|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
I once nearly took my own eye out with a crossbow. How many of you motherfuckers can say that? Uh huh... show of hands... That's what I thought. My boy Nate managed to build a pretty nasty medievel weapon in 9th grade shop, and had some fun firing pencils straight through the paneling in his basement.
What the fuck he was doing firing pencils into a wall? Better yet, what the fuck was the school district doing letting 9th graders make weapons at school? I had a better idea. I'd turn the pencil around so the point wouldn't drive through the wall - it would just hit eraser first, and...
Yeah, rubber is bouncy and my aim was true. Thank god for glasses.
The crossbow incident is a metaphor. I goof around, I do something I'm not really supposed to be doing, and I end up almost fucking something up royally in the end.
Cut to 1990, July. I had just turned sixteen, was in possession of my mom's Ford Tempo (yeah, what of it?), and picked up my friends Nate and Ryan to drive around town a bit. Gorgeous day, everyone was outside and enjoying it. Nate had recently come into a couple of borrowed paintball guns, and we had spent a few nights in the summer driving around at midnight and marking doors and bay windows from our passing van. It had those sweet-ass captain's chairs that could swivel, and between locking the slider door open and twisting the chair to the right, the shooter could be strapped in and strafing the houses as we drove through subdivisions at 50 MPH.
OK, the shooter was strapped in and strafing the houses as we drove through subdivisions at 50MPH.
We had one gun, a few dozen balls, and a cartridge. We were itching to shoot, but it was mid-afternoon. People were out. We couldn't just tag and fly, could we? Maybe the better question is, "would we?"
Yeah, we would.
Ryan was infatuated with my dad's best friend's daughter Jen. She was one of those cheerleader types who had a nice enough body that no one would bother docking her the points she deserved to be hit from the neck up. Very much a pain in my ass too. Actually, she's probably the one who told all the other women I tangentially have encountered in my life to this point, "You know, if you just pretend like you can't stand to look at him from the jump, then you'll have no problem getting rid of him." I swear to god there's a manual, and my picture is pixellated in there somewhere. That's why I keep changing my haircut, facial hair, and hat-of-choice. Sooner or later, some woman is going to be looking for the green hat with the shamrock, I'll be rocking the Arlington Park logo, and she'll see that I'm actually marginally witty and not at all uncomfortable with eye contact, thankyouverymuch.
I digress. Ryan liked Jen.
Ryan liked Jen, and we decided to do a drive-by. Actually, the paintball gun started out as an afterthought in the whole drive-by thing. It was more to see if she was outside so Ryan could have something to talk about for the next three days.
She wasn't going to date him either, though she was good enough to go to his prom with him once.
Anyway, we go up through her neighborhood, and out on the street in front of her house is her 13 year-old brother Mike. He's knocking around a soccer ball, and I get a brilliant idea. "Gimme the gun," I say. I load it (single shot, needed to be cocked) and keep the gun in my lap with my right hand while steering with my left. I had the window down and Mike started clearing to the grass when he saw a car coming up. When he saw it was me, he came back out into the street.
We rolled up slow, like gangsters or something. Mike came to the car window, and as he was walking up, I pulled the gun from my lap...
And, see, what was supposed to happen, and what actually happened were two entirely different things. I lifted the gun over the side panel, pointed it at his feet, fired, and peeled away around the corner. That's what I did, but my trigger finger was jumpy. I lifted the gun over the side panel, fired, pointed it at his feet, and peeled away around the corner - leaving bits of paintball shell in this kid's retina.
He got to wear an eyepatch for awhile, just like a pirate, but that's not the point of the story.
We got Slurpees (not the point of the story either), dropped Ryan off, and headed back to my house. My dad was livid, laying into me the worst he ever has or had (as opposed to Nate's dad, who asked if he was the gunman, Nate denied it, his dad said, "Well, that's what you kids get for fucking around," touseled his hair, and bought him an ice cream). And really, it wasn't my dad I was truly frightened of. Mike's dad reminded me of Bill Parcells. A lot. An awful lot. Needless to say, I avoided the shit out of that guy until we moved.
I deserved the hell out of that ass-chewing. Totally my fault.
That was the angriest I ever saw my dad for something I did. My mom on the other hand...
Three or four years later, it's summertime again. My mom and dad leave college-kid me and college-bound Bob alone for a few days while they enjoy the 4th of July in Traverse City, Michigan. Naturally, I get five or six college buddies into town, including three or four who can actually purchase alcohol. Bob gets, oh, another three dozen of his nearest and dearest to join the fun.
The short story? We got a keg, had two nights worth of parties, and I spent all fucking day on Sunday cleaning the house back to hide the evidence. I did a damn good job too - but there was one little thing...
Our back porch had a trick screen door. Let's say, hypothetically, you lost your depth perception accuracy just a little bit and reached out to find the door just a bit closer than you thought it was. 10% more pressure than usual on the frame, and it's off the tracks. Wind blows funny? Off the tracks. Fourteen hundred instances of open/close over a weekend? Yeah, it's off the tracks. You can count many things among my talents - conscious efforts to spell words appropriately, decent one-liners off-the-cuff, a willingness to over-utilize punctuation marks (i.e. - the hyphen) - but no matter how small the home repair, you'd better call a pro. I remember playing "this should fit, shouldn't it?" with a screen from a window for about an hour once before I finally said, "fuck it" and bent the frame to make it fit. Duct tape filled the gap.
Point is, the screen door was off the rail and was laying against the house. My mom got home as I'm doing a final once-through wipedown of whatever I could find, and wasn't two steps in the house when she went off on me for "ruining" her house. This time though, I wasn't going to sit for it. I laid it all right back on her. I worked too goddamn hard putting that house back together to hear this bullshit, she was just going to pay for trying to lay into me.
We fought so hard she had to go spend a couple hundred bucks at the store to calm down. I actually have inheirited that trait, unfortunately. But I digress. This was easily the angriest my mom had gotten at me, and this time? I didn't deserve it. Not even a little bit.
Problem is, I'm a complete retard most of the time. (Side note as I'm just getting back after fixing another drink for myself - how badly do I screw up the age of your average Vermouth buyer in my town? I'm 31, do I knock that number down by two full years all by myself? Three?) I get myself into these situations where i end up on the ass end of something, and I know I deserve to get my ass kicked. I mean, I'm a smart kid and all, but I really can do some dumb-ass bullshit that really deserves a good whupping.
My bigger problem is when I don't deserve it. I'm notoriously thin-skinned, and my rabbit ears (to use the baseball vernacular version of that term) are so attuned that I immediately go into full defense mode and start to deflect what's coming at me like Wonder Woman with her bracelets when bullshit flies my way. Um, a much more rugged and masculine version of Wonder Woman. Anyway, if I were asked in a non-job interview format what my worst personality trait was, it would be that i always feel like I have to prove that I'm right when I feel that I'm right. My defense is usually offense, I don't let pitches pass me by. If you're going to try to throw the high heat past me, I'm either going to hit it out of the park or I'm going to keep fouling it off until you're rubber-armed and can't serve nothing but meatballs for me anyway.
I'm not going to lose. There's no stalemate at the end, no detente. It's the worst part of me, that's easy the easiest self-assessment I can make. You can throw the depression and self-image problems out the window when I'm backed into a corner, I end up getting fuggly about the whole thing. If I can acknowledge how wrong I am, then my tail is between my legs and I'm apologetic.
Yeah, y'all think you know where I'm going with this, but you're wrong. Here's the truth. I'm really quite bothered my integrity was called into question, but I'm even more bothered that umpteen fucking people are turning nothing into something. This isn't anything at all. There's nothing in the middle, nothing getting in the way of shit. I've got rabbit ears, and I get bugged real easy. Some people incur my wrath directly. Scroll down a few posts if I don't write enough for you to remember what I'm talking about. Some people I value enough to take the discussion offline and make it okay. It's fucking fine people. The fireworks are two towns over anyway, the only reason you think this has anything to do with me is because I'm tangentially involved.
Well, that, and I did mention I was really bugged at first. Notice the past tense? It's fine, and I don't mean "fine" at all in the sarcastic-flippant way my ex-wife enjoyed for the many weeks we celebrated our love together. What bothers me more is when the white noise surrounding this nothingness tunes itself in and demands attention. I don't give a fuck until eight or ten of my closest and dearest friends seem to start demanding that I do, all at the same time. Then it becomes requisite.
How about a deal? You let it go, I'll let it go, we'll all go back to letting it go. Deal?
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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