Tuesday, April 10, 2007

a chip off the old mud ball?

My brother emailed me yesterday in reaction to my previous post about the Jackal's Easter adventure and pulled a gem from the archives of our childhood:

You're doing fine with your boy, and his rash won't be the last thing that brings you that lump in your throat. Remember how we all barely made it through childhood, and Jack is clearly at least slightly smarter that we were.

After the blog about Jack's b-day party, I'm glad the next one wasn't the same story of hitting on your friends' wives and drinking at 10 a.m. with "Easter" substituted for "birthday" and ending with having to explain to your son why it's better to throw eggs at buses because they can't stop and turn around.

I can always count on him to remind me of some of the ridiculous shit we pulled as kids. That last piece refers to how we killed time one summer (okay, three, maybe four) throwing various blunt objects at commuter buses. Why, you might ask, would you do that? The obvious answer, which he provides, is that they couldn't really do shit about it while automobiles and their passengers could easily give chase. Oh, you meant why would you engage in that kind of activity? Boredom, need for adventure, idle hands -- the basic reason most juveniles would offer in any vacuum.

Eventually we gathered the balls to target cars. I still remember the first time. Three of us were crouched behind a bush at the corner of 39th Street and Flora Avenue. My best friend Bryon, a hearing-impaired mulatto who ironically loathed African-Americans, had the best aim and arm. My role was to shape the mud balls and hand them off to him. Wamser played the part of fretting and trying to talk us out of the whole mission. The cover of darkness gave us the perfect vantage point on the busy 39th Street. Packing a rock into the center of that first mud ball was no mistake, though later I would insist it was an accident. A beat-up station wagon approached, and Bryon nodded to me, loaded mud ball in hand. Wamser shook his head and asked, "What if we break a window?" Literally seconds after I assured him, "Don't worry, we never break a window," the glass splashed from the passenger window all over the street. Catching our breath between cackles, we sprinted to Wamser's house half a block away, ignored his mother's questions on our way in the front door, and stashed ourselves in his basement where we panted and looked at each other and giggled.

Looking back on that and poring over the mental list of other objectionable things I did growing up, the obvious question comes to mind: how will I react when the Jackal is escorted home for vandalism? Okay, I know that I will deny that I ever broke any rules and punish him. I guess a better question is: how will I keep a straight face as I sentence him?

I know that sounds sort of despicable since a respectable adult should find nothing funny about the trouble his kid gets into. Maybe I am despicable. Or maybe I just can't help but laugh at human nature, which sensibly makes little sense and is therefore mostly comedy. Looking back, can I honestly say I would not have packed a rock into the core of that mud ball? No way. That was a piece of childhood that shaped me, so if you take that away, maybe I don't take risks and I walk the line more than not. Boring.

To close, I should offer some follow-up on the last post. I'm glad to report that Jack's rash appears to retreating. He'll be back in the game soon and maybe one day hiding in a bush, waiting for a bus.

No comments: