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Submitted By panin2
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It was about 10 o’ clock at night, and we had decided to explore our rebellious sides. 4 friends and I filled the Jeep, and made the short voyage—consisting of exactly one Red Hot Chili Peppers song—to the epitomized Westchester neighborhood: systematic rows of two-story houses, each complete with one pool, a driveway with at least one well-groomed car costing no less than $30,000, and an extensive back porch to overlook the freshly mowed ½ acre backyard. Jason, Walker, Ben, Danny and I had set out to perform the ancient American art of Ding-Dong-Ditch. The process was simple: ring the doorbell and run away. I went first, and produced a minimal response from the victim, as a woman merely opened her front door, ostensibly recognized the harmless attack, and then returned to her television. Walker’s next attempt left the 5 of us unsatisfied. We felt too old for this, and the financially comfortable families of Yorktown grew a resistance to the unthreatening disturbance of teenagers. We returned to the Jeep, and between the 5 of us existed a noticeable combination of disappointment and relief. Disappointment among those who unapologetically enjoy inconsequential crime, and relief among those who receive only discomfort from contributing to monkey business. Jason’s impulsive proposal to get fast food was granted, and by 10:30 we were on our way to town. Ben, included in those who felt relief from abandoning the ding-dong-ditching, remained quiet in backseat. He had a recognizable detachment from the mindless discussion going on in the car. He was thinking about bigger things.
We arrived at Burger King to realize that just two members of the group were interested in eating. Danny and I stayed in the car, still somewhat concerned by Ben’s behavior in the backseat. In the parking lot, I recognized a polished, aggressive looking kid smoking a cigarette outside of Burger King. I described the memories I had of him from 4th grade: sharing rap music with me, teaching me the middle finger, beating me in basketball, and being my friend. Danny reminisced as well, as nostalgia took full control of our thoughts, and distracted the two of us from Ben’s ongoing distress. Our discussion caused an involuntary whimper in Ben, which brought our attention back to him. He began to cry, and we remained silent. Urging him to share his feelings, Danny comforted him. Ben was approaching the capacity to open up to us as Jason and Walker reentered, bearing Burger King in hand. They took their seats, removed their attention from the food, and watched Ben as if he was an alien life form. In the Jeep, at around 10:50, Ben’s heaving chest and sniffling nose were the only sounds and movements. Time went by slowly as Ben composed his thoughts. It was 11 o’clock and Walker stared blankly and nodded as if he was learning something new about being human. Most of Jason’s interest returned to his meal. Danny, feeling the awkward anticipation of Ben’s explanation, bounced his eyes around the Jeep. Ben opened up to us, and explained how he had lost a childhood friend, how they had gone down different paths in the past few years. The neighborhood mischief from earlier in the night touched upon the lifestyle that his other friend now embraces—causing trouble, giving up on school, trying drugs, etc. Our nostalgic discussion had resonated with Ben, who spent a large portion of his childhood close to someone who he is now so far from. Ben’s uneasiness during ding-dong-ditching in combination with the recollection of our childhoods highlighted the striking difference between him and his former friend. Ben made it clear to the rest of us in the Jeep that growing apart from someone can be hardest when exiting innocence and entering a life of choices.

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