March 17, 2007

Another shooting spree on memory lane

There was always that kid in the neighborhood that just pissed you off. In ours he was the red-headed kid next door. His name was Ritchie. he was smug, and arrogant, and always had to be better at everything. He got it natural - his dad was even worse. You know the type; they had to have the first color TV, the nicest cars, new bats and ball gloves.

As we were about the same age, and he lived right next door, we played together a lot. We built Matchbox and Hot Wheels roads in the gravel driveway driveway. We played army. We rode our bikes around the neighborhood. We had a lot of fun. I would say that nearly every day we had a major argument about something as well, the kid was just an asshole.

When we got older, Otter shot him with the BB gun from about three inches, and once sold him a nickle bag of parsley. We laughed our asses of when Ritchie thought he was "stoned". The sort of kid you just loved to hate.

There were lots of kids in our subdivision, most of about the same age. As an example, if you counted down both sides of the street, there were probably around 30 kids on my block. All were within 5 years age of me (plus or minus).

The neighborhood featured small front yards and huge backyards by today's standards. Our yard was very large and the yards on either side were fence free too, so we had a perfect football field. In fact, it was probably close to regular width and about 150 yards long if we wished. Often the goal line was past a certain tree on one end and the property line on the east. We could get a decent game of football going, with anywhere from 8-11 on a team. The games were often violent affairs, full contact and it was not unusual for the game to break up in arguments and fist fights. More often the game simply became not football but "maulball", also known as "smear the queer", or whatever you might have called it. Basically the intent was to tackle whomever had the ball.

One of these football games sprang up on a warm fall day. Some of the kids had helmets, some shoulder pads, some none at all. The game was in the early stages, when new kids just jumped on a team in alternating order, to keep things even. We heard a shout from Ritchie's house -- "Can I Play". We told him sure. Out he came in a full and complete football uniform. Pants, shoulder pads, helmet, jersey -- the works. It was all a pure snowy white. He looked like a real football player.

He played for a while, the game was rough and Ritchie was lording above the rest of us about his football uniform. I am not sure how it started, maybe he was whining about the grass satins he was getting on his football pants. Maybe it was just spite. I do not remember who started it, I am sure it was one of us "Hoosierboys" (ie.; Otter or me), but some one took a rotten tomato from the garden located in the eastern end zone and threw it square on that beautiful white helmet. The rotten tomato exploded in a red mass of seeds, pulp and skin. Ritchie puffed in an indignant, chest swelling swagger. He made a move to the garden like he was going to kick some ass. So like brothers often do, we both threw another tomato. Splat on the jersey, splat on the helmet. Everyone though this was funny as hell, so when he started to run towards home, they formed a chain to keep him in place. Soon rotten tomatoes and green peppers were pelting the little asshole as he lie on the ground crying and sobbing. Everyone joined in the fun. Finally we ran out of old produce, or maybe we felt sorry for him and he ran home crying and telling us he was going to tell his dad.

I do not remember the aftermath. I think we passed it off as were having a tomato fight and everyone had participated. That was kind of true -- just the sides were slightly uneven. I do not remember being punished and I am not sure if Richie's dad came over to complain or not. If he did, my Dad probably told him to fuck off, he often did, even though they worked at the same place.

I do remember that we never saw that white football uniform again.

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