Grinding Bodies, Grinding Traffic
What to love and heat about living in East Greenwich this week.
RAVE: Let’s talk about grinding for a minute.
Not the daily grind (that’s just too depressing to discuss), but the style of dancing (please note that I am making air quotes around the word dancing) that has been banned from many schools, including our own high school. If you haven’t seen this kind of action before, use your imagination. Actually, scratch that. Just think vertical lap dance.
I’m happy to say I haven’t had to deal with this too much since my kids, despite being newly minted teenagers, still don’t seem to have reached a point where they differentiate between the sexes. In fact, I think they might be even more grossed out than I am by the concept of grinding. For now. Because living with a teenager is like living with a pod person – they can change overnight. So I can easily project a few days, weeks, months or (hopefully) years/decades from now when they will see rubbing against someone of the opposite gender on a dance floor to the tune of Tupac’s How Do U Want It as the ultimate in extracurricular entertainment.
I imagine I would mouth meaningless phrases like, “Grinding treats girls like a body part, not a person; and the boy doesn’t even have to look the girl in the eye.” I imagine what I would really want to do is what I used to when they were 5 years old and about to fall down the stairs or stick a live guppy in their mouths - yell, “No! No! No!” and run to literally lift them up out of harm’s way.
Of course, the kids the ban affects think we are old and prudish. And perhaps we are. The waltz, which seems as tame as synchronized swimming today, was the scandalous dance of its day when introduced to ballrooms in the early nineteenth century. Apparently, it was felt the couples danced too closely. Sound familiar?
A few decades later it was the tango that was appalling sensible adults. In the 1950s, the object of censorship was Elvis Presley who was filmed from the waist up because horrified adults felt his gyrating pelvis mimicked sex. A decade later, The Twist was the dance forbidden from school playlists. And the song goes on and on.
Anyway, anyone who has ever spent five minutes with a teenager knows that the actual prohibition of the activity at school dances isn’t going to stop them. Kids who don’t grind at school will find a way to do it in other places. Because really, isn’t that a teenager’s main job to find ways to get around the system?
On the other hand, the fear that grinding leads to other non-parentally approved behavior is unfounded. The numbers of teens having sex, getting pregnant or contracting STIs is at an all-time low and still steadily declining according to statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Still. The “freak dance” (as grinding is also called) is a dance that belongs in clubs, not at high school dances. So I am grateful that East Greenwich High School was one of the schools to adopt a no grinding policy early on. Because really, isn’t it our job as adults to step in and draw the line for our kids to keep them in check? Hmmm. Maybe the High School should bring back the waltz.
Meanwhile, all of this just kindles bad memories of school dances in sweaty gyms. Ugh.
RANT: Let’s play a game. I am going to shout out random words – see how fast you can guess where I am heading.
First word: Division.
Anyone? No, not the Romney and Obama debates.
Second word: Traffic.
Aaah – now I see some light bulbs going off.
One more word: Accidents.
Because here’s the thing – I don’t think more than a morning or two has gone by in the past few weeks when I have not had to negotiate my way around some sort of fender bender or other minor traffic mishap on the stretch of Division leading out from the Hill just before it opens up into two lanes.
You could blame this on the fact that most drivers are not paying enough attention when they drive these days – cell phones, music, GPS, screaming kids, grabbing a meal on the run, what-have-you. I know I am guilty of many of these distracters myself.
You could blame this on the fact that there are more cars on the roads in East Greenwich than there were even a few years ago. I remember asking a woman what the downside of living in East Greenwich was when we first moved here in 2000. She replied that the traffic had become awful. My husband and I refused to look at each other because we knew that if we did, we would crack up. Traffic? We were coming from New York City where 1 mph was a good speed. When we headed out to my parents’ house on Long Island, we had to navigate the New York parking lot known as the LIE or 495. The roads here seemed like empty and unused, like what the plains must have felt to the first settlers west.
But now, either because there really is more traffic or because I am more of a “Road” Islander – or, most likely, both – Division seems, more often than not, like a bumper car venue. And don’t get me started on the messy snarl up that happens every morning and afternoon by the Route 4 exit as cars try to navigate their way into the Dave’s parking lot. I’ll save that one for another day.
I’m not sure what the solution can be. I would hate to see the road widened and trees along that stretch cut down. After all, East Greenwich is not LA. We’re not trying to drive a space shuttle through our streets. Also, I remember enough of my Middle School science to know that nature abhors a vacuum. If we widen the road, more cars will fill it so it won’t solve anything and cause even more jams and probably accidents while the roadwork takes place.
I also don’t think this is an instance where having more public transportation would help. Most of this is local getting-from-here-to-there-and-back-again-in-fifteen-minutes traffic.
But I do think that the tragic accident that happened a few weeks ago on Route 4 is not all that unexpected. If minor accidents are practically a daily occurrence, then it follows that more serious ones are just around the corner as the problem becomes worse.
One possibility might be more and smarter traffic lights, as counter-intuitive as it sounds. According to the folks who study traffic patterns (now that’s a fun job!), the problem with traffic is not just that there is too much; it is that some people drive too fast, some too slow, some change lanes, some make turns. It all creates traffic jams, wasted fuel and pollution. The best way to counteract these problems is to have traffic lights that constantly adjust for rush hour density, special events, weather, and much more.
Now if I could just get a device like that to make my house run smarter.