dumpster, in the center's loading dock area.  

Suddenly, one ran full speed towards another. When the fellow who was running came within a couple feet of his friend, he sprung off one foot into the air, turned one hundred and eighty degrees, stuck his butt out, and went flying rump first towards the other guy. The other guy waited until the last moment before stepping out of the way and avoiding the assault.

I watched. Another ran and leapt. Then another. They were having a flying butt battle, a very young dude thing to do. Most of the lunges missed their target. But once in a while a blow landed, especially when two attackers coordinated their efforts, causing the victim to sidestep one jumper only to step unexpectedly into the airstrike of a second. When a butt landed flush on a back, this is when the loud "ah dudes" came bellowing, followed by the truest laughter you'll ever hear.

As an aside, we employ mostly young men in our cacao processing facility in Peru, and the hijinks mirror this action very closely at times. Also, as another aside, my mom's significant other is a retired fire chief, and he's told us that the pranking and teasing and rough housing among the men at his fire station were notorious.

Back to my line of thought.

I watched the young men for a while, thinking about what it all meant. I reached the same conclusion then that I reached watching the girl robots marching through the Target parking lot. The thing that is so great about being a teenager is the time you get to spend with your friends. When you grow up and get a job and have a family, your friend time decreases significantly.

The silliness, the laughter, the unmitigated glee kind of fades away. Work and family are deeply satisfying in their way. In my opinion, they are more profoundly satisfying than hanging out with your friends if you take an honest, long term look at it. Hard work and family are necessary for a well-functioning society. It is a grownup's responsibility to embrace these things.

But looking back on your teenage years sure can cause a lot of nostalgia. Few things in life are as good as laughing so hard your stomach muscles cramp up and you choke because you're pushing air out but not taking any in.

You look around at your group of people. You've all chosen each other. You like the same things. You get each other. And when you're together, you can do the most fun things and laugh your head off.

Beautiful. Here's a challenge for us adults.

What would it take to find yourself in an environment where you can have a deep, hard, teenage style belly laugh? Not a polite, adult, dinner party laugh. A laugh so hard you can't breathe, and you have to beg the person to stop so you can catch your breath.

I want a laugh like that. I need one.

Chocolate would probably make a good addition to that scene. Just saying.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!