Boys Will Be Boys: Memories of a Mischievous Youth

Posted: October 29, 2011 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Me & Mine
Tags: , , , , , , ,
‘Well, the weather outside is frightful’ as the song goes. “Frightful” is a gross understatement of today’s wretched wintry conditions.  It is snowing, mixed with freezing rain and there are 4 inches of semi-frozen slush on the as yet unshovelled sidewalks of my neighborhood. I was brave and got dressed for a mission to resupply Fort Cockroach.  After a mere 20 minutes in the cold and slush I am happy to report mission accomplished and I am now sitting in my comfy blue bathrobe and watching god-awful Blake Edwards movie in the snug of my bedroom (or pigsty as my mother referred to it during my youth).  Like most mothers she had a vast arsenal of negative commentary on the state of my living quarters.  I vowed during our many heated exchanges during my childhood that I would live as I wanted when I grew up.  I showed her.  I now sit far too close to the TV, watching programs that will surely “rot my brain.”  I routinely spoil my appetite with junk food, and up until the infamous ‘big toe laceration and emergency room’ hyjinx of 1998, I used to run around with scissors.
The snow reminds me of my childhood in New England.  Earlier this week I had another interesting reminder of my mischievous and carefree youth. A youngster threw an egg at me.
I was riding my bicycle back from school and as I slowed down in response to a stop sign, an object whizzed by me and landed on the ground with a sound I knew all too well from my teen years.  I looked around to see what I had just missed being pelted with and then to the direction that it came from.  Sure enough, up on a roof I saw a boys head looking over a rooftop ledge to see if his projectile had reached its intended target, which in this case was a grouchy middle aged man on a bicycle.  I was instantly furious. I was fuming.  In a nanosecond my grandfather’s legendarily curmudgeonesque thought process filled my brain.  “Goddamn kids, what if I got hit by that egg, ran into a car and ended up in the hospital?  Are they going to pay my goddamn hospital bills or rent while I recover from my injuries?”  I hopped off my bike and angrily stomped over to the building where the egg had been launched.  There were men doing construction on the building and I demanded to know if the building’s superintendent was present. They weren’t terribly helpful or fluent in English, so I resorted to the burglars trick of pressing every intercom button and waiting for someone to inevitably buzz me in.  I stormed up the stairs to the roof of the building which was, of course, vacant when I arrived.  As I trudged up the stairs I imagined myself dangling the junior terrorists off the side of the roof by their ankles followed by marching them downstairs to their domicile where I would inform their parents of their chosen form of after school activities and offer corporal punishment advice.
Unsatisfied, I clomped back downstairs, told the construction foreman to inform the buildings super of the sniper situation taking place on his roof, and hopped back on my bike to continue on my journey home.  I gave one more angry yet impotent glance back up at the roof hoping to catch the little shits glancing down at me, but this was not to be.
As I pedaled back home, my angry old man’s thought process slowly transformed into a sweet nostalgia of my own youth as an egg throwing, paper bag of front porch dog crap placing arsonist and snowball marksman. I never thought about the potential accidents that could have been caused by the hundreds of projectiles I had thrown at people, cars, trucks and bicycles on a weekly if not daily basis. Back then I was too busy planning my escape routes and aiming for an open window.
By the time I arrived home I was smiling. It’s good to see the youth of today involving themselves in the same rituals of manhood that I participated in. I almost wanted to pedal back and take the wayward, egg tossing scamps out for pizza and dazzle them with stories of my youth. “See, you guys have it all wrong. Buy your eggs in August, that way they really smell by the time Halloween rolls around, and your technique is WAY off junior, you have to lead a moving target…let me show you…see that elderly lady with the walker across the street? Well, she’s perfect…slow moving, unable to give chase and hilarious to egg….”   I would regale them with the tall tales of mischief passed down from generation to generation of naughty boys. Being a fan of ancient history I have no doubts whatsoever that ancient Roman fathers told their sons about the time they toilet papered the senate, or threw eggs at the praetorian guard and ran off laughing as spears were hurled at them.
Sure, I could have very easily been hurt or been involved in a serious accident.  Except I wasn’t.  I wasn’t even hit by the egg that was thrown.  Occasionally we read about kids taking things too far resulting in unfortunate accidents.  A couple of years ago some teens stole a frozen turkey from a supermarket and tossed it out the window of a moving car causing a serious accident.  I felt bad for the injured parties of course, but I also found myself reflecting upon the possible fallout from what my friends and I had done as kids.
Western Mass, where I lived from 4th grade until late high school, was in the foothills and valleys of the Appalachian mountains.  There was plenty of snow in the winter and my friends and I knew the local forests inside and out. I have always romanticized it as a Vietnam like atmosphere in regards to the local police and our snowball or egg attack victims. Once we made it to the woods, there was little to no chance of being caught. When we did get caught it was because of boys being boys, and boys being stupid we’d return to the exact same place 20 minutes later to throw more projectiles at passing cars and pedestrians. So, the police or victimized motorists would catch us there. I don’t think my mom ever found out about the snowballs, eggs or other Halloween shenanigans which is just as well as she caught me doing literally every other thing I tried to get away with. It took me, a person with a reasonably high IQ far too long to figure out that A: My mother generally caught me at everything, and B: I was an only child, when something was broken, amiss or tampered with my mother didn’t round up the usual suspects for a full investigation. She knew I did it. Somehow this very basic logic eluded me for ages and I would stand accused and shrug my shoulders and mumble “I dunno” at my mother when I was questioned. She was like many women and the police in that she knew I did it, but she wanted the confession. I constantly held to the hope that maybe she would come up with an elaborate set of circumstances explaining everything and that all I’d have to do is agree with her theory.
Mom:  “So, I had $40 in my purse this afternoon and no one has come or gone all day. Now I have $20 and you are sitting in your room reading new comic books and dining on candy?”
Me (age 12): “It would appear so.”
Mom: “Did you take it?”
Me (looking down): “Nope”
Mom: ” I want you to be honest with me and tell me if you took it. I will be more angry if you lie to me”

(Technically I had lied to her
already. My none too bright 12 year old boy’s brain was having a serious problem with logic and understanding that I had been nailed dead to rights. She was, to her credit, also very understanding when I fessed up, so really there was no reason for me to keep lying. It’s like one of those old cartoons where the good pussycat dressed like an angel appears on one side of the cats head and a bad pussycat dressed like the devil appears on the other giving conflicting advice. It would seem, in addition to the angel and devil that I had a third little Scott…a severely retarded yet highly persuasive one telling me to stick to my epically failing lie.)
This line of questioning would go on until my mother, exhausted, would finally rain some serious guilt on me…”I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.” This, as most of us know, is a rough parental trip. My mother took it a step further and would decide that she was indeed mad and would hit and then ground me after a moments reconsideration.
Back to my own youth as a guerrilla snowballer and egg sniper. The night before Halloween was called “Cabbage Night” in my home town.  It’s called “Hell Night” and many other things in other parts of the country. Cabbage Night was a long anticipated holiday of sorts for little punks like me. Every August, the week before school started, one of my many partners in crime; Jeff and I would clean out his fridge and stock up on several dozen eggs for Oct 30th. We’d stash the eggs somewhere safe where they could ripen. As for the fridge, we’d take left overs and old food and deposit it into a 5 gallon pickle bucket that Jeff’s mother had brought home from her job as a lunch lady. We’d fill the bucket with various food stuffs, soft tomatoes, milk, then we’d add the secret ingredients…nightcrawlers, our own urine. We’d cover our secret sauce in the bucket with an airtight lid and let it ferment for 2 months until the big night when we’d pour it over the car or front porch of an unpopular school mate, a mean old man or best of all, a teacher or principal’s home. The smell was indescribable. It was quite possibly toxic.  Once, upon uncapping, a third associate of ours; “Booger Emerson” got violently ill from proximity and exposure to our concoction and he threw up for four blocks while running away and giggling.
Sure, I was angry with those boys for their attempted egging, and I plan to swing by that apartment building in the hopes of catching them.  However, after wringing their little necks and scaring them sufficiently, I will probably grab a dozen grade A extra larges and show them how it’s done. The only trouble is, if I get caught, my mom is going to be super pissed.
  1. I say you egg the kids to “show them how it’s done”.

  2. Tallkronan says:

    I’d love a bit more body to the childhood memory. More visuals, more detail. I loved it and wanted more- not because I’m all that interested in your pranks- but more in the story of you and your life.


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