Sunday, April 01, 2007

Blame Hammer

Okay, so I'll begin by saying names have been changed to protect me. The year would have been 1983 or so, and I a misanthropic 15 year old, who had not been making any headway in the pursuit of compromising young girlies in my area (*as an aside, may I say that hearing of all of these hot teachers putting out for young male students delivers me mixed feelings- including jealousy). In an effort to kill time until the views of local girls would be more accomodating, my pals and I would get up to whatever other sensory overloading things we could dream up and afford. This is story of one such day.

The cast of characters (that I can remember): PG: local cury haired pot smoker friend that either had smoked his way to an attention disorder, or may have had hearing problems. He never really responded swiftly to audio clues, ques, or commands. R: The only black guy that chose to hang out with us (as opposed to the many others that lived in my neighborhood, and sort of dealt with us as scenery or sort of knew us, but kept us at arms length personally). R was really mellow, no doubt in some measure to the amount of dope he smoked with us. I think PW. and C. were also in this caper- they were brothers who loom large in several of my hijinks.

The scene:

Right where the green arrow points is the core to the whole story. This is a significant intersection of streets in a town where I lived, and dead in the middle of the intersection, by the tip of the green arrow, is a manhole. Now- as a moment of background- in the midwest there are things called storm sewers. These are basically intended for heavy rainfall runoff, and are concrete tubes of nearly six feet diameter. In this place, these storm sewers ran under the two big streets that the arrow identifies, and they are dry most of the time (although sludge and garbage are not uncommon in places). So, there is a four way intersection at street level, and a four way intersection in concrete tubing underneath. In the exact center of this all, there is a ladder of metal rungs in concrete and a manhole that is smack in the middle. With me so far? Good.

At the very bottom of this image, is a railroad track (where I nearly got killed repeatedly) and a ravine that allowed convenient access to said storm sewers. This is where we began. I was a model rocket junkie (clue #1 as to why I wasn't getting laid) and would "retire" old and unwanted rockets with as much "wow" value as I could. One day, I decided I wanted to "retire" a rocket from a missile silo (hey- Cold War era, what can I tell you?), and I think PW was the one who mentioned the venue. Off I trudged with my friends to the ravine, and rocketry gear in tow. We entered the storm sewer at the tracks and slouchingly walked to the arrow point, where I dutifully setup my launch pad and readied the rocket, igniter and so on. The last thing we thought to do was to was to remove the manhole cover. I say the last thing we thought to do, because we weren't really thinking about much, other than the rush of doing something dumb and fiery.

C was I think the one that climbed up the rebar "ladder" to the cover and muscled it over with his shoulder. This was dangerous and remarkable in it's own right, as cars were driving by within inches of that spot in all directions, but he managed it without injury. Oblivious to the world topside, "3, 2, 1, BLASTOFF!"- I launched.

What happened above us was at least as far as we were concerned, unexpected. The rocket went straight up as intended and must have looked really cool from the street level (cool by our tastes anyhow). The first unexpected thing was that a jogging man, wearing those really blousy nylon running shorts that were popular at the time, was running diagonally across the intersection(!), and apparenly wasn't paying attention to things like open goddamned holes in the street, and came within inches of having a 300 Mph hunk of cardboard and plastic go up his shorts. The burnout of the rocket went straight up past his body and was nearly a gunpower driven polyp ream. I don't think it burned him, but he was in full on freak out mode as a result of the experience.

The other immediate problem was the smoke. There is no breeze in a storm sewer, and the smoke from launch lingered and was thick enough to disorient us. Well, some of us anyway. As with any good subversive, I was at least sure of my escape route, and a debate ensued. PG, PW, and R were opposed to C and I about which way to go back. I mean really- concrete tunnels look all the same, and we had no landmarks or trails of bread crumbs. So C and I took off to the south and our point of entry, and the others went west, and I'm told had to hoof it for a couple of miles to get out.

Upon existing, I couldn't resisit the urge to see the mayhem topside, so I walked along the sidwalk to the arrow point after stashing my gear at the ravine in some scrub brush. C, having had more experience I think in these matters- went home. By the time I had gotten to the "scene of the crime", there were two cops there on the scene. One was taking a statement from a clearly distressed jogger in effeminate shorts, and the other- a cop shaped like a Bartlett Pear, was bent over with his 4 foot long cop flashlight/knightstick shouting into the still smoking manhole opening. I could hear him using his best cop psychology from well away by the second set of tennis courts- "Come on out now- we've got you- there is no where for you to go- make it easy on yourselves, blah blah blah". I was trying as hard as I could not to be seen laughing, but it was tough to contain. I mean, how often does a youngster get to see a cop frustrated in broad daylight shining a flashlight in a smoking hole in the middle of the road in the heart of town? I don't know if the cop arrived above sewer when PG, PW and R were still within earshot, or if he was making asumptions. For sure, beyond smoke, nothing was left behind, and all participants had moved on somewhere.

The cop eventually gave up the sugar coating and starting shouting "saltier" terms into the smoking hole, and I took that as my time to leave. The following Monday at school, I heard about the underground "Iditerod" my mates had to endure, and while I was sympathetic, my sense of direction was trusted more in future escapades.


Blogger Hammer said...

hehe cool. I used to play in those too but our candles wouldn't last long enough to get very far.

Too bad the cops didn't have to go down there to investigate.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

toooooooo funny!

8:37 PM  
Blogger Schmoopie said...

I've heard this story told before but it seems funnier in print.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Gawd I wish I had lived in your hood- we'd a had a blasty old time!
~From the girly who while stoned, used to drop smoke bombs out her 3rd story bedroom window into the leaves in front of her Daddy's family room window while he was watching golf...
until he happend up behind me and took them away from me. (better that than the weed!) Years later while living in San Diego with my cousin, I learned what a cool Dad I had...
"I can remember when I visited you guys in Kentucky- Uncle Dave, he was the greatest! we were getting ready to leave, and he gave me this big bag of smoke bombs!"
Rockets sound like much more fun.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Stucco said...

Hammer- candles? What- were you trying to make it spooky or something?

Cheesy- Odd that none of the girls we knew at the time thought so...

Schmoop- you know too much.

Laura- smoke bombs really don't do enough. One time, purely by coincidence, a prank I was involved in dovetailed beautifully with someone else's prank. In my old high school, the floors were all that poured aggregate stuff that you see at airports and such. Hard like stone, smooth like glass, and cheap like child labor. My prank was to walk through and leak baby oil from a plastic tube down my pant leg- dangerous, inappropriate, and messy. At the same time, someone else opened a vial of some foul smelling animal scent used by hunters. Everyone tried to flee the stink, and slipped, slid, and fell in the baby oil.

Maybe I shouldn't tell these tales...

2:48 PM  
Blogger Irrelephant said...

Dood--shining flashlights into smoky holes? Girly shorts? Rockets shooting out of long tunnels? You've been surfing too much pr0n, old bean.

As for teachers who take the education thing a little too far? I was one of those kids. I lost my virginity at age 17 to a 39 year old teacher who was tired of her husband's inattentions. At the time, it was the way-coolest f-ing thing since crackers and cheese. Now? Now I realise just how much it messed me up, and not in a good way. Don't be jealous, you weren't missing a thing, and your therapist hasn't got to say "Oh, THIS old schtick again?"

3:23 PM  
Blogger Stucco said...

Irr- "Surfing too much pr0n"? I recognize the words, but the meaning? As for your teacher fortunes, you may as well cry about winning the Powerball. EVERYTHING in life messes us up, and at least the cause of your neuroses got you laid. I maintain my jealousy, and as a sheer act of courtesy to the psychiatric profession, I don't have a therapist :)

Incidentally, were crackers and cheese ever cool?

4:25 PM  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

Now Stucco...

The NEXT TIME that haappens, you need to mosey right on up the cops and start conversating...

"Think they'll come out?"

"Think they're terrorist?"

"That jogger guy looks a little... uh... you know... You think he's funny? Not funny haha. You know..."

"Did you hear that? I think one of them just told you to go fuck yourself."

For every opportunity, there should be an equal and countermanding reactiion.

And yeah....

What's that guy complaining about? His 39 year old teacher DID him? Lordy lordy!

6:50 PM  
Blogger Irrelephant said...

D00d--cheese and crackers were...well, okay, they were probably never cool, I just couldn't think of anything cool.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Judith said...

I would love to hear more of your stories, christ that one had me on the floor especially with the cop and the pear shaped arse! And Scott from oregon's comment was just as funny , thanks guys for a great crease up!

1:45 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

This cracks me up. I was such a goody-goody in high school, but not being a goody-goody sounds like a lot more fun. I would love to have seen the look one that runner's face when the rocket shot by him.

9:45 AM  
Blogger General Catz said...

oh god, every kid does dumb shit. you wonder how our species has managed to get this far.

excellent story. definitely 4.5 stars out of 5.

12:00 PM  

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