If there’s any real difference between the adult mind and the kid mind, it’s in the way we make decisions. Adults reason. We weigh costs and benefits, try our very best to be acceptable, justifiable. But then suddenly some day, a decision or leap comes along that can only be made by the kid-brain (so we best know how to use it). The part of us that holds ready the perfect retort to all questioning looks and reasonable protests. Sometimes when confronted with, “Why?” all you can say is, “Why not?” Life doesn’t always have to make sense.
Am I talking about immaturity? I’d trust my own future to the hands of a child (or someone thinking like one), but maybe not the future of the world at large. To be sure, we need structure, we need reason and order. But it’s beautiful to watch all of that explode with little sparks of the unexpected. We all need release, and watching it happen—those occasions when adults find reasons to act like kids—is one of my favorite things in the whole huge world.
Let’s start with a big-wheeled pink hearse in a small mountain town. It was refurbished, painted and pulled out particularly for the yearly “Parade of Hearses” that graces Nederland, Colorado each year. This parade is scheduled before the Coffin Races, which ends just in time to catch the rousing Frozen Turkey Bowling tournament. This is Frozen Dead Guy Days.
The story is that “Grandpa Bredo” passed away in Norway. His grandson then brought him on dry ice to the United States, in early 1990, to be preserved in the Trans Time cyronics facility. A few years later, after the grandson was deported for overstaying his visa, Bredo was transported to Nederland and kept in his daughter, Aud’s home. There he rested undiscovered, until, unable to pay her electricity bill and afraid that her father might thaw out, Aud told her story to a local reporter. The city responded with an ordinance prohibiting the “keeping of bodies,” but a public outcry soon forced them to make an exception for Grandpa Bredo. The annual celebration in his honor started in 2002, and visitors can still see the old man’s frozen body, now preserved in a specially-made shed, for a price of $25.
Weird, right? Weird enough to sanction a weekend-long festival of weirdness, of absurdity, of adults dressing up like zombies, bathing naked in the ice-cold Nederland reservoir, racing homemade coffin-mobiles on a snow-covered obstacle course, drinking too much beer too early in the day, parading baby pink monster truck hearses along the downtown strip.
I think it’s healthy to stretch the “Why Not” muscle every once in a while. Because I never know when I might need the strength to take a risk, to take myself lightly, to feel raw and naked and new.