Tuesday, September 23, 2008


My association with Negros Vol. 2

I am writing this autobiographical, so those of you wanting to read about the race riot, you will have to wait a bit...

When Curtis and I were coming up we got into a lot of trouble. Not like today’s kids we didn’t carry guns and shoot innocent people or even guilty people, we didn’t mug old ladies and torture dogs but we did cause problems in other ways. Like for instance in the winter of 1979 when we found the maintenance tunnel for our school. We were in 6th grade and like most 12 year olds always up to no good. It seemed that the winter of 79 was a heavy snow year and that was also the year that the school system decided that playing in the gym was better for the kids then going outside and playing in the cold and wet snow. I like to think of it as the slippery slope of our nations youth becoming obese. During our time in recess lockdown we were not allowed to run and play in the gym we were forced to play board games and other such crap as to occupy our time in between information regurgitation, which is all grade school really is. Naturally me being me I quickly set up a card game, most of my friends knew the basics of five card draw poker and only occasionally did we get the hands confused, generally does a flush beat a straight , and to this day I have to think before I answer that one. But it didn’t take me more then a couple recesses to have half of my friends money and Curtis to have the other half. It came down to a head to head matchup, what Curtis didn’t know and probably still doesn’t to this day was that I beat him with a royal flush artfully dealt to me from the bottom of the deck by our dealer and other close friend Joe. I can’t remember what I promised Joe to make him take my side but he did, but he made it look close by also dealing Curtis a straight flush. My ace high won it.

Naturally after that we had to find something more promising to play since I had everyone’s pocket change and no one wanted to shoot craps with me. So we decided to play hide and seek with the playground supervisors. These Supervisors were college students making $2.00 an hour to hang out on the playground and make sure we didn’t get into fights or pick on the paste eaters too much.

Small segue, the year before we had a playground supervisor whom we all loved. The girls wanted to be her and the boys wanted to date her. Yes we knew that she was out of our league and we had no chance but there wasn’t a single boy in the school that didn’t experience his first real crush with her at the helm. She was tall, beautiful , and had long legs which made a perfect ass draped in a pair of 501’s that dreams are made of, she could kick a football farther than anyone we had ever seen. Her hair was long and had a full body curl, that danced when the wind blew. Her hazel eyes could make you laugh and be ashamed at what you had done, her laugh could have powered a small town the way it lit up a room. She never talked down to us and always treated us like equals. Her name was Tamera, and she was killed in a car accident that thanksgiving, we had known her for two months and to this day I can picture her on the playground kicking spirals to a waiting bunch of prepubescent boys to catch them. When our teacher Mrs. Goatcher told us she had been killed, the entire classroom burst into tears. There was no such thing as grief counselors back then so we treated that classroom like a plane that was going down, anything said or done in it was left there in the room, never to be talked about, a brick confessional where 25 kids shared the pain of loss and the burden of memory. I can still see her face after 30 years.

Now that I’m done crying, back to the tunnel. We decided that we needed to explore the stage area. For those of you not familiar with the Midwest elementary school gymnasium , there was always a stage at one end of the building that was used for plays and assemblies, and those god awful music recitals that our parents made us do so they could sit in the audience and say things like “that is my boy up there, yes the tone deaf one that can’t carry a tune with both hands and a bucket” I am so proud of you knowing your limitations and blasting out the words to meaningless disco tunes anyway. Our music teacher was a sadist.

Anyway under the stage was where they kept the carts that held all 300 folding chairs that would get drug out in the event of one of these all school caterwauling contests. So we decided to start playing hide and seek with the supervisors by crawling into the chair area. It was probably the second week of crappy weather that we had moved our little group into the corner of the gym where the last door to the chairs kept the secret that would be greatest thing that school year.
As we were playing the hide and seek game we had talked a couple of girls into joining us and playing kissy face in the chair area, and once we had worked our way down the doors to the corner we found the tunnel. It was a maintenance tunnel, and held things like pipes and dust and other scary shit. But it was a place to escape the watchful eye of the supervisors. So we got flashlights and did some underground exploring. Once we had the place mapped out we started inviting the girls with us, most of them freaked out when we went around the corner and then turned the light out, which was just what we wanted, scared chicks in the dark. But when I found the light switch all bets were off. We took the risk and traveled to the end of the tunnel and saw that it lead to the Janitor’s hide out in the basement. His secret room where he kept the stinky pink sawdust that he sprinkled on puke, and the cases of disinfectant that made all grade school s smell alike, and his dirty desk covered in magazines and newspapers. He also had a rather nice collection of stuff that was left on the playground by accident that he was supposed to turn in but never seem to do. I got my pocket knife back, a baseball glove, 10 hot wheels cars and other assorted trinkets that didn’t belong to me but were also not his. Curtis and I used this tunnel a lot to escape a form of torture known as inside recess. 30 minutes at a time we would crawl through the dust and sneak into the office at the end of the hall and mess stuff up.

This trend of breaking and entering would follow us into the Junior High, then Middle School, and then the next year the moved the 9th grade to the high school and we lost our Junior High status and were a middle school, then we were High School students.

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