Rush hour at 2 p.m. was the last straw.
The speculation in famously gridlocked Atlanta before Memorial Day was that rush hour would start early on Friday, as people tried to get a jump on the three-day holiday.
So I wondered: Weren't we already getting a three-day holiday? Wasn't that enough? What's the deal with beefing it up by skipping out early on Friday?
Why is it that whenever we get an inch, we want an inch more at a time until we get a mile?
What really started all this pondering, however, wasn't the early start to the weekend. That was just a reminder. The real speculation began when I started comparing notes with other parents after the recent prom season.
Back in my day - I know, I know; for current students, if it isn't happening right now, it doesn't matter - the prom consisted of getting dressed up, borrowing dad's car, taking a date to a nicer-than-usual dinner, going to the prom, then going home when it ended.
Now? Holy cow. For those who really go all-out, the prom has become an all-day, all-night affair.
First, many of the seniors skip school that day, with an implied wink from administrators. Hair and nail salons do a booming business. There's often a pre-prom party. Afterward, prom-goers bundle into limousines for a ride to dinner.
(One good trend: Many of these partiers are having dinner at home. It worked quite well at my house for eight kids - which I thought was a lot until Sam Washington told me she prepared dinner for 28. Yikes.)
After dinner, the limo drops the kids at the prom, where many of them make an appearance just long enough to have their photo taken. Then they're whisked away again for an after-prom party, often alcohol-fueled, and finish the night with breakfast.
Moms and dads: We've lost our minds. And lost control.
Look: The prom is a party. Next year, why not be a parent and not a pal, and make it clear that one party per day is quite enough.
Besides, it's not as if the way we did it 30 years ago is all that radical. Consider instead how Harlem High School did it 50 years ago: There was no prom, no party, no dancing. The juniors and seniors - no dates, except for those who already were dating each other - gathered at the Harlem Women's Club for a Junior-Senior Banquet. They got dressed up, they had dinner, they went home.
Somehow I bet there were fewer arrests for underage drinking that night, and fewer unplanned teen pregnancies later. And I bet most moms and dads knew exactly where their son or daughter was in the middle of the night.
And I bet a three-day weekend was enough holiday, too.
Speaking of holidays, I was ready for one after working during Memorial Day weekend. So we dragged the young'uns off to the coast about mid-week for an overdose of Ohio.
Really. If you haven't been to Hilton Head Island lately, you'd be surprised at the number of Ohio license plates. We tend to forget how spoiled we are with the ocean so close by; the folks inland have to travel long distances just to get a chance to pay for an overpriced hotel room with a view of the Atlantic.
And then, mesmerized by starfish and sand dollars, they load a bagful of them in their cars for the trip home. I've often wondered if there's some spot around, say, Virginia, where the travelers realize that the smell wafting from the rear of their minivans is from the now-dead creatures stuffed in their suitcases.
Wondering about that has provided many a happy moment as I've strolled the beach with my daughters, attempting in vain to throw the animals back into the ocean before less-environmentally-aware tourists can pile them into sand pails.
I figure any we miss will provide its own lesson somewhere down the road.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106.
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