Sunday, January 20, 2008

That's Kinda Interesting

I went on a fantastic snowshoeing trip yesterday. I don't know why I keep forgetting how much I enjoy the snow (in small, controlled doses). We've got the perfect arrangement here: go up to Mount Hood to play in the snow for a day, then come back down to Portland where all precipitation falls as rain (or, occasionally, wintry mix).

I have to say that the snowshoeing knocked any residual Januweariness I might have been experiencing right on its ass. The longer I snowshoed the more elated and pumped full of energy I became, tromping over the cushiony snow with a goofy grin on my face. I was practically manic by the time we finished up the trip, babbling on and on about how great it all was.

The trip also gave me the opportunity to have an extended conversation (I guess it was a conversation) with the 16-year-old boy seated next to me on the van. I fully expected him to say exactly nothing to me for the entire trip, plus my friend A. was on my other side, so I figured I'd just talk to her. But before the van had even gotten on the freeway, Mr. 16 introduced himself to us and quite politely tossed his two cents into our discussion about Portland's various Tae Kwan Do schools.

Soon I found myself fielding question after question from Mr. 16. For example:

Mr. 16: Like how cold did it get in the winter when you lived in Chicago?
Me: Probably about 20 below was the coldest it ever got, but with wind chill it could get close to 50 below.
Mr. 16: That's kinda interesting. Did people go out when it was that cold?
Me: Yeah, if they had to.
Mr. 16: That's kinda interesting. What do you think people from Chicago would think about Portland winters?

I swear he responded to every single thing I said with "That's kinda interesting." Sometimes he'd volunteer some piece of related info to me, always prefacing it with "It's kinda interesting..." For instance, "It's kinda interesting but next year our high school is going to be classified as a 6A school instead of a 5A school."

Anyway, it was kinda interesting that this kid seemed so interested in what I might have to say. How come when I was 16, no 16-year-old boy ever paid that much attention to me? But now that I'm old enough to be the mom of a 16-year-old boy? Different story.

Speaking of moms, this kid's mom was actually on the van with us. She was seated right behind us and made sure he didn't starve to death on the way up to the mountain, passing muffins and other sustenance over the seat at regular intervals. Surely it's a bit unusual for a 16-year-old boy to elect to hang out with his mom for a whole day? I know for a fact that nothing (not even a 10-pound bag of weed) could have persuaded my brother at age 16 to spend the day with our mom. Anyway, this 16-year-old boy was very nice to his mom, I noticed. From what I could tell, the last couple of miles of the snowshoe trip were pretty much a death march for her, but he hung back and stayed close to her, which I thought was very sweet (and very mature) of him.

On the way back home, most people in the van conked out, but, being on that manic snowshoeing high (mentioned above), I remained extremely chipper and ready to answer more questions. Mr. 16 was prepared with scads more questions. He wanted to know if I'd ever seen any wolves in Oregon. I said that I didn't think there were any populations of wolves in Oregon. (Now I'm suddenly an expert on Oregon wildlife? He's the one who's lived in Oregon his whole life, not me.). Then he said, "Let me change the animal then. What about elk?"

I can't remember exactly how I answered that, but I know that he found it kinda interesting.



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