Stuff I Used to Do

Last week, I solicited ideas for new blog topics.  Thankfully, you’re a creative lot, so I received several good ideas.  Choosing randomly, I have decided to address this suggestion from TopazVonZ:

“How about an occasional “Back in my day” blog about crazy crap you did while growing up, or the wonders of playing Atari for the first time (yanno, because you’re old). ❤ you Turner!!”

Ah, yes. Crazy crap from when I was growing up (because I NEVER engage in ill-conceived tomfoolery these days.)  But where to begin?  Well, any good story of childhood shenanigans must involve my younger brother.  And perhaps the prank that we were always most proud of, a prank we actually learned from my father.  A prank we called “The Sucker String.”

***WARNING: DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT DO ANYTHING I AM ABOUT TO SHARE WITH YOU.  SERIOUSLY.  DON’T.***

Here’s how it goes down.  You wait until nighttime.  You find a road/street with moderate traffic.  You get yourself some kite string or twine and stretch it across the road.  Upon this string, right in the middle, you hang a sign that simply reads “SUCKER!”

Then you wait.

Eventually, a car comes along.  This car’s headlamps light up a seemingly floating-in-midair object.  Is it debris?  Swamp gas?  A pelican?  A misplaced street sign? Jesus?  Whatever conclusion the driver comes to, it happens very quickly.  Imagine the driver humming along doing about 40 in a 35 at night, when suddenly SOMETHING IS IN THE ROAD!!  Brakes squeal, the steering wheel is jerked suddenly to the left or right, groceries in the backseat are thrown to the floor, open soft drinks in cup holders spill.  Once the vehicle comes to a halt, the driver exits, walks to the middle of the street, searches for the random object that nearly caused a rollover, and then there it is…gleaming white, a few feet away.  The driver stoops to retrieve the white paper, and the driver’s mind strains to comprehend the meaning of the letters scrawled in Magic Marker.  Why?  Why did someone put “SUCKER!” on a sign…in the middle…who…god damn it.

The amazing Nic Cage film "Drive Angry" was inspired on events from my childhood or something.

The amazing Nic Cage film “Drive Angry” was inspired by events from my childhood or something.

Now, the real trick for the pranksters is waiting it out.  Staying concealed, usually in a ditch by the side of the road, watching.  You, your little brother, maybe a couple of other street urchins.  Holding your collective breath. Anticipating.  Seeing the look of confusion turn to one of anger, hearing the paper crumple in the furious fists of a soccer mom or Cub Scout dad as they look around, knowing they’re being watched, sensing that a laugh is being had at their expense.  Hopefully it ends with the driver returning to their vehicle, mad at the sticky Tab-soaked dashboard, even madder at the punk-ass kids that almost caused a serious accident.  Usually, that’s how it works.  Usually.

BWAHAHAHAA!!! DUDE ALMOST DIED!!

BWAHAHAHAA!!! DUDE ALMOST DIED!!

Sometimes your brother is cackling with glee at the chaos you’ve sown, and one of your cohorts has to literally clamp a hand over your sibling’s mouth.  And sometimes the angry driver spots you, and you have to dart from cover, high-tailing it through back yards, dodging clothes lines, hurdling fences, inciting the frenzied barks of a dozen curious dogs.  This is much more difficult when your brother is laughing so hard he can barely stand, much less run.  One person on either side, holding him up as he lurches along.  It’s like he’s been gassed by the Joker and hell is chasing behind us in the form of a guy with a mustache and a flashlight and hatred in his glowing eyes, just visible beneath the bill of the dirty Reds cap he always wears when framing houses.

There’s a different kind of fear when you’re a kid.  On one hand, it’s a much more innocent fear.  You know nothing of lawsuits or bail bondsmen or metal-pipe beatdowns (baseball bats and padlocks?  Sure, but that’s a tale for another time.  True story.)  But there’s another fear that kids experience in such a situation.  Fear of the unknown.  What happens if this dude catches us?  What if one of us breaks his ankle stumbling through somebody’s garden?  What if he knows our parents and he’s WAITING AT OUR HOUSE WHEN WE GET BACK?!?!  What if he’s an off-duty cop?  Or a killer?  (When I was a kid, we really didn’t fear kidnapping or abuse or any of the real-world horrors of today.  Nope, getting killed.  That was really about the worst thing a guy could do to you.  Imagine how much nicer X-Box Live would be if that were still the case.  “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU, NOOB!”)  That fear was so awesome.  It was sort of a drug, and I’ll admit that my brother and I would probably be labelled “adrenaline junkies” had the title existed back in the early-80’s.  It was the fear you get from riding a really well-designed roller coaster.  You KNOW you’re going to be okay.  That damn thing has been running all day, every day, for a dozen summers in a row, and nobody’s been killed whilst riding it.

Yet.  Nobody’s been killed yet…

Possibly the biggest buzzkill in the history of this blog. Damn.

Possibly the biggest buzzkill in the history of this blog. Damn.

There are a million other wonderful stories of my brother and myself getting into misadventures and, yes, trouble.  But I wanted to share this one so you’d have some idea of how things used to go down.  Was this as bad as nearly burning up a friend with our homemade napalm? No.  Was it as destructive as the time my brother pulled a “Carthage” on a mean old neighbor’s lawn?  No.  Was it riskier than simple tee-peeing?  Yes.  A better story than the time my high-school pals and I attempted to re-enact the taking of Grenada by literally stealing the Grenada Ave. street sign?  Oh, very much so.  There are many more tales of larceny and near-escapes, because I had a hell of a childhood and a brother to share it with.  And now that I have kids of my own, it’s time to pass on what I’ve learned.

Watch out, Ft. Wayne.  There are two new Watson Boys almost old enough to begin wreaking havoc.  May God have mercy on your souls. (And drive safely!)

Notions.

Going through some of my notes (take good notes, kids.  You never know when there’ll be a quiz.) Making observations.  Pondering things.  Coming to realizations and conclusions. Here, then, are two of them.

The modern music video was invented by the late-60’s early-70’s classic “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?”  Seriously.  Remember that cartoon?  The original.  Not that Scrappy-Doo blasphemy.  Anyway, in the second or third season, they started adding these chase scenes near the end with Scoob, Shaggy, etc. running back and forth, avoiding the “monster” by hiding in cupboards, in and out of rooms in a long hallway, running SMACK DAB INTO THE SPOOK and then turning, running in place for an agonizing second before shooting off again…and all the while, this insipid Davey Jones-style pop music played in the background.  For example, fast-forward to about the :45 mark of this classic…

There wasn’t any need for this sort of montage, really, except to fill time. But the effect was solid, and the producers/directors continued using this device even into the more modern incarnations and movies, such as “Scooby Doo and the Ghoul School.”  The only difference was the use of more modern pop-punk Save-Ferris rip-offs, but they’re still there.  But take a moment to consider cartoons and television in general before, say, 1972.  Can you imagine an episode of “Dragnet” with a long musical montage of Joe Friday kicking open doors and rousting hop-heads?  (Actually, that sounds pretty awesome.) Or if that famous candy-conveyor-belt bit from “I Love Lucy” had a cool Perry Como ditty playing behind it?  It just never occurred to anyone to do that.  Then, about ten years later, bands started making their own Scooby-Doo chase scenes to promote their tunes; they just forgot to add Scooby-Doo.  However, note that Matthew Sweet’s ‘Girlfriend’ video was almost completely re-purposed anime footage.  A few years later, Mr. Sweet would cover the Scooby-Doo theme song.  THAT’S what you call full circle, ladies and gents.

Gather ’round, children, and I’ll tell you the tale of the early-90’s. When Matthew Sweet was a rock star, and not…well…whatever he is now.

Another observation:  I have been showing my dick to fewer and fewer people.  True story.  People that know me are aware that I have a penchant for showing my junk off in the most inappropriate places and at the least beneficial times.  I do this primarily to shock people and to sow chaos, naturally.  But recently, I just…well, haven’t had the desire.  I wondered if perhaps I was growing out of my adolescence (since, you know, I’m forty-fucking-TWO now) and being responsible.  But let’s be honest:  it’s still me. Me and my penis.  So I have two hypotheses:

ONE: Everyone in Ft. Wayne has been privy to my casual “Hey, is this gum?” trick (wherein you open your fly and pull part of your scrotum through it.  Looks like pink, chewed gum at first.  Watching the realization of what they’re actually seeing creep onto your victim’s faces is priceless.  Hysterical.)  All manner of men and women have seen my casual dangle, and so there are none left to shock.  “Yeah, Turner, we know.  It’s your piece.  Great.  Can we get back to work now?”  It’s to the point that when I wear my kilt people just roll their eyes instead of fleeing in terror.  In other words, the flashing of twig and berries has lost its shock value.  Dammit.

“Soooo, nothing? Nothing at all? Damn.”

TWO: I haven’t played much hockey lately.  See, hockey players LOVE showing their units to anyone and everyone.  I think there’s some latent homosexuality to some of it, sure.  But it’s also because hockey guys LOVE chaos and pranks, and there’s no more surefire way to enjoy both than with a simple “Hey!  Look what I found!  ZZZZZZIIIIIPPPP” at a buddy’s wedding reception.  Pure comedy. Remember Johnny Upton in ‘Slap Shot’ when forced to do the fashion show?  (If you haven’t seen ‘Slap Shot’ then kindly remove yourself from my presence until you correct this.  Thank you.) That movie got so much right, and the hockey/sexuality/brazen penis talk is spot-on. I think there’s also the male-domination factor.  Literally, it’s dominating the other males by showing the ultimate in confidence.  Letting everyone see for themselves how grand or miniscule your babymaker is.  That’s a risk most won’t take, and the guy who DOES whip it out is afraid of nothing.  Not your judgement, your sense of decorum, your thoughts on his girth, the authorities, the wrath of his girlfriend…nothing.  It’s a big testosterone-fueled chest-thump of sorts.  And since I’ve been away from hockey a bit, my instincts have waned.  I’m out of shape.  I’m a fat, slovenly shell of who I once was.  Time to whip my dick out.

YES!! They TOTALLY bought it!

“I Pranked Him to Death!”

Hey, kids!  Lots of news on the ol’ T-Dub front these days.  I’ll blog about it all later this week.  In the meantime, just a couple of fun tricks to try to further the cause of chaos.  Boy, do I love chaos.  Heck, I even love iheartchaos.com!  Anyway, the first of these occurred to me whilst wading through the human refuse that is Chuck E. Cheese’s.  Enjoy responsibly…

 

Please, good sir...throw us a crust...a chicken wing...ANYTHING!! It's been...it's been WEEKS!!

 

Okay, so there’s this ride at the Rat Haus wherein the kid sits in a little car with a fiberglass replica of Chuck.  The car goes forward and back for a few minutes then PRESTO!  A blurry black and white picture of your confused toddler and Chuck pops out, making it look the two are off to get Marcellus’s briefcase back.  (Shoulda brought shotguns.) Well, more often than not, the li’l tyke runs off to jam some more tokens into another game or ride, leaving the picture to sit there in the hopper.  Not like you don’t already have thirty of ’em on your fridge, right?  Shit, kid…mommy and daddy know what you look like already!  What to do with all those discarded images?  Simple!  Scoop ’em up.  Take ’em home.  Enlarge them, print them out, and hang ’em up all over town as “CHILD MISSING” posters.  Boy, mom & dad are gonna be in for a surprise when the local news comes a-callin’!

 

Then again, promotional opportunities GALORE!

 

Perhaps you’re skipping Chuck’s for today.  Good call.  Head on down to the Super China Buffet III.  But make sure you take some pre-printed fortune cookie fortunes.  I like to use phrases like “HaHa!  Stupid round-eye!  That no crab Rangoon!” Or perhaps a venomous “REMEMBER LAOS!!  Die, Yankee!”  Or my personal fave, best as a hand-written note: “I peed in your rice!”  Then simply walk briskly and angrily to the front desk and present these “fortunes” to the confused manager.  Your meal is free!

 

Unless this guy is the kitchen manager. Then run. Run your ASS off.

 

This final one is a little tricky, but also simpler. It’s tough o carry out nowadays because big giant stores like Wal Mart tend to have their PA systems under closer scrutiny thanks to idiots like myself.  But if you DO happen to find an unattended store paging phone (some budget stores just have a keyable CB handset) grab it and tip off a quick all-store page for “Cleanup, STAT!  Feminine hygiene! Bring a mop, some absorbent towels, and a bucket of sawdust!”  Watch ’em scurry.

 

Subtlety? Look elsewhere.

 

I’ll talk to you later this week.  It’ll be a good ‘un.  Until then…