Friday, May 28, 2010

The Yellow Firetruck

When I was a kid, they brought a fire-truck to our elementary school. This was Cozy Lake School in Milton, NJ. The year was probably 1973 or 1974, which means I was in the second or third grade. We were so very excited when the firemen showed up. We were going to climb all over the big red truck; sit in the driver's seat, ring the bell, honk the horn. Except the fire-truck was not red. It was yellow. And I cried. Because fire-trucks are supposed to be red. 

Ever since that day, every expectation I have ever had about how things are supposed to be has been dashed by a yellow fire-truck. Magicians don't wear top-hats. No one dresses up for the theatre. People in power are, at best, disappointing, and mostly, outright scoundrels. Everybody lies about something. Mediocrity is richly rewarded, and greatness is scorned. The incompetent flourish, and the gifted wither. No good deed goes unpunished. Love and money will eventually become tragically intertwined. Trains are never steam trains, and they never have cabooses. 

And yes, as a sane, rational adult, I have learned to gracefully accept that things are never as they seem, and that life is not fair. And I have learned to not be bitter. Because the world may not always live up to my expectations, but it is a beautiful place, full of wonder and kindness, and I am lucky to be here.

But still, I wish that once...just once...the fire-truck would be red.