Word of the Day: Rumspringa

The Amish are an interesting and often misunderstood people. Especially when our greatest point of reference for them is the movie Kingpin. A tradition that most populations of Amish observe is called Rumspringa. Despite sounding like something that happens in March at Daytona Beach, it is a time where adolescent Amish are given the opportunity to explore and experiment with things outside of their culture before committing to the Amish lifestyle.


For some Amish this means moving away from the family farm, wearing clothes with zippers, riding in or driving cars, and for some – experimenting with alcohol and recreational drugs. Plainly stated it is a time for these Amish (Amishes?) to over indulge in things that are outside of their normal way of life, to hopefully get it out of their system and appreciate their more simple way of life. I am not Amish, but I have endured my own form of “Rumspringa” at the end of 2013.
Before you jump to conclusions, this is not a “Sex, Drugs & Rock n Roll” story. After all, I am a dumb white husband. My Rumspringa pertained to eating, and electronic music.
I am a pretty healthful person. I’m no guru like DWH’s Guy With No Shirt, but I do exercise daily in my office (yes, I’m that weird guy) and I eat a more primal diet (protein/veggies, no grains). But I’m also a former fat kid that remembers the delicious memories of pizza, cheeseburgers and the like. So for the last 2 weeks of 2013, I was weapons-free bay-bee!! WOO!
I was eating this, I was eating that, I was eating it with a wiffleball bat. My lovely wife calls this “vacation Dale” where I give into my surrounding instead of standing steadfast, buoyed by willpower. I won’t go into every detail, but my highest (lowest?) point was eating pie for dinner. Not “chicken pot”, or even “Frito” – straight up 1/3 of pie. And it was indeed tasty, for a moment.
You see, every time I would eat pie, nachos, pizza (fill in blank with grotesque dish) it would taste yummy and fulfilled some kind of desire in me. But as the dishes and calories piled up, the enjoyment quotient was dropping off dramatically. To the point where I was taking a bite out of a Whataburger A-1 Thick n’ Hearty Burger and thinking, “Ugh, this feels like work, Why am I doing this?! NOM-NOM-NOM”
I had an angel food cake on one shoulder and a devil’s food cake on the other. As I complained about feeling worn down or suffering from a headache, I was driving to try out a Doritos Locos Taco for the first time. The devil side urged me to try these delicacies for the experience, but they all came up short. Not one of them made me think, “wow, I’ve been missing THIS all these years!?”

What’s the takeaway? I think my Rumspringa was a success, and very Amish-like in retrospect. I did get to experience all of these new things, even if it was to find out that they simply weren’t worth compromising my personal philosophy and lifestyle. I also walked away feeling like I “lived it up” for the holidays, but now have absolutely no desire for an In-n-Out Double-Double or half of a Grimaldi’s pizza. At least of course until next year’s Rumspringa. NOM-NOM-NOM!

Dale is a family man, improviser, and creative director in Dallas, TX. @dalibaba
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  • reply Anonymous ,

    Interestingly, many of us do the opposite of your personal Rumspringa, Dale. We spend the first two weeks of the year trying a healthy lifestyle and the rest of the year is spent in the ‘wheels off’ way of life. I guess more people like the idea of 50 weeks of vacation and two weeks of work. (Ah, but we’ll pay for it.) Bon Voyage, Vacation Dale… see you in December!

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