Tuesday, May 11, 2010
My Life as a Criminal
When I was ten, we moved out of the tough city of Elizabeth and into a small suburb before I finished fifth grade. Mention the words 'middle school' to most people and many times you'll see a flash of terror wash across their face. It's an awkward time. You start noticing the opposite sex (or the same sex, like my friend Lionel, who you'll meet another day) you take note of how people are dressing, and being cool is the most important thing in the world. Middle school was my 'wear oversized jeans and talk like Coolio' phase. I hung out with a group of kids who liked to steal street signs, listen to bands like Tool and Bush, and 'set shit on fire'. They are all living respectable adult lives now so I'll change their names to protect their images. But above, you'll see a picture of us when I turned 13.
The night before spring break started in seventh grade, a bunch of us had a sleepover over at my friend Coby's house. Coby had a big brother named Chris, who was the epitome of cool, and also about 2 million times stronger than I will ever be. Now let me clarify that in our group of trouble makers, I was the biggest pussy. I did not like jumping fences or running really fast away from authority. That's how people die. Fence accidents and running spills. I probably would have worn a helmet if it didn't risk my coolness.
All of us were so happy that Coby's big bro was going to be present. Now it was certain that our night would kick ass. All of my friends had agreed with big Chris, that the most fun would be had in the basement by turning out the lights and having big Chris beat the crap out of whoever he got his hands on, regardless of race or creed. In my heart, I knew this was the worst idea ever uttered, but how could I say anything? Chris would punch a hole in my face and then everyone would call me 'hole-face' for the rest of my life. Not an option. So when the lights went out, and the sound of fists punching stomachs filled the air, I did the only thing a wuss could do at that moment: hide in the laundry room. The noises terrified me. I felt like I was hiding outside the Russian roulette house in the Deer Hunter. Young men losing their dignity in a cold New Jersey basement. Every once in awhile, big Chris would turn on the lights to make sure he hadn't killed anyone, like any responsible big brother would do, and I had to run out of the laundry room and pretend that I was present the entire time. "That was dope yo!" I'd say. Then when the lights went out, I ran into the gauntlet, located Chris by sound and punched him in the face, while screaming "What you're doing is wrong!" Someone had to stop him. "Whoever did that is gonna die!" he screamed. And I ran back into the laundry room. The beatings went on for about three hours.
At about two in the morning, Chris' friend Jack came by and offered to walk with us youngsters to Dunkin' Donuts. I would have left that basement to play doctor with Satan at that point. I just wanted to leave. My friend Jeremy was limping from his injuries, muttering things like "I think Chris broke my ass bone" and "I'm having trouble living"
So, Chris' friend Jack looked like he'd been grown in a lab, using crab grass and retarded stepchildren. "Hey you guys wanna steal a car?" "That's okay Jack, I'm cool" I said, completely horrified at the look of seriousness on his inbred face. And there was no shortage of ideas to get us all imprisoned for life. "Let's break into this garage and set fire to the entire house! Let's draw a swastika on their front door" Suddenly, Jeremy informed us that he was tired by laying down for a nap on a random front lawn. "Just let me sleep for a few hours, then come back and get me. Don't draw a swastika on me Jack." Jack had become impatient with our reluctant attitude, and the next thing I know, he is ringing a doorbell and running like a cross-eyed jackal, screaming RUN FAGGOTS!!! Jeremy was already asleep and we had to drag him off the grass into the street. "Alright, I can run on my own, please!!" Jeremy begged. We finally made it to D&D and stuffed our faces with Boston creams and chocolate glazed donuts. After Jack suggested we find someone to murder, we decided to sneak out of there when he went to the bathroom. We looked like tiny soldiers after a long battle with a giant and a dozen donuts. Our mistake was taking the same route back to Coby's. Why? Because the house that Jack ding-dong-ditched had called the police. That’s what they do in the suburbs, and they were waiting for us when we passed.
Where the hell do you kids think you're going?
Back to my house. I live right over there.
Were you ringing your neighbor's doorbell?
We don't have to answer any of these racist questions. We plead the tenth PoPo!
Guess what? Now you all have to get in the back of my car. Now!
He drove us all to the police station. For some reason, I couldn't shut my stupid mouth. "My parents are going to take you to court! Why do you like imprisoning kids in your car, pervert?" They called all of our parents down and my mom came, and she was beside herself to begin with. Then the cop told her that I was the worst one, and that I was a punk kid and he wouldn't be surprised if I made frequent visits to the station in the future. He wasn't totally wrong about that. I was a little punk, but I was proud of it. That is until I got home and my dad yelled at me for four hours straight, without taking a breath. It was a lot like the Deer Hunter. It really was.