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Ah, Youth: I Saw Toddlers Playing on the Ben Franklin Bench

Photo Credit: Anish Garimidi, Santi Nuñez, Lovevery.com, istockphoto//Edits by Anish Garimidi

I see you, young ones. Grasp your short, pudgy fingers around our dearest founder's copper arm, like it is a turnstile of youth, and climb. Climb, free as a dove, to the mountain's peak of your childhood. I will stop, at the edge of Locust, and watch you with my mouth slightly agape, something inside of me moved, to tears, by this display of juvenile innocence.

I will see your mothers smile, looking onward, unaware of the horrors that lie beneath their offspring. Perhaps that is what it means to be a parent, to slowly give up the ability to protect your children from the dangers of this world, to unknowingly let them play in piss stains. I will stand here, unsure whether I should beckon to you, if I should tell your mothers, "Take them off...get them away...save them..." before you are intoxicated by the rigid drive to become consultants that is interwoven in the urine you are touching. I beg of you, keep your dreams alive. Learn to fight what the pee may tell you. You will become a vet, a wizard, a superhero, or a spy. You will do it, and you will do it well.

In a sense, you could call me the catcher in the rye. To save your childhood dreams, I will confront any onlookers who make the move to stop you. I will put my hands on them in a slightly unnerving fervor and say: "Let them dream of being astronauts, exploring space as freely as they explore Benjamin, and perhaps they will find us a new planet, one full of life and all its defecations. There, we shall continue the reign of human civilization. They are more than ignorant toddlers playing; they are the pioneers of our interstellar future, our new founding fathers.”

This onlooker will now look at me with a face that conveys “Girl, what the fuck?” but I will continue: “By playing with our piss, they shall gain immunity, not from sickness, but from a future of being passionate about quantitative financial research for venture capital companies. Let. Them. Be."

In this way, I will save you. Not from the Ben bench, but from yourselves.