The doctor looked at the Xrays of my shoulder and knee, then at the CT Scan results of my back (each an exacerbation of a singular recent event), then he looked at my medical history (past scan results).
“I’d ask if you were a football player but your body’s damage is EVERYWHERE!” he remarked jokingly.
“Well,” I replied, “I’d love to say that my friends and I were the inspiration for the movie “Jack-Ass”, but I think people would never admit that we did, what we did for fear of going to jail for past pranks and crimes!”
“Great. You were those college daredevils.”
“Worse! We were summer high school students!”
God, I miss the old days and the crew. We called ourselves the “E.C. (East Chicago) Cruisers” and were the kings of practical jokes. Before that, it was the “Alder Street Boyz”. If we weren’t playing sports with each other or against the boys across town, we were winning the team fight after.
Between the two, you name it, we tried it – or worse; we succeeded at it. And now, my 51-year-old bag of resealed bones is reaping the so-called benefits of it. Perhaps “repercussions” is a more appropriate word. At one point, I was thinking of writing a book called, “Games Ghetto Kids Play”, but I didn’t want to offend anyone by the concept. That has evolved into the under-construction project titled, “Terry, Get The Belt. Kenny, Drop Your Pants”. I’m having trouble with that too, because my family is concerned that I’ll paint a picture of an abusive father and damaged children, which was not the case at all. Dad was loving and did what was necessary to keep us (mainly me) out of prison or the cemetery. If anything, I deserved every whoopin’ I got. When I finally publish it, I’ll dedicate it to his memory along with mother who once told my children, “Your father got more whoopins than all of his brothers and sisters, combined; but not HALF the whoopins he DESERVED.”
Sounds about right to me…
Anyway, let me to share just a few of the craziest things you’ve ever heard (in no particular order). Of course, if you inform the law that I was involved in any one of them or tell my mother, I’ll deny it, kill your pet rock, then break into your car and hide raw fish under the seat – right after you leave it in the parking lot for a hot summer day’s work…
Names have been changed to protect the guilty…
1. We had this thing called “Skeetching”, where we would grab a car’s rear bumper in the wintertime and let them pull us in the slush and ice. The faster they drove, the cooler it seemed. Because the GIRLS were watching, I took it to the next level by hanging on to the inside of the driver’s seat window opening as he sped up. It was fun until I lost my arm’s hold and fell. I still don’t know, to this day, how I didn’t get run over by his rear tire.
2. When I was young, my father told me to change the light bulb. When I brought him the old bulb, I asked what I should do with it (legitimate question because I thought people could reach in the trash for some reason and cut themselves on it). Without looking up, he told me to stick it in my ear. Trying to be funny, I did it, then started to screw it in. Later, all I could hear in the distance was him calling me a “stupid fool” as my mother gave me first aid in the bathroom for my profusely bleeding ear.
3. When I was very young, I once wanted to know how hot a car’s cigarette lighter really got, so I activated it and stuck my finger in it. By the time my mother returned to the car from the store, I was sitting in the back seat with both feet and hands in the air, crying about how I was “never going to touch anything in this car ever again!” Her first question, of course, was what that smell was.
4. It was once a thing to ride down the long ramp of the overpass (on a bike) and navigate along the turn at the bottom without striking the guardrail. You also had to time it so you didn’t go out into the street and into the path of oncoming cars. Because the GIRLS were watching, I went down on a Big Wheel, with my legs on TOP of the handlebars. I hit the side before I reached the bottom, got thrown off, into the fence and bounced along the concrete to the bottom, gaining the “OHHHHs” and “OMGs” of everyone watching. I think I was in the same spot, crying for a good 30 minutes before the police got there. No ambulance was called. I just wanted to go home and get out of my ripped, bloody clothes before my father got home.
5. Playing baseball in the park near my house, if you hit the ball across the street, it was a home run (short field, facing the street – it was NOT designed or appropriate for baseball, since there were apartment buildings across the street). Within the same month, I managed to hit two home runs on different days, breaking the exact same window. Both times, everybody scattered, leaving me standing there, looking stupid. RUN, FORREST!!
6. Long before the internet’s idiotic “Fire Challenge”, we played “Flame Thrower” (you know how this ends, I’m sure). This is how it goes: You put a Bic lighter to your mouth, hold your breath, press down on the fork of the lighter and let the butane fill your mouth. Then you spin the sparkwheel, light a flame and blow. I held the record for the largest flame. It was glorious. Well, Donovan (name change) wouldn’t have it. He had to be the best at everything. He had held his breath for so long that when he opened his mouth and lit it, he had to take a deep breath through his nostrils before blowing. He opened his mouth, but didn’t exhale/blow fast enough. I tell you what, the flames from my mouth were nothing compared to the supernova that erupted in his mouth. He ran home screaming. I don’t know/remember what happened after that. I’m sure, well I HOPE, he was taken to the hospital for evaluation. He probably couldn’t eat fried foods for awhile either.
7. Everybody “popped wheelies” back in the day while riding a bike. We challenged “Jacob” to pop a 15-second wheelie for a bottle of pop (It’s NOT “soda”). I didn’t know that “Ponch” (who didn’t like him) loosened the screw to the stem of the handle bars while we were sitting around on my porch. Jacob pulled up, the bike went up for he wheelie, the headtube dislodged and the lower portion of the bike fell while he was still pulling. To this day, I can’t describe how he flipped and slid on his face for about 5 yards. It was funny as hell, though. I was already retired from the stunt because I once popped a wheelie and held it with my eyes closed for about 10 seconds (because the girls were watching). The man getting out of his curb-parked car is to blame. He should have seen me and yelled for me to look out before I ran into his back and head. At least that’s what I believe. I also blame my friends for remaining silent with that “wait for it” anticipation in their hellbound souls. #BlameTheVictim
8. While sitting in the stands with the pep band at a high school basketball game, we decided to make a human totem pole. Before people knew what we were doing, we were seated, stacked “three high”, sitting on each other’s shoulders. Hey, the girls were watching…
People started looking in our direction and cheering, Unfortunately and without warning, “Everette” (on the bottom) collapsed/bent forward and we fell like a tree in the forest. Being on top, I couldn’t do a thing about it as we arced downward. I landed, feet first, into the back of this little girl, kicking her forward about 3 rows. Question: If a tree falls in the forest, strikes a little girl, and her father sees it… (bah – never mind).
9. My brothers held “Karate School”. Kids actually PAID my brothers to learn how to “take a punch/kick and roll with it to avoid injury”. I can’t believe that kids actually turned in pop bottles for the deposit, to pay to get their asses whooped.
Keep in mind, these are the same two who got friends to come over, bring all my momma’s kitchen knives downstairs, turn off the lights and actually THROW them at each other. How is it I’m the one that got the whoopin’ for knowing and not telling on them???
10. An old “acquaintance” and I decided to relive a scene from the Ralph Bakshi movie, “American Pop”, which involved making love in a cornfield. Being in the open field and alone, we figured we could “let loose”. Guess whose screaming alerted and gave our position away to a very angry property owner who met us with a shotgun? It was truly a hard moment, but thanks to him, I WASN’T anymore. Not for 3 days. Got rid of a lot of urine though…
That’s enough for now. I’m sitting here laughing and shaking my head as I reminisce. Maybe I’ll share some more, if you guys are interested, because it got much, much worse. I’m sure you all would love to hear about the abandoned building shenanigans and the rooftop games.
And I haven’t even begun to touch on college…
I guess it only seems ironic (or maybe appropriate) that I ended up a Safety Director for 25+ years.
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