By Sean Pearson
Before setting off to regale you with yet another one of my fascinating stories of growing up in the snake-infested swamps of southern Louisiana, I feel compelled to reveal that I have, in fact, used fictitious names in previous Spiewings. I would tell you that my attorneys have advised me to not use real names in Spiews, as this could open the door to all kinds of … well, bad things. Unfortunately, I have no attorneys. But, I do have a fourth-grade friend who Googled his name and wondered why it was coming up in some obscure and decidedly odd column in a remote town in Alaska.
(Hey Lance. How’s it going?)
Rule No. 1: No last names.
I was going to list more rules, but who cares, really? Trust me, some of you will thank me someday for not even using your first names.
Moving on …
Life with Maury and Rhett (names changed to protect the innocent) was an ongoing adventure in everything childhood is supposed to be: catching crawfish, raising tadpoles, swimming with the water moccasins when the streets flooded. We were in virtual “boy heaven.”
Well, at least some of us were.
Maury was a little squeamish with the tadpoles, and screamed like a girl whenever he saw a snake. And I can’t tell you how many times Rhett and I had to come to his rescue when he mouthed off to another bully in the neighborhood.
Of course, I also can’t tell you how many times I had to beat him up because he kept changing the rules in the middle of the football game. And he would always whine and whimper when he didn’t get his way. (I would give you an example of his whining, but this isn’t radio. How many times do we have to go over that one?)
One bright summer day, life in the neighborhood took an ominous turn toward the dark side, when crime sauntered in along our serene sidewalks. After a flurry of police activity, word quickly spread that a fugitive had escaped from another nearby police car, and was now on the loose on Debby Drive.
The panic was palpable.
My mother was very clear in her instructions, as we stood together, ready to stare down the impending malevolence that dare enter our ‘hood.
“Take Maury and Rhett, go straight home and lock all the doors.”
This was a mission I could handle.
I gave Mom the wink, fixed my white-knuckled grip on my Stingray handlebars, nodded to my posse and headed for the homestead. We made it there in record time, undoubtedly driven by the terror of the murderous monster that was recklessly roaming around. We briefly considered stopping across the street for our stash of very realistic-looking plastic guns. Obviously, they could easily fool any hardened criminal — with very poor eyesight — from very far away.
Ultimately, we decided against it. There was no time to waste. We pulled into the drive at my house. I immediately ran to the backyard to put Princess in the house. (She was a very nervous collie with some unresolved P.T.S.D. issues. Anything too over-stimulating could throw her into an epileptic episode — which just wasn’t very pretty to watch.) She feared firecrackers the most. I don’t think it was lost on any of us that Princess really started taking a turn for the worse following the 1976 Fourth of July Bicentennial Celebrations.
But that’s another story.
We ran through the house locking doors and windows. Fed the goldfish. Gave Princess her Quaaludes. Grabbed a couple snacks out of the fridge and checked on the status of Speed Racer.
Then, we raced back to the growing mob of frenzied stay-at-home moms wielding Little League Sluggers and a variety of garden tools. (OK. Not really. I made that part up for dramatic effect.)
And we really didn’t feed our dog Quaaludes. (Not without a prescription, anyway.)
The look on my mother’s face as I returned on my trusty purple steed was one of confusion, astonishment, disgust, fear, anguish and anger. (What can I say? My mother had a very expressive face. Are you doubting my mother?)
Apparently, we were supposed to lock ourselves inside the house when we locked all the doors.
In all fairness, I think it’s important to point out that I did, indeed, follow my mother’s instructions exactly. It’s not my fault she was unclear in her communication.
We spent the next two hours trying to break back into our own house, without sending Princess into epileptic frenzy. The 17-year-old heinous graffiti fugitive that wreaked havoc on our quiet afternoon was apprehended. And life on Debby Drive returned to its normal pace of bikes, baseball and the sweet aroma of freshly mowed grass.
Which reminds me of the time my mother accidentally shoved the blade of newly sharpened grass shears under her fingernail. But, I guess we’ll have to wait on that one.
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