Thursday, April 29, 2010

A lot of things have changed. A lot of things have not.

Back when I used to scramble onto long, yellow buses bound for museums or other excuses for giving kids a vacation from the classroom, the best seat on the bus was always the last one. That's where you were farthest away from the teacher. And that's where you had the clearest view of the world racing alongside you. Or behind you.

Just about every kid's favorite pasttime involved one of two arm motions. The wave. And the tug. The wave was the big hello to every other driver and passenger on the road. You wanted all of them -- or any of them -- to wave back. When they did, you celebrated with the predetermined assurance of a Yankees fan. Then you turned and flapped your arm vigorously at the next approaching car.

The tug was the desperate plea to the truckers who sat as high as you did. You wanted any of them -- or all of them -- to make their horns blow a big, nasally gust of air in your direction. When one of them finally did, you celebrated with the ecstatic relief of a Cubs fan. You danced in your seat. You giggled with the kids sitting near you. Then you searched for another vehicle to beckon.

At least, that was the scene when I was million years ago. Before iPhones. Before Tivo. Before Google. When Tupac was still alive. When Ronald and Nancy Reagan were wreaking havoc in the White House.

This morning, as I exited the parkway just outside of Washington, DC while travelling to my dayjob, a bus sped past me. It carried a bunch of kids in the direction of the Air and Space Museum. Half of them were waving. The other half were tugging.