Lighten up for a little fun at little expense

July 26, 2012|Alicia Notarianni | Making Ends Meet

I can’t remember why we decided to go out on the town in our pajamas that day. Call it youthful whimsy.

I do remember that the bottom half of my sleepwear was pink-flowered long johns. And that my friend Leah and I also had decided that we should wear sombreros on our heads. So we set off into the world, two skinny college girls in pajamas and sombreros.

I drove an old Chevette that had seen better days. We hadn’t planned on the jalopy breaking down, but it did, right in the middle of the road. Traffic was coming and clearly we would need to get out of the way. So Leah, jumped out of the passenger seat, ran around the car and took the wheel. I ran to the back of the vehicle, tightened my sombrero strap and started pushing.

While some passersby looked at us with confusion and dismay, others beeped, laughed and waved, apparently pleased by the oddity.

I thrive on an occasional dose of quirkiness. It’s free, it’s fun and it lightens the heart.

I was reminded of this last week when I attended a national Christian youth conference with my sons. There were workshops that conveyed important lessons and speakers who delivered profound messages. But there too, was a healthy dose of plain, old weirdness.

As I walked through the student commons, I saw several groups of young girls sipping sodas engaged in conversation. They would have been unremarkable if not for their fetching, thick, black moustaches. Turns out they did not have an overabundance of testosterone; rather, a sponsoring college was handing out the press-on facial hair at a vendor table.

If the furry ’staches were meant to parley a spiritual truth, I missed it. But I and my other responsible adult friends got our hands on a few of those mouth bows and had an epic photo shoot back at the dorm that night.

A couple young people dressed as Gumby and Waldo and went around campus working and playing like average Joes.

One group sported glow-stick sunglasses, while another dressed as mismatched geeks, with bow ties, terrible plaids and high-waters. A few people wore Morphsuits — brightly-colored, Spandex outfits that cover the entire body including the head.

One young guy walked up to strangers and held their hand for the joy of absurdity. He went trust-falling with others, letting them know he would be tipping backward and they better catch him.

I saw a large group of people simulating a roller-coaster ride. A ride operator  stood in front leading as the group shouted “Whoa!” while leaning left, then right, and so on, before coming to rest with a decompressing whoosh.

The silliness was not obnoxious or over the top. It was a reprieve and a chance to shed pretenses and have some harmless, laugh-out-loud fun.

At evening concerts, it was uplifting to watch as even the most self-conscious teenage boys ditched unnecessary inhibitions to dance the Interlude and a clean cha-cha slide. 

One of the silliest and most heart-warming photographs I have from my childhood depicts my dad and my late mom at a backyard get-together.

My dad, who’s been bald as long as I can remember, laughs from beneath a thick, black Elvis wig while disco-spinning my mom, who has a lamp shade on her head.

It will cost me nothing to lighten up here and there and leave a few light-hearted memories for my children.

Alicia Notarianni is a reporter and feature writer for The Herald-Mail. Her email address is

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