These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy
Chomp goes the Weasel
Cisco’s dad grew up down around Marseilles and went down there now and then to attend to family business. One time we convinced him to take us with him so we could go hiking in the valleys and hills along the Illinois River. Where we lived it was primarily flat, flat farmland. The idea of a change in elevation more than 6 feet filled us with no end of excitement. We got down to Marseilles about 8am and Cisco’s dad let us run free. Three 8th graders being set free on a sunny late fall day. Cicso’s dad told us to meet him around 2pm in town. Given that the town only had one intersection, that was enough direction.
We followed the river looking for whatever we could find. We found a few old garbage piles, long forgotten by families long gone from the land. We tracked deer, but failed to see any on that trip. We talked about school, girls, hunting, partying…any number of topics that we really didn’t have any experience with. We were gone about two hours when we realized that the trip back was going to be a lot tougher since we had been going downhill most of the time. This is when Hymie had his first great idea of the day. He reasoned that if we simply climbed up the steep, forested hill next to us, we would put ourselves at the right elevation and have an easy walk back. Never mind that it was probably one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet up. Never mind that it was covered in leaves and dense brush. Never mind that the October rain had been pretty heavy that year. I bring up all these reasons not to climb the hill now mainly because I did not think of them then. Way back then, in the fall of ’77, our answer to his plan was “sure, sounds reasonable.” This was one of the earliest examples of a principle that was to play out several times over the course of our teen years: Two teenaged boys are 60% as smart as a single teenaged boy. Three teenaged boys are a lot less smart than that. 5 or more are no brighter than a lab chimp after the experiment.
The climb was significantly harder than it looked. Under the foot of downed leaves was another foot of wet, slick leaves that provided surprisingly little traction. The few places without leaves were muddy eroded run offs, hardly any better than the leaves. We climbed, using trees for footholds and pulling of bushes like they were climbing ropes. About half the way up the hill we got much better at not grabbing the thorny berry bushes. Quick learners, that was us. While it was a cool day, the work climbing up the hill in fairly heavy clothes lead us to work up a sweat. After about 30 minutes we reached the summit and started the long walk back. We were each covered in mud from our frequent falls, dripping with sweat, and pulling stickers out of our sliced up hands. An hour and a half later we shuffled into town, caked with mud, blood and sweat. We had time to kill, so we headed for the old Dairy Queen.
Cisco and I got milkshakes while Hymie got a cup of Ice Cream. We sat down and relived our adventure, quickly planning where we would go next time we came to town. Two girls, about our age, came in got some ice cream and sat down at the table across from us. They were whispering, giggling…the exact things that cause a 14yr old boy’s higher brain functions to cease, but do serve to kick up the primate brain. Remember my earlier rule about how smart three teen boys are? If you modify that with the presence of giggly teenage girls you can effective reduce the intelligence to that of a doorknob. A horny doorknob to be exact.
We kept exchanging looks and they exchanged giggles and whispers. Hymie starts to play with the ice cream on his red plastic spoon. Slowly licking it while giving them his version of bedroom eyes. The girls giggled even more. Hymie gave Cisco and I a look, the one I knew meant trouble was imminent and I needed to make sure I had a clear path to the door and all my belongings were accounted for. Hymie dipped the spoon in his ice cream and stuck it in his mouth, all the time staring at these poor young girls. He swirled the spoon around his mouth and the girls erupted into the biggest giggles yet. This was his cue, the trigger for that contrary streak that was never far from the surface. He stopped swirling then bit down sharply. The spoon made a loud crack sound that caused the girls to cease their giggle. Hymie then swallowed and smiled at the girls, holding the snipped off spoon handle out for them to see. They sat silenced for a moment then grabbed their jackets and ran out of the Dairy Queen. Hymie smiled at us and spit the spoon pieces into his ice cream cup. “We can leave now” he said.
We never went back to the DQ in Marseilles. Go figure