Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

The Can't Wait Kid

Jackie K. Cooper


When I was younger, I lived on anticipation. I was always looking at the previews of coming attractions and saying, "I can't wait to see that." Instead of enjoying the movie I was there to see, I got hung up on what was coming to the theater in the future. It was just my nature to be that way.

In the summer I would pine away for my friends at school and would tell my mother over and over, "I can't wait for school to start." Or when I was in school I longed for vacation time, so I would whine, "I can't wait for school to end."

I "couldn't wait" to get my driver's license, and I "couldn't wait" to graduate from high school. I "couldn't wait" to go off to college, and I "couldn't wait" to have a girlfriend. My biggest and most repeated statement was, "I can't wait until I am grown and nobody can boss me around."

I said so many of the "can't wait" remarks that my mother dubbed me "the can't wait kid." I was always living in tomorrow and didn't relax and enjoy my present days. My mother told me some day I would learn that the "nows" are even more important than the "tomorrows." She always concluded that lecture by saying, "Jackie, don't wish your life away!"

"The can't wait kid" lived for many, many years, but one day middle age caught up with him. In middle age you learn that the tomorrows are going to bring old age and possibly sickness. One tomorrow is going to bring death. Once I had that thought, the "can't wait kid" said good-bye and went away.

Now I savor the enjoyment of the here and now. Rarely do I look at the calendar and wish for another season to arrive, or look at the clock and wish for time to fly by. There are some days when my enjoyment quotient is so high that I wish time would stand still.

I really like the time of life I am in now. I loved raising my kids, but it is nice to have them grown and successful. My wife and I can take off whenever we wish, and we have a little bit of money to do the things we like to do. And most importantly like I wished when I was a child - nobody can boss me around!

These are the "golden years" and I hope they last a long time. I am in no hurry for them to speed by. I look back at the "can't wait kid" I was and realize I am now the "don't go man." Days can sometimes seem to drag on forever but in retrospect the years fly by.

Enjoy it while you can. Smell the roses and watch the sunsets. Do all the things that make your life rich and rewarding. Don't wish your life away, for it goes quickly enough on its own.

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Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. He is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as the "entertainment man" since his entertainment reviews run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events.

Cooper has lived an exceptionally interesting life and portions of it are contained in his first book Journey of a Gentle Southern Man. The journey continued in Chances and Choices.

Jackie's first two books, Journey of a Gentle Southern Man and Chances and Choices, were reprinted and published by Mercer University Press in July 2004. His third book Halfway Home was published by Mercer University Press in October 2004.

Cooper is currently at work on his fourth book, The Book Binder, which will be published in the fall of 2006.

Visit his website, or email Jackie.


© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012