Beanpolio was my neighbor to one side of my house and on the other side lived a younger kid named Rogi. Rogi’s big regret in life is that he is white and he played too many video games but he was a cool kid. Besides, if you got paid pennies per hour to play Super Techmo Bowl then my friends and I would still have been millionaires several times over.
Anyhow, we started serious work on our fort-of-doors before the school year ended and we enlisted our group of young protégés to assist us and share in the benefits of fort ownership. They were my younger brother Joel, Rogi, Geppetto’s younger brother Lil Lindbergh (who would later run off a gang of my classmates who were bent on putting his head in the toilet by cracking Eddie Munster in the nose with his mathbook and spilling his blood. Awesome!) and Sven (when his parents permitted him to leave the house). Beanpolio liked their help but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t light a pack of Black Cats or Lady Fingers and toss the firecrackers onto the younger kids as they slaved away for us.
Aside from the company, the best thing about these new friends was that Minnow and Beanpolio both had their driver’s licenses and they both seemed to drive to school a lot. Cars cover the 40 miles much faster than a school bus and you get to act stupid, like saying you hold a special record because you stuck your head out of the window and ate a muffin while driving 70 miles per hour. Sometimes Minnow would drive his family’s truck to school. It was a big truck that could crack a deer’s spine without flinching and the passenger-side door would randomly fly open even when you were driving. But the day that Minnow passed a big semi-truck on some windy mountain switchbacks and the wheels started to slip on the wet asphalt, that was the day that Beanpolio became emotionally scarred and I think that was the moment he started to insist on driving everywhere himself (insisting on gas money from us before we could offer and even when we knew his mother gave him gas money to cover the trips).
School was still hell but friends gave the day an uplifting “bird in the window of your prison cell” kind of feeling. We all liked to goof around and each of us was told to either “grow up” or “act our age” by the hour, rather than the day. But every 15 and 16 year old is stupid and it’s only made worse when you make a conscious effort NOT TO BE stupid and then fail. It’s bad for the self-esteem. It’s best just to have fun with it.
In the days before we realized how to get free sodas from the Coke machine, we would do stupid stuff like perform very amateur “a cappella” singing and pass a hat around for donations. Usually, we just got a hat full of “Shut up!” from the student body. I believe we had been told shut up by just about everyone one afternoon and were just riding out the final minutes before lunch ended. I told my friends, “Check this out.” And then I yelled, “HEY YOU, IN THE WRANGLERS!” At which point, nearly everyone present in the commons area (99% of them wearing Wrangler Jeans) turned to look at me. My friends and I found this to be hilarious. I mean, HILARIOUS.
And while we were laughing some girls approached us and got on our case. It got to the point where they were LOUDLY saying, “You don’t like us and we don’t like you either! This is our school and if you don’t like it you can leave!” And all the other clowns cheered and backed them up. We mumbled to ourselves for a moment. Maybe we should leave. Either Minnow or Beanpolio knew that Lucy was driving home early that day to go to a dentist appointment and they scrambled off to see if she could possibly give us a ride if we were to take the rest of the day off from school. It turns out that she could, so we made a big scene, “Fine. We are happy to leave. If we ever see this school again it will be too soon!” Something to that affect. And we left.
But Beanpolio chickened out at the last second. He said he wouldn’t come with us because he didn’t want to get into trouble. I’m sure we called him a wuss before Minnow, Geppetto and I hit the highway to start the walk home.
We were just about to the Chevron station where the highway began when we saw a kid called The-bear-of-little-brain. Geppetto said, “Hey Bear-of-little-brain! My sister Rose Red says that you’ve been hitting her on the bus again. You’d better stop before I have to kill you.”
The Bear said, “Huh?” And Geppetto repeated his statement. The Bear said, “ Yeah. Okay, Geppetto.” And then he moved past us toward the school. Then he looked back over his shoulder and said, “Hey, Geppetto. Fuck you.”
I’ve never been able to stand empty threats or promises, so I spun around on my heel and made like a field goal kicker attempting a 50 yarder and brought my foot up square under the seat of The Bear’s pants. My foot struck right at his tailbone and I wouldn’t be surprised if his feet lifted off the ground for a moment. The Bear-of-little-brain scowled at me and mumbled, “That hurt.” And then he hobbled back to class. I yelled after him, “Leave her alone.”
When we first got to the highway we were worried about being seen so we crouched down and moved through the sagebrush for a few miles instead. Soon, we decided that was annoying and we just started walking along the road. But not a few minutes later, a member of our local Bishopric was driving by and spotted the county’s Most-Outstanding-Male and Geppetto who he knew from Sunday services.
He just stopped and asked us how things were going and then he left. He wasn’t curious at all as to why we were on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere during school hours. So we kept on walking.
On Utah’s X96 Radio From Hell show, I’ve heard Kerry talk about “street porn.” He basically says that when you see a magazine sitting on the side of the road, the odds are excellent that it is a pornographic magazine and throughout his life he has referred to this stuff as “street porn.” While we were walking along the highway out of Manila we found such stuff. It was a magazine called “Black Booty.” You might be surprised to learn that the magazine did not feature black people nor their respective booties. This was a magazine full of melon-breasted women of all races who had boy pieces down below that resembled uncooked foot-long bratwursts. Those brats were huge but couldn’t stand on their own.
The magazine left us baffled. I can’t say that it makes you feel inadequate as a man to see a woman slinging around a floppy piece of breakfast meat. It still leaves me baffled to this day. I wonder about the person who produces those magazines. I imagine something like this:
“Dude, what are you going to do with all that money you inherited?”
“I don’t know. What do you think I should do with it?”
“I don’t know. What are you passionate about in life?”
“Well. If I had to choose ONE thing… ONE THING that’s never left the back of my mind that I’ve always meant to come back to later in life… it would have to be chicks with wangs.”
“Oooh. That’s good.”
“Yeah. The problem is, it’s tough to find girls like that.”
“Well then that’s what you need to do. Find those girls and bring them to the masses.”
“Yes, you’re right. I’ll find them and put them in a magazine. But what can I call it? I can’t just call the magazine Chicks with Wangs.”
“That’s no good. How about Black, because black is mysterious and intriguing. And then Booty, because people like booty. Black Booty.”
“Man, you’re a genius. How would you like to be Vice President of my magazine?”
And who is the target audience for this magazine? I imagine the target reader probably has a bumper sticker on their car that says something like, “Pre-op tranny and loving it!”
There are many things you can’t learn in school.
After we discovered the distracting magazine we only went another mile or so. We sat down on a pile of shale rock and waited for Lucifer to pick us up in her car. We also found that there were thousands of seashell fossils embedded in those rocks where we waited.
It wasn’t too much longer before Lucy picked us up. We started up the switchbacks before the most famous view of Flaming Gorge known to tourists and we only got a couple of miles before a county Sheriff’s truck was flashing its lights behind us.
Lucy summoned up the tears before the cop even made it to her window. Without provocation she started to plead, “Please! I didn’t do anything.”
The cop strolled up and said, “Relax. I’m not here for you. I’m here for the guys in the back of your car. Let’s go guys.”
We reluctantly got out and took our seats in the police truck. Let this be a lesson to all criminals who think they are clever like Butch Cassidy. It is not a good idea to hide out in the Flaming Gorge area. There are tons of cops with absolutely nothing better to do than hunt down truant students. They do drug busts and counterfeit money busts and things of that nature all the time. Flaming Gorge is not a good place to lay low when you are on the run.
But I am never one to waste an opportunity, so I started talking to the cop. I asked him how fast he let people drive over the speed limit before he pulled them over and I asked him about the crazy guns he gets to shoot as a cop. He liked talking about that. When we were almost back to Manila, I asked, “Would you be willing to let us stop at the gas station to get a drink before you take us to the school?”
He asked, “How far did you guys walk?”
I said, “To Sheepcreek.”
He said, “That’s pretty far. Okay.”
And he stopped at the gas station and let us buy some drinks. While we were buying drinks with the cop watching over us, we bumped into Beanpolio’s father. His father is a nice guy and he was excited to see us. It’s funny how no matter what situation you are in, when someone asks you how you are doing, the answer is always, “Fine.” Suddenly, we were all glad that Beanpolio hadn’t come with us, because then his father would have had more questions.
When the cop took us to the school he stayed with us in the principal’s office until we were done talking. I know that office well. There is a cricket paddle on the shelf that says, “Board of Education.” There was a hand grenade with a #1 tag attached to the pin and the plaque says, “Complaint department. Take a number.” And there was a little plaque with a spinner arrow on it and spaces that said, “Yes, no and Pass the Buck.” That one was on the principal’s desk and I’m willing to bet that he really used it.
The principal asked us, “What’s wrong. Why did you guys leave?”
We said, “We don’t seem to get along with the kids here. They told us to leave and we were happy to go.”
The principal said, “Why do you think you don’t get along?”
I said, “I guess it’s because we don’t wear Wranglers.”
The Principal said, “I don’t wear Wranglers and everyone likes me.”
I said, “They don’t LIKE you. You’re the principal. It’s different.”
Being as this was the first offense and that he had an audience (the cop), he let us off without even calling our parents. He told us to try harder to get along.
I tried and tried but I never got it right.