Snafu

*** My name is Brett.  One of Kevin’s high school friends.  He asked me to be a “guest writer” on this blog.***

*** First of all, I am not a writer.  Just because I struggle with writing I am not a struggling writer.  Secondly, through all of Kevin’s other posts, you are most likely familiar with his past work.  I would like to lay claim to some of his success as a comedy genius, but please don’t blame me. When approached by Kevin to write a story, recalling a memory of our oh-so-mature childhood days (because let’s face it, when boys are fourteen, fifteen, or forty they are cool know-it-alls) a few stories came to mind, but honestly, since I have not partaken of each blog post, I decided it behooving to stray from the stories of lizard lassos, snake whips, and pond drains for fear of boring readers with repetition, redundancy, or superfluousness.***

Being a middle school teacher, and parent, I feel I understand adolescence, primarily that of the twelve to fourteen year-old.  I have been instructing seventh and eighth grade students for somewhere around fifteen of my twenty-three years in education, the last six of which have been in Multimedia, a class which, in our district, focuses primarily on movie production (speaking of movies… although I have stayed in the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida, I have yet to visit any mansion with said moniker resembling the likes of Versailles (other than Versailles)…and have been advised not to).  Now, having taught middle schoolers for so long, having two (currently) middle school daughters, and having been a middle schooler myself, I believe that upon finishing the application process and being hired, any and all middle-school teachers should be granted a knighthood, sainthood, riding hood, or any kind of hood available to those courageous (gullible) enough to voluntarily enter the position.  This philosophy is based mostly on the fact that I was a middle schooler myself and that my position as teacher now is not one of nobility, but one of karma (Karma= God’s “I told ya so.”)

As a middle-schooler, (and by the way, I am tired of my word processor’s red line indication that the word schooler is not in the dictionary.  It is.  If it isn’t a word, it should be.  Schooler: 1. an adjective describing a specific age of child, 2. a synonym for teacher) I was not as popular as I had hoped to be, but luckily, I was in middle school so I didn’t care. I entered seventh grade in Rapid City, SD, son of an Air Force Captain and entered the second half of eighth grade in Riverside, CA, son of an Air Force Major.  All of the moving, as any military brat can attest, leads to the development, honing, and perfection of certain adolescent survival skills; skills that most children do not learn until adulthood.  Among these skills are “if you don’t want people around you, don’t shower after gym class,” and “if you want people around you, be humorous.”  I learned to master both by the time ninth grade was over, and then spent the rest of my life trying unsuccessfully to practice more of the latter than the former.  This, combined with the fact that I had only been in California for five months, resulted in a lack of friends by the end of the school year.

The summer between eighth and ninth grade was boring, even for a newbie Californian.  That being said, and tying this together (finally) with the topic of middle-schoolers, adolescents are very easily influenced, as exampled by my trip to Universal Studios at the age of 13…I now am a walking filmography resource.  Generally speaking, adolescents do not have direction in the world yet, they don’t have a complete set of social graces, and they are gangly and clumsy; all the ingredients for what we call “goofy.”  This, not surprisingly, is the state in which Kevin and I began high school.

I met Kevin in 9th grade I believe, and our shared affinity of all things goofy, silly, stupid, ignorant, dumb, and dangerous was the magnet that brought our friendship together; well, that and English class.  Mrs. Polite (Saint Polite), our English teacher, “put up” with our shenanigans for an entire year, or possibly two.   How she ended each year with a full head of hair I’ll never know.

Riverside, California seemed to have a pool in every other back yard.  My next door neighbor had one, one of my friends down the street had one, and Kevin’s grandparents had one in their yard as well.

There was one particular night over the summer where Kevin invited me to spend the night at his grandparents’ house.  Not to belittle our friendship, but the selling point for me was the pool.  Even though I was not a good swimmer (to this day I pinch my nose when jumping in), I loved being in the water.  I accepted his invitation, even though I had never been to his grandparents’ house; nor had I ever met them.

As it turned out, Kevin’s grandparents had to go out for the evening.  I’m not sure I told my parents that they would not be present during our “sleepover.”  They might not have let me go had they known that we had access to a pool with no adult supervision.  Even so, it wasn’t the pool that would be the cause of fun for Kevin and I that night.  Instead, it was the food and the videogames.

We went to Kevin’s grandparents’ house, and immediately got into the pool.  (I believe it was after dinner-time as I don’t remember eating a meal there).  While swimming we played the usual games (all with snorkeling masks on) like Marco Polo, and one of our favorites, Spiderman; a game in which you can observe each other underwater clinging to the side of the pool as Spiderman would to the side of a building, then watch each other launch from one side of the pool, glide through the water, then land on the other side of the pool, clinging to that “building.”  Over the next year or two we would play this game again many times, especially at Club Mud, Palm Springs.

After swimming to the point of raisin toes, we decided to treat ourselves to a well-deserved snack.  I distinctly remember Kevin opening and closing the kitchen cabinets and the fridge and freezer pulling out items to include in our teenage smorgasbord.   Included in these were the staple of ice-cream (I want to say it was chocolate of some sort with marshmallow), chocolate covered cookies, whipped cream, cherries, assorted chips or crackers, maybe some licorice, and so on.  We piled all of our food onto large bowls filled with mountains of ice-cream and headed to the TV room.

Apparently, Kevin’s grandparents had everything that a growing teenage boy could dream of as there was a video game system hooked up to the television in the sun room.  I believe it was an Atari.  After a while of playing Space Invaders and PacMan and eating ice-cream and cookies to the point of misery, Kevin had a new game that he wanted me to play called SNAFU.    I had not heard of this term before and had certainly not heard of any such video game.   Time, being the greatest teacher of all, taught me what the acronym SNAFU means, and to this day I still don’t understand what it had to do with the actual video game that we played, which, if memory serves, was a basic “snake” game wherein the objective is to trap the opponents snake within the trails of the tails; very Tron-esque, light bike game.

The conversation was simple and went as follows:

Kevin said, “I have a new game that you need to play.  It’s kinda cool.”

“Sure. What is it?” I asked.

“SNAFU.”

“Gesundheit.”

Now, it may not sound like much now, nor may it even make you smile or smirk, but back then, at the age of 13, on the tallest sugar-high ever imagined by two water-exhausted, pruny, goofy ninth graders, “Gesundheit” was the funniest comment in the history of comments that anyone could have made at that particular moment.  We must have laughed for over an hour.  It was the worst (best) case of the giggles that anyone has ever witnessed.  As a matter of fact, if Guinness was there, it would not have been recorded as the longest, funniest case of the giggles because the record keeper would have lost track of time due to his own excessive giggling.

When we were finally capable of collecting ourselves, we had tears of laughter streaming down our faces and the worst stomach aches any teenage boy could ever deserve.  So, we ate more ice-cream.  Honestly, other than playing that video game, I don’t remember anything else that happened after that.

It was one of the greatest times of my goofy childhood that I’ll never forget.

Thank you Kevin.

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3 Comments on “Snafu”

  1. Meg Says:

    Deer “Kevin”,

    Yu ar still gooffy. 🙂
    Yur fren,

    Meg:)

  2. renpiti Says:

    Wow, that really brought back some memories! Oh, and I still “Spiderman” when I’m in any pool. It’s how I roll…underwater.

  3. renpiti Says:

    And thank YOU, Brett, for that excellent tale of our goofy youth!


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