Thursday, April 30, 2009

Complaints and questions

"Did you notice the glaring error on the front page this morning?" a caller asked a few minutes ago. Well, yes, I nearly spit my coffee onto my newspaper at the breakfast table, as a matter of fact.
The headline on the story about the new casino at The Meadows stated, "Permanent venue rakes in $175M in first two weeks." The headline writer pulled the wrong figure from the article; it should have read "$15.3M."

The new casino cost $175 million to build. Even in their wildest fantasies, the casino's owner could not have imagined paying for their new complex in just two weeks!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Forever Cars, Part 6

Word came the other day of the impending death of the Pontiac, one of the makes that General Motors will ax next year. This can’t be a shock. Anyone who’s ever owned a GM car or truck has wondered about the redundancy of its brands. Still, it’s hard not to feel a shiver of nostalgia.

My second car was a Pontiac. My father was a little worried about me driving back and forth from home in New York to college in Washington, Pa., in the old Karmann Ghia, with not even a radio to help keep me awake, and not enough pickup to get me out of the way of tractor-trailers barreling along the Turnpike. And so I found myself heading back to school in a 1968 Pontiac LeMans. It was goldish-green (they called it “champagne”) with a black vinyl top, a 326 V8 delivering 250 horsepower under its enormously long hood. No problem getting out of the way of trucks.

I was never caught speeding in that car, but I did get a ticket, which is a story worth telling. Two friends and I were heading to our fraternity’s rented farm house in the country for a party. We were hauling a couple of boxes of potato chips and a half-keg of beer, in the trunk. I did not notice the red light at the intersection of East Maiden Street and Route 19 and was pulled over by a state trooper. (About 35 years later, a state police cruiser and another car would be involved in a tragic collision at the same intersection.) The trooper saw the potato chips in the back seat and asked where we were going. We told him the truth, that we were asked to take the chips to the party. “Anything in the trunk?” he asked. “Nah,” I lied. I had to. I was only 20 years old. No one in the car was of legal age.

The trooper asked me to follow him to the office of the Justice of the Peace, Evogene Smith, just up the road. The trooper told her what I had done. She picked up a gavel on her desk, banged it down, and said, “Guilty! Thirty-five dollar fine.” My friends and I pooled our money and paid the fine and left, driving away slowly and carefully, all the way thanking the Creator for allowing us to get away with one and keeping us out of jail.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Forever Cars, Part 5

By Dave Molter

My first car was a 1951 Cadillac hearse. No, I am not descended from a long line of undertakers, nor am I particularly morbid. But there is a story behind my purchase. In 1967 I was 18 years old and newly graduated from high school. I was also in a rock band, and it was by no means cool to show up at gig in my father's 1965 Rambler American. One of my friends hauled around his band's equipment in a 1956 Cadillac hearse, and it was love at first sight. I found my ride in a vacant lot behind our singer's apartment. Unfortunately, I never took pictures of my hearse, but it was pretty much the same as the one pictured here, with one big – and, to an 18-year-old, great – difference. The guy I bought it from had a venetian blind repair company, and he had stencilled above the windshield, in huge, white block letters, “THIS DRIVER IS BLIND MAN.”

I paid $35 for what many people called my "deathmobile." Because hearses don't drive very far, it had only 15,000 original miles. It was an eight-cylinder with a three-speed stick on the column. Black leather interior with red leather headliner in the cab, red velvet in the back with rollers for a coffin. I loved the toothy metallic grin of its grille.

My one venture into morbidity – it was unintentional – took place when I parked across from my high school to pick up my girlfriend, who was two years younger than I. I was happily sitting behind the wheel minding my own business when a man dressed in a suit appeared at the driver's side window.
“Perhaps you think this is amusing, but I don't,” he said. “I own this business,” he added, gesturing toward the sidewalk.
I realized that I had parked in front of the funeral home catty corner to the school. I drove away sheepishly, never to park there again. My hearse served me well for more than a year before my mother made me sell it because I could no longer find anyone willing to insure such a behemoth. But I have many fond memories of hauling equipment slowly up the West Virginia hills – this was before I-70 and I-79 had been completed – and of turning heads wherever I drove.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Forever Cars, Part 4

By Margaret Conaway

My husband’s truck was in the garage for repairs and I drove him in my red VW fastback to pick it up. As we left the garage I was in the lead and decided to show him a short cut through some back streets. To my surprise a construction project was in progress at the first main intersection on West Chestnut Street in Washington that I had to cross. The construction was pouring concrete at the entrance of the street I wanted to enter. Instead of going straight across, traffic was being routed left, right, then left again to run around the newly cemented entry.

Due to the construction, and the fact it was high noon, traffic was backed up. I was concentrating on a break in traffic to allow me to pull out. I did NOT take notice of WHY the street was barricaded or the cement finisher who had just risen from his knees and was surveying a job well done. I DID notice the street was only two-thirds barricaded and that my small car would fit in the one-third that was NOT barricaded.

Yep! You guessed it! Kerplop! Into the fresh concrete I dove with my front wheels. My face was as red as my car. (Where was the O-R photographer?)
The workmen merely smiled; I had made their day. What a story they would have to tell about a woman driver. My husband of many years simply drove off and left me there to suffer my embarrassment alone. I really couldn’t blame him. He later described his reaction: “As soon as the clutch was out, I knew where she was headed, so I hollered WHOA! When I realized that wouldn't work, I just prayed. Oh, Please... not all four wheels.”

I backed my little car out of the wet concrete, and as the construction crew held up traffic and directed me out, one of them shouted, “OK, Lady! Give’er hell! See if you can get all the way across this time!”

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Forever Cars, Part 3

By Margaret Conaway

My first and favorite car was a 1953 Mercury sedan purchased used in the late 1950s. I drove it for about 10 years, all the while staving off my husband’s male wish to trade it.

My Mercury had a flathead 8 with a dual downdraft carburetor. That was not a car. It was an Automobile! My son (just a kid then) tells me that he and his brother loved when we entered the four-lane, when I tramped on the gas and the engine gave out that whoosh sound.
My husband nagged me constantly to trade my Mercury, saying, “I can’t understand what you like about that car!” My response was “I like the word PAID that is stamped on the title.”

Came a weak moment when I was talked into trading my beloved 53 Merc for a used fire-truck red’63 Ford Country Squire station wagon (above). I suspect it was wanted for camping trips. What a comedown! Straight 6, standard three-speed on a tree, NO POWER STEERING, and I parallel parked it on city streets. How in the hell did I do that?

I hated that boat, and one day when I tired of parking it I went to a VW dealer (with no advice or help from anyone, meaning my husband) and traded that monster for a’68 VW fastback. This was my first car bought NEW. It did not last long as my son, now a high school senior, totaled it two days before his graduation. (He was not hurt).
It was replaced with a’69 VW fastback and this is the car in which I suffered my most embarrassing moment...
(Continued tomorrow.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Forever Cars, Part 2

By Bob Von Scio
I turned 16 glorious years of age on a sunny October day in 1999. I had already obtained my learner’s permit and soon I would be a licensed driver. Due to a decent collection of savings bonds, I was able to go “car shopping” at some area dealerships, but the selection was limited to vehicles that were… past their prime.

I settled on an atrocious vehicle – a 1993 Plymouth Duster (not mine in this photo).
I think two years’ worth of insurance exceeded the purchase price of the car. The new water pump, electrical relay, radiator, front bumper (snow-crash), rear bumper (parking lot crash), three sets of tires, cam seals, overdrive thingamabobber, assorted belts, and windshield (rock) essentially doubled that once more.

I drove that sunovabitch like I stole it, and it returned the favor by acting as if I had it hostage.
My wife fondly recalls the day we went for a drive and the timing belt broke out by the Copper Kettle.
I recall the gallon jug of water I kept in the back seat for trips of more than 5 miles because the water pump was as water-retentive as a burlap sack.

I didn’t learn how to fix anything with that car. No, that would be left to my next one – the one that I would modify, pimp, slam, learn to take apart and put back together.
No, with THIS car, I learned how much all the individual component parts of a car cost. I learned that a 3.0liter V-6 with 119 horsepower was more than enough to shred cheap tires as long as you were flooring it out of a turn. I learned that a plastic wood dash insert doesn't take superglue very well when it snaps in half. I learned that sunroofs retain their hermetic seal for only three months into their second owner, and then leak like a basket full of milk.

I learned to appreciate and value a car that reliably starts when you turn the key; to appreciate cars that can operate at highway speeds without vibrating or pulling further to the right than Sean Hannity at a gun show in a church basement; to appreciate a car that accelerates without question, without hesitation, and with the confidence of a bullet-proof German shepherd.
I recall that car fondly, the way an old man recalls the nuns who would slap his knuckles with a ruler.

Don’t get me wrong, though... I would NEVER want to drive one again, and I feel that all of the surviving models need to be euthanized immediately.
But, it was my automotive purgatory.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Whine, whine, whine

C: We only get your biased paper for the obituary (sic). The editor/owners are horrible.

A: This comment appeared on a subscription form, the subscriber being not an individual but a labor union. Exactly what our bias is supposed to be, I don't know. During the Bush administration, we were accused more often of being a left-wing mouthpiece for the Democrats. Now that the Democrats are in power and the harping on the editorial page is coming from the right, I suspect that we will be most accused of sympathy with Rush Limbaugh and his ilk.

Truth is, newspapers make a habit of being a pain in the butt to those in power, regardless of their political affiliation. It's our job to question authority.

Now, as for being "horrible"...
Well, it is a fact that babies tend to cry the moment I look at them. Maybe it's the scars, the bolts in the side of my neck and my green complexion.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Forever Cars, Part 1

One spring evening in 1961, in the suburbs of New York City, a gentleman who normally took the train home from the city each day instead pulled into his driveway in an odd little car, purchased that very afternoon.
The man’s family came running out of his house, and neighbors came from across the street to examine the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. The dark gray car with its bulbous snout and rounded fenders was not much more than half the size of the family’s other car – an Oldsmobile station wagon. Few people in the neighborhood owned more than one car, and no one owned anything like this.

Five years later, the man’s son, now 17, after taking his driving test in the little gray car, waited anxiously each day for the arrival of the mail, and the results of the test: Would the letter announce another failure, or would it contain a license to drive? The letter arrived. Ecstasy! On a bright, cool day in June, he slid onto the rust-colored vinyl seat, started the 40-horsepower motor and shifted into first gear, then rolled out the driveway and onto the road to freedom, at last, with an excitement not far from sexual.

A couple years later, the boy returned from college in the old Ghia, its right fender crumpled, its hubcaps missing, its faded body now decorated with two wide racing stripes the boy had fashioned from vinyl cupboard liner with a floral design that he had purchased at Kmart. The boy’s father stood in the driveway and considered the condition of the car and the length of the boy’s hair, and not being able to decide which made him angrier, raised his hands in exasperation and retreated to his house.

The boy returned to college the following fall in another car, a bigger, much safer one, and the little Karmann Ghia was relegated to the garage, later to be sold to a friend of the family, and never seen again.

The boy was happy with the new car and its power, and the fact that it had a radio. He forgot about the Ghia. Years later, he would wake in the middle of the night, full of regret. In his sleep he had heard the whine of its little air-cooled engine, felt its vibration through the shifter, and suddenly he realized that he had ignored, and then lost, his first love.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A differnt story

Boys love cars. It starts in the crib and never stops.

Oh, sure, some girls love cars, too. When they grow up, some give their vehicles cute names. And I’m sure that there are some girls who know more about the mechanics of automobiles than their fathers and brothers. But generally, it’s different with boys.

When it comes to cars, women are practical, cost-conscious and sensible. They prize convenience and comfort. They like to sit on heated seats and steer. Men are impulsive and irrational. They like style, power and personality. They wear their cars like clothing. When they drive, they are connected to the machine through their feet and their backsides.

Men never forget, never stop loving their first car. The middle-aged man has this dream: He has forgotten that he owns a garage; he goes there and finds his first car, covered in dust but still in existence; he says, “I’d forgotten I still had this. This is great – I could fix it up and drive it again!” and then he wakes up, realizing there is no old car, his youth is gone, and life is cruel.

Do women have this dream, too? I don’t know, but I’d like to find out. So we’re going to start another story, but this one will be different. You’re going to write it.

I will write the first chapter, about my first car. Then you e-mail me your stories and photos of your first car, or vehicles that you’ve owned that will forever be popping up in your dreams. I’ll sort them out in a rough chronological order, and in the end, we might have a successful narrative of that special relationship – call it love if you will – between human and machine.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

History R Us

Ever since "200 Years," our newspaper's history book, was published last year, I've been getting calls from folks asking me to assist them in their research. I could tell them that I'm too busy to do their work for them, but the truth is I enjoy it.

Got a call yesterday from a man in Wheeling who has silverware engraved with "Henry Clay Tavern" on it. He said the tavern was on Old Route 40 between West Alexander and Claysville and was a posh place in the 1920s and '30s. He was looking for more information about it and perhaps some newspaper advertisements.

A quick Google search revealed that Leon "Chu" Berry (right), a premier tenor saxophone player, was playing with a band called Perry's Broadway Buddies, which was a fixture at the Henry Clay Tavern in 1928. Berry was born in Wheeling in 1908. He went on to play with many of the great figures in jazz and was a member of Cab Calloway's Cotton Club orchestra when he died in an auto accident at age 33 in 1941.

I took a gander at a bound volume of The Washington Observer from 1928, searching for advertisements for the place. There were none, and it became obvious to me why very quickly. The headlines in the papers were about G-men taking axes to barrels of whiskey; these were the days of prohibition. More than likely, the Henry Clay Tavern, located far out in the sticks, hosting wicked jazz jam sessions, was very likely a speakeasy. The last thing its proprietors wished for was publicity.

If anyone else out there has information about this place, please chime in.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gripe followup

Some people have been sending me gardening tips. A good friend has suggested I read Ruth Stout's "No Work Gardening Book."

First of all, I don't believe the title of this book. "No work gardening" is when someone goes to the farmer's market, buys some produce and then gives it to you. Anything else involves work.

She must be the same person who wrote "Death Without Dying," "Never Pay Taxes" and "Eat All You Want, Never Exercise, and Lose Weight!"

Monday, April 13, 2009

Today's gripe

Some of you who have followed this blog for a long time might remember my problems with groundhogs. There was the time when one of them crawled into the engine compartment of my truck, ripped the insulation off the hood and chewed my rubber hoses. Unlucky for him, he was still in the vicinity of the fan when I started the truck one morning. Took a mechanic an hour to extract his corpse. Serves him right.

Then there was the ground hog who lived under my deck, who, when he wasn't chewing the siding off my house, was eating every last vegetale from my garden. Not a single tomato made it to my plate that summer. I tried to shoot him, but he was a quick little bugger; I never got a shot off.

This year, I'm putting in a garden, but I've learned my lesson. I've surrounded it with a 4-foot-high wire fence with a gate... a locked gate. I'm also considering pounding re-bar into the ground all around it to create a subterranean fence to prevent the furry fiend from burrowing in. I'm stopping short of surveillance cameras and a security guard.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Complaints and questions

C: Let's have more coverage from the Fredericktown area! - E.C.

A: This comment was written on the survey that readers fill out when they resubscribe for home delivery. We receive comments just like this one all the time from small communities all over our coverage area, which encompasses Washington and Greene counties. With 89 municipalities in that area, it is impossible for a small staff of reporters to cover everything that might be going on. Fredericktown is a 45-minute drive from our main office in Washington, and it's not on the way to anywhere, so it is often overlooked. Not a great deal happens there that is of interest to the rest of the circulation area, but it's not as if nothing happens in Fredericktown. We could do more.

We did do more, years ago, when the newspaper had "country correspondents" who mailed in columns with information about who was in the hospital and who was visiting from out of town. They were called upon to cover breaking news when that occurred, too. The correspondents disappeared, for a number of reasons: That sort of social news fell out of fashion; people became more reluctant to have their private business publicized; the number of people willing to be correspondents for little or no money dwindled.

But the Internet is changing things. Newspapers are struggling to hold on to subscribers and to serve new readers with online editions. Newspapers are beginning to realize that their future is in being "hyper local," and they are now recruiting "citizen journalists," to serve areas their own reporting staffs cannot. The Internet has made gathering and disseminating community news much easier, and more people are willing to spend time doing this.

It's more than likely that the enormous changes newspapers are going through will benefit small communities like Fredericktown, and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Will there be jobs?

Last night, I was at Washington & Jefferson College speaking to a group of students about what they will do when college is over. I was a panelist for a discussion called, "What Can I Do With an English Major?" I was asked to participate because I am a W&J gad who was an English major and managed to find a job in which my education was useful.

While the other panelists talked about graduate school and internship, I scanned the faces, detecting here and there a wince or a widening of the eyes that betrayed bewilderment, even dread. It's understandable; it's a tough world out there now, where no one seems to be hiring.

These kids are under a lot of pressure to choose a course in life. Many of their parents are insisting that their college education be practical and vocational. I was there to defend liberal arts, to talk them out of switching their majors to accounting.

I told them how lucky they were to be able to learn about so many different things – languages, history, psychology, art – and that they should soak up all of this that they can. As English majors, they will go out into the working world as effective communicators, so necessary when abbreviated text messages just won't do. And as English majors they study literature, and in doing so they learn so much of the human condition. Anyone who is an effective communicator and has a good understanding of the human condition can do anything he or she chooses.

I'm not sure I got my point across; in the end, there were few questions. But if they take advantage of all the knowledge that's offered to them now, and if they are willing to start work at the bottom, they'll be just fine. Even now, when things seem so bad.

Honest, you will be OK.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Today's gripe

Today isn't one of them, but on warm days in spring, it's a given that the peace will be disturbed by someone driving up Main Street with the stereo up full blast, the bass speakers creating vibrations that imitate an earthquake, and the lyrics are the staccato obscenities of gangsta rap.

It's not so much the volume that bothers me, but the message. Ever listened? Here are a few lines from the rapper Mdc:

Let's kill all the cops and throw 'em in bags
Set it on fire on a pile of rags
Time for a little anarchy on the streets
Doesn't really matter if we all get beat
'Cause the world is really going to hell in a handbasket...
So let's kill all the cops, kill all the
cops, kill all the cops today
Let's kill all the cops it has a certain ring
They are not really real human beings
They got a job a uniform and a gun
Of course they are stupid and devoid of fun...

Oh, what a world we live in.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Complaints and questions

C: I am writing to you about your biased reporting on the gamblers that your paper has crucified. Their names have appeared in your paper so many time you make them sound like thugs. They are good people who didn't pay enough taxes. They never forced anyone to bet and yet their names have appeared more than any murderer, any rapist, any drug dealer. - A.C.

A: Believe it or not, we stock no crosses and nails here. And we don't have the power to charge and arrest people, or try them in court. In this case, it was the state police and the Internal Revenue Service who filed the charges, and the federal court that did the sentencing, which, by the way, fell a little short of crucifixion.

We report the activities of the police and courts. We have suggested before in editorials that the enforcers of the law might spend a little more energy pursuing murderers, rapists and drug dealers, rather than concentrating their efforts on crimes in which the victims, if you can call them that, are at least willing. Nevertheless, these are the criminals they choose to pursue, and so we report that.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fathers, Part 15

(Four generations, photographed in 1977)

Some families are made differently. In them, a business is started, and it is handed down for generations. This newspaper is a good example; right now it is being run by the fourth generation of family members. Some editors in this 200-year-old business have ended up sitting in the same chairs once occupied by their fathers.

If there could be an opposite to this, my own family would be an example. In keeping with tradition, what I have passed down to my children is a path NOT to take. They chose instead to follow their mother. After college, both went to work and then put themselves through graduate school, both earning master’s degrees in fine arts. They live frugally, as painters must do.

Had things worked out a little differently, they might not have to worry so much about money and might not be so burdened by their grad-school loans. After all, the Burroughs family at one time had great wealth, way back before 1929. There was still a considerable estate left after the death of A.H. Burroughs and the market crash, but my wayward grandfather was effectively disinherited and benefited little. Nothing of that fortune trickled down to my generation or to our children.

In the early 1950s, Woodlawn, the estate in Irvington, N.Y., was sold and Florence – A.H. Burroughs’ widow – moved to Ashville, N.C., where she died at the age of 97. Woodlawn was demolished and replaced by an apartment complex.

(The Lynchburg house buned in August 2006)

Florence and her husband and the remains of several of their children, including my grandfather Alfred, are entombed in a mausoleum in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, right next to the old Dutch cemetery through which Ichabod Crane fled the Headless Horseman in Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

The grand, castle-like house that A.H. Burroughs built in Lynchburg, Va., suffered a long, slow deterioration. It was used for a while as a fraternity house, then divided into apartments. It was destroyed by fire just a few years ago.

So goes the march of a family through history.
As fathers, we are glad to have made the walk.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Letters from Siberia

You may remember Misha Zelenchukov, the former Russian journalist now working as a security guard, though infrequently paid, and living outside Novokuznetsk in an old house with no running water. Here's the photo I received from him today, with a note explaining that his dog had "perished," but that now he has this new dog.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fathers, Part 14

Letting go is tough. It’s hard enough taking your kids to college and leaving them there, but at least they’re still living at home during breaks. It’s quite another thing when they leave for good. This column is from September 2000:

Cardboard boxes and plastic milk crates filled with shoes, clothing, books and makeup were piled on the landing and stacked at the top of the stairs. The man worked his way around them in the predawn darkness and entered his daughter’s room. At the foot of the bed he found and ankle and gave it a vigorous shake.
“Wake up!” he said to the sleeping lump beneath the comforter. “It’s time to go. Your childhood is over.”

The man and his wife were used to packing her off to college every fall, but this was different; college was over. Now she was moving away for good.
Had she been moving down the street or across town, or to another town in the same state, the event would not have seemed so ominous. But she was moving to New York, the great black hole of the American galaxy of cities, where the density of its 8 million souls is so great that not even letters home can escape its gravity.

The couple and their daughter drove all morning, mostly in silence, and in the static electricity of their anxiety.
Across the Delaware River and into New Jersey, the man began to feel the pull of the city, the traffic converging on ever-widening highways, swirling faster and faster in a vast whirlpool of speeding machinery.
Half a century ago, he thought, his own father had felt the pull of the great metropolis, too. To him, living and working in New York was what gave life meaning. And so, most of the man's own childhood was spent around the city. Maybe that's why, given the chance, he escaped from New York, fleeing on this very route to Western Pennsylvania and college, never looking back.
He raised his children in the country where, when the farm animals are not in an uproar, the nights as are quiet as death and the sky is a hood of black velvet sparkling with tiny diamonds; where there is solitude, where there is peace, where there are few people.
It’s no wonder she wanted to leave.

Just outside the Holland Tunnel, 16 lanes of traffic merged to two in the carbon monoxide haze of Jersey City. On the other side of the river, the traffic poured out of the tunnel and onto Manhattan Island, where signs for Brooklyn, Uptown, Downtown and Canal Street flashed by, and in a panic accompanied by a chorus of honking horns, he chose a direction, a ramp that dumped them into a maze of narrow, twisting alleys jammed with stationary cars and trucks over and around which swarmed a mass of people, racing about their business like fire ants.
For 40 minutes they inched through the steaming, teeming crush of the city.
“Where are we, exactly?” his wife asked. “I have absolutely no idea,” the man admitted. His knuckles became white as he clutched the steering wheel, and he fought an urge to leave, just get out of the car, leave it in the middle of traffic, just leave and find some movie theater or bar, or another job, and never, ever return.
“Why in the hell would anyone ever want to live in this place?” he fumed.

Eventually, they found their way clear of the mess and managed to get to the tip of the island, into another tunnel and on to Brooklyn. By the time they reached the apartment where the girl would be living with friends for a while, the man really needed to be restrained and hosed down.

But he calmed down. He had found a parking space right away. The apartment was on a quiet street, right around the corner from an outdoor cafe. There were kids zooming by on scooters, parents pushing strollers, people everywhere, different people of every conceivable color and nationality. This was a neighborhood, a place with a sense of community.
The couple knew they could leave their child in that place and not feel terrible about it. It was not their sort of place, but it was interesting. As they had shared their daughter's anxiety, now they shared her excitement about being young, about starting fresh in life.
And about living in the center of the universe.
And about not being a child anymore.