Thursday, September 3, 2015
Fifty Shades of Corn
School has started, and there's a nip in the air, California-style: The temperature has dropped to the low 80s. This can only mean one thing: Summer is over (boo!). It's fall.
There are a few things to look forward to (not Pumpkin Spice lattes, which are cloying and undrinkable): Halloween. Soups. Halloween soups.
And of course, the 60-acre corn maze off the highway, by the pumpkin patch, open after dark (obviously) because corn mazes are all about DATE NIGHT!
Unless you are my children reading this in the future (stop reading, kids!), we are all adults here. So I hope no one will "clutch their pearls" when I say that solving the corn maze is a seriously good date -- assuming you are with someone who can solve it, and you don't both die there.
In 2014, it took us almost three hours -- and when I say "us," I mean Dave. Five steps into it, I knew I was one thousand leagues out of my league. It was pitch dark, the stalks were elephant-eye high, the maze was insanely complicated, and some young wags had decided it would be fun to rearrange the location markers -- already low to the ground and hard to see -- so they didn't match the map.
If I miss an exit on the way to work, I have to be talked down off the ledge by my phone. I have no sense of direction, and when I don't know where I am, I panic. So it is no exaggeration to say that The World's Largest Corn Maze would be my "worst nightmare times a million" if I were in it by myself.
Dave found a pencil, sketched a route in thirty seconds, and was like: "This way!"
As a modern American mom, I am in charge of job, home, family -- the works. I spend entire days in the imperative tense, writing crisp legalese and then telling my children what to do. When a problem arises, my instinct is not to turn to another human being for succor and protection, but to Google it, fix it myself, or Google someone who can fix it. Often it is just me, the kids, and a search engine contra mundi.
It's totally fine. But when someone -- occasionally -- takes charge of a situation, so that your only role is to hold the flashlight, be quiet (because you have nothing useful to say), and not trip over the corn and twist an ankle, that can be super-duper, also.
People who do not have access to a giant, seasonal corn maze have turned, instead, to a bestselling series (now a major motion picture) about someone else being in control, for once. I've passed on these, as the whole plot seems patently ridiculous. (Also, "fifty shades of grey" is the color I associate with my children's socks. When someone writes an escapist fantasy called Sparkling White, Paired & Put Away By Someone Else, let me know.)
Make no mistake, solving the corn maze is a lot of work. Two hours into it, when the uncommitted and inept had faded out, an elite corps of navigators was left in the final stretch of the maze. College students, families with sleepy kids, one intrepid mom and her teenagers (that will be me, never), and guys from the various groups consulting each other about switchbacks, dead ends, and deceptive markers -- all under the stars, in a cornfield in the middle of nowhere.
By this point, I was in a daze -- a daze of trust. Vividly I could picture the discovery of my bleached bones in the maze, yet I knew my boyfriend would get me out of it and I would go on to resume my life. Stunned by this fact, I could not stop saying: "You are amazing. Get it? A-mazing? Sorry."
Last month, we were driving by the corn maze on the way to San Francisco. Dave seemed on the fence about doing it again. What was the point?
I explained that it was a "key experience for us" with after-effects that "reverberated" over time. I spread my hands to suggest waves in a lake, rippling outward. Dave was like: "Okay, but we should start earlier this year, so it's not so dark."
No! Let's not!
It should be difficult and terrifying! And I should be useless!
We should wear costumes and play the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack!
Fall is weird.