Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Stupid boy stuff my friends and I used to do when we were much younger

I'm not saying girls don't do anything of this, but I am saying that most of the girls I knew when I was, say, 12 years old were far too smart to spend their time engaged in the types of idiotic activities that occupied the boys with whom I hung out. To wit:

Play inside empty train cabooses
It's not like this was really dangerous or anything, but it most definitely was illegal. And somehow we never got caught/arrested. The train crews always seemed to leave the cabooses unlocked, so we would go in there and just hang out. And we also stole some flares, which itself I guess was also illegal. This is not something I have to worry about my own sons doing because trains don't even have cabooses anymore.

Throw firecrackers into dry leaves
Actually, I'm the only one in my circle of friends I ever remember doing this. I was playing with a pack of Jumping Jacks I'd, um, borrowed from my dad. I was with my nephew Mark, who had to have been only 6 or 7 years old at the time. We were by the old Mapledale Elementary School, and ringing the building was a two-foot-high pile of dry leaves. My genius idea was to light a Jumping Jack and throw it into these leaves, so that's what I did. The leaves, of course, immediately caught fire, and the flames started spreading rapidly around the perimeter of the building. Mark and I of course ran away as fast as we could. Someone who was there told the cops I had done it, and by the time I got home, there was a Wickliffe police cruiser waiting in the driveway for me. My mother was, to put it mildly, not happy.

Take small rafts out onto Lake Erie
Geez, seriously, I'm not even sure what we were thinking here. We had this little one-man (actually, it was more like a half-man) raft that we used to paddle out several hundred yards into Lake Erie. That's Lake Erie, a shallow Great Lake with a reputation for nasty undercurrents. And I was never a very good swimmer. I should have died at least a half-dozen times doing this. Don't try telling me there's no God.

Ding-Dong Ditch
This is an activity with which you're probably familiar. You knock on a door or ring a doorbell and run away before the occupant of the house can come to the door. And...that's pretty much it. Except we didn't call it Ding-Dong Ditch, as it's known in some parts of the country. We called it something extremely racially offensive that I won't even type here. The point is, we did this and it was stupid. And looking back, I want to smack my younger self for it.

Riding our bikes over homemade ramps
A lot of guys did this and most turned out just fine. I tried it once. Only once. Because when I did it, I took the ramp at full speed and was launched over the handlebars of my bike, landing hard on the concrete sidewalk and knocking the wind out of myself for the first and only time in my life. Couldn't breathe for a solid 10-15 seconds. It was scary. I left my bike there and staggered across the street to my house, where I collapsed onto the living room couch and proceeded to bleed profusely for the next half hour while my mom bandaged me up.

Climb onto the roof of the school
This was mostly harmless, I suppose, if you ignore the risk of falling off and fracturing our skulls. But it also led to the other time the police showed up at my house. A friend and I were on top of Mapledale not really doing anything. Just, again, hanging out. But a group of girls saw us and told someone, and that someone felt the need to call the cops. And...well, once again, my mother took a dim view of the proceedings.

Throw rocks at each other
Again, why? We used to whip rocks at each other all the time. In any given summer day, you could expect to have at least 1-2 rocks thrown at your head. And that was considered normal. One time we were down at the same (private/no trespassing) beach from which we used to take those rafts out onto the lake and we were, of course, flinging rocks at each other. My friend Matt jumped into the air to avoid one of my volleys, and all that did was make it so the rock hit him in the shin instead of the stomach. It opened up a big cut. Matt bled everywhere. We took him to a nearby drug store and were given a few band-aids to cover up the wound. I think he ended up needing stitches. And I'm not lying when I say it was one of the proudest moments of my life. What a great throw that was.

Go into the woods and light fires and swing hatchets
Yeah, back to the fire again. We were little pyromaniacs. But when we went into Douglas Woods, a several-acre patch of trees and dirt trails near our houses, we also added sharp landscaping implements to the mix. Which we did occasionally throw at each other, but not nearly as often as the rocks. Seriously, they should have just euthanized the lot of us.

Play "Tetanus"
OK, last one. My friend Todd and I would play a game in his basement that we dubbed "Tetanus." He would throw darts at my feet and I would try to get out of the way of them. That was it. That was the whole game. And I escaped almost every time. A few darts hit me, but only one ever actually went through my sock and drew blood. And for the record, I never came down with tetanus. I win.


  1. Being that I am only raising males, you just took my already anxiety ridden mind to the next level of worried sick! And you prove my theory that the brighter or "smarter" the child, the less common sense. And I have some pretty bright boys, shoot!

  2. Karla, I can only say...good luck.