I had a dream that I was a thirteen year old boy, in a rural community. As a thirteen year old boy, it was time for my rite of passage. They did this once a year – they gathered up all the thirteen year old boys. The boys and their fathers were supposed to go to this small wooded island and do Something. Something grave. Something extremely serious. At the end of this time, the boys were to be Men.
The boys were supposed to wear brand-new suits for this. Tradition dictated that their mothers would make them the suits just for this occasion. Then the fathers would take them out at four o’clock in the morning, and the boys and their fathers would march together out to the woods. Here, they would explain what it was that the boys were supposed to do.
Everybody was scared. The fathers acted so serious about it. The boys were like “Gawsh, I wish I didn’t have to go through with this – whatever it is – but this is what it takes to become a man.” The fathers were like “I wish my son didn’t have to go through with this, but I had to, and it’s what made me a man.”
My mom came in at 3:30 and woke me up for the final fitting of my suit – it just got finished, y’see. She was proud for me, and liked seeing me dressed up in that little suit.
My dad then came in to take me there. He saw me look scared, and explained to me (once again) that I didn’t have to go through with it if I didn’t want to. If I didn’t feel ready, I could do this next year instead. But I knew that if I didn’t do it, I would be made fun of all year. No, it had to be now.
We began the march.
It was on the march that they explained the deadly serious nature of the venture we were about to embark on. What makes a man is hunting. Hunting and killing. Indeed, we were to hunt and kill a man! Farmer Greg was playing the part of the man we were hunting and killing (because he had no children). He explained to us that he was not offering himself up for sacrifice. He would be fighting for his life. He had his tractor on the island, and we would have to watch out.
So there we were, standing in a group on the island. We were waiting to give Farmer Greg the traditional head start. We were all scared out of our gourds, and nobody was happy about this. Not the kids, not the parents, not Farmer Greg.
Just then, my mom wandered in. My dad explained to her that the moms were not allowed to come to this ritual. She was full of mirth, and she was like “Oh yeah? Who’s going to stop us?” Yep, ALL the moms had come. They were all jubilant. They had had a few drinks, and they had brought with them some more booze, and a big ol’ boombox that they were playing some music on. They were going to crash this party, like it or not!
The dads all shook their heads. There goes the ritual. Again! We obviously couldn’t hold it now, with the moms in here turning this into a party. Every dang year, it happens like this. Sheesh. Can’t we, just once, have a for serious rite of passage ritual, without the moms turning it into a party?
Of course, everybody was relieved, but nobody would admit it.
“That’s my son!” cried one of the moms, with obvious pride. “Son, show everybody that nice suit I made you!” He obliged. He was embarassed, but relieved.
One by one, we took turns showing off our suits that our moms had made for us – and, heck, showing off ourselves. Slowly, the embarassment dissolved, and we started to have fun. Dancing erupted. Of course, this was the real rite of passage ritual, but nobody saw it this way. They all thought that they had consistently failed in having their ritual, every single year. And they would try to have it again the next year, and the same thing would happen that year as well.
But until then, let’s just boogie!