I was taking a walk through my residential streets when a boy about 10 years old rode past me on his bike. He had the mandatory bike helmet on plus elbow pads, knee pads and a bright yellow vest with reflective tape. Somebody’s mom is a bit protective, no?
That got me to thinking of my boyhood. I didn’t have any of the things that kid was wearing. In fact, I don’t even think they were invented back then. Yeah, we had electricity and ballpoint pens! I’m not that old! The thing is we fell off our bikes just like kids today. The only difference is that we paid for our mistakes. Not that it made us any less reckless. What you are about to read should never reach the eyes of your children. I take no responsibility for what your idiot kids will copy. All this stuff is life-endangering.
Like the warning says, “Do not try this at home!“
My next-door neighbor, Barry and I spent just about every daytime hour together when school was not in session. We did things that I don’t think were any different than what any two boys did to pass the long days of Summer in those days. We didn’t go indoors except to eat and pee. Sometimes not even to pee. We had lots of trees way out of public view.
Lawn Darts… Need I say more? What child-hating monster invented these. And what moronic toy company actually thought it would be a good idea to sell them? They were banned around 1988…far after when we got our set. That was somewhere in the early ’60’s. Sure, at first we followed the rules of the game, but that got boring in about 3 seconds. After that, we made up our own game with the logical progression to pub darts (the rules being more like suggestions than rules). There were two or three inch points on those babies. Our game was called “Dart Dodge”. We’d take turns laying spread-eagle on the lawn. The other one would throw a dart into the air and try to get as close as possible to the victim on the lawn (yes, we used the term “victim”). Rolling out of the way was allowed (we weren’t suicidal for Pete’s sake), but if the dart landed in a spot away from the victim’s original position the victim lost points for being cowardly. Points were awarded based on how close the dart came to the victim. Conversely, if the dart hit something like a shirt sleeve or the toe of a sneaker the victim got 10 points for bravery. Each game took 21 points to win.
I swear we never would have came up with such a game if it weren’t for the lawn darts. All was going well in our first tournament…for about 10 minutes. I tossed a dart up in the air. Barry lie there on the lawn watching it go up and then slowly floating through a graceful arc and starting its Earthbound flight.
Barry was brave. I’ll give him that.
The dart came whistling toward him. Being behind by 8 points he gambled on a sleeve shot that would have given him the 10 points he needed to move into the winner’s circle. Down came the dart finding its resting place in his left bicep. He screamed in pain! I screamed in fear of either his father or my own would kill me!
My mom, the ever-present neighborhood first aid mom proved to be our savior. I pulled him (by his good arm) screaming to my house with the dart still sticking in his other arm. I think I said something about never pulling out the arrow until you got to the doctor or built a fire to heat up the Bowie knife to cauterize the wound. I learned that from every cowboys and Indians movie I saw. My mom took one look and yanked out the dart. Barry screamed. Mom squeezed his arm to make it bleed. More screaming. She whipped out the wonder liquid Hydrogen Peroxide and poured in on Barry’s war wound. Barry broke out into another aria of pain. Now, we both knew Peroxide didn’t sting. It was just the thought I’m sure.
Then Mom did what all moms used to do. She called the family doctor. Doc asked when Barry had his last Tetanus booster. Now, Barry was one of those kids who was skinned up on a good day. Many a bad day was spent in the emergency room for stitches or sprained ankles that might have been broken. No sense in taking chances even though he was the most up-to-date kid on the block when it came to vaccines just for sheer will of survival. Mom told us that Doc said Barry would be okay…just keep an eye out for infection. Infection? Ha! Infections were for girls.