Jenny Hypes: When I grow up …

Column by Jenny Hypes

In early elementary school, I was dead set on becoming a doctor, until I found out math and science were priorities. After giving up on my lifelong dream, I decided being a Spice Girl was the next best thing. Although they were not particularly good singers, they had great accents and were in a fantastic movie, “Spice World.” Truth be told I still have not completely given up on that dream especially after their, to me, brilliant reunion tour.

It was around fourth grade that I came back to reality and decided that I needed to become something that I would really enjoy and that was practical. I knew I loved music and dancing, so obviously my best option would be to become Cuban.

I was sure that, despite my pasty exterior and green eyes, it would not be that difficult to blend in. I would simply wear red dresses and dance throughout the streets, which is how I imagined everyone there would act.

The real struggle came when I was telling my friends. I sat them all down at the lunch table and calmly told them that this is the last time they will see me because I was moving. They asked where I was moving, and I proudly declared myself Cuba’s next top citizen. After explaining to them about the beautiful flowing red dresses, dancing and music they all wanted to travel alongside me to this land of bliss.

I told them I was not sure how I was going to get there yet. Driving was out of the question. I figured there’s no way my parents would let me borrow their minivan. I considered flying, but that cost money, and I had used what was left in my piggy bank for ice cream earlier that day.

I decided boating was probably the best route to take.

The house I grew up in is directly across the street from the South River. I knew rivers flowed into the ocean, and I knew that Cuba was somewhere in the ocean. My confidence assured me, and all my friends, that I would be able to find it as soon as we got into the Atlantic.

I talked my friend into accompanying me on this little voyage. She was skeptical at first because she wanted to be back by dinner time since they were having Kid Cuisines, a rare treat in her household. I simply explained that we would never be coming back, but surely Cuba was filled with Kid Cuisines, and not to worry, because I knew exactly what I was doing. Naturally she believed me and prepared to gear up for our excursion.

We packed up our lunch boxes full of Fruit by the Foot, Oreos and Juicy Juice, the foundation of any nutritious meal. My friend lived just down the street from me, so we grabbed an inter tube from her house for both of us and set sail.

We were approximately 15 feet from where our adventure originated, pondering the meaning of life and playground politics. Seconds after saying how this trip was the best decision we ever made, a fish swam by and brushed up against my friend’s leg. She flipped out, literally. Next thing I know, she is in the water screaming, and I am still floating down the river.

I would have been concerned, but the water was barely three feet deep, and she was strangely tall for a fourth-grade girl. I refused to get off my inter tube to get her and eventually dubbed her undesirable candidate for a travel buddy.

I never made it to Cuba. I only made it a few more feet before my friend flipped me out of the inter tube and stole my Juicy Juice. I am older and wiser now, but from time to time, mainly when I watch “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” I still long for the country of flowing dresses and dancing in the street, although preferably without the dictator and riots.


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