Friday, March 30, 2012

A Young Martyr

There I stood, waiting to be told what to do. It was chilly there in the woods and all I'd had to eat was a cold meatloaf sandwich made from my failed attempt at dinner per moms instructions from the night before. It was disgusting, fresh from the oven sitting like a hot brick in the middle of the table, a disappointed family surrounding me, grateful for mom's homemade bread.

It's not that I didn't know what to do, I just didn't want to move. Only a week earlier my cousin Wade had flipped me out of a trailer onto the gravel and the gaping abrasion on my leg was still fresh and very tender.
Pus from the gaping wound stuck to my pants inhibiting any useful movement. Dad's anger would have to serve as my motivation. With any luck he would decide that one cord of wood was enough for the day or the chainsaw would break or the sun would depart or the weather turn bad and we could lock the sideboards in place and head for home in the old yellow Chevy listening to eight tracks and smelling of wood and sweat and chainsaw gasoline. I'd hoped that stalling would make it all better.

It was warm at home. We pulled in after dark and unloaded the wood. In my bedroom I pulled my pants off, breaking the adhesion from my wound. It bled and stung badly. Lying in bed was a relief but in the morning I would have to peel the sheets from my lacerated leg. However, I would not have to get wood after school that day. The job was done.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Son of a ..."

So when I was just a lad of 12 or 13, I like many others my age, was not only pupating, but trying to prove my man hood through a series of various "real world" experiences.

I had the honor of working for a poor sheep farmer down the road who smoked on the sly and wore his hat just leaning to one side high on his head. He assigned me various tasks all Summer long not the least of which included castrations, disassembling broken sheds, feeding, hauling dead sheep and of course stacking hay. The hay elevator consisted of a single conveyor with large teeth meant to stick in the individual bales of hay and carry them to the top of the hay stack. One would typically stand at the bottom loading bales while another would stand on top and receive the bales and stack them in such a way as to tie the stack together under the cover of an open sided hay shed.

As the work required two, I was authorized to bring a friend on and Gary Willard was the most available. I believe he wore biker shorts to school on occasion after the manner of Axl Rose, a contemporary inspiration to us pubescent boys. But on this day he wore jeans and leather gloves.

It was required that we lift one side of the heavy elevator and lean it against the upper most bales of the existing stack. I relished the opportunity. With Gary as my audience, I chose to do it alone and planned my expletive accordingly. I grunted as I lifted the conveyor cautiously above my head leaning it first against the hay wall then with a final effort pushed the steel elevator to the top. I walked away with a dramatic fling of my arms and overtly exclaimed "Son of a ....." while looking down so as to seem sincere. Gary Willard said nothing but I felt I had made an indelible impression on my counterpart that day. I was now a swearer, a usurper of manly words, a force to be reckoned with!The delivery and timing were perfect.

When we went back to school in the Fall, I was still a nerd.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fields of Poo

Why is it that the bad things always seem to happen to those already socially challenged?

I don't know if my "nerd" phase was a phase or my time spent in the limelight of popularity was a phase, but the day I discovered the hard way where Dwight Spaulding spread his manure, I was in my nerdy phase.

We were camping behind the Spauldings with our Boy Scout leaders, chosen because it was convenient and close. The skinny gravel road led back to a smattering of old cottonwood trees scattered randomly along the bank of a slough. It was quiet, as all of Idaho is, and unfamiliar enough that it felt like a treat to be there. We made tinfoil dinners, charred to perfection and eaten with relish amongst dirty talk from the popular boys because the leaders were too far away to hear. While mine was cooking, I followed my desire to wander in unfamiliar territory. I began crossing the field to my destination, my eyes searchingly forward. The ground beneath me softened and before I realized the fact that I was sinking to my calves in wet manure, I was half way through the field. I ran in any direction, the anticipation and anxiety of my parents anger that my single pair of school pants were ruined raising to my skull in heated rage. The crust broke easily beneath my 13 year old awkwardly lumpy, slightly lardy body. I ran blindly toward freedom, not knowing where that would be. I emerged relieved and enraged. Upon escaping, I searched the horizon in all directions to see if any one had seen. I was safe. I ran to a quiet corner of the canal, hidden by the trees and over grown weeds. I heard rustling and approached carefully, relieved when I saw Eric Bernotski, the other nerd of the Scout troop, washing manure from his pants and shoes.

Friday, July 16, 2010

An Opportunity to Swear

As a somewhat dramatic youth I had long wanted to play John Proctor in the Arthur Miller play, The Crucible. And since my high school theater group wasn't doing it, I asked my good friend Melissa to play Abigail Williams and chose an excerpt from the play to perform at the regional drama competition. Not only was it a thrill to be playing the part of John Proctor, but my counterpart was really into it and a really good actress to boot. But the best part; I got to say the "B" word. I practiced throwing her down and played with different intonations and levels of volume in saying my angry lines, pretending that deep down I understood the depth of emotions that my character felt. I was secretly proud that Melissa had bruises on her leg from our feigned tussle. Getting lost in emotions at that age in front of people can be a thrill if not addicting.

So the stage was set for our performance at the regional competition. We put on our lame costumes, a smattering of pieced together found objects from long forgotten cardboard boxes of rejected costumes. And with my 15 year old baby face and short blondish hair I strode out confidently. We performed and got high marks, high enough to earn a spot at the state competition. I was sure my swearing caused the judges to take us more seriously.

When we arrived at the state competition, we were crestfallen to find that another young couple was performing the exact same scene. We had a chance to watch them and were encouraged by what we saw. The actor playing John Proctor didn't even say the "B" word as he calmly willed his counterpart to the ground. Instead he called her a "Beast". Ha! We had them! We poked fun at their performance as we strode away confident that my willingness to swear and her willingness to show lots of leg would shock the judges into handing us high marks. I would show that John Proctor a thing or two about handling pesky fatal attractions!

The stage was set again, and we took our places in the same lame costumes brandishing our pride. I think when one is that age, they imagine themselves to look much cooler than they are. I have since seen pictures of myself from that very trip and am sure now that what I assumed were the judges being shaken by our performance was actually embarrassment at seeing two cocky teenagers taking themselves way too seriously, the one unnaturally seductive, the other swearing deliberately and emphatically. The judges must have liked the editing, because they ousted us and sent the other couple to the finals to win 3rd place.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Special Chips

I loved chips. My growing, awkward, Junior High body craved them. But the only time I had them was at public events. So when someone brought name brand chips on one of our scout camp outs, I determined to save my lunch money and bring my own to the next camp out.

The purchase took place outside of my parents knowledge as they could easily confiscate them or at the very least lay forth a profusion of sigh's and quiet comments constructed to engender massive guilt. The chips were tucked away until we arrived at our destination. We unloaded, set up camp, prepared for the night. After our tinfoil dinners I slipped quietly away to the privacy of my tent.

That night, I lay nestled into my sleeping bag and ate as many Cool Ranch Doritos as I could possibly desire. My perma-grin couldn't be helped and I fell asleep licking my fingers without brushing my teeth.

Monday, January 11, 2010

One Day...

I believe it was Chad's idea and by golly if he didn't have the guts to carry it out.

We felt very grown up because we were hitch hiking from the bottom of the Jackson/Teton Pass with our snowboards after descending the two to three miles of diverse terrain. No one stopped. So Chad and I got creative. I laid down on the road and Chad pretended to be giving me CPR. Trevor just acted kind of panicky. I think he really was.

The first passing car came screeching to a halt, doors flailing open, and three panicked hippies sprang from the jeep. Chad stood up. I didn't know what to do. I hadn't planned that far. So I laid there with questioning eyes staring at the sky. Chad approached them and in a calm voice said, "we're ok, we just wanted a ride." I raised my head in time to see them stomping quickly back to the car screaming obscenities and gesticulating with their hands and driving away. Trevor stood there.

We resumed our hike up the pass. Two minutes later, the Jeep came tearing down the pass and made a u-turn. We approached the car smiling and grateful and got close enough to see the foam on the man's mouth sitting in back. They proceeded to vehemently chastise us with more colorful obscenities, and tore away again up the road. Trevor stood there.

I think he just hung out with us so he could watch.

Thursday, December 17, 2009 for children.

We must've not had any talent at Price Elementary because the children performers were from the ritzy part of town and sang and stuff.

At the school Christmas Pageant, when I was in 3rd grade, some rich looking blond kid with perfect posture and probably got all the presents he asked for, stood on stage with what looked like his mom and sang "Christmas is for Children", duet style.

I didn't like it.

I thought Christmas was for everybody.