Mondays are for laughing…at me

***You never want to have kids like me…it just happens.***

While conferring with a writing mentor regarding the difficulties in writing for an audience (because, let’s face it, if you write anywhere online so people can see it, you’re not doing it just for your own giggles), I was encouraged to power through any blocks or dry spells. Forcing my ramblings on anyone else while in that state seems unfair and ridiculous. Enjoy!

There was a time in my off-the-rails developmental period when it seemed like I was preparing for a full-time career as a crash-test dummy, and there wasn’t any one single event that ever gave me pause enough to consider either chilling the heck out, or possibly wearing a helmet all the time. Starting from launching myself out of a two-story window as a toddler when I honestly believed a window screen would act as a vertical trampoline, to numerous full-body scabs due to “space launches” off of school swing sets, there were few periods of time where I wasn’t trying to prove my head was a sawdust-filled rock.

Once such test session happened, as these things do, during fake combat. My friends and I tended to use the national park in our town, the one right in my back yard, as a proving ground for why kids end up barely-functional adults. Our favorite hobby, aside from specimen collection and subsequent home-release, was running around in old-school camouflage outfits aiming painted-up plastic guns at each other and pew-pew-pewing it up for hours on blistering southern California weekends. We were toy soldiers.

Whether or not the following events happened on the same day is irrelevant. Unless my childhood chums are reading this and object strenuously, we’ll combine the two misadventures into one for the sake of brevity…which I’m typically not known for.

This national park had dry, sagebrush hills and mountains, as well as several flood-control areas that were either devoid of trees and great for shooting arrows at each other, or so cluttered with trees and shrubbery that you could hide behind one tree and not know someone else was hiding right next to you until the dreaded pants’ wetting moment of your own fake demise. We typically defined one area for each round and stuck to it, and the rules, for the duration of the game. Of course, if your initials were MW and rules were your bitch, well… Suffice it to say that we were a problem looking for our moment to shine.

Enter the U.S. Air Force. Or Army. Hard to remember which it was after all those sleeps. Regardless, while running around in face-paint and cammies, we got so worked up over our imagined endeavors that we failed to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation when a large military helicopter flew over. Thinking we’d be cool (idiot) rebels, we positioned ourselves so that our realistically painted plastic guns would appear to menace the nut-descendingly real soldiers with real weapons. Apparently, the U.S. military is trained to actively resist the deadly pew-pews from fake guns, and they made several passes overhead despite taking fake fatal damage from us. It didn’t take them long to decide it was time to help us void our innards.


They may have made other imperative statements, but that one was enough for us. We cowered in our now-stinky hiding places until they got tired of flying around, then made a break for the dubious safety of higher, open ground on the other side of the railroad tracks. At this point, the nature of the game changed: we would stay out of the trees and not point our ineffectual weapons at people who could accidentally kill us for looking like threatening morons.

The rules were simple: we all started from the same place; each player would enter the defined battle zone two minutes after the prior player had entered; and no ambushes at the entry point. This all worked quite well, with each of us giving as well as we got over the course of several sweaty hours. Then someone with the previously mentioned penchant for taking rules and cramming them in other people’s cram-holes decided no more Mr. Fair Play.

Being the last one into the zone this round, I knew I’d be in for tough times. There was really only one way into the area, hence the ‘no ambush’ rule. Apparently, that rule was one rule too many in our fake war games. I was ambushed. After issuing several loud “NUH-UH”s to the rule-rapist’s “GOTCHA”s, I did what any reasonable kid in my situation would do when faced with loud noises and imaginary gunfire: I dove over a 20-foot cliff. To be fair, I thought I was diving behind a tiny sage bush that would have offered all the cover of a stage with spotlights in real combat. I failed to assimilate the information my eyes presented of the tops of houses on the other side of the bush as meaning there might be a difference in elevation.

It took about five minutes for me to stop grunt-groaning and get back on my feet at the bottom of the cliff, during which time nobody bothered to check to see if I had gone from fake corpse to the real thing. I guess my attacker had faith in my superhero talents like flying and safe head-landings.

The walk back to my other friend’s house, where we all agreed to meet after the games were over, alternated between muttered bitter curses for cheaters, and musings as to whether or not my cliff-diving counted as a ‘death’. Since nobody knew I had left, they kept playing, assuming I had managed to soar to safety and sneak back into the zone. Much later, they returned and found out that I had walked home, ticked, bruised and needing the kind of sympathy nobody would be willing to offer under the prevailing circumstances.

Needless to say, I learned the hard way that my talents were better spent pretending on stage, where my family could sue the school if anything went wrong. Unfortunately, it never did.

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3 Comments on “Mondays are for laughing…at me”

  1. Mr. Pig Says:

    I had very similar experiences in different parts of the country. Young boys usually work through rights of passage unaware 😉
    Thanks for sharing

  2. Narf Says:

    LOL!! Oh well, you wouldnt be the first kid to be failed by the public education system!!! 😀

  3. Dad Says:

    I think I told you about MY cliff diving experience as a lad, so it could all be genetic (i.e. there is absolutely no hope for the future generations of our family).

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