To try and lure us into the various officer cores the government thought it would be a good idea to let us play with all of the good toys and get us hooked. It is the oldest cliché in the drug game, the first one's free. They started us out on the machine guns and then we got to shoot some sniper rifles. That was pretty cool but I had shot similar civilian guns so I was not sold. Then they let us drive tanks, armored personal carriers and the Hummer which at the time was a real military vehicle not some plastic looking knock-off for high maintenance soccer moms to drive to Cafe Rio. We even got to shoot sabot, small practice, rounds out of the tank which was pretty cool. Then they got us in the helicopters and that is when I was starting to get interested. We got in a troop transport model and the pilot took us on a wild ride, it must have been just like what Jasmine was feeling on her magic carpet ride that got her into bed with a that street rat Aladdin. To be clear, I did not sleep with the pilot. I was impressed by the speed and power of the equipment but I cannot get over the mental hump I have witch is that when used to their purpose they are for killing people whom are chosen by politicians and if you sign up you do what you are told. I could not get my heart and mind on board with that and even though I was tempted it was not a career I could be comfortable with.
I struggled through the first day's orientations, pep talks, and what I assume was a very fine leadership lesson from the authors of, “Star Trek: Make It So: Leadership Lessons from Star Trek: The Next Generation”. Actually, now that I think about the name of that book I will change my assumption to boring even though and either way as soon as the lights went out in the room I was asleep. The result of not sleeping for the last 40 or so hours and having navigated the teen highs of a kiss consummation and the lows of a dad reprimanding, was that I was wiped right out. I fell into a deep, twitchy and if the reports of those laughing around me when I startled back awake - a sleep wherein I relived the pressures of my flatus both frequently and loudly. Ha, Ha, Ha – Laugh it up you immature philistines. Laugh it up, if the unintentional near scatological humor I was uncontrollably providing would fill the void in your otherwise empty lives. But for reals guys, don't. Guys? Be cool, Okay? I tried to regain my dignity the best I could and I was refreshed somewhat by a power nap and the rush of adrenaline that teenage shame had afforded me. I got to my room which was a private room attached in the middle by a bathroom to the room of my good friend and student body president Joe. It is vital, for the sake of the story that you know that either one of us to visit the other without going to the outside hall. We unpacked and I went down to dinner and the night time meet and greet and as soon as it was at all feasible, sometime around 10pm I retired to to bedroom, an hour before lights out and the sudden and total death I had been promised by the Major and my group's assigned Sergeant. I laid down on the bed fully clothed fully intending to rest for just a second and then pop up to brush my teeth and take off my clothes. This did not happen. The next thing I know is that there is someone banging loudly at my outside door and yelling at me to open it. I was very much palatalized by the depth of my sleep and semi-blinded by the eye scum forming on my left-in contacts. After a few minutes of the pounding I rolled out of my bed and onto the floor to make the journey to the door to see what the fuss was. I tried to walk but my legs were having no part of my ill advised shamble and I was forced to make the journey on my non-traitorous hands and knees. I got to the door and undid the dead bolt and was pushed back into the room by the overzealously opened door. It was a female soldier of unremembered rank who was pissed right off at me. She was asking me a series of questions about where I was and who I with I was laying on the floor wedged in a most undignified way with my back against the chest-of-drawers and the wall with my legs still entangled in the door. She was standing over me yelling and asking who I had been with. I was still somewhat blinded by my gunked up contacts and muddled in my brain while I tried to explain that I had been asleep and alone. She must have finally gotten cooled down enough to realize that the confused mess of a boy on the ground in front of her was in no ways looking like one who had just made a rapid retreat from a illicit nighttime rendezvous. She asked me if I knew where the boy from the next room over had been and I said as far as I knew he had also been in his bed. She told me that I had better be careful because the Major in charge had given special instructions to keep a eye on me and my potential shenanigans. I said I had been in bed sleeping before she started banging on the door, she apologized and told me that a few people had told her I was the guilty party and she was just worried that she was going to get into extra trouble because I was already under scrutiny. I told her I was not going to be any trouble and explained why the Major was upset with me we left on good if not friendly terms. A few seconds later she knocked on my friend's door and he opened it with a contrite look and a scripture in hand to give her his alibi. She was easily mollified having spent her rage on my interrogation and a few moments after I heard hid door close he knocked on the interior bathroom door on our shared room. I answered it and he apologized telling me it was he who had been out doing some kiss-face with a girl from the next floor down and that he had made his retreat and then heard me getting shaken down. He told me that he was going to confess if I got into big trouble. I told him it was okay and there in our shared bathroom he gave me a big hearty hug and thanked me for being a good friend. I thanked him too and I went back to sleep until five in the morning when a rather rude drill sergeant came to remind me of my compulsory participation in PT. I was too tired to even protest and I jogged and chanted about Eskimos and other riming ribaldry.
If that coincidence was not enough after the orientation we went to meet with our groups. As we were introducing ourselves the girl who was sitting by me said her name which was one I had never heard but when I said my name she looked intrigued. When I sat down she leaned over and told me she thought I had been on a date with her sister the night before. I was pretty sure she was mistaken because the girl I had dated had a different last name. I told her who I had been out with and she confirmed that was indeed her adopted sister, the product of a blended family - different dads, different moms. The upshot of that was that they were only a few months apart in age and they had been separately selected to go to different leadership camps and meet me. The mind boggles. Her step-dad was not quite done following up with me on my poor punctuality with his daughter and he sent a guy over to our group to break down for me what was not going to happen at this camp. He singled me out and told me that I was never to be outside my room after lights out and that I would be joining the PT (for Physical Torture, I think) group for morning exercise witch was usually an optional part of the camp. He let me know I would be under special scrutiny for the week. I was paranoid and really tired when we went to lunch. The officer attached to our group finally met up with us and reiterated that the commander wanted me watched carefully. Somehow that turned into him talking about punishments and threaten to make me do twenty pullups. I told him I could do that no problem, he scoffed and I bet him. I didn't know if I could do it but I had been rock climbing quite intensely for two years and thought I must be able to. I jumped up on a handy horizontal bar and cranked off ten with no problem, the next five were a struggle and the final were extremely difficult but I finished. The guy was impressed an said he didn't expect me to be able to do it he told me that he could respect that. Well, we were getting somewhere.
I got home at about three and a half in the morning and I started doing some laundry to have some clothes for the next week of camp. I was making so much noise that my mom came out to see what I was doing and she never realized I was up late and not up early so I was not in trouble. I got all of my stuff washed, dried and packed with only a few minutes left to spare and I headed out to pick up the student body president and make it to camp just in time. We got to the army base where the camp was held just five minutes late. We were walking through the registration line getting our group and room assignments when I noticed that the camp CO was a major with the exact same last name as the girl who I had kept out too late on a date the night before. That seemed odd because it was not a common name and one I had never heard before. As I got to the end of the line where we were to shake hands with the CO, the camp director and a minor Utah news celebrity I realized that the major in charge was my new girlfriend's dad. Let me lay out for you just how improbable this is, I went to a camp exclusively for student body officers, where I met a girl from a school who lived 80 miles north and I had hit it off with her, taken her on a date, brought her home late and got yelled at by her father, then I was selected as one of two students from my high-school to be chosen to go to a camp for future leaders and that girl's dad was the commanding officer who I was 20 seconds away from having to meet for the second time in eight hours. If this was a movie it would be laughably implausible but it is absolutely true and it only gets weirder. It was my turn for a handshake and photo opp when I made eye contact with the dad who hours before was kind of cranky with me about bringing his daughter home two hours late he smiled and introduced himself and then recognized me. He looked honestly and deeply confused as he tried to put together how I was in this line getting signed in for his camp. He shook his head a little and was squeezing my hand over long as he tried to wrap his head around this coincidence. After about thirty seconds he asked me if I was at his house last night I told him I was and that I was still sorry I had lost track of time. He told me He was still mad about that and then said he was going to keep an extra special watch on me for the week. Good, one on one mentoring I hoped. I got my picture and we quit holding up the line and I felt like I had dodged a dad and his wrath, I had not.
Before I went to the UASC camp I had been selected with one of my friends to be the two representatives from our school to go to a armed forces wine-and-dine camp called Freedom Academy. The idea was that they would try and lure the best and brightest into the officer schools for any of the armed forces. The point is that it started the Sunday morning after the Saturday finish of UASC and that Saturday I was driving up to a town an hour north to have my date with the girl I had a crush on from UASC that meant I would be cutting in very close. She had asked me to bring up a friend for a double date so I called a kid I knew who was tall, blonde and strapping and asked him to do me a solid and go on a date with an unknown but allegedly cute girl. With pictures or everyone available in seconds nowadays blind dates are much less blind but back then it was a real gamble but the dude came through and took the risk. When we arrived he was glad he had because the girl was a solid eight and a half that had dolled up to a temporary nine and that is not a bad sign. We went out to dinner, then to the mall and finally out to a park. My date had been close and cuddly all night and it looked like my friend was coming along nicely as well so when we went to the park we wandered apart from each other to try on our kissy faces. My date was a gentle and clean kisser which was very nice we made out a bit and then she wondered where her friend was and if she was okay. We found the two non-lovebirds sitting and talking on the playground equipment and asked her friend what time it was. She informed us that it was currently two in the AM. That was surprising and unwelcome news because I was supposed to have my girl home by midnight and I was supposed to report to military camp at 7 AM and I still had an hour to drive home and an hour to camp and pack my gear sometime in that time. We hustled up and got the girlfriend dropped off and then I took my date home where her dad was waiting for her so I didn't get a good night kiss. He was really mad so I apologized to him for my poor timing on curfew. I thought I could just hustle home get my stuff and show up to camp in time if I skipped sleeping. Not sleeping seemed like a reasonable plan at the time and I thought I was in the clear but I would find out about a very weird coincidence in about four hours.
The UASC camp wrapped up on a Saturday morning and before we left we were all supposed to write something nice about every other person we knew on a wagon with their name on it. It seems a little non sequitur but it stemmed from a game called wagon wheel that we had played several times in our groups. After the first day we each wrote our names on a paper and handed it around the room and everyone was to write an anonymous compliment on it. After the third day we did the same thing but we signed our names to each compliment. The final day we each took a turn telling each other person something that we liked about them. I know it sounds a little Kumbayah, and in the wild it would be, but with so many truly self-confident, charismatic and talented people it was easy and natural. It was like an automatic car wash of self esteem. Well, the game was only for those in your council and so the girl I was crushing on was not included but her wagon was up in the common area and I agonized over how to write her a magical message that would seal the deal for us romantically. She was quite popular so there were already plenty of things written on her eight-and-a-half by eleven mimeographed wagon. I found a likely spot and wrote something I thought was romantic. I am not being secretive I am really blanking on what it was. The punchline is that after I had written whatever sweet nothing that I did I got too nervous to sign my name and instead signed it, and this is no joke, 'The Magic Man'. Oh man, I still cringe at the unbearable lameness of that. Lame sign-off notwithstanding I found her in person and asked if she would like to go out with me that night. She lived about an hour to the north and we had been at camp all week but she said that she would love to and gave me her number and address. I was over the moon and couldn't wait to get home get showered, napped, find some money, and head up for our date.
Towards the end of the week there was a dance for all of the students at UASC and that is where I finished making my move. I told you about trying to flirt with the super cute half-Japanese girl with my pathetic use of low-rent illusions. I spent the rest of the week accidentally/on purpose running into her at lunch, dinner and activities. She was nice but there were lots of guys trying to make that particular move as well so there were times where I felt drowned out and shuffled back. Generally I would not have been worried about a little competition but these dudes were top shelf talent. They were, to a man, smart, funny and good looking in that all-American too many teeth, quick to laugh, politician sort of way. What I had going for me was that I was more tenacious and my long blonde un-gelled hair was the only one of that species in the game besides that I had nothing extra. On the night of the dance all of my fellow student councilors brought out all of their best duds and we rolled into the dance looking nice. The girls had done the same and there was a serious amount of teenage titillation in play. I am a unselfconscious dancer and I am not afraid to do a little fast dance participation as well as throwing a little goofing into the mix. I think I may have been incapable of stopping myself if I had wanted to, I just feel the dance and go with it. Then when it was time to slow dance I would never miss the chance to ask a girl to circle hug for three to five minutes. On this night I was absolutely determined to lock this girl up or go down in flames. I asked her to dance every single slow dance and hung out dancing in the area of her friend and her in the mean time. I must clarify that I was not creeping here she was having a good time and talking to me in between dances and actually keeping the distance between us pretty close as well. By the end of the night I thought we were ready to head off for a nice quie walk around a secret place on campus before head count and lights out. But for the last dance a guy, if you can even call him a guy more like a horribly inconsiderate usurper, came shooting in out of no where and asked my girl that I had rightfully cornered for the last dance. She went with him and I was left looking around for a substitute instead of working out a plan for to seal the deal with a kiss. When the last dance wrapped up the lights came up and they announced that we needed to go strait to bed and we would be bed checked in ten minutes. Oh cruel fate! This is worse then the whole of all bad things since the world began, combined. I don't think that now but in the testosterone addled mind of a 17 year-old boy there was little that seemed like a bigger deal than to have a sure thing girl-kiss fall through and the last thing I saw was my crush circle hugging another, in fairness good looking, guy. Boo.
In the pursuit of having a very fun time sometimes kids are not quite as safety conscious as they should be. We were having a water play afternoon break during the camp which included a water balloon toss, water relay races and all that type of stuff. In the relay race they constructed everything was pretty fun including a makeshift slip-and-slide the camp counselors had put together. The only flaw in the slaw was that at the end of the slip-and-slide they had arranged an obstacle in the form of a six foot section of 18” diameter irrigation pipe. Several people had slid down the pipe but no one was doing it well.
|Pro Tip: This type of pipe is best suited for irrigation applications and not for trying to run slide and slip through.|
Then one overeager girl decided to attempt the ram-it-home method of relay race competition and slide as hard as she could to make it cleanly through the pipe. She built up speed, flopped to her belly and slid towards the pipe at a reckless speed. She was misaligned and slapped sideways into the pipe which had a sharpish edge. It cut a neat crescent into her side deep enough to see some fat, muscle and some intestines. The insides stayed inside but there was a few seconds where the view was unobstructed by blood then it came in a gush. I still had a shirt so I direct pressured it while some other kids got her laid down and calm. Others ran for help and in twenty minutes the local paramedics had taken over. It must have been not quite as bad as I thought because she was back to the camp with a dozen or so stitches and the yellowing of iodine wound prep covered by some gauze she had to peel back several times to show the curious her war wound. My shirt looked pretty bad-a with bloodstains on it and when I wore it from then on it made for an easy segue into a discussion about how calm I was under fire. The wound was more life threatening and gruesome in those retellings, not to build myself up but to put the scope of my heroism into proper perspective.
I suffered from the delusion that many nerds do that people would like to watch me do magic. There are fans of magic, but some people eat boogers, so there is no accounting for taste. Most people are vaguely amused for a trick or act vaguely amused for politeness’s sake and then really hope you would stop because they don't want any more but courtesy prevents their escape. If I wanted to impress my captive audience I would break out some slight of hand coin tricks or a card trick. I thought this was a good way to make myself memorable and to have an excuse to talk to girls. I don't think it was as cool as I thought it was. On the second night of the UASC conference there were some girls from one of the other groups that one of my friends was in that came over to our dorm before the leadership would kick everybody out and lock the place down. There was a girl with them who was stunning and I like that in a woman. She had some kind of an ambiguous and slight ethnic flavor in her features which had the effect of making her exotic and striking while understated all smoothed out with the every-one-looks-better-when-they-are-young rule. I was struck by her and was for the first time in a long time intimidated by a girl. I did what every dork boy too deep in the morass of testosterone to stop himself does, I showed off. Lame, so lame. I broke out the cards and the coins for a little razzle-dazzle. In retrospect I think the girls just wanted to hang out with some new boys and relax but I jumped right in making people pick cards and try and find slight-handed coins. The played along and I ended up talking to the girl I wanted too when I had gained enough confidence by being an obnoxious nerd for a bit. She was really smart as well as beautiful. She was also self confident to the degree that she would laugh when I was funny and tell me I was not funny when I wasn't. Her ethnic flair was the result of being half causation and half Japanese which was a really good recipe. A girl like that could get me in trouble and she did.
I have never let the potential for the destruction of personal clothing stop me from having any sort of fun. As it happens that is not a universal help value and there was a girl who is still probably mad at me about some grass stains. She was in my 'K' group and was one of those girls who was cute enough but so very uptight and proper that it ruined the whole vibe. She had actually lived in my small town when she was very young and so we had formed a little bond based on that fact of vaguely remembered childhood interactions. Which is to say, I remembered her because she was a cute and popular girl and she remembered me because I was a stinky nerd. The whole week I was teasing her about how exactly pressed and finished her look was even while we were playing outdoor games. She would just stay at a distance that would keep her in the showroom perfection she worked so hard to maintain. I thought maybe all she needed was some loosening up and if she got tussled she would be like one of those button down girls from the movies who realizes she is a wild child at heart. The third day at camp when she was walking from her dorm to the classroom where we met after breakfast she passed a group of about twenty kids playing kissing tag and I decided to chase her down and tackle her for a joke. I did, but in the process of tackling her to the grass she got grass stains on her pants and lost her damn mind. She pushed me away with the panicked strength of a mother protecting her young and looked at her now minutely stained jeans knees and started yell, scream, crying and called me all sorts of curses at the limit of which her propriety would permit even in the depths of hate-anger-rage. Sobbing she ran across the lawn back to her dorm. To the casual observer it would look like I had broken her legs and then tried to molest her, not playfully tried to tackle her to the ground. Everyone looked at me and I felt like a worm that had to explain to everyone that she was upset about grass stains and noting more serious. I got glares and saw people whispering, I assumed about me. We walked into class and the instructor asked where she was and people told him that I had tackled her and she had run back to her dorm. He looked worried and angry and after he got the class on task he asked me to come with him to go find her. We ran into her on the way to her dorm changed and clean and recovered from the worst of the rage fit. The instructor stopped her and we all three talked about what a monster I was for giving her grass stains on her pants. I was at once contrite and also defensive. I was genuinely sorry for hurting her feelings but on the other hand it was just some stupid grass stains. She told us that she was worried about her pants and so she had run back and got some pre-wash on them to see if they could be saved. I apologized and time went on and by lunch everything was back to normal. After the camp I saw her two years later and she was still mad a bout the grass stained pants and mentioned that before we even exchanged pleasantries and caught up. Even funnier is that my mom ran into her 15 years after the camp at a conference and the girl recognized her last name and told my mom that I had once tackled her and gave her grass stains on her jeans. When my mom told me she had run into the girl, now woman I guess, I asked if she mentioned grass stains, my mom laughed and said that was the first thing she said after she established that my mom was my mom. Some scars never fade.
I am pretty much tone deaf in my joking to offensive material and that makes for some uncomfortable situations. After we were divided into groups we were supposed to play some get-to-know-you games, we did that. We were supposed to say our name and then give a unique anchor phrase. The only name I remember from the game was Pepper, a easy name to remember in its own right, but she added the anchor phrase 'like's paprika' and that was all I needed. After we played the games we were supposed to choose a leader and was often the case in my youth I sought out, and was selected for leadership positions. I wanted the glory of being the head man in charge but my personality, lack of propriety, and general laziness made for very frequent catastrophes. This time was no exception. After I was elected class president of my new group our first order of business was to come up with a school name and mascot as well as a service project idea. We were group 'K' and we were supposed to work that into our theme. Having been raised on Monty Python's 'The Search For The Holey Grail' I suggested we be called the Kanuck Knights - pronounced Ka-Nig-Etts. After I got everybody on board with that idea and we had made a school logo and mascot. I pitched the idea of our project being the Kunuck – Knights - Klean-up and the initials made for a great attention getter. We made some posters and were ready for the pre-lunchtime presentation. We went last and all of the big KKK signs were a little unsettling to many of the more sensible students and teachers. I am of the opinion that unintentional humor, or fake unintentional humor is the best kind. I had wrongly assumed that a school unwittingly making the initials of of the school and service project spell out KKK would be funny. Many were not amused and I was taken aside after the last presentations and told that it was not going to be acceptable to have KKK iconography as our school's main theme. We had to rework our signs and projects in the time after lunch. We changed the signs to Canuck Knights Cleanup or CKC which is not going to bother anyone.
I had an eventful summer that year, I went on that dive trip, went to UASC, Freedom Academy, and took a trip to Florida all in three months. We got the diving all squared away so we move now onto the UASC. UASC, or the Utah Association of Student Councils, was a summer camp for student councils to train our mind and direct us into, 'Having The Best Year Ever!' There are some really cool and charismatic kids around the state and almost all of them came together at the Snow college campus out in the middle of the boonies. As a loner type iconoclast I was not one who had spent a lot of time at organized activities preferring generally to limit my activities to a small group of friends or just a girl. I think the reason I liked it better that way was that I like to get things done, I get up early, I like to get right after any activity and bite off life in big meaty chunks. Most people I knew were slow-goers, sleeper-inners, homework-prioritizers, they would not want to go where I was going or at the speed I wanted to go so I reasoned that the pleasure I got from their company would be less than what I could get going my own way. That was not the case at UASC, the kids were amazingly talented, smart, funny, friendly and really good at lots of things. It was amazing for the first time in my life to be surround by self confident go-getters I was so used to cajoling everyone to do something a little adventurous but these guys and girls were the gas not the breaks. Everything from check in to group assignments to seating, and eating ran so preternaturally smooth with only well behaved and intelligent kids. After the first day there I was just stunned about how much better everything was with the right people. After we were gender segregated and assigned to the abandoned dorms we all met up in a general hall to be assigned to workign groups for the week. Every group only had one kid from each school in it and with about thirty high schools represented we had about an average class-size worth of kids, all strangers. It sounds like a recipe for disaster but within minutes of getting together as a group the kids had self directed and organized a plan of action to complete the first days tasks. Not in a bossy or officious way but in the manner of a group that wants to do things the best way and has the intelligence to recognize a good plan and to go with it. I had never seen anything so beautiful in all my life and I have never since.
I didn't have a steady clique when I was in school. Maybe that had to do with my irritating personality or that I was not very loyal or something like that. On the weekend, If I couldn't work out a date, which was my preference, I would usually try to play catch-as-catch-can with the various groups of friends that I kept a toe in with. There was a group of friends from Santaquin that my best friend had been friends with since they were little and they would let me come play if I was with him. They didn't seem to like me per se and I was never invited on my own but they were pretty cool for homebodies. One night I was hanging out with my friend when a girl who was well beyond on the wild side for our small town invited us over to watch a movie and we had nothing to do so we decided to go. The other kids where heading over there so there would be five of us guys and one girlfriend. The guy with the girl was a tall spindly dude and his girl was more round making for a perfectly cliché Jack Sprat type situation. Well, that would be exactly what they were like if Jack Sprat and his girlfriend were extremely libidinous and also religiously conservative so as to not do anything to too effective about it. The movie our hostess was showing was the most naughty mainstream movie of the day which none of us could have seen in the theater or in our own homes – Sharron Stone's Basic Instinct. It is a flimsy movie which depends on sex and violence to aid in suspension of disbelief. Early into the movie the couch stated to be occupied by not just my friend and I but the whumpy, humpy convulsions of young frustrated love. They were slopping around each others faces and grinding together which ever bits they could get to align. At first they were furtive but constrained and kept within their two allotted seats on the couch but before long the conflagration of young love consumed them and the concept of personal space was neglected and I was most definitely hit with a hip or bottom and jostled while I tried to see what exactly the nudity in the film was all about. I said something about it in a mildly sassy way and then the friend to the other side got wriggled onto and he fled the couch. I went to sit in the lazy boy recliner with our hostess who took that as a sign that I wanted to make out a little myself, I did not. I gently rebuffed her and tried to focus on the various sexy states of undress Sharon Stone and her co-stars were getting up to while the contortions of lust worked to a slobbery and noisy mess on the now abandoned couch. We finished out the movie and it ended as improbably as it had begun and when the credits rolled the two on the couch looked up for air disheveled and yet unsatisfied. It was horrific and nasty and when there was no more chance to see a naked woman I excused myself and avoided any further nights out that would include those two and their private public romping parties.
I generally find practical humor to be tedious, rude and a little childish but one day my brother pulled off one of the best sight gags in the history of funniness. On the way back from the dive trip my uncle's miniture van had a transmission go home to drive train heaven. We had to get towed to a garage for the repairs to be made and while we were there we were doing whatsoever we could to pass the very long and hot hours. One of the mellow and quite kids decided to catch up on some napping he had been meaning to get to. He laid down in a shady spot of parking lot with the curb for a pillow. He laid on his back, crossed his angles, then laced his hands behind his head, tipped his fedora over his eyes and drifted off to dream of girls he would never have the nerve to approach. While he rested gently, my brother hit upon a hilarious addition to his maximally relaxed pose and that was to take a mostly smoked butt off of the ground and set it in his lips. It doesn't sound like much but the whole scene just really came together to make it look like that dude was laying back for a regular parking lot chill out and was enjoying a cigarette which was so far out of character that it was the most hilarious thing I had ever seen. We were all laughing so hard we were crying someone was looking for a camera when my uncle came out and ruined the fun. He completely ignored the great piece of humor history that was being made and chose to focus in on the one little gross thing about the joke, the manky cigarette from the ground that was in a 15-year-old's mouth. He ran over and pulled the butt out of the unwitting comedy set-piece kid's mouth and told us all that we were jerks for thinking that was funny. Maybe so, but it was still really funny.
Diving makes you incredibly hungry and the dive boat knew all about keeping the passengers fed. There was always food ready or cooking and plenty for all which was quite a feat considering that is hard to do for a group of teenage boys on dry land. The cook who had the whole thing on lock was a rather sturdily built young lady named Kim. If I were told that she was a coal mining, veteran of a foreign war, and a man in a wig I would not have been remotely surprised. As an inside joke my friend, brother and I started secretly calling her Kim-Burly with a growly emphasis on the Burly. She was an amazing cook and really nice so I kind of feel guilty for calling her that, even behind her back. I never saw Kim again but the joke name can be recycled anytime that I see a power-framed woman named Kim. So basically daily.
There are some ideas that seem fine when you are warm, dry and surrounded by the bolstering of youthful bravado that seem rather ill advised come morning. The first night on the boat someone suggested we watch 'Jaws' as a goof. It is the ultimate ghost story for a camp out on the sea and when everyone was excited by the prospect it seemed harmless. We were all boys from 15 to 18 and no one could realistically express reservations without the fear of something worse than a giant man-eating fish, getting teased. No one wants to risk that so willing or not we all faked enthusiasm and the ships captain told us how to fire up the VCR and TV and we settled in for a fish story. At first everyone laughed and joked when the shark music would come on. Duh-duh Duh-duh, ha ha ha ha, I can't believe some people thought this movie was scary. Ever so slowly the night got darker and the lights of Los Angeles descended below the horizon and the only sound was the engine and the lapping of the waves. The mood settled into a rather intense concentration on the small glowing rectangle that was telling us about the desperate struggle that the grizzled old captain found himself locked into as he matched wits and wills with an exceptional shark. I wish we were lucky like Fred Savage and there was a kindly old grandpa who could tell us that the hero didn’t get eaten by the shark at this time because we did look concerned, even worried. The movie ends and that was going to be that but the nights are long below decks and the next morning we all had to get into the self-same water that sharks, real non-animatronic sharks, lived in and peer pressure couldn't save you under the sea. The next morning there was some definite hesitation to be the first into the water. When the boys were called out about their timidity being related to the previous night's movie they all laughed and denied it but I think it just may have been true. It was for me. Unfortunately for the narrative punch of this little vignette everyone eventually got in the water and dove and no one was eaten by a shark, not even a little bit.
We had a little trouble shooting any dinner so one of the adult dive instructors decided to take a friend and I on a guided tour to show us exactly how it was done. He was a crazy dude in his early forties and within a few seconds of getting down to depth we knew we were in for a different experience than the one we had been taught to have. Good ethical diving means that you should never deliberately or unnecessarily disturb the environment. That means you should never touch the bottom or disturb the wildlife that you are not going to shoot and eat. This guy was like the hunters on Bambi he went strait to a rock and knelt down on it and started smashing everything in site to chum the waters. He was stabbing mussels and crushing urchins and basically laying waste to the seascape and the predatory fish on our menu took notice.
|Under the ocean no tree-hugging hippie can hear you scream.|
First though a swarm of Garibaldi, the protected California state fish closed in and even though we had been warned, warned, and re-warned about killing or hurting those fish he started shooting them as quickly as he could reload and to hide the evidence of his crimes he was stuffing them under a rock so they would stay hidden until the dive boat left. After the locals were decimated we had plenty of sport fist to shoot at our leisure. I was still really nervous that we would be implicated in the massacre of protected species as we came up with more fish in one dive than the rest of the boat had managed in the first day and a half. We were never found out and I incorporated a light version of the scorched earth methods we had learned.
Drugs are bad but sometimes they make a magical alchemy in the mind of a user that makes them pretty dang entertaining. On the boat we had a runner who was restricted to the boat because he was out of jail on probation stemming from some unpleasantness with the consumption of and sale of some chemical contraband. He told us he had been clean for a while but he still had that over fast twitchy urgency of a tweaker. He was pure energy and hustle from the crack of dawn until well after dark. He was pulling tanks, helping people in and out of the water and cleaning puke off of anything it got on. He zipped around the deck until everything was set and then he would go free dive a little and shoot some fish for dinner if the divers were not getting their own. He sat down a couple of times to talk to me and I asked him where he got the name Fast Eddy, it was based on exactly what you would guess. He told me about some of his tattoos which he got in prison and several times he would start in on a story and then look off into the distance and tell me to never try drugs. I wanted to hear more about his life and what he had done but he was busy so I would just catch him once more when he had dived down and shot an octopus and he told me to help him clean it so we could eat it. I had never seen an octopus in real life let alone have eaten one. We cleaned the animal and then Eddy grilled it in butter and teriyaki. It was not good but I ate it and pretended to like it because Eddy was so earnest and hopeful. That is the last time we spent anytime together and after he loaded us off the boat I never heard from him again but I had a much different opinion about drug users and addicts than I had formulated in my small town.
The kids we were going on the diving trip with were between 14 and sixteen and in the full flower of their adolescent awkwardness. It is that strange time in a boy's life where he has all of the desire and chemical imperative to reproduce and none of the subtlety generally required to trick girls into mistaking lust for love. There were a pair of boys who talked solely in innuendo and in phases like that gem recently coined by Mike Myers as Wayne in Wayne's World - “. . .that's what she said”. That joke probably has never been funny and is on par with finding instances of dirty words in innocuous statements in their appeal almost exclusively to adolescent boys and men who never moved passed that point. They were the two funniest guys that they had ever met and thought everyone shared that opinion, I certainly did not and I am confident I was not alone in that opinion. While we were camping over the night before we were going to board the dive boat my friend Cole, my brother and I were heading over to the showers and commissary when we passed those two goofs in a state of agitated glee boarding on school-girlish giddiness. They stopped us with a couple of “dudes, dudes, come heres” and we did, just to see what had these youngsters all a twitter. They brought it in close for a little conspiratorial revelation and when they thought we were close enough for a secret excitedly told us that they had just seen a woman’s boob, and tit. They actually divided it up like that – specifically, 'boob' for the breast and 'tit' for the nipple. They filled us in on the back story by telling us that they were over at the culinary water spigot when a woman bent over to pick up a bucket, and there it was right there for them to see, the mythical breast and nipple, twice over. When we heard what the news was we were a little less than impressed with the level of excitement a little non-sexual breast sighting had generated in these lightweights but the pay off was just around the corner. The boys looked up and told us that a passing woman in a floral muumuu was the 'chick' whose bosoms they had spied. This matronly and basically shapeless and sexless woman would have even been too old to be in the running for 'chick' when Nixon was president. She possessed those pendulous and basketball-esque breasts that woman of a certain age are burdened with at an age when they no longer add to the figure but still cause back pain. We nearly simultaneously expressed our disbelief that this grandma was the 'chick' who they had gotten all riled up about, “Her?”
“Yeah, dudes, boob and tit.”
We laughed and I laid some wisdom on these young and earnest seekers of incidental nudity, “Guys, a breast is not a breast is not a breast.” I explained that when you accidentally saw a grandmother's exposed bust the more appropriate response would be uncomfortable silence or even minor disgust not triumphant braggadocio. They were wounded and defensive saying that they had at least seen a boob and tit which is more than we had. True enough, and they could keep their undisputed victory in sneaking a peak at an upholstered mound of geriatric breast. . .and tit.
I had been scuba diving for several years when my uncle asked if I would come with him and help out with a youth group that he was taking diving in the ocean. We were going to drive down to California, convoy style, camp out and then go on a dive boat for three days and reverse the process. My friend and I still had to pay a little but we got most of it covered n exchange for us helping the younger boys to not get in trouble and to not die. Fair enough. The guys were an okay group but a little goofy in that way that a kid with too much testosterone and not enough sense get when they are in their early teens. The drive down was pretty uneventful, we pushed strait through except for stops in a small town outside of Las Vegas where we were not allowed to do anything but eat at a very cheep buffet and not do anything naughty. When we got to California we went strait to a campsite where we set up to spend the night until we could board our boat the next day. There was another camp nearby that was made up of some kind of christen girls group and there were quite a few flirty girls which seemed like a recipe for mischief but most of our guys were too shy to approach the girls and when my friend and I did they just giggled and didn't talk. We saw them around the campground and at the store and outside of the showers for the rest of the night and the next day and nothing came of it. When they were driving off and in the safety of their retreat they did tell us generally that we were cute and made some other cat calls. I finally knew what women must go through when they are accosted on the street by random strangers; and it was awesome.
There was a warm spring that used to serve as a leaching pond for the silver mining industry a few miles from our house. I wrote before about the time my mom thought that she was going to die by driving into it. When I got older my friends and I loved to spend an afternoon snorkeling and spearfishing some of the millions of carp that called the place home. There were also large mouth bass but we only shot about two of those in the whole run of several years. My friends and I started going when I was 15 so originally we went riding bikes carrying the spear-gun, our snorkels and lunch. Generally there were three of us that were regulars but we would often times bring a fourth or even fifth man along. The problem with too many swimmers was that there was only ever the single spear-gun and proliferation meant less gun in hand time and watching someone else have fun is no way to spend an afternoon. There were four main ponds with the last one being the best for our purposes. It was about a hundred feet in diameter, three feet deep and full of lily pads. The lily pads were the key to our success because it gave the schools of carp someplace to hide that was not around the perimeter. The water was always nice and the first diver would wade in and nuzzle his face in close to the lily pads so that his eyes would be in the shade which allowed him to see much more clearly. Then all you had to do was wait. The schools would come back around after the disturbance of having a new massive thing in the water had settled and the shooter would wait until the fish were in range and then shoot. A turn was based on a pull of the trigger not a successful kill so the diver whose turn it was would choose his shot as wisely as possible so as to not waste it. If a fish was speared there would be some whooping and hollering followed by some comparative tests of manliness because we all know the old wisdom from the sea - the bigger the fish the bigger the man. We spent hours and hours at a stretch taking turns, wading, shooting, trading and repeating. When the lily pad pond was played out we would swim up the joining stream to the next less fruitful pond there was no middle cover so all of the fish would be up under the trees and overhanging banks which made it harder to get to them. This would continue until we arrived at the first pond which more often than not was full of imigrant ad hillbilly bathers and we couldn't fish there. One day though in the second pond we had the most unpleasant but utterly hilarious surprise.
We left the bar and went to another which for some odd reason would not allow children in even when our new sorta cousin begged in her most pouty voice. We were hanging out on the road thinking where to go next when a procession of low-riders – ten or so- rolled up to the curb. They were outfitted with curb feelers, purple under lights, spinning rims (which were kinda new at the time), some rather robust sound systems and were chock full of big black men that poured out onto the sidewalk that we were loitering on. It was very intimidating for a small town boy who had never seen a spectacle like that I didn't know what we were going to do but our newly minted sorta cousin was unphased she just started asking the new arrivals if they had any pull into getting us into the club. They did not, but they did say we should go home because we were in a bad neighborhood for this time of night. I thought that sounded sensible and was ready to call it a night. We did leave but about a mile away we drove passed a park that had the sprinklers on and we stopped to run through the sprinklers. Well, the car stopped and my sister and her new cousin-ish friend disrobed down to their nakies and ran through the sprinklers whooping and screaming, a little loud in my opinion, for naked teenage girls at midnight in an area that a big local man just told us was unsafe. I was standing by the car under a yellow streetlight not joining in and not having fun. I was looking all around to see where our murderers where going to come from. A group of about ten guys came walking down the street and I could hear them talking loudly about the girls in unreasonably deep voices. When they got closer they yelled over at the girls and told them to come over. The girls ran up to the car and got a few skivvies on before they went to talk to the boys. I was imagining ways in which I could run and get help before were were all killed. But all of the houses around looked dark and not readily helpful. Our cousin-in-law ran over and started talking to the boys who she realized that some of them she knew from school. We were 10 miles across town from where this girl lived and went to school but by some magical coincidence the one group of people we meet in the middle of the night in a parking lot was a couple of boys she knew. They asked what we were doing and then to a boy commented that we were in way to bad a neighborhood for white kids to be out goofing off in the middle of the night. We kept hearing that so I was starting to believe it. We talked with the kids for a minute and then I finally got the girls to relent to calling it a night. When we got back into the car our not related cousin got in the backseat with me instead of riding in the front with my sister. She cuddled up against me and tried to start kissing me. I don't think making out with a distantly related cousin by marriage would be strictly illegal but I was not really comfortable with the idea so I gentle deflected her advances and just gave her a chaste side cuddle instead. We went back home and dropped off our new friend and never saw her again.
I was reminded by telling someone this story that I had forgotten a whole story from the summer when I was 14. My sister was recently sixteen and we headed out to Colorado to visit relatives for some life event or another. While we were visiting we came upon some free time that my sister and I decided to use hanging out with some of my uncles wife's nieces. They seemed a little on the wild side compared to us because their first suggestion for a night out was to go clubbing. We were not of the clubbing ilk and I was frankly freaked out about the prospect. Where I was from the cowboys were a click of rough and tumble high testosterone extra violent kids kids a little on the dim side. I was always saying or doing something like joking or dancing that bypassed that already undersized portion of their brains where they like people and are nice and shot right into their engorged rage centers and they would want to hurt me. I didn't want any of that. We went along to see what the story was and the first place we stopped was a western bar. Our family was religious teetotalers who didn't even drink tea so a bar seemed like a dangerous den of iniquity full of easily irritated drunken hillbillies bent on murder and worse. The bar was separated from the dance floor and it was early in the evening so the floor was empty as the locals imbibed some personality and courage. My cousin-in-law was all about the fun so she took my hand and drug me out onto the floor and we started to dance in the manner she prescribed. We were trying to do the arm pretzel that was the necessary go-to move of that era in couples country music dancing. I was not good at it but I was a good sport and that is half the fun of anything. We learned some line dances and spent an hour or so before all of the middle aged dirt-bags who had some free time for drunken dancing on a Wednesday evening crowded the dance floor and started to frotteurise the girls and get a little handsy in general. We called it a night and headed out for some more dangerous and naughty fun that didn't feel so immanently rapey.
The rest of the night was a gentle unwinding compared with what we had done up until that point. After we were ordered by an officer of the law to sit in the front seat we drove out to an abandoned railroad tunnel that cut through a mountain and ended in a precipitous decline. It was a cool view and nice to be hanging out with some cool older kids who were there to lay on us some wisdom about how to deal with some of the stress and rigors of student body officer-ing. I pointed out in a jokey way that we were essentially powerless token participants in the grand scheme of things. Maybe because they didn't want it to be true and maybe because it was true they didn't like my line of thinking and explained all of the real good and difference we could make. They told us we could be the good examples that all of the other students looked up to to model their high school experience. I thought they were delusional. 90% of kids gave not a fiddlers flying fart who the student body council was let alone look up to them but I had learned a lesson from my previously shot down comments and held my tongue. That for me is actually kind of a big deal. We wrapped up our little love-in and headed out of the canyon to go get some hot chocolate at a little greasy spoon truck stop called the Cobble Stone. I went home in the morning thinking of all the awesome stuff we were going to do when we ran the school, having been tricked for the moment out of my knowledge of our inconsequential pull around the old high school. I made a list and brainstormed and got downright giddy. Being young and a lot more adaptable than I am now I was too excited to sleep and I called a friend who was just getting off work at that ungodly hour and we went climbing.
Being locked in a trunk and driven around in the middle of the night sounds like less fun than it really was. It was a big trunk and my friend, and a fellow student council member was laying in there with me. We chatted and mused while we were driven about to disorient us. That was the plan but when the kid driving sped through a quiet neighborhood in the middle of the night it attracted some awkward attention from officer friendly. The other trunk rider and I heard the sirens come on and the muffled commotions coming from the proper passenger location. We stopped and I heard the officer ask what the hell the kid driving was doing going 55 in 25 in the middle of the night. The kid explained the situation and that made the situation worse. After the dutiful cop heard that we were trussed up in the boot he made the regular passengers open it for him. He got us out and stood us up and asked what we were doing in the trunk. We explained we were getting informally initiated into the student body council and he looked really unconvinced. He told everyone to stand outside the car while he took the other former captive off to the side and talked to him alone for a minute. He returned and then took me aside and asked if I was voluntarily being kidnapped and tied up in a trunk. I told him yes and he had a long searching look at me. He decided we were probably telling the truth and so he just gave the driver a ticket for speeding. He told the captors that he couldn't allow us to ride in the trunk and made them let us ride up front with the rich folks. The mood of youthful hijinks evaporated and we were much more subdued as we drove over to meet up with the other kids.
There are certain rights of passage that if they were not cloaked in the traditions of youthful shenanigans would just be crimes. As student body officers elect we were subjected to formal initiations and in the middle of the night some informal ones as well. I don't sleep much and never have but what sleep I do require I guard jealously. I am a bad waker upper and nothing sets me off into a festering oozing lesion of rage faster and more thoroughly than being woken up unjustly. The old student council had cleared a plan with my parents that included my late night abduction by them wearing masks to be whisked away to a little light hazing. Taking me unawares and from blissful slumber earned these amateur hooligans a punch or several in the face, head and shoulders. They came masked to my front door in the middle of the night and my mom, sweet forgetful soul that she is, had forgotten the plan to leave it open for them to facilitate their crime. They were reduced to banging on my window and the front door to entice me out. If they were looking for a fight, and by all accounts they were not, they had found one. I started from my bed in a flash of pure foggy hate and delirious anger ready to put a little hurt on whomever was rap-tap-tapping at my bridge. I looked out the window and saw the five masked morons cavorting and I ran from my room to the front door and grabbed the first handy idiot by the shoulder and gave him a punch in the ski-mask. Then I punched another in the guts and then they all jumped off of our low porch and ran to the penumbra of the midnight shadows cast by the porch lamp. I was cussing and threatening to kill when the gut-punched student body president pulled off his mask and reveled it was only the outgoing student council here to simulate a kidnapping for fun. That revelation combined with a few minutes of the sleep chemicals in my brain dissipating made for a dramatic change in my personality and I went and slipped on some appropriate clothing because I had been sleeping in just my nakies and some unders. My mom was also supposed to have had me dress in some jammies to facilitate my abduction but she forgot that too. Clothed and apologetic about the pop in the jaw I had given my predecessor I was bundled into the trunk of a car by my good friend and we chatted in the dark until we were stopped by the cops.
As new members of the student council we had to start planing out what suggestions we would like to have ignored by the actual people in charge at the school. We did get to decide on our student body officer jackets which one of the other vice president suggested should be a little more awesome then the regular cardigan crap they rolled out every year. We got hockey jerseys with our names and class year on them and they were actually cooler than the boy who suggested and designed them had promised.
|How bad-A are hockey jerseys? Well, to put it in perspective, they can even make Canadians look tough - and they are the consensus biggest wussies on earth.|
We were consistently complimented on them by all of the other student councils who thought the take away from fiddler on the roof was the Jews cannot control their daughters. Dressed like hip young iconoclasts with a devil-may-care attitude we waded into the planning for the next school year. It turns out that the decision to shake up the type of uniform we were going to wear was the last significant choice we would make. We offered up dozens of ideas for activities which the teacher in charge of the student government rejected. We thought it would be cool to have an out door dance in a massive tent – shot down. We thought a multi-school goofy obstacle course competition would be fun – not on his watch. After about ten denials with the same 'lets-just-do-the-regular-stuff' dismissive attitude from the instructor I realized the extent of my power and decide to try the wisdom of that old chestnut of the rebellious, “It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” That did work, too a point, and then the fit hit the shan but not for almost a year.
There was a all terrain multistage race that they held out in the Utah desert that summer and some friends and I from scouts decided to give it a go. I volunteered to do the climbing/rappelling and swimming because those where my strengths. The river run climb rappel was the first of about ten stations and I fell behind on the run but made it up on the climb and rappel putting us in second. After I passed the baton I had to be ferried to my next leg which was the mile/canoe and swim. My team was adding distance to our lead after biking, running, cable climbing and more running and more biking. We had almost ten minute lead when the guy before me and my canoeing partner handed off for the final leg where we had to canoe to the other side of the reservoir and swim back. The kid I was with was one of those farm tough psychopathic competitors who kept yelling at me to paddle harder. We had canoed a mile before the next team even got into the boats and we were looking good. We pulled up the canoe and I jumped in for a swim back and realized that even thought it was a 90 degree day that this water was bitterly cold and my arms and legs started to cramp. In that moment struggling to keep my head above water I was literally more afraid of letting down my team than dying, which was rapidly becoming a possibility. My paddling partner came up to offer some gentle words of encouragement, “why aren’t you swimming you pussy? Were going to lose if you don't hurry.” Sometimes it is a simple gestures like a friend taking the time to compare your courage, metaphorically, with female genitals to really drive home the fact that you should stop dying and finish the race. I laid on my back to float and I used everything I had to stretch my cramping legs and abs back into submission. The strained and settled and I gingerly started to swim keeping the range of motion just inside the tipping point to a re-strain. I was not swimming anywhere near my top speed but I was moving in the right direction when I saw the rival team canoe pass which meant they were now only five minutes behind. More sweet words of encouragement, “Swim faster or we will all kick your (A-word for bottom) if we lose.” I flipped over and started the much faster crawl and was about halfway when my partner told me the rival team was in the water and the kid was closing the distance. He told me that the other kid was swimming really fast. I knew that meant I was okay, no one can swim fast for a mile no matter who you are it is too far and you have to pace yourself. Well this kid didn't know that rule and as we neared the three quarters buoy he was only about three hundred feet back and closing still. I started to know how it must feel to be hunted by a Terminator, so relentless, it feels no pain. I poured on what little I had and switched to a back stroke to keep up the little speed I had left to give. About a block out from the finish I could hear my team screamign that I was loosing and I tried to find any hidden reserve of stamina or power but all my body would do is the same plodding pace towards the end. At a hundred feet to go he was only about a hundred feet back and still gaining. One final switch to a front crawl and I powered onto the beach, crawled up to the marker and passed the batton for the final run with the kid who was swimming against me only about thirty seconds behind. I had burned up a 10 minute lead but we were still ahead and running. The last run was just about a quarter mile and our guy made it first having re-added twenty seconds or so to the lead. I felt pretty good that I had made it and didn't quit or die but all the other guys could say was that it I would have lost it for them they would have killed me. Good time friends, doesn't matter, we still won
After the dance we all went home and changed into some scrubbies and headed over to a friends house where we got outfitted with some all terrain vehicles. The cool kids had their own and their friends got dibs on some sweet rides. I was third tier and what my date and I got was a pre-ban three wheeler that looked like it was intended as a child’s toy or a prop for a little person clown to ride in a circus next to a similarly dressed full sized clown. It was not big enough for me let alone a plus one. It made up for its diminutive frame by being massively under-powered and not having a head light. Wait, you know? Come to think of it that may have made it worse not better. It was almost a waste of 80cc's that could have been better suited to making a really awesome weed whacker.
|It would just need a little TLC to make it back into a piece of crap.|
At first I was a little pissed that this was the vehicle my sorta friends set me up with, that was until I realized the logistics of riding it up the mountain to the abandoned mine we were going to explore meant some rather hands moments from my date. She had to sit around me to keep from falling off and I had to steer so she had to reach around and shine our flashlight headlight on the trail for me. Every time our gutless motor steed would bog down on an obstacle or steep part she was compelled to hold on tight while I disentangle-bated our situation. We fell far and farther back while the actual trail rated four wheeler easily powered on the goal. When we arrived everyone was waiting to go into the old mine and explore. I had lived in Santaquin for many years and never ventured into the forbidden mine and I assumed only sudden death could follow it was actually pretty cool. We had some good clean fun and headed back the down hill was not so hard for our defective transporter and we were too soon driving back to my date's house. She had been really sweet and really fun but there was no inkling of flirtation in her mannerisms and when we pulled up to her house she gave me a quick hug and ran in so there was no chance for me to embarrass myself at the door. We never went out again but we would talk sometimes in class like school buddies sometimes do.
Man, I jumped the crap out of the gun with that Depeche story I forgot all about Moab and the junior promenade. I was not planning on going to the junior prom on account of I was broke. Then I found out all of the guys who went to Moab for spring break were going and had some pretty sweet plans I decided to invite myself along to that as well. It was only a few days away and I didn't have a date or a suit or some money so I got working lickety-split. I went into the hall opposite f the drafting room where we had been discussing plans and asked the girl who if she was not the hottest girl in the senior class was at least in the running and she said yes. Girl, check – plus. The reason why such a hot girl was still available days before a major dance was because she was supposedly dating a college guy. A fact that I had heard was starting to be on shaky ground as I eves dropped a conversation she was having with a friend who sat by me in a class where she was the T.A.. I mean the upside was immense and the downside was that I got to go on a date with a really hot girl. Not a bad gamble. I went to the local thrift shop and picked up tux for less than it was going to cost to rent one. Fresh fly threads – check – double plus. I went to order flowers and the lady said that she had two in the fridge that were from a botched wedding order and that was awesome. Now all I needed was the scratch to cover the paint balling, dinner, dance, pictures, and after party. I went home and fake did a bunch of chores and rounded up a hundred dollars on promises and importuning. Cash flow – check. I was sitting pretty just waiting for Saturday morning I picked up my date to go play paint ball in what was a terrible bit of planing by boys who thought the best idea was to take some girls to go play a game where you got shot and received welts sometimes in visible spots right before a dance. This was in fact just the first of three times I would make this exact same mistake. My date was 100% gung ho and that was awesome. I did get shot more than I would have hoped but maybe that kept me out of the army later in life. I dropped her off to get ready and then got duded up myself before we went to dinner. Dinner was an uneventful affair at what passed for fancy on a high school hillbilly budget. Except for something to do with somebody either asking the piano player to do something funny or someone doing something funny on the piano. If anybody remembers what it was put it in the comments. The other good part of the evening was that my dates dress would not stay assembled and the shoulder would fall down so deliciously close to a peak as to draw the attention of all my fellow red-bloods and I. No dice though, she was too quick on the catch so that it never got more than PG, 70's PG not that smut they that passes for PG these days.
My friend Noah Pointed out that I had omitted an important part of my humiliation cycle my junior year during spring break so I will include those stories now. I don't recall exactly being invited to ride with the older set of drafting class cronies to Moab for spring break but somehow I was included. I think I may have sort have invited myself because it sounded fun. Either way I was all set to go for a couple of days of riding the slick rock trails of Moab and hanging out with some pretty cool guy who may or may not have been entirely on board with my inclusion. The trip was planned in a rather convoluted way because some of the kids had to stay and work and could only come later so we decided to head down first, ride a little and camp and then when the other boys could join us they would. I didn't have a working bike at the exact moment that we were going to leave but a friend of mine who was coming later in the week said I would take mine down on the first wave in the truck and he would just use it when he joined us. Sounded easy, too easy as it turned out. We arrived early enough in the day to ride the trail before we made camp and it was really awesome for about the first four hundred feet when my borrowed bike went ahead and pooped the med mechanically. One of the cable sheaths that kept tension on the back derailleur split wide open and shifted me into the hardest gear. I went from a pretty reasonable 21 speeds to a way too hard three speed. Also I was a little worried about how mad the bike's owner was going to be because I had technically been on his bike when it broke. Anyone would agree that there is nothing a gear shifting person could do to blow that part up but none the less it was still blown up and in bike heaven with all the other pretty bike part angels. The rest of the trail was grueling because I couldn't down shift on climbs. There are also sand-traps all along the trail that I didn't know about and I bashed off into a couple so as to not become overly elated about my torturous ride. I was way behind the group by the time I finished and I remember one of the kids being pretty cranky about that. We loaded up and went and made camp out by the river and cooked dinner when it was time for bed I went into someones smallish tent and slept fitfully through the night. I woke up really early and tried some fishing which didn't work and then we waited for the other guys to arrive. The didn't. In these dark ages before cell phones we were racking our brains about how to get in touch with them. Someone, not I, decided to call one of the other boys family, collect, from a payphone and tell them where we were in the hopes they would think to call in and get the information. After a couple of calls like that they got dialed in and we met them at our camp. The kid whose bike I borrowed was really pissed that his bike was broken. He sassed me and insulted my riding and asked what the hell I had done to break it like that. Nothing was the answer and I was being unjustly targeted for punishment but I felt so bad I didn't protest. A couple of guys went with him into town and tried to find a replacement but if I remember right they didn't at any of the local bike shops. He was then subjected to the same power biking nightmare that I had to go through the day before. I spent the day hanging out with some rock climbers I had met and climbed a few of the dirtiest routes known to man. I had a great time that day and by night fall when we met back at camp maybe all was forgiven or at least there was no more open hostility and camping with funny guys after a good day outside is about as good as it gets.