Pop that tape, it's time to go cruising (and I don't mean the gay kind)

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Last week, I ripped on camping. Because camping sucks. So what does someone do with her summer who doesn't choose misery as a vacation destination? Well, I cruise. Not cruise like the Cheesman Park kind of cruising (though, if you're interested in that, I will be happy to draw you a map of who hangs out where in the hook-up loop). I'm talking about the driving-around-with-all-the-windows-down-and-the air-conditioning-on kind of cruising. The bumping-Usher-and-Jeezy's-"Love In This Club"-while-screaming-all-the-words-and-drinking-Slurpees kind of cruising.

Back in the day -- I mean, 1997 -- my best friend Randy had the primo car for cruising: A cherry red 1996 convertible Mustang GT. This was a man that, by sixteen, wasn't a mere "sandwich Artist" at Subway, he was the manager. Therefore, he had a nicer car than any of our $4.50-an-hour jobs could afford us. Randy was a born hustler, and this car was our friend group's prized possession. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night of that summer, my girls and I would get inappropriately dressed to the teenage nines and Randy would pick us up in the convertible.

He'd hit up my pager with his code and we would be out on the lawn awaiting his arrival, which could be heard from a mile away because Adina Howard or Puff Daddy or Westside Connection was always queued up on the tape player, ready to go. The cruise was (and still is) about two things: The right music and the right kind of action on the street. Basically, there was no point in playing Inner Circle's "Bad Boys" or Southern Playas "Dickey Ride" if there was no one else in the next lane laughing at you.

Like clockwork, we would hit up the Wendy's and the Total gas station on Speer and 6th Avenue for some pre-game snacks and cigarettes. Then it was down to Lodo make our usual laps. Long before downtown spilled into the Ballpark and farther, the hottest block was usually Larimer Street, between 15th and 17th, because it was necessary to cruise by the long lines outside the I-Beam at least thirty times a night.

Then we'd swoop around Market Street and yell lewd things at men. There was a point at which we yelled something inappropriate at a Cavalier full of psychos, and it ended in an all-girl fistfight. But that is a story for another day. The point of cruising is that there is no point; it's basically a moving version of people-watching. And during the summer months, what could be more American than driving in circles, burning up the ozone layer, blaring radio rap, eating fast food and gawking at people while making obscene gestures with our hands? Nothing, frankly.

Eventually, police cracked down on cruising, and we had to move our circular driving all the way up to Westminster to waste gas. Almost a decade-and-a-half later, the amount of time we spend in the car has dwindled because, you know, we're grown-ups. But also because we are grown-ups, when we do cruise, it has only become more awesome. Randy is no longer at Subway, but is a higher-up at a tech company. The Mustang has been upgraded to a crisp, white BMW X5 with a sound system to die for, and guess what? We no longer have to cue up cassette tapes. Our cruising mix is a playlist right at our fingertips, with Freak Nasty's "Da Dip" ready to go. But you've probably never heard that song before. Because it's old.

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