Mercy Fighting

 My brother and I were into ultimate fighting before it was even invented. Our version was called 'mercy fighting' and the rules were simple we fought until the other guy said 'mercy' end of round and on to the next one. Our very favorite move was what we called the sleeper choke with leg scissors around the body. We would slap that on any chance we got and go for the submission. We renamed the move the 'Lesbian Death-Lock' when I was in the seventh grade because that is what my friend Cole and his friend Mark called it. I think in retrospect the funniest part about that new name was that we had no idea what a lesbian was it was just a name that came from a cooler kid than me so it had to be awesome. These days the move is called the 'rear naked choke' in the world of MMA but it is still the exact same unbeatable move it has always been.
We would play this fighting game all the time for as long as we could and usually it was just fun but on occasion someone would get their body or feelings hurt in what they thought was an unfair or excessive way and mercy fighting would turn into just regular old fashion fighting. Usually it was just a grappling type fighting game with no punches or weapons but once it crossed over it was a no holds barred type of battle that usually ended in blood and troubles. When friends or cousins came over we would get them involved with a loose tournament feel where winners could fight winners and losers could fight for redemption. I had assumed that everyone knew about 'mercy' fighting so I would just call it that when I was telling people what we were going to do if they came over to my house to play. It turns out that not every kid in the world likes to have running submission battles with their brother and especially the wimpy kids would be a little disconcerted by the level of violence the game entailed. I think we did 'mercy' fighting until we had one massive fight when I was 14 and Matt was 12 and then we never really fought anymore.  

We Roll Over and Over

 My dad decided to go into the appliance sales businesses when I was in sixth grade and it was a bootstrap operation that involved my mom being a runner. We lived about 60 miles from a major city and the distributor would ship the appliances there for much less and then we would pick them up there and take them down to our showroom that was rented from a local hardware store. We had been using a pickup truck but that could only hold about two machines which was not very efficient so my dad build a special rack that allowed for six units at a time. I loaded up with my mom to go on the maiden voyage and the trip up went very well the new rig loaded up perfectly and we started driving home. My mom was a napper, a really regular napper who took a nap almost every day. It was warm day and as we drove back my mom started getting drowsy and told me to put on my seat belt because she was worried about getting in a wreck. We had driven about halfway home and I went to sleep because I was so tired. In a few minutes after I went to sleep I was ripped side to side and the cab filled with dirt and debris flying around I looked out the window and saw dirt and then sky and then dirt and then sky and then the truck came to rest. I looked over and saw my mom bleeding from her mouth and I was trying to figure out what was going on. A man ran up and opened my mom's door and asked if she was okay and then he noticed that there was flame coming from underneath the hood of the truck and he pulled my mother out and then came and got me away from the truck in case it was going to start on fire. We moved back and sat down on the side of the road and started crying and hugging each other. The police, ambulance and firetruck came and so did a reporter from the newspaper. We got checked out and nothing looked broken or badly injured but my mom had hit her face on the steering wheel and bit through her lip. My dad was contacted and he came quickly and was the sweetest I ever remembered him being in my whole life. He was not worried one bit about the truck or the appliances and that had been a concern to me I was thinking they would all be ruined and cost us so much money and he was just worried about my mother and I's well being. The man who helped us out of the truck said that we had drifted off the road at about 70 miles per hour and then when my mom noticed she corrected to hard on the soft dirt and we started to roll. The appliance rack broke off on the first tumble and then we rolled four or five more times. We landed on the tires and the truck still ran. To this day my dad denies that we rolled over multiple times but The people who were there thought s, I was in the cab and I know so but evidence is not entirely convincing for my dad. I rode with my mom to the hospital and her lip was sown back together and still has the scar. We got our picture in the paper with a quote from my mom that there were customers waiting for their appliances. I got nothing but some emotional trauma, bruises from the seat belt and a great story.

That is What You Get for Parking at Our House

 Another notable collision occurred when the daughter of one of my dad's biggest clients had parked her truck at our house to meet up for a car pool to scuba lessons my dad was teaching. She belonged to a Utah State Senator's family that lived a couple of towns over and ran a big dairy and provided a good chunk of our yearly income at the time. My dad had been an assistant scuba instructor for a couple of years and in this class where he was going to take the lead he invited this girl and my best friend Cole. They had all just pulled into the driveway and were meeting in the front room of our house getting ready to load out to head up 20 miles north to the class and pool when there was a huge crash from the driveway. We all ran out and there was my mom wedged t-bone style in the side of a very new looking very expensive looking truck a dairy owning state senator might own. My mom was not apologizing she was kind of mad that someone would park behind he in the drive and make her wreck. I remember Bill, the girls dad came out and looked at what happened and my dad and him decided on a remedy which I believe involved working for free for a while. But at least by not having to take accountability my mom finally learned her lesson to operate a deadly vehicle safely and in control at all times and by looking backwards when she was traveling backwards. Just kidding, she insisted that it was the girl's fault for parking in our driveway and she went on to hit at least two other people who parked in our driveway over the years. She also backed into a lady when she dropped me off at college, sort of a proper send off I suppose, something to remember her by.  

Losing the Jacks

 Sometimes in the middle of camping season instead of loading and unloading the camper in between goes my dad would just leave it on the back of the truck. Sometimes my mom would need to transport a huge amount of kids and she would just load them into the old cab over because the 90's were still in a transitional stage of child vehicular safety. It was a different time altogether in terms of safety rules and standards. We used to double-buckle seat belts which meant clipping with two children abreast. If we were too wide in the bottom to sit side by side we used to go laps. We did have car seats for children too small or floppy to be put in a regular belt but as soon as they were rigid enough, around 18 months or so, out went the plastic bucket to make more room. If we were on a long trip we were free to roam around the back of the van or lay down on the benches and floor for a nap. Now it is literally a crime to not have a kid anywhere from conception to six years old in a car or booster seat and they can fine you, take your license, and impound your car for not buckling up the kiddos.
Well, back to the camper story I guess, my mom was in charge of the young women's group at our church and she needed to take them all out to perform in a roadshow in the next town over. A road show is a series of amateur vaudeville acts, jokes, short plays and song-and-dance numbers that are, as far as I can tell, serving the soul purpose of making community theater look like high art because it was certainly not entertaining. At the show which I watched from the audience with a group of old folks bussed in for the performance and one of the old ladies who could not even keep up the minimum facade of polite civility said in a stage whisper, ' I hope they are having fun because it is terrible'. It is the one perk of being old, at a certain age everything is forgiven and you can say what you please again like when you were three. Anyway, the girls drive out all loaded up in the back of the camper, do the show, and come back seemingly without incident. The next morning my dad is heading out to work and there is a lot of hardware missing off the passenger side of the camper. The trailer mirror which is the second mirror of the far outside of the right hand door is missing apparently by trauma. There are huge scrapes down the side of the camper and the two, 60 pound or so, mounting jacks are missing from the front and back corners. My dad is a little upset about the damage to our rig but is more concerned about what had been hit hard enough to knock off all that gear. He came inside and asked my mom whoat she hit and if she had picked up the jacks that got ripped off. Mom mom was genuinely baffled about what he was talking about. She went out and looked and was surprised to see the extensive damage that she had allegedly done. My dad, naturally concerned about his liability in all this went with her for a little ride back along the path she had driven to a from the next town over. No jacks, no mirror or glass were found. My mom somehow was able to dodge a bullet and not something large enough to rip all the hardware off of the side of a camper, now that is irony.

My Mom's Little Peccadillo.

 My sainted mother is in general a very pious woman. She is never lying, drinking, cheating, whoring, or stealing but for a while there, and by for a while I mean about a decade, she was getting in car wrecks a couple of times a year. Sometimes it was in the driveway hitting some of our other cars, or a neighbor's car who was foolish enough to park around her. Sometimes it was in parking lots, sometimes intersections. She was an equal opportunity destroyer she didn't have a preference for cars or truck American or imported, everything was on the menu. They were almost always small little accidents, with the exception of the one multiple rollover, and many times my dad would try and pay for the damage without involving the law and insurance companies to save all the extra costs of loosing a license or having premiums skyrocket. As a kid I just thought it was kind of funny and embarrassing that we were always having to stop and talk to the cops, and apologize and exchange insurance information. She even had a sense of humor about it and got a ;license plate cover that says, 'Been there, Hit that' which she considers a reference to multiple car wrecks and not the meaning of promiscuity almost everyone associates with the phase. When I look back as a responsible bill paying adult I cannot fathom why my dad was always so understanding and forgiving, I would have probably stopped buying replacement cars and paying repair bill on exactly the second accident. After the 90's she must have hit rock bottom, or maybe it was because she was down to two kids instead of six, maybe it was because she was done with school, no matter the reason as far as I know she hasn't hit another car in the new millennium, we should get her a sobriety chip.   

Speak and Spell

C'mon cuss damnit.

 Besides our desktop computers the only other electronic toy I remember having was a Speak and Spell. How that passes for a toy I do not know but we would play with that thing for hours and hours. A Speak and Spell has several modes that all boil down to an electronic voice saying, “Spell – (some word)' and then, 'That's right! Now spell (new word)'; or ,'That's wrong. Try again.'. Over and over again. We would also try and get it to cuss because it vocalizes each letter that you push. 'O' - 'L' sound a little like Elisa Doolittle swearing. We didn't make these next ones up but learned them and punched them in for our own as well as our friends amusement. 'I' 'C' 'U' 'P' was a classic of the letter based humor. This one takes a little set up and filler where letters won't do:
Dem 'R' Spiders.
No Dem 'R' Not.
'O' 'S' 'A' R' – 'C' 'D' 'B' 'D' 'I's'?
'O'! Dem 'R' Spiders.
I can honestly say all my time spent with the Speak and Spell did not help my spelling one bit but it was a great way to pass a few hours. My brother Matt was able to trade it for a guitar to a kid who was getting into making weird techno/incidental electronic music and was blown away by the Speak and Spell. That is what is called a win-win in the business literature.

Back to Home School for 6th Grade

Because public school had been such a resounding failure for me socially I was not really interested in going back to middle school. Middle school in my home town was a bit of a ripoff anyway it was just a single separate hall included in the elementary school and we had lockers for the books and supplies we didn't use that much. I stayed home for some home schooling which consisted of reading the World Book Encyclopedias. I used to think I was the only one who liked to do that but after seeing the massive popularity of Wikipedia I guess the world is just lousy with needs, geeks and dorks. I liked the World Book because they had lots of diagrams and pictures and also some step-by-step instructions for projects a young man could build relating to the topic. I was also reading a lot of the classics Tom Sawyer and then Huckleberry Finn, the Lord of the Flies, 1984, Brave New World, . I also read a ton of Erma Bombeck books that my mom loved and I read because they were sometimes funny but a lot lighter than the dystopian horrors that are classic. I spent most of my time building, improving and rebuilding forts. I was also a big fan of hybrid machines that I would make out of parts from my dad's appliance business. I built a microwave gun from a magnetron I had salvaged from a microwave. I had villainous fantasies about putting it in a nondescript box of some sort and leaving it on to cook all of the passersby. That thought actually scared me after I thought it down to its logical conclusion and I destroyed the gun so no one else would be able to turn it on. All in all just a lazy school year building my repertoire and savoir-faire (those are both words I learned that year).

Matt Records Dad's Fit

 I am a non-confrontational type of person, generally out of my strictly held commitment to cowardice and passive aggressive retaliation. My brother is more of a toe-to-toe-line-in-the-sand type who would never walk away from a fight, especially with my dad. While I would generally defer and wait for a better opportunity to do as I pleased, Matt would fight for the principle of the thing. This led to many drawn out arguments between Matt and my dad over the years and one memorable fight that was deliberately caught on tape. I am not sure what caused the fight but it turned into a yelling tit for tat when Matt broke out our camcorder and started recording my dad yelling and fussing. He was following him around the house recording and telling taunting him into cursing some more telling him he was going to show everyone this tape so they knew he wasn't a nice guy. Matt started saying that he was going to send this tape to my dad's mom so she could see the way he was acting. Somehow this made my dad more, as opposed to less, mad. After a few minutes of recording and taunting my dad actually started walking away and cussing his way down the hall and into his bedroom to shut the door. Matt kept yelling at him through the door until he tired of it and we went to our room and watched the tape which I think has since been lost to time. It was even funnier on the tiny playback screen.  

The Cow Gets Hung and the Neighbor Tries Mouth-To-Mouth.

He looked like both of these guys made into one person shirtless and giving CPR to a bovine.

 The title really says it all. . .the end. Okay, fine, if you are going to cry about it here are all the details. It was the “Hamburger 3” steer that would never accept the futility of resistance and embrace himself as weed eating walking meat grower. My dad had mentioned many times that if,”that damn fool cow doesn't stop running off with that rope around his neck he is going to kill himself.” He was right. One day we were sitting inside in the late afternoon slash early evening and we heard a terrible bellow coming from the back yard. You may have heard of the frightening 'death rattle' that animals are said to exhale with their dieing breaths, this was a death moo. A long and loud one that drew us out of our house and a neighbor from back and to the South of our center-of-the-block lot that I had never seen before. He was tall and slim and wasn't wearing a shirt. His hair was trimmed into a confederate soldier style mullet with the beard and mustache of the Virginia fighting men of the 1860's. He some sort of chest deformity that looked like he may have been crushed quite badly at some point in his life and was saved by the marvels of modern medicine mixed with the pure white hot will to live – and hate, mostly hate. He ran over and cut the unfortunate bovine down from the tree limb that he had entangled and hung himself in with a few deft swipes of a knife that he had. I mean of course he had a knife have you not heard who I am describing here? The steer fell limp and heavy to the ground with a thump, and this next part is going to sound absurd, but it is absolutely true. The shirtless hardcore dude I had never seen before starts to try to give our downed chattel the kiss of life while we watched stunned. He tried to find a way to put his living breath into the young animals lungs but the human mouth is poorly adapted to forming a seal around the lips of an animal so large. I guess it should have been touching that he was so dedicated to saving a life but it was just bizarre. At least he didn’t' climb on top and start slapping the cow and telling it to fight, fight, fight! We called my dad and told him what had happened and he dropped what he was doing and came home. We loaded the self-slaughtered beast into the back of the truck and hauled his rigor mortised frame to the processor so the meat wouldn't be wasted. Seeing a character of a man you had never met or seen giving livestock emergency medical attention is never how you think a day will end but it is worth doing at least one, at least for the story.

Freedom is So Close

 Speaking of trying to get freedom we had one steer with a really short memory about his captivity. He was haltered and roped like all of the others but every morning he would have lost all memory of that and at the break of dawn we would hear his escape futility. He would take off running hit the end of the rope, snap his head around and moo loudly and sadly in his forlorn realization that he was still on a rope. As far as I know he did this every day until he eventually hung himself in a misunderstanding about how many times he could wrap his rope around a high branch and his neck. I don't know what moral a young seeker or knowledge could take from this tale of indomitable spirit. Maybe it should encourage us all to fight on no matter how much our heads are tied to a tree, or it could make you think twice about trying to break your neck when you know death is inevitable. Also cows are stupid.

We Bring Home the Run Away Steer

After the first calf-cow combo were fattened up and then killed and in the freezer my dad was hooked and started getting one every year chasing the high I guess. We didn't ever get a cow/calf combo again but we would get a steer which is a young bull that has been castrated to make it less aggressive and to grow faster. Less aggressive is a relative term which means less aggressive compared to a bull which is generally regarded as one of the most vicious animals in the animal kingdom. Besides that, they grow very quickly and are incredibly strong. That is one reason why I was always skeptical about young punks telling stories claiming they had been 'cow tipping'. If you have ever felt how big heavy and powerful cattle are claims of tipping one onto its side with a well timed blow by a 100 pound kid is dubious at best. We used to control the range of our steers with a halter and rope. The problem with the system was it was easily entangled and if the steer was mishandled he would be free and off to the races. As free as a steer with a halter on in the middle of small town America can be. One day when my friend Cole was over we were untangling a young steer who was able to free himself on his own recognizance and we were tasked with rounding him up. He was quite quick and not super interested in getting tied back down so we were trying to back him into a corner to trap him. Now when I write that it sounds like a prima facie bad idea as being backed into a corner is a well known faux pas. As is using all sorts of foreign phrases. We backed him into a corner and Cole took one for the team by jumping on its head and trying to wrestle it down by the horns is true rodeo fashion. This steer was only 6 months old but he was 300 pounds of muscle and was drunk on freedom and was not going to be sobered up by a scrawny kid with amateur technique and he was off dragging Cole with him. Having failed on the first, and second, and third, and forth, and fifth, attempts wherein Cole and I took turns jumping on the steer's head and trying to slow him enough to get re-roped we decided that we had had enough of getting drug through the bushes and opted for the heavy machinery angle. We loaded up a rope on a four wheeler and got him lassoed and tied to the four wheeler which was also not quite strong enough to coax him back to the homestead without peeling out and slipping sideways while Hamburger (they were all named Hamburger without the ceremony of a number) fought like a cattle William Wallace. Like the mighty Wallace he was later caught drink driving and ranting about Jewish conspiracies. You know? I think that may have been the actor. Like the real Mr Wallace the cow was later killed and never won his freedom.

Dad Fights the Cow

I don't know if it is the southern blood or just an overdeveloped sense of rage when it comes to the inanimate objects and animals but he is almost constantly doing very vocal battle with something. Most people would consider yelling at a cow an exorcize in futility but my dad loved to engage in some one sided verbal berating tearing down the cows fragile ego with a flurry of well timed verbal jabs. Every morning about daybreak he would go out and fight with the cow and get her untangled from the rope and harness that was used to keep her in the weeds and out of the road. You would hear him start in with some 'Oh, yes you're tangled up because you always want to be tangled up' and on an on in a non-stop chatter. One morning we heard the normal chatter interrupted by a a yelp of pain and rage from my dad and then in a few seconds a moo of the same meaning. We ran outside to see what was the matter and my dad and the cow were both bleeding from their respective heads and my dad was threatening to kill her and butcher her right then and there. When he calmed down enough to tell my mom what had happened we learned that he was freeing the cow's head from entanglement and when she got free she flipped her head to the side and cut his temple. He then took his normal non-physical confrontation to the next level of violence with the aid of a 3/4” steel pipe. He had hit her hard in the head with the pipe bending it in the middle. The cow had a small cut but looked no worse for it. My dad's head was bleeding profusely and he was still really mad. He went in for some doctoring and I was charged with disentanglement of the cow. Which I did without commentary and with my head well clear of the action – that is why we have parents so we can learn from their mistakes.  

The Cow is Sick but Beau is Sicker

 The cow my dad got was sold to him at a steep discount because it was really sick. We got a cow/calf combo which is how they are sold many times and the calf was not doing too well either because the mom was so sick. The idea was to buy the cow on the cheap put in some sweat equity vet work and boom! Profit. Not profit per se because we would be eating it so I guess it would be more like savings. Profit sounds so much better though. The cow had a few bloody and pussy weeping sores that were supposed to be irrigated and medicated a couple of time a day but that job was nearly impossible because she was not really into the whole thing and neither was I so that made us on the same team versus my dad's desire for a healthy cow. He had the trump card, however, in that he controlled both of our bodies and souls and could have us killed, either or both. So, I devised a plan to keep her still and my face hopefully un-kicked which included tying her head to the fence rail and her two right legs to the fence as well. She still tried to fight and kick but was sufficiently incapacitated to allow for me to dress and bandage and then cut her loose until next time. She was supposed to be eating grass but she had come from a feed lot and was confused by living grass and minced around on it not liking the feel of it under foot. She had gone a few days without eating much when she discovered that the green squishy stuff growing from the ground was edible and starvation was averted. The really nasty thing was that our half idiot dog Beau got a taste for the bloody pussy mess oozing out of her sores and would chase her around the pen trying to lick it right from the source. That is what I think of every time he would lick someones face when they were cuddling or playing and he was giving them doggy kisses. He also developed a penchant for biting her tail until it bled and then licking that so he was slapped and kicked at a lot but he was used to being in trouble so he would steer clear of punishment with deft darting. She got better and the calf did as well and Beau eventually lost interest and she ate all of our over grown weeds and we ate her. 

We All Vote to Not Get a Cow

 We lived on an acre with old trees and lots of overgrown weeds that had to be tackled for fire safety’s sake once or twice a year. It would get 3 feet tall or so from the spring rain and summer irrigation before it started to dry out to a tender box brown and my dad would either pay someone or go cut it all down himself when he hit upon an idea - what if it was eaten? He worked for several dairies in his business so his mind naturally gravitated towards getting a cow. As was his style he called a family meeting to foster 'buy in' a term he had learned at a leadership camp for scouts. 'Buy in' is the process by which a leader thinks that everyone who he leads are full blown idiots who will mindlessly follow his fiat more fervently if they are tricked into thinking they came up with the decree, on their own. This is, of course, absurd and is one of the most condescending leadership techniques as anyone who has had to endure the charade can attest. The process starts out with a meeting to ostensibly brainstorm ideas for the solution to a common problem. This is the part where the leader who has decided on the solution tries to get people to mention aspects of his preconceived plan, he then tries to weave them into a narrative about his plan thereby bamboozling the minions into mistaking this farce for a leader taking their input and making a plan based on their ideas. My siblings and I were not idiots and so it was just a joke for us to taunt my dad when he started to pretend he wanted our input. He would lay out the problem and then ask for our ideas. We would ask him what we were supposed to decide because if he could tell us we could save the time. He would get mad and say he hadn't decided anything he want our valuable insight to solve the problem. We would once again call his bluff. He would then get mad and tell us what his idea, which was supposed to be one of many, was. We would tear down his idea on principle and then he would get mad and tell us something along the lines of how we were jackasses and jennys ( the term for a female donkey if you were unaware) and he had given us the chance to voice our opinions and be included but now he would just mandate the changes he had in mind before the meeting began. We would point out that he said he didn't have a plan before the meeting began, allegedly. The cow discution followed this same arc except he wanted us to commit to feeding and caring for the cow – or else he wouldn't get one. We said that would be fine because we were not going to care for it. Then the meltdown came right on schedule and we decided as a family council 1-5 in favor of not getting the cow so the motion passed and the cow and calf were bought and brought to the back yard to start eating. Vive democracy!

Dad Runs Over The Basketball Hoop

 My dad was angry a lot when we were growing up. He was always on edge and yelling all the time unless there was someone over and then all of the sudden he was sweet like candy. One cold morning we were getting ready for school, eating breakfast and such and we hear a loud crash from the driveway. We looked out into the pre-dawn murk to see my dad behind his truck kicking the once erect basketball standard. We were a little mad at him because that was a pretty fun piece of recreation equipment and he had wrecked it but in a switch only M. Night Shamalan could have written he ran over and started yelling at us for not being outside in the pre-light standing behind him and giving him backing directions as we had never done in the history of the world. He called us names and said he couldn't do everything himself and he drove off cussing. It was so surreal to be yelled at for him running over the hoop that we were honestly a little shocked for a while. Then we started mocking him as was our coping mechanism 100% of the time.

Seeing People Party Till They Froze

 For my 12th birthday we went fishing as we did every year. I was able to invite a couple of friends and my cousins to ride up in the camper with us to a local lake and fish and joke all night and then fish all the next day and then come home. This year we had got off to a slow start and didn't get out to Strawberry reservoir until after dark. We were just going to hang out outside and wait till morning to fish but the next camp over was getting quite rambunctious. They had a huge fire in the center of about six RV's and vehicles and had music blasting quite loudly. As we observed them from our camp a hundred feet away we were quick to notice that they were drinking some sort of intoxicating liquor which may have lowered their social inhibition and consequently lowered their requirement for culturally mandated clothing. When my dad had finished getting stuff squared away and got outside to look at the camp and noticed that there were quite a few more naked women then he felt comfortable letting a bunch of 12 and 13-year-olds observe he bustled us all back in the cab-over to talk and mingle in there. He determined it was too late and too dark to try and find another camp spot that night so we would just hide out until the morning and pick a new spot then. The party went on for quite a while and we stayed up talking and joking while my dad kept the 9mm handy just in case they decided to include us in their party. Their party and ours drifted to sleep in the wee hours and we woke up early to move to a new spot and get fishing but when we came out of the camper there was a little frost on the ground. Some of the revelers had not made it back into the comforts of the Rvs and were still naked or mostly naked passed out around the fire's remains with a light frosting of frost in the frigid morning. During the nights one of their jeeps had rolled or been driven into the water and all that was visible was about the top 18” of the cab. We went on to fish and joke about frozen wieners and shore up, by the retelling, one of the truly timeless memories for us and for the party people I am sure.  

Darkness Pillow Fights

 Sometime around the time when we were doing apple wars every fall we invented darkness pillow fights. By this time our mobile home had been added onto twice and we had a utility room that came off the middle off the house and was full of furnace, washer/dryer and two freezers and a massive amount of clothes and random junk. We would outfit ourselves, cousins and friends with pillows or pillow like objects and go into the utility room. Then everyone got to get a good look at when everyone was and then the lights went out. It was a bashing free for all swinging dodging and getting whacked hard in the face. I remember spending much of the time with my face flexed into the preparing for whupping grimace that I am not sure helps but I was left with little other recourse because my hands were actively engaged in trying to inflict a little bashing myself. One part that was paradoxically fun in an interesting way was that when you got hit really hard, and just right, and were maybe mildly concussed your eyes would flash bright white lights and colors in the pitch black which was an amazing sensation. Like apple wars there was really no rules or point as such you just went on pummeling until you got tired or someone got hurt and then the lights came on and we would laugh and talk while we tried to sort out who got who and what was the funniest thing. Then after a breather the lights went back out and the fun went back to high gear. My personal favorite move was to hide on top of one of the chest freezers and wait for someone to talk or make a noise and then try to him them mid word for extra comedic effect. For the record it is really funny when someone is talking and gets stopped mid thought with a well placed whack.

Apple Wars

 Around this time, in association with the harvest and fort building and martial games, we started the tradition of apple wars. An apple war session began on any day in which there was a n ample supply of ground fall apples and other fruit and produce from the garden. A bunch of boys would get together and have a free for all melee of fruit throwing. There were no real rules it was just fun to run around and try to hit each other with soft fruit. Everyone who was invited understood you could throw it hard but not super hard and you were trying to hurt someone but never hurt them badly and no one wanted to cause harm. Everyone would play nice and if someone was disproportionately skilled they would be balanced by opposing a few people who made up a combined skill match. We would run and throw and hit and miss for hours and hours laughing and swearing out oaths of vengeance and taunts. After it was dark and everyone was worn out and happy we would sit around on the porch or in the house and relive particularly funny hits and misses. We would laugh and joke and have some of the really great times that anyone could ever have. We did this for several years and then we grew up, and moved on to bigger things but rarely better.  

It Might Have Been a Pipe Bomb

  My attempts at bomb making always turned out to be dud's or firecrackers but my brother was able to make a quite lethal little unit. We had found a way to get the more explosive smokeless powder to use in making our bombs – all we had to do was saw the butts off of shotgun shells and pour our the precious powder. That sounds like it is really stupid because it is. We were going through quite a few shells to get enough for our projects when they sell the stuff by the can full, just not to ten and eight year-olds for some reason. Matt had devised a technique to get a really big explosion by drilling a fuse hole in the side of a pipe and then filling the pipe with powder. Then he epoxied two quarters onto the ends of the pipe and we were in business. We didn't realize it but Matt had actually built a quite lethal device. For safety's sake we put it up on the roof of the house to light it because I had read in a book about the time Tom Cruise tried to kill Hitler that a bomb on a table would not explode downward very well and expand across the plane of the table top. Sounded good and safe and what is a roof but one big table top? We put it up on the roof of the front shot lit the fuse and ran behind the mobile home. When it exploded it was really, really, loud with a boom and a sharp set of bulletesque Piiiiiwiiiiings as the quarters blew off the end of the pipe and broke the sound barrier. My mom who had been in the house sleeping came running out to see who was shooting guns in our yard. Oh, mom your crazy that wasn't a gun. . .it just sounded like a gun. She was yelling and carrying on about who was shooting and my brother and I were still in shock because we thought we wanted our bombs to work but it turned out we didn't. We were unprepared for success and a little disoriented by the sound and my mom's insistent hollering. She spotted us and was asking over and over what happened and if we were okay and in the heat of the moment and in the stupor of shock I blurted out, “It might have been a pipe bomb”. Good work there, that aught to throw he right off the trail. Sit back Matt, it is okay I have put up the rhetorical smoke screen now all we need do is escape under its billowing clouds of obscuring goodness. For some reason my brilliant oratorical skill was cut through like a knife by the simple trick of repeating back as fact the possibility I merely postulated.
“It was a Pipe Bomb!?!”
Whoops, she is on to us, run.
In reality I remember her being concerned for our safety and a little mad that we had made a bomb and that she absolutely forbade it in the future but I don't remember a lot of punishment. I guess we looked scared and sobered enough that she didn't need to help out.  

Making Bombs – Black Magic

 Before I knew about girls and my testosterone valve was a t normal setting for a few more years what really excited me was explosives and guns. I still like explosives and guns but in a strictly legal and law abiding way now. We were always trying to make different bombs that we had heard about or tried to invent. The dry ice bomb was an easy, if low powered, explosive fix but we wanted more. My brother and I wanted fiery conflagrations like in the movies and devastation to whatever was targeted. I didn't have a good grasp on explosive theory or chemistry but I new some things blew up and tried to copy that without getting under the hood of the magical black box which was explosives. I would decommission and steal raw materials from a ground bloom flower that I had horded during the brief sales period allowed for fireworks in my state. I would then find something flammable in my dad's shop and then wrap it up in a container and insert the purloined fuse and then light it and see what happened. Almost always what happened was nothing. I did find that if I used some black powder and the powder from the ground bloom flower and packed it tightly in a cardboard tube and them taped it together it would explode with a loud bang but without any of the fireworks, mushroom cloud and devastation I had envisioned. Wow, I know you are thinking right now you invented a fire cracker how did you come up with that idea? By copying, that's how. I made a few of these and would treasure them because they were so hard for me to manufacture I couldn't just light them off all willy-nilly. I always imagined needing some for my arsenal in case I needed to fight off someone like in The Swiss Family Robinson. I think for the nerd the naming of a thing is very important and so I called my black taped firecrackers 'Black Magic' which for some reason made my little brother uncomfortable for its evocation of the occult and the name was changed to the less poetic 'Black Bombs.' I never needed to use one in self defense but that is how cold wars sometimes go.  


I was looking over what I had written and realized I left out some vital info about the time I saw greased up adult men pretend to dance-fight with each other. . .Live! My friend Cole and I either towards the end of our senior year or the summer after saw that the WWF was coming to town and that was too juicy an unintentional comedy romp to miss out on. We got tickets and made our way to the arena where the Utah Jazz usually played and even in the approach there was some people watching comedy gold. There were tons of guys dressed up like their favorites and wearing all manner of outrageously hillbillified super-fan clothing homages to the fanciful homoerotic stylings of the squared circle that is the wrestling ring. We were giggling to ourselves as we made our way to some mid-level seats and we were surrounded by the faithful that had allegiances and foam fingers that had one finger up so that all and sundry would be aware that in their mind The Undertaker was number 1. They had a couple of the deep bench wrestlers with the promotion start things off to get us warmed up and a couple of them even squared off against so local talent. I don't remember their exact names but it was something like Tim 'The Human Annihilator' Carter TM versus Utah's own Tim Smith from West Valley city. As was expected the Human Annihilator had some rough spots where it looked like only a super-human could prevail and wouldn't you know? He was able to pull together some super human strength and win. When they introduced each of the increasingly well known and popular contestants and their (boo, hiss) evil nemesis their was clearly favoritism shown towards the good guy. My friend and I started cheering for the heel and the guys around us were all somewhere on the spectrum of disbelieving to agitated that we were cheering for the wrong guys. You never know a tax accountant turned pro-wrestler may just be able to beat the undead in human warrior that is The Undertaker. Unfortunately, it was not the accountant guys day and he lost but not after he cheated some and almost won. All of the big name match-ups ended in no decision because ours was not a nationally televised event and the story line would not be advanced or altered on our account. I did get to see the Bushwhackers in action until some unsportsmanlike behavior from their heel opponents made it so they had to abandon the match but vow revenge on a pay-per-view event maybe. If you thought that professional wrestling looked fake on the small screen I have to tell you that it looks infinitely more so in the flesh. One particularly egregious fake punch that missed Hack-Saw Jim by a good foot, maybe foot and a half, which sent him reeling had my friend and I in absolute stitches. That further angered the faithful that were there on something of a pilgrimage and audience. Their perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity to indulge in the live event sacrament of the WWF was being sullied by a couple of unbelievers, and mockers. Rude. Funny as hell but very rude.

Kristen Likes Me

 When it was really cold or stormy outside the school officials would allow us to play in the gym but in the borderline days it could be really cold and miserable outside and the principal and teachers would force us out of the building. In those times the only way to sneak back into the life saving warmth of the school was to pretend you needed to use the bathroom or were picking up something vital so as to not look like you were loitering. On one of these days there were six cute girls who were hiding out in the legally ambiguous zone between the two sets of double doors. It was like running a gauntlet of girls to go and pretend to use the bathroom to stave off death by exposure. When I was walking through one time one of the girls told me as I passed through that, “Kristen likes you”. That was all she said and I didn't stop or ask what she was talking about because I was way too shy especially to talk to a girl. I was elated though and was giddy as I fake went to the bathroom and hung out thinking about what it meant that Kristen liked me. Did she think I was cute? Funny? Smart? One thing that was for certain was that she had impeccable taste. I was so excited that anyone had shown interest me at all that I wanted a little more but I needed to play it cool, but what I thought was cool may have been off base. I left the restroom across the hall from the cafeteria went down the hall away from the double doors that had the nest of young women and through the other set of double doors at the end of the hall. I walked outside and gave it a few minutes and walked over and through the girl's double doors hoping that one of them would give me some details as I walked through pretending not to see them. I went a little slower than usual but none of them said anything. I walked back down the hall past the bathroom, cafeteria, and back out the other double doors, back outside waited a tick and once more in to the “Kristen likes you” doors. Still the ladies were playing it close to the chest and were silent on this trip through as well. Once again I was down the hall past the bathroom and cafeteria and out the double doors again outside and back in this time at a fast walking pace because recess was drawing to a close and I needed to know without actually stopping and asking what the story was. Once more through didn't yield any new information and the bell rang sending us all back into the warmth of class but I was left in a lurch, how and to what extent did Kristen like me? I never got anymore information and as I grew older I started to fear that they may have just been playing a joke on Kristen telling a nerd that she liked him but it still made for a little bright spot of hope in my life because what if she really did I would think, what if?

NFL Pencils for Some Reason

Like little wooden slices of heaven worth fighting and stealing for.

We didn't have T.V. and my dad was in no way a sports fan but on Thanksgiving and some Monday nights we would catch a little football. In fifth-grade there were some pencil machines that sold NFL pencils and all of the sudden some kids wanted to get all of the team pencils and I got caught up in the hysteria and begged borrowed and stole as many quarters as I could get my hands on. There were 26 teams at the time and the San Francisco 49's were by far the most desirable. I didn't know anything about football so I had two motivators; a complete set and multiples of all of the cool teams. I would come early on Tuesday's after they had filled the machine Monday night and get to work collecting my pencils for the week. When you placed you quarter in the slot it made a satisfying mechanical Chachunk as it worked the giving gears of bounty.  
Chachunk - Bills - meh.
Chachunk - Jets - okay. 
Chachunk  - Bengals - sweet. 
Chachunk - Oilers-what the hell is an oiler? 
Chachunk - Oilers again? Gosh dang stupid waste of a flipping quarter. 
Come on! Big money! No whammies - show me the Forty-Niners, please, please, please.
Chachunk- the Browns? The Browns? The damn Browns? Oh, how like flies to wanton boys are pencil collector boys to the gods.
 I ended up buying about sixty pencils to get the full set and then sold the duplicates that I could sometimes at a loss to unload the unsavory ones. Once I had the set that was it I lost interest and didn't care about the NFL until I was an adult looking for a good way to while away a lazy Sunday. I don't have the pencils I think my mom may have allowed my siblings to sharpen and use them like the were regular pencils and not imbued with the magical talismanic powers of a Buccaneer or Ram.  

Pole Balls

You perverts put this out on the playground for just any random kid to frottage?  Someone think of the children.

 There was a weird kid that was really clean cut and nice but was a little too sexual for a fifth grader. He was always saying oddly detailed sexual jokes and comments that generally just made the rest of the pre-pubescents uncomfortable. We didn't mind a nicely uniformed sex joke because it was funny and weird but when the details were too accurate we shied away. One day he was climbing the tether ball poles in a bizarrely spasmodic manner and I asked him what he was doing. He told be he was doing a thing he called 'pole balls' and that he liked rubbing his penis on the pole as he climbed up and down. I was not hoping for such a graphic, explicit and frank explanation. I was literally speechless which for a prolific gibberer like myself was actually a rare event. I was trying find any reason to absent myself when the kid suggested that I give 'pole ball' a shot because 'it makes your wiener feel good'.
Yeah, ummmh, I uhhhhm, need to go. . . away from here. . . soooooo, uhhhm bye.
I walked away and went into the classroom and told the teacher that I didn't feel well and she let me stay in and I made an effort to steer clear of that kid for a few weeks. He was stopped from his auto-erotic game when he told some girls that he wanted them to watch him do it. Then the teachers told him to knock it off. We never really had much contract except for socially required pleasantries from then on through high school he wasn't an unlikeable kid I just always had 'pole balls' at some place in my mind whenever we talked and that was to much to overcome.  

Four Square Gets Really Big

Like little Machiavellis, Clausewitzs, SunTzus and Martha Stewarts always plotting, always planning, never sleeping, never trusting. 
For those who haven't had the pleasure of rubber ball combat an into:

 There were lots of games to play in fifth grade but most of them involved picking teams which was bad news for a bottom rung nerd like myself. There was a meritocratic game that anyone could work into and that was foursquare. The problem was originally that cool kids would 'call' a four square field and kick everyone not cool off and do so with the unsubtle brutality of elementary school kids.
“You cant play on this court because no one likes you.”
At least when you are adults they have mechanisms for excluding the unsavory - like gates, entrance exams, receptionists, caller id and high per-plate prices. That keeps the hoi polloi in check without having to tell them that no one like them it is just implied. Enough of the riffraff complained about being excluded from play that the teachers made it illegal for kids to sanction one court for cool kids and everyone who lined up was allowed to play. There was a second round of exclusivity when a dirt-bag got on the court the three remaining cool kids would all try and attack his or her square until they were out. They also had all kinds of rules that were made up on the fly to the interlopers disadvantage. All of the sudden double-holdy-cherry-bomb was a move that the square one guy could use and you were all but guaranteed to loose you spot. It is important to note that nerds could not make up crazy cheater moves or even use one seconds after it had been introduced or you were called a cheater and kicked off. There were a group of four jet set bullies that always were monopolizing the best and most level field and I made it my personal mission to wreck their fun. David, Shawn, Lindi, and Sarah were the quartet of playground evil that I tried to defeat every day I would get in and nine times out of ten I would loose in square four ten seconds after touchdown but at times I would move to to three and two and on one or two glorious occasions square one and vindication. On one such day I was in such a zone that David could not cheat of beat me out of the number one square for almost the entire recess then when we had just a few minutes left to play he took Shawn and the ladies and left the square because they were not going to play anymore if they couldn't gang up on the other kids. I was conflicted by emotions of elation at having dislodged them by skill alone and sadness that they were leaving me to play with just a bunch of nerds. I can't explain why we all didn't just decide we were cool too and ignore them but once they set out the rules of social order we didn't want it to stop we all just wanted in. After the cool kids left off playing foursquare the interest in it dried up and we didn't play much anymore and then not at all.  

Fighting With Lindi

Don't bring something this cute to a fight with a semi-pro passive aggressive  B-hole. 
I am a talker and I will talk with anyone and everyone I can corner. I have always had this affliction and in fifth-grade I could not stop telling people about all of the things I knew or was thinking about or some smart ass comment I felt could not wait. My teacher had tried all sorts of punishments and control methods but I could not be stopped. She had even moved me to a seat apart from everyone and that didn't even work. She hit upon a great idea when she realized I was the biggest nerd in the class and all she had to do was sit me next to the coolest girl and she would have to ignore me out of social necessity. The girl was named Lindi and she was the coolest and most popular girl in class, maybe the grade. She had nice clothes, great hair, an amazing Trapper Keeper and no interest in talking to or conversing with me in the least. I tried everything to break through her freeze out, compliments, questions, humor, all of my usual forays were rejected with a twisted lip poopy look of derision. I was really and truly pissed that she was blowing me off and so I started a harassment/gas-lighting campaign to punish her. Our desks were together and had a trapper sized gap between the legs which she had always used to store her trapper. I started getting to class earlier than her and putting my trapper there and when she would push it out to put hers there I would complain to the teacher that Lindi was throwing my trapper on the floor. She was outraged that I stole he spot and then ambushed her into trouble. I started jamming the ball points of her favorite pens so that they skipped and ripped her paper which was the ultimate punishment for a perfectionist like her. I would also break her pencil leads and put them back loosely so when she wrote her pencil would break every time she tried to write. I would sign her name complete with cute flourish on papers which were done poorly and switch them for hers when she put them in the in-work basket. She got back sloppy papers marked to be redone and she was baffled about how her name got on a ugly sloppy paper. I hid her library book that she had returned so she got in trouble and then I returned it. Grade A jerk stuff. I was never caught and after a couple of weeks she was a nervous wreck and asked, nay begged, to be moved to another desk. She was and I got to sit by a pretty cool stoner kid who was not too cool for me and we had a great time. Lindi was not my friend not then, or later, or ever but she had become pretty much anonymous by the time we were in junior high so that bridge was not one I ever regretted burning.

Looking At National Pornographic

 With my extra library time I had the chance to really explore the selections that were available to the elementary school kids. I found the National geographic on a rack behind the librarians desk in the 'ask for it' section and by this time the librarian had given me free reign of the place so I popped back and perused what looked like boring magazines just to see what was up. It was awesome they had animal pictures and adventure pictures and everything a ten year old boy could want. More than a ten year old boy could want as it happened. Not in the first but in the second copy I was picture reading I turned the page and boom, naked Africans. There were breasts and penises just hanging out in the breeze for the whole world to see. I was shocked and embarrassed and I quickly closed the magazine. I thought for sure that the librarian had seen me looking at the naked pictures in the magazine and that I was going to be in trouble because I had not specifically asked to read the National Geographic and I thought I may be in big trouble. I was nervous but I did want to make sure I saw what I saw so I nonchalantly snuck the magazine over to a table that was in the corner and took a stack of books over with me for cover. I opened it up to a innocent page and then kept a finger over in the naked section so if approached I could flip back quickly and act all casual and throw whoever it was off the trail. Well, I was not to good at keeping secrets so the next day when we had class library time I let slip to a classmate that if e were to go and get the National Geographic I could show him some nakedness. He went up and retrieved the smut and brought it over to a group of about six boys who all thought that it was hilarious that there were naked people in a magazine in the school library. One of the boys decided to share our find shocking some girls which it did and they were disgusted which was awesome so we moved as a heard sowing each table the pictures and watching them react. One of the girls was so offended that she ran and told the teacher that the boys had a magazine with naked women in it and we were showing it to every one. That got her attention and we were quickly rounded up. She asked about the magazine and when we showed her it was a National Geographic she got really upset. She called the class togeather into the classroom and we had a long talk about how the people in the pictures were from another place that had a different culture and it was not dirty or funny that they didn't have any clothes on. I was dreading that she would have somehow figured out that I was the instigator and singled me out for punishment or public naming and shamming but she didn't and that was good enough for me. The next day the principal came in to talk to us about being mature about library materials and once again told us there was nothing funny or wrong about naked Africans in National Geographic. He was wrong, there had been something funny about it but now there was definitely not.  

Finishing Math Early

I didn't go to school for fourth grade but I did go back for fifth. I had been doing a lot of math on my own not as any part of a structured home school program but just because I liked math because I was good at it and it was fun to figure stuff out. And because I am a massive nerd. A massive nerd. Math had always come effortlessly to me and when I went back to school I was bored to death by math time. At the first of the year my teacher put a long division problem up on the board to show us what a really hard problem might look like. I asked if I could try and solve it and she allowed me to. I divided the twelve digit number by a three digit number all the was to the ground no cheating remainders, which I always hated. My teacher was impressed the other kids were just really bored. After that my teacher made copies of all of the math work for the whole year and let me do it as fast as I wanted during math time. As fact as I wanted was very fast and I was done in less than a week. Which then gave us another problem because I was even more bored now that I had finished all of the math so she got me the next two years of math and they took much longer as I tried to learn algebra on my own during math time. I got through the sixth grade curriculum and then was stuck on many of the pre-algebra concepts and she didn't have time to help me so I was allowed to spend the remaining math time for the rest of the year reading books in the library which was the sweetest reward of all. I could look at all of the coolest picture reference books without a single competitor and I was left alone which was where I wanted to be. Interestingly cruising through the math work neither garnered me many friends or social standing and may actually have contributed to my nerd status. I could never tell what I was doing wrong I thought those kids would be impressed, no accounting for taste I guess.

A Note From The Blog Writing Guy

Somehow in my notes I got some thematic grouping that threw off the chronology and we need to go back few years to fifth-grade or we are going to miss out on some very funny stories of looking at pornography at school and some other stories of that nature. I will get back to being twelve soon enough so you need not panic or write your elected officials. I regret this mistake and will punish myself with unjust severity. Thank-you for your understanding.

Timberline - Pee Mouth

 There is nothing funnier than bodily functions to a group of 12 and 13-year-olds except for simulating bodily functions for a joke. This kid, Preston, had one of the greatest ideas for a prank in the history of pranks. He devised a way to simulate a penis with a hot dog by pushing a straw through it. He would then take a big mouthful of water and spit it through the straw in a hilarious urination analog. He even went so far as to carve a little realism into the hot dog to really sell the effect. That was really funny but someone, who's name may be lost to time, came up with a way to take the joke further. We decided to trick people into putting on a blindfold for a surprise and you would not believe the level of caution among these yahoos it was like they didn't trust us. When we did talk someone into doing it we put them off their guard by giving them candy to taste first and asking if they could tell what it was. Then after two harmless candies Preston would place his ersatz penis on their lips and then a second later spit the water through the straw. I don't know if these kids had someone pee in their mouth for real sometime in their past but it was eerie how quickly each of them was able to guess that the third thing they tried was pee in the mouth, even before they got their blindfolds off. At first they were furious and then when they would discover it was only water spat through a straw threaded through a hot dog they would want to pay it forward. Every time we did it we were laughing harder and harder so it was hard to sign up the next victim. News of the prank got back to the camp leadership who by this time was rather familiar with us and they came to see what was so funny. An adult leader asked for a demonstration of our prank which we were reluctant to give. We had all participated and enjoyed helping in the execution but when it was trouble time we all bravely left Preston to dangle in the breeze to demonstrate his pee in the mouth simulation device by himself while we stayed a respectful distance as to not crowd the artist while he worked. The adult leader was not impressed by the ingenuity and skill in so elegant a trick but art is not for everyone. Someone mentioned that the whole troop had been in on setting up the prank so we were back to cleaning up the camp with Preston oddly upset that we had so quickly threw him under the bus. A scout is loyal but sometimes being over loyal can be a fault.   

Timberline Skinny Dipping

 After a few days in the woods doing manly manly things we were starting to get a little ripe. The official camp policy was to wash with canteen water and swab the decks the best we could to freshen up. It was not good enough and my troop sought out the local stream which was less than a foot deep and actually colder than ice. At first we were just using it to wash our torsos and feet and then we decided to go full monty and get really clean. The main problem with that was that the Timberline scout camp was bordered on the west by a family camp ground and when we got really loud playing naked in the water it piqued the interest of the outdoorsy type families that we our neighbors and they came for a little look-see. They evidently were the type of puritanical folks who can be offended by a little public nudity in the woods and an unofficial spokesman for the group yelled at us to knock that off and put our clothes on. We ran back to camp and got dressed and laid low but the good citizen of family camp decided to report us to the camp leadership to make sure we were disciplined. Well, his wish was granted and we were once again in big trouble and had to clean up the whole camp area again and haul all of the garbage up to the garbage truck. It was unjust we thought to punish us for trying to get clean, a virtue supposedly enshrined in the scout law.  

Timberline – John the Poopy

 When we had been at camp a couple of days we had already had a couple of run ins with the quarter master named John. A quarter master is the keeper of the food and supplies and he gives them out before each activity and meal. This John joker was a slightly older boy and was letting handing out the ramen noodles and chile go to his head. He would make up arbitrary and condescending things that we would have to do to get our supplies as he gloated and loaded it over us. We had enough and because we were the closest camp to the quarter masters tent we decided to extract a little forest camp justice. We found him guilty of douche-baggery and sentenced him to one confinement to a porta-potty. We put one boy on lookout and when john went into the porta-potty we got the signal and sprang into action. We were well prepared as probably goes without saying. We had our rope moves choreographed and before John new what was happening he was tied securely into the portable convenience. He yelled at us and told us he was going to kill us and pushed really hard on the plastic door which distended around the rope but held fast. Our troop began to be divided on what our next step should be the majority were for running off, one kid wanted to let him out and two – Steve and Kevin decided to escalate the prank to a poopy prank. They started taunting John asking him the same kinds of inane questions he would ask when you wanted to get your food. “Do you want it? Do you really want it? How bad? What will you do for me if we let you out?” He failed to see the irony in the parallels and just swore out grievous bodily harm on us if we didn't turn him loose. Steve and Kevin then got the potty rocking and John wished hateful things on them and they were not detoured. They were asking him what he thought would happen if they tipped him over and he promised to beat them to death. They overbalanced the porta-potty and it sloshed onto its side. That is when we all decided on the run away plan and we cut the rope and headed for the hills. John emerged a little upset and hell bent on revenge but was restrained by the other leaders from actually killing us. We punished by having to clean up the porta-potty and pick up all of the trash from the whole camp but street cred costs, and we were willing to pay because that was worth it. He actually was quite reasonable about our food and supplies after that so it worked how we wanted.    


 I was dropped off at the timberline leadership camp by my mom up a canyon not far from my house and I was a lot a bit nervous. I had always been the outsider in school and sports so I was wary about meeting new people because I felt like it would be more of the same. I was wrong. When I got to my assigned camp with a group of ten boys I did not know they were all really cool and we clicked right away. We got everything set up and were having a great time as I showed them how to play various games with a knife when the last camper in our group came over to introduce himself. He was wearing expensive clothes and sun glasses which was a pretty rare sight for a kid in in those days. He swaggered over and asked us what was up and we introduced ourselves and pointed out which tent was going to be his. He put his stuff up and then came over and talked with us, more like talked at us, as he explained that he was one of the most popular and athletic kids at his school. I have found, with rare exception, that a kid who is eager to tell you how popular and cool he is, is most often a liar. He said his name was Kevin but everyone who knew him and knew how good he was at basketball just called him 'Jam'. I have a mental block about calling someone by their self made nicknames and reject them whenever possible. Therefore I, of smart-ass pedigree, could not help but poke fun at the absurdity of his, I assumed self chosen, nick name. I made some peanut butter and jelly and toe jam jokes and he, missing the jokes, tried to straiten me out by telling me it was a reference to how he could dunk a basketball.
I said, “No its not Kevin.”
There are very few if any twelve-year-olds capable of dunking a ten foot rim and I was absolutely convinced that Kevin was not one of them. He was extremely defensive of his claim so we marked out a ten foot high mark on a tree and I told him if he could jump up and touch it I would apologize and call him 'Jam'. He jumped from flat feet first and came up about two feet short. He got a run at it and came up two feet short. He blamed his shoes and the ground and his sore leg and whatever else he could come up with and every time I would remind him of the discrepancy using his christen as apposed to his street name. He finally quit and decided that being called Kevin would have to do until he could prove to us once and for all that on a real basketball court a ten foot rim was no trouble. I never got to see that. I hit it off so well with the rest of the boys that they elected me to be their troop leader which turned out to be a poor decision in terms of law and order as you shall see.