The wind in my face blurred my vision, making my eyes water to the point where tears flow back from the corners of my eyes and by now even my ears are a bit drippy, my legs are sticking out to the sides because this is an old school bike where you stomp a pedal back to stop and the pedals are spinning so fast that I have visions of lawnmower blades whenever I think that I need to stop. Crap! It’s a bike designed to look like a BMX, black of course, this is the 70s and this is the pinnacle of pre-teen wheels. It was cool before awesome became a catchphrase, but the sucker seemed hellbent on killing me on this and many other days. This is a steep dirt path and I’m trying like anything to keep the tires in the ruts as I fly down the hill, because if I get crosswise I’m in for a long slide and a few weeks of scabs. Actually, that might not be such a bad thing, scabs are cool points you know.
Uh-oh… I hadn’t planned this as well as I thought. Yes, planning went into this, even if in hindsight it doesn’t appear so, The creek (pronounced crick) was up and over the banks, evidently they’d let water out of a stock dam for maintenance and the creek (see above) made a thick swath of gooey mud for a good ten yards on either side of the creek (you get the picture). My front wheel hit the goo and physics, which I knew nothing of then and very little now, kicked in and the front of the bike came to an instantaneous stop. At this point I was airborne, arms and legs gyrating in some deeply ingrained instinct to run or swim through the air until I hit mud and slid.
At some point in unscheduled portion of this program the bike landed on me with a resounding crack across my tailbone, then the back of my head which forced my face almost down to the dry solid terra firma beneath the terra slippery and believe it or not the human face makes a very efficient braking apparatus.
“I think he’s dead,” said one of my friends who would never go to medical school.
“Dead people don’t make that noise,” another opined.
“What’s he saying?”
“Help?” someone guessed.
So they decided to dig me out, they compromised by dragging me across the mud and into the creek (not saying it) and watching me spit out a couple pounds of slurry and trying to find my face under the thick mask. It would probably cost me $50 in a boutique for a similar treatment now. I must have looked quite a sight riding toward home in that state, but my cool points went even higher when the bike and I were hosed off in the driveway by a friend’s Dad who held a beer in one hand the hose in another and a Lucky Strike hanging out of the corner of his mouth.
There has to be some force out there that looks out for boys with more enthusiasm than brains, but that same spirit follows through sometimes. Years later a small group of us were sitting outside a friend’s house drinking beer and listening to music entirely too loud, probably Van Halen (pre Sammy Hagar) and watching a sprinkler soak down the hill behind his house. Beer plus muddy hill is a bad combination, mix in a dozen guys just shy of voting age and it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
Before I continue, I blame our girlfriends for what is about to happen, if they hadn’t all gone to somebody’s sister’s bridal shower this silliness would never have happened.
Anyway… When we left our heroes they were looking down the long slope and the water flowing over it and not really doing much to grow grass but it did wash a whole lot of seed down into the pond at the bottom of the hill.
Stay with me, no fair trying to put the pieces together.
So we were sliding down the hill, at first we tried to do it standing and wound up sliding down on our butts, then we tried skiing down it by a 2×6 really sucks as a ski, or should that be a snow…err…mud board? Anyway, so then we did the Pete Rose thing, run and dive and slide as far as we could head first. We were going for distance and we just weren’t satisfied. So there I stood, mentally calculating, still having no firm grasp of physics, and with that much Budweiser sloshing in me 2+2 was at the ragged edge of my skills. Surprisingly even drunk I could calculate everyone’s share of the beer money though. But I digress.
So I hatched my great plan and went around the side of the house and left mud all over the trashcans and pretty white paint as I scrambled up onto the roof of the rather nifty multi-level house. I took off down the roof and launched myself, again headfirst, when in doubt I really wasn’t going to use my brain for a few years anyway, and the fates that intercede for rambunctious boys and fun-loving drunken teens didn’t fail me, my landing was a little rough and I bounced a bit and by all accounts loosed a thunderous belch and was again off like a shot. Now there is a time and a place for winging it as you go, this wasn’t one of those occasions and once again I was off like a shot, my face plowing a prodigious furrow through the mud until I wound up half in and half out of the pond. There were some really pretty stars and dancing lights in there by the way.
The first to me was a kid we called Dewey, somebody would say we needed to do something and he’d always reply “Do we?” Anyway, pointless digression.
“I think he’s dead,” somebody said.
“Dead people don’t make bubbles,” another opined.
“What’s he saying?”
“I think he’s laughing?” someone guessed. “We need to get him out!”
Our girl friends caught up with us an hour or so later. Dewey was sulking because he lost his shoes in the muddy bottom of the pond. Somebody else was suffering from our efforts at triage, he was the third to try the ‘house dive’ and gave himself a monumental bloody nose. Somebody thought he drove his nose up into his brain like a Chuck Norris movie, we came up with a way to stop the bleeding, we cut up a tampon we found in the house lengthwise a few times and shoved it up his nostrils. Then after our girlfriends were done singing 12 choruses of “You’re a bunch of IDIOTS!” at us at high volume the parents of the house came home. His dad, a deputy sheriff, came out back and too in the beer, the mud, the shredded ground, the mud on the house, in other words the glorious mess that was us and…
You know, I always heard the term “gave him the apoplexy” when I was growing up, apparently it’s just past a conniption fit, but until that day I’d never seen one. He calmed down a few days later after we’d laid sod down the hill and repainted the wall he’d painted only a few weeks before, at least enough to take the shoot on sight notice off of us.
But you have to wonder, how on earth do kids make it to adulthood?
Seriously, if I tried any of that silliness now I’d be explaining all of this to an overworked and humorless ER doctor, but back then it was get the mud out of the eyes and press on with the fun. Maybe its because I’m now old enough to know better so those laws of physics suddenly apply?
© 2009, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.