Saturday, April 08, 2006

Instant Karma


Last night, as Marie and I laid packin’ some much needed zees, snorin’ like a coupla’ frogs, after a long week, some little unconscious 14 year-old male, named Eddy, vandalized our front yard, by removing and breaking two of our solar powered landscape lights. When I walked the dogs, minutes ago, I found the parts lying about, in the street, in our neighbor’s yard, smashed on the sidewalk. When I returned with the dogs, after a brisk walk in serious rain, carrying my two little blue doggie poop bags, I cleaned up the remnants of Eddy’s fine work. Actually, I have no idea who the perp was. But being a boy myself, and having, ashamedly, done my own vandalizing as a kid, and having known first hand the teenage male energy which could create such a scenario, I have a very strong feeling that our vandal was a boy, likely 12-17, and I gave him the name Eddy cuz it’s greasy, in a sitcom kinda way.

When I walked into the house, my first comment to Marie was....”There is something intrinsically wrong with male humans”, to which she gave me a look which was a combination of all-knowing, mixed with a tinge of being caught unawares. “Why do you say that?”, she giggled over the Saturday newspaper, dutifully responding to my obviously loaded statement, her jazzy half glasses propped low on her nose. “Oh, some kid vandalized some of our lights in the front yard last night”, I replied, and we launched into a conversation about boys, and vandalism, and what the hell would make a kid wreck someone’s stuff for no good reason. Marie listened attentively as I spoke of my own experiences as a vandal.

I was 16, and I was a boy with plenty of need for the admiration and validation of my peers. That summer, several of us who had participated in “The Christmas Lane Egg Gang”, which was a rousing success, the previous winter, decided we should continue our efforts by launching eggs about the city from the back of a pick-up truck, or a car. I am not going to mention any names, because we are all certainly ashamed of ourselves, so many years later, for delightfully ruining the hoods of cadillacs and shopkeeper's front doors and even a turquoise cashmere sweater, once proudly worn by an unsuspecting matron, who, arriving for tea with friends on S.E. Belmont Street, 1964, took 3 extra large to the upper right shoulder. I am certain she had not flipped anyone off with such gusto in years.

The thing about being a good or even great egg tosser is that one must remain anonymous, that is, have a good arm, and be able to hit a target at say, 30 feet or so, such that one is not identifiable, and that one’s getaway vehicle, and license plate, especially if it’s your Dad’s car, cannot be documented. However, given the great pleasure one feels upon a direct hit, the satsifying sound of shell and albumen shattering on some poor soul’s fine cyprus knee gate, or herringbone jacket, one may be tempted to shoot off a few at closer range.

Such was the case, as my best high school friend and I trolled S.E. Powell Boulevard, one Sunny Summer Saturday, after stopping at the Quickie Mart for ammo. It was my turn to hurl, so he was driving my car. Well, my folk’s car, a 1962 Rambler, like the one pictured above. Idling at a side street stop sign, we allowed a couple of boys, perhaps a bit younger than us, to pass in front of the car. After they passed, and while they were no more than 6 or seven feet away, and much to my best friend’s shock, and praise, I sent several line shots in their direction, bing, bing. bing, and caught one of them on the butt, the other on the pants, as he wheeled to see what the heck was happening. Our eyes met.

Before I continue I would like to admit that, at certain times in my life, I have displayed behaviors that can only be descibed as despicable and stupid. The egg throwing is only part of it. As an adult, I hope I have distinguished myself by behaving oppositely.

But the truth is, that there are men everywhere, and surely women as well, who could report their youthful participation in vandalism, were they to be honest. This does not diminish the fact that I am mortified and humiliated by my own participation in such acts. But there is more to the story.

After shocking those two boys, just off Powell Boulevard, by scoring direct egg hits on both of them, my friend and I continued our foray, and eventually drove home. Later that day, I had to drive out to do some errands, buy some stuff, something, and I took the Rambler we had used that morning for our evil deeds.

I was not exactly headed for Powell Boulevard, but I did have to cross upper Powell, some distance from where I had egged the boys. Suddenly, as I drove, I looked out the car window, to my left, and saw the two boys, standing on a bluff above the street. I was shocked. I could tell immediately that it was the same two boys.

Maybe they recognized me, and the car. I won’t ever know that for sure. But in that moment, just about the second I recognized them, I saw one of them rare back, and heave something into the air. He was a long way off, but still, I stepped on it.

INCOMING!!!.........and without further ado, a good size rock hit the back window of the car, right behind my head, shattering the window. “Good God”, I may have been heard to think, “I could’ve been killed.”

I know it seems like a crazy coincidence, I mean that I ran into those same kids on the same day, but it really happened. I returned home, and after having reported the Completely Isolated Incident of Vandalism on Our Car by Some Bad People, my Mom gave me some money to have the window fixed, and I made arrangements at a glass shop.

I told Marie today that teenage boys should all experience the sport of boxing, so they can all get the idea that, if you are going to lash out, maybe hurt someone, there are going to be consequences, like maybe you are going to get your block knocked off.

She looked up at me, still jazzy in her glasses, and spoke. “Ric, back then, when you threw eggs on those boys, what would have been more meaningful to you.......having your block knocked off, or getting inside the lives of those two boys, and knowing what their lives were really like?”

Excellent question. I do remember feeling very guilty, some moments after I saw my eggs hit those boys. After all, they were totally innocent, and probably nice kids. But one thing for sure. After I saw that boy wind up, and give flight to that bullet, and then the rock exploded through my car’s window, and landed in the back seat, while 1962 Rambler glass went flying, well, that was then end of egg throwing for me.

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