Saturday, 24 March 2012

"THIS IS THE DEVIL!!!!!"

I was your average kid growing up, really. I just had a talent for finding creative ways to entertain myself. Snakes, firecrackers, army men….you know the usual interests and toys for a kid. One day a package came in the mail and it was addressed to me and my brother. It came from an uncle I think, but I honestly didn’t give a shit. I just wanted to open it and see what I got. No such luck, my mother took the package and said we had to wait for my dad to come home. I was not happy, but knew better than to give my mother any shit. If I pissed her off she’d take the gift and give it someone else. And the package was way to heavy to be clothes or some other lame-ass gift.

My mom used to love to torture me, I’m sure of it. In fact, she’s probably the one responsible for my more colorful personality traits. My dad was way to stoic to be blamed. My dad came home and me and my brother were on him like rabid raccoons. Were we happy to see him? Hell no, we wanted to open the damn package! But no, my mom said we had to wait until after dinner. Bitch! I think she laughed a little as my jaw dropped.

Finally, dinner ends…table is cleared….and all that other unimportant crap surrounding a family dinner is done. It’s time. My mom tries to hand the package to me and my brother, but he’s no match for me. I shoulder check him and grab the package. I start to tear into it and as I open the box I almost drop it in amazement. Walkie-talkies!!!!! Not the shit plastic ones from the toy store, these were the real deal. Wow!!! Now of course, here comes the buzz kill that all kids get from their parents when the get something really cool.

“Now these aren’t toys, and you’re not allowed to use them unless your father is with you.”

Awwwwww crap! As much as I wanted to ignore this rule, the walkie-talkies were way to cool to risk losing. So for about a month my brother and I followed the rules. Then one day, much to my surprise my father came into our room and handed us the walkie-talkie box. “You guys know what the rules are with these. As long as you follow them, I don’t need to supervise you.” YES!!!!!!!! FREEDOM!!!!!

My brother and I had a blast playing with the walkie-talkies for about another month. But just like all toys, they started to get boring. Or at least the traditional methods in which one would use them did. It was about that time when the little red dude with the horns on my shoulder gave me a great idea for how to use the walkie-talkies. After considering the brilliant idea bestowed upon me by the little red bastard I realised I would probably need a fall-guy, so I decided to bring my brother in on the activity. After a quick briefing he's on board and as excited about it as I am. We wait until just before dinner that night. My parents and sister are in the kitchen already. My brother and I are in our room when we are called for dinner. “Ok, we’re gonna wash our hands.” Yeah…right. We break out the walkie-talkies. We stash one under my brothers pillow. The other we turn on, volume all the way up, and place at the bottom of the clothes hamper in our sister’s room. After a quick rinse of the hands in the bathroom, we get to the kitchen without raising suspicion. YES!!!

Flash forward to bed time. My brother and I are doing all we can to hide the excitement we are feeling. Our evil plan is about to go into motion. We jump into our beds and fight to keep from laughing as we hear our mom and dad tuck in or sister and wish her a good night.

Now it’s important to explain at this time that my mother is a hardcore Irish-Catholic. We were raised with a healthy understanding, and fear of the devil. I think this is probably why most Catholic kids are afraid of the dark. Even my sister, in her early childhood, understood and feared the Devil.

Ok, so me and my brother manage to keep straight faces as our parents stop in our doorway to say good night. They walk down the hall to their bedroom and we hear their door close. “Wait!” I say to my brother. The dumb-ass already has the walkie-talkie out. “Give them a couple minutes to fall asleep.” After what seemed like forever, the house is silent. “Ok.” I say and my brother turns on the walkie-talkie and hands it to me. “You ready?” I ask. “Yeah!” he says.

I push the button on the walkie-talkie and in the lowest and most evil whisper I can muster up I say, “This is the devil.” I said it slow, listening to that last word hissing  from the bottom of my sister’s hamper. And almost simultaneously came the most terrified, high-pitched wail of a scream from my sisters room. Followed by her panicked cry for mom and dad.

My brother and I can’t contain our laughter. So proud of our accomplishment we forget that the equal and opposite reaction is about to come down on us from our dad.

In what seemed to be only seconds my parents door flew open. My dad completely bypassed my sister’s room and was in our doorway. “GIVE ME THE GOD-DAMN WALKIE-TALKIES!!!” Knowing this was not the time to screw with him, I handed it over thinking "So much for the fall-guy plan. “WHERE IS THE OTHER ONE?!?!?!” I jumped out of bed and ran into my sister's room. Straight past her, scaring her into hysterics again, and over to her hamper, I extract the other device and hand it to my dad. At this point I was expecting the beatings to begin, but much to my surprise they didn’t. In a loud enough voice for my brother to hear in our room he said, “You have lost your walkie-talkie privileges.” With that he went back to his room and slammed the door behind him. I think even my sister was shocked, because she had stopped crying and was sitting in her bed with a confused look on her face and her mouth hanging open. I didn’t waste any time contemplating what just happened. I ran out of my sister’s room before she could start crying again and jumped into my bed, hoping my dad wouldn’t realise he forgot to beat me.

We never saw the walkie-talkies again.

Later in life the event came up in conversation and when it did, much to my surprise my dad was laughing as much as me and my brother. Maybe we didn’t get beaten that night because the little kid inside of him was jumping up and down, laughing and being proud of us. Hmmmm, maybe my dad did have something to do with my personality.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Doll Head (Chapter 4)

I don't know about anyone else, but in my family there was a social order. My father, the punisher, was at the top. Next was my mom, the saint. I was next, and then at the bottom was my brother, the victim. Things were great, that is until my kid sister came along and threw chaos into the system. She was six years younger than me and I remember thinking to myself, "What do I do with a kid sister?" My brother and I were like two dogs that grew up with each other and now had a puppy thrown into the mix. WTF? Is it a new toy to play with? Hmmmmmm.

For the first two and a half years my sisters was nothing more than a crying, pestering annoyance that served no purpose for us. But when she was about three that began to change.

My mom used to drag us around everywhere. She must have wanted to go insane, because we were rarely well behaved. One of her most commonly used frazes at the time was, "Damn it to hell, you're driving me to my whit's end!"

I remember one day she had us out with her running errands. She stopped at the bank and decided the best thing to do was leave us in the car. She had obviously given this some thought because she had gone as far as to separate my sister from my brother and me by putting her in the front seat. As she exited the car I remember her saying, "I'll be right back so just stay put." Yeah, right.

Seconds became hours, minutes felt like days, and my brother and I began to look for ways to pass the time. That's when I heard my sister. She was happily chatting away in the front seat with her favorite doll. Hmmmmm. Without much thought I peaked over the front seat, and just as quickly lunged over her and ripped the doll out of her hands. She freaked!!! Screaming, and crying hysterically. My brother and I were laughing. We threw the doll back into her lap and she calmed down. Hmmmmm. Curious to see what would happen, we repeated the process. Same results! Now this was becoming fun!

My sister, even at three, was not stupid. By the third time she had a death grip on the doll and it took quite a bit of effort for my brother to aquire it, by it's head, from her arms. It was at this time we realised we could crush in the face of the rubber headed doll, making it look absolutely hideous. After determining the head would eventually pop back, thus eliminating the chance of getting in trouble for breaking it, we smashed it in again and returned it to my sister. This was the first time I ever witnessed a conniption fit and it was AMAZING!!!! My three year old sister was now at a level of pissed and hysterical that I cannot describe with words.

The game went horribly wrong at this point. I reached for the doll again. As I grabbed its head and pulled I felt a pop. Off came the dolls head completely. At seeing this my sister hit a level of hysterics that my brother and I knew we couldn't control. Oh shit!!!! My brother pried the doll's body from my sisters arms and we feverishly began working to reattach its head to its body. My sister was so pissed she was going hoarse and gasping for air between her howls of rage. Finally we got it fixed......or so we thought. We handed it back to our sister again and began the process of calming her down. It wasn't easy and we were terrified at the thought of our mom returning before we could get her to shut up. After a few minutes, that felt like an eternity, she quieted.

But....... there's always a "but". In what seemed like a cosmicly connected moment my mom emerged from the bank and at the exact same time the head popped off the doll and fell into our sisters lap. (I guess we didn't get the damn thing put all the way back on.) My sister lost her mind!!!!!!! My mother immediately looked at us. I remember thinking to myself.... "Yup, we're dead." All I remember is my mother getting to the car and heading straight for me. Not sure if I blacked out in fear or from the beating, but I don't remember the rest of that day.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Boobie-traps (Chapter 3)

Erin was a buddy from the neighborhood. He (yes I said "He", and yes I spelled his name correctly.) was a unique character. Small for his age, with a lazy eye that was usually covered by a patch. And he was the only kid my age I knew with a voice that sounded like he was a two-pack-a-day smoker. Erin was a nice kid, often the brunt of a lot of crap but I never picked on him. That is until now.

I know kids today are largely sedentary but for me and my friends, we were outside in the dirt every chance we got. With "The Hill" in my backyard one of our activities was digging an underground tunnel. Although our success didn't take us very far, it did take us about 4.5' down which was deep enough for us to have to climb out. Sadly, our efforts came to a halt when my parents announced we were moving, the house was being sold and we had to fill in the tunnel.

So one day my brother and I were up on "The Hill" with shovels in hand, about to bury our life's work. It just didn't seem right. I was thinking....the tunnel's purpose was not yet fulfilled.

And then it was shown unto me in a prophetic vision!!!!!
The tunnel must become a trap, a boobie-trap! I explained my vision to my brother and he agreed, of course. We covered the hole with branches and leaves, then covered that with dirt. After smoothing it all out and throwing some random crap over that you could hardly see it. Perfect! Now we just need to find the right victim. And just as the first vision came to me, so did the next!

Erin didn't really ever come up on "The Hill". He said it was too steep of a hike to the top. So Erin didn't know about our underground. Sucked to be him. My brother and I convinced Erin that he had to come up this one time to see a fort we built (um, no it didn't exist) before we moved. Reluctantly he agreed. Erin began complaining about the walk within three steps of its beginning. By the time we were half way up I no longer had any regret or second thoughts about what I was leading my friend into.

As we reached the top of "The Hill" he had to stop and rest. Perfect. Once he caught his breath my brother and I started running to the other side of the hill, yelling at Erin to hurry and check out our fort. Knowing where our evil boobie-trap was my brother and I cleared it in one stride. Erin was walking, whining, walking, whining.....jesus! I stopped and turned around to see where he was just as his right foot was stepping into the middle of the trap. The sound of snapping branches, crumbling debris and a scream of terror is beyond description. But it was AWESOME!!! YESSSSSSSSS!!!!! It worked. My brother and I were jumping up and down, shouting and celebrating for about five minutes before we heard the cries for help from Erin. Oops.

As I said before, Erin was short. I guess shorter than I had thought. We figured once he got his wits about him and realise what happened, he'd just climb out and start beating us. That didn't happen. Erin wasn't tall enough to reach up and catch the edge of the hole to pull himself up. And to make his situation worse, all the stuff we used to make the trap collapsed in around him so that he couldn't move his legs and feet at all. He was stuck and he was freaking out! Now maybe most kids at this point would think to themselves, "Ok, fun's over. We need to get him out before he has a hear attack." But then again, I wasn't any closer to normal back then either. I whispered to my brother what we would do next.

"Erin!!!!"
"Erin!!!!"
"Hey, I don't see him do you?"
"No, I wonder if he went back down."
(Erin is screaming from the trap.)
"Probably, he didn't want to come up here anyway."
(Erin's voice is nearly hoarse and you can hear his breath.)
"I think I just heard him yell. Sounds like he's down by the house."
"I think you're right. Let's go."

We started walking away loudly further away from the trap and he knew it. Erin's screams turned panicked and you could hear him starting to sob. Did that make me stop. Hell no, what made me stop and turn around was Erin saying, "Come on guys, I gotta go to the bathroom, come on!!!" My stomach jumped up to my throat. Fear took over my mind...... My days of being blamed for bathroom incidents on "The Hill" were over. Please God, let me get him out on time! Please let me get him out on time!!!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Poo and Pine Needles (chapter 2)

The first house I grew up in was incredible! Not that it was a big house or a new house. In fact the asbestos siding on the exterior is somewhat of a collectors item if I'm not mistaken. Anyway, what made it great was the back yard. It was more like two-in-one. Right outside the back door was your run-of-the-mill grass, garden, swing set kind of yard. But because the house was built on the side of foothills, there was "The Hill", an entirely separate part of the property. For me and my kid brother, it was the wild. And because of the slope my dad couldn't do much with it and basically surrendered it to us. A wilderness beyond the watchful eye of parents. Beyond their range of hearing. Yep, can you just smell the opportunity?

So, yeah, kid brother. He was 16 months younger than me and like any kid brother an inconvenience. Wait....more like a leech on my ass back then. But on days when there wasn't anyone else to play with I tolerated him, sort of. He was five or six at the time. Now my brother was the kind of kid that never wanted to miss out on anything, and that became problematic for him on occasion when we were up on "The Hill". You see when we were up there and he had to go to the bathroom he'd hold it as long as he could and end up sprinting down to the house only managing to avoid pissing himself about half the time. I'd grown tired of his little habit, and I had no patience when it came to him drama. Little did I know all of this was going to lead to a problem for me.

We're up on "The Hill" playing when it starts:
"I have to go to the bathroom," he says.
"So, piss on a tree." My concern about encouraging good behavior is gone.
"But I have to poo," he says.
Ok, enter the little red fucker with horns that sits on my shoulder. He says, "Let's have some fun." And of course I was all in.
So I tell my brother, "Just poop behind the tree."
"But what do I wipe with?" he asks.
"Just use the pine needles," says the little red fucker using my voice.
I guess it made sense to my brother because off he sprinted to the other side of the pine tree.

Now at this point it becomes important to explain the nature of pine needles to anyone that may not be familiar with this particular evergreen. Pine needles are essentially the leaves on a pine tree. More like the pointy bristles on a bottle brush. And if you run your fingers from the point to the base of the needle you'll discover they have a very abrasive texture. Back to the story.

A couple of minutes pass silently before the initial howl can be heard from my brother. Shortly after he emerges screaming from behind the tree. His one hand covered in shit with pine needles still stuck to it. His pants are still around his ankles and he's running; not at me, but down the hill towards the house, howling the entire time. I notice, as his back is to me, there are pine needles sticking out of his uncovered ass crack too. I start to laugh, but the humor is short lived as I come to realise that my brother showing up like this in front of my mom will not bode well for me. Quickly I catch up to and stop my brother. Crap, we're close enough to the house that my mom could possibly hear him. Shit! Ok, it takes a minute to calm him down and convince him I'm going to help. (Hey, he's my six-year-old brother. He'll believe any bullshit I tell him the first time.) I hand him a stick to knock the pine needles out of his ass, and get him to pull up his pants with the hand that doesn't have his own shit on it. The entire time I'm trying to convince him that if our mom finds out about the incident it will be nothing short of unbearable embarrassment for him. In my head I'm praying he buys this or I'm due up for a whipping when my dad gets home. And that little red bastard on my shoulder is still laughing.

My brother walks into the house, pants on with no poop on his hand (wiped off in the grass). But he's still sobbing. I'm screwed. Maybe I can make it back to the hill. No such luck.

Stay tuned...... next post, "Boobie-traps"

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Adventures of Johnny Knuckles - The Beginning

From the moment we're born, we're on a set trajectory. It may seem that our environment, people in our lives or even we ourselves have the ability to alter our direction; but it's only temporary and sooner or later we end up back on course. For some, that course is noble, for some middle of the road. For some, like me, let's just call it slightly...um....skewed. I know I'm not an annomily. I'm just one of the few with big enough balls to put it in writing. So enjoy.
***

"He's such a well mannered boy." Like Dr. Jekyll's potion, that one phrase flipped a switch in my head. I don't know why, and I never really cared. All I know is that as soon as I heard it, you were guarenteed something less than favorable would happen.

In pre-school, shortly before being removed permanently from the establishment, those words were uttered and a puppet show met its unfortunate demise in front of 20 or so of my peers. I still remember saying to my mom, "But the puppet wanted to shake my hand." It felt odly empowering to realize that with one act I could bring a room full of kids to tears. Maybe this was my "ah-ha" moment, I don't know, but from then on there seemed to be an escalation.

My two years in kindergarten, yes I said two and some may argue the second should have included medication, were certainly a test for many adults in my life. Things started with my clearly illustrated declaration of self. My mother kissed me on the forehead the first day of school, and begged me to be good. Then the teacher said it, "I'm sure he'll be well mannered." Jesus! who the hell says that anyway. I mean shit, TV was in color and "Leave It To Beaver" was a fuckin' re-run that no sane kid could stomach. SWITCH ON! I walked passed the teacher, through the classroom and out into the playground. It only took about 5 seconds to set my sights on my first target. I don't remember his name but he was about my size....sitting in the sandbox building a massive sand castle. With just one swing of my foot I managed to kick about half of it into every orafice on his face.

Next, I moved over to the craft table. Remember, I had time because the kid had to get the sand out of his nose and mouth to breath before he could cry, and then it took him a couple more minutes to get the sand out of his eyes in order to see his way inside to the teacher. Now where was I....oh yeah the craft table. Why they thought it was a good idea to put hammers and nails on a table for kindagarteners to play with is beyond me, but I saw opportunity. Right next to the hammer was Jenny's doll. Guess Jenny thought a table full of nails and hammers was a good place to put her treasured posession while she played jump rope. As I drove the nail through the doll's rubber head and securly into the wood table I remeber thinking, "I wonder how she's gonna get it off the table?" Shortly after Jenny started screaming, the teacher had a death-grip on my arm. I remember spending a long time in the corner on that first day of school.

I know what you're thinking at this point..... "Holy shit this dude had serious anger issues and violent tendencies. What a screwed up kid!" But I was a lover too. I remember Nadia. Dark skinned girl with long curly brown hair. I can still see the way she smiled at me. I guess even that young, some girls are just into the bad-boys. I think she was the only kid in class that would play with me. Now our school must have had some sort of industrial sponsor. Because in addition to a never ending supply of nails, hammers and scrap building materials to play with there were several steel drums on the playground. The tops and bottoms were open and I'm sure the paint had no lead in it whatsoever. What could be a safer thing for little kids to play with. It's amazing how much speed those things could pick up, even with a flailing kid in them. And when two of them, filled with kids, collided it was AWESOME! Like a small version of a head-on car wreck where no one wore seatbelts.

So most kids wouldn't play with the steel drums any more and Nadia and I were bored and looking for something to do. So we crawled into one of the steel drums and we tipped it upright. Now as a little boy I pretty much thought only mom's kissed boys. So I am fairly certain that Nadia was the one who kissed me. Not that I complained or anything, but she started it! I think the teacher came over when almost the entire class was hanging around the steel drum spying on the two of us. Back to my own little piece of classroom realistate. I remember being pissed that Nadia didn't get in trouble. I think I stopped playing with her after that.

By the end of the first year I think my sillouette could be seen in the paint in the corner of the classroom. By the end of the second year of kindergarten, when someone was being punished they were told to go sit in "Johnny's corner".

If cell phones were around back then there would have been many days my mom would have never even gotten out of the school parking lot.

As I reflect on those early years I've asked myself more than once, "I wonder if I was the inspiration behind the 'No Child Left Behind' philosophy you hear some educators and politicians talk about." Because I'm pretty sure there was no way in hell my teacher was going to let me stay behind for another year.

Stay tuned for the next Johnny Knuckles post...... "Poo, Pine Needles and Boobie-traps"