Last night was Tuesday night, and like most Tuesdays, that means I am in Federal Way with the youngest kid for dinner. Then we go to Starbucks and play Cribbage, or Chess or some other game, and just hang out (For the record, the pain in the ass skunked me in Cribbage last night!)
Dinner this time was at Gramma’s (my mom’s house) she and my stepdad Doug are always happy to feed hungry people who show up at the door. (Calling ahead is good, though, or could be you will miss dinner!) Steak pie with brownies for dessert! YUM!
So while we were there, the youngest started showing off his war wounds. He is 15 and skates on a longboard. Lately he has been skating with people at a higher level that he is, so he is trying out new things. Trying something new with a skateboard generally means falling. And he is missing some serious patches of skin to prove this.
It started me thinking about all the stuff I did, especially in college, and truly wondering why I am here able to blog… (Warning: MOM, this may lead to more gray hairs….)
First, even before college, I biked all the time. NEVER did I wear or even own a helmet… I once rode right in front of a bus, for some reason with my hands full of branches (no idea why I was carrying the branches, or how I got started on my bike with my hands full) and the bus had to slam on the brakes. As that bike at the time didn’t have any brakes, nor could I have reached them, it’s a damn good thing the bus could stop.
I can’t begin to count the crashes I had back then. I am even pretty sure that one time I knocked myself out for a little while (this woulda been Jr Hi) by hitting my head. Didn’t want to tell my parents because they may have made me stop riding for a while! Couldn’t have that! So after the world stopped spinning, I just kept going.
High School I was pretty mellow. A very boring kid with great grades who studied a lot, and never did anything dangerous. Unless you count graduation night. I had a 69 Merc station wagon. when I graduated. Leaving commencement and heading for the school sanctioned party, I floored it. For some reason this caused my windshield to completely fog up! Couldn’t see a damn thing. Did I stop? Nope, just rolled down the side window and stuck my head outside, while going 70 on a side road! Made it no problem!
OK, college, higher education, I musta been smarter then! Well………
In our dorm, if you locked yourself out of your room, you had to pay a fine to get it unlocked. (May have been $5 or $10 MAYBE $20) Any money we spent on stuff like that took away from pizza money. We (well the Immortal Pete Lamb) discovered that it was possible to crawl out one window, inch along the ledge, reach over to the next window and pull yourself over to the next one. Then unlock the door from the inside!
He and I were great at it. The 1st floor wasn’t so bad (even though on the back side there was a drop off so it was closer to 2 stories tall) and I would go as high as the 3rd floor. (This I charged money for). I was once asked to crawl across for a guy on the 6th floor. I thought about it, even walked outside and looked at it, but for once common sense kicked in, I declined.
Driving was always an adventure. Once, in Pullman, the Mudsucker and I were heading for a Mexican place for dinner. We wanted to get there before the rest of the group. Scott said “Turn HERE! It’s a short cut!” Yep, a hill, straight down, covered in ice, and we were heading straight for a power pole at 40 MPH! I used every trick I knew, but nothing slowed us down. I looked at him an said “Oh this is bad!” Just as the ruts in the road took us right around the pole! I hit the gas and kept going and we got there first! Me worried? NEVER!
Or the time heading down hill, a car full of people (same car mind you, 77 Dodge Aspen Wagon (hey I love hatchbacks!) food, beer and barbecue in the back. I passed a semi, on a 2 lane road, came back in front of him, and saw I had to slow down for a 15 MPH switch back. I hit the brakes, nuthin, hit them again, nuthin, hit them a 3rd time and they started to grab! Jim in the back said “Is that brakes I smell?” “Yep Jim, tell me if you don’t smell em anymore!” and we slowed just enough for the corner! )OK THAT time I was worried! I forgot to tell my Dad about this incident and later that year he came close to driving into a Piggly Wiggly as the brakes failed again! )
Or the time at Cheers West where I pissed off a Mountain of a man (he was huge!). I had playfully tossed an ashtray a friend and ended up hitting someone else’s beer. I had already ordered a replacement for it. This guy got in my face jawing at me because if it. (Wasn’t even his beer) I jawed right back (all 5’7″ 135 lbs of me) He looked at me and said “Don’t let 2 seconds of stupidity ruin your life!” I stared right back and said “I won’t will you!!!!!” (Meanwhile the Mudsucker and Dave were at a table watching this saying “Tony’s gonna die” “Yep sure is” “too bad…” (for the record if something woulda happened they would’ve jumped in!)) The man walked away (to this day I don’t know why) and all was right in the world.
I tell these stories, knowing there are many MANY others that are not coming to mind right now. Teen and twenty something guys are not smart. Each and every one of them seem to think they are bullet proof. I know I did. And while I sat there and listened to the youngest tell his stories about his battle wounds (Pain heals, Chicks dig scars, Glory is forever (yep, my fault, I told him that) I realized he has it too.
Looking back, I know I was stupid many times. But its part of being that age that you challenge yourself every chance you get. I think of all the fun, all the stories, all the adventures that wouldn’t have happened if I played it safe. Most people grow out of it, but I don’t think I have. It’s why I have sky dived, bungie jumped, mountain climbed and now ride anywhere and everywhere.
If I lose that spirit of adventure, if I give up trying, then I honestly believe I would have one foot in the grave. It would be time to trade the bike in for a walker! I am more careful now, and I sure as hell don’t climb on ledges, but I DO have a degree of bullet proofness left! I think I take smarter risks now, but I rarely decline a challenge!
And I support the youngest in his skateboarding endeavors! BUT, since I am a dad, I do make him wear a helmet!
Folks find a challenge, accept it and beat it! It will keep you young!