Friday, January 7, 2011

Balls of mud and other activities

I was indeed throwing mud balls at the side of our house. A house with white siding. I don’t know why. I was like 8 yrs old. I liked to throw things. I was good at it. Kids do what they think they are good at. Pick up some mud. Use some grass and twigs to get it to stay together just right and then heave it as hard as I could against the side of the house from fifteen yards away. Wham! Wham! Each mud ball would rattle the windows of the house as it exploded on the ivory exterior. The balls of mud would create spectacular patterns on the siding as the core of the mud ball was forced outward from the impact. Not too unlike a snowball fight. With a house. And not too unlike creating snowflake. Except they are brown and lumpy. So there I am. Striking out the Yankees one by one. They were a crafty bunch and these fastballs just weren't getting the job done. I was ahead by one run and the last batter was at the plate. It was Hank Aaron. No, the teams and the players don't have to match. You just play against the best of the best. Always. This situation called for a curve ball. Full count. Now, in order for the curve ball to get to over the plate I need to start it out high and right. Just about the edge of the front living room window. I rocked and fired. The ball of mud left my hand perfectly as I anticipated the graceful arc of the curve ball that would result in triumph. But physics is funny. Sometimes it applies, sometimes it doesn't. I discovered instantly that mud and baseballs do not react the same when imparted spin. Mud doesn't curve. At all. I watched in agony as the mud ball flew straight at and through the window shattering the upper pane of four that made up the window. Crap. I stood there petrified. Then I heard the doorknob of the back door turn, click and then the door was open. There stood my mom. OK. Now I had been tossing heavy loud mud balls at the house for a while with no reaction and now that a little glass and mud entered the house there she was. I was sure this was not entirely my fault. She LET me do it. It was just as much her fault. She calmly surveyed the damage, turned and looked me straight in the eye. "Did you just throw mud through this window?" Panic. Terror. I stood there covered in mud from head to toe, mud balls at my feet, brain calculating my predicament. Then, I gently raised my hand and categorically denied any participation in the breaking of any glass of any kind. I discussed at length how the glass was obviously defective and broke on its own accord without any outside interference of any kind. I don't really remember if i got into trouble because of that. Surely i did but i don't remember it. There is a chance my mom just laughed and made me clean the side of the house with the hose. Dunno. Kids are so dumb. And cute.

We had a swimming pool. It was a 3 foot galvanized steel tub that sat in a small patch of sun just beyond the kitchen window. I swam in it. It was safe. Right up until the biggest effing bee in the entire universe stabbed me on the shoulder. I watched it in super slow motion fly right up to me, ME, a superior being, and proceed to impale itself in an excruciating death dance upon my tender white wing. I was maybe 4. I never moved a muscle. I just watched it happen in silence. Then I screamed. A lot. LOUDLY. Who the hell was that bee to do that to me. What did i ever do to it? I mean personally. I may have used a member of its family for batting practice with a plastic bat but that wasn’t personal but that stab sure as hell was. The animal world needed to brush up on its rules. I was offended. I still am. Bastards.

I could throw a ball and swing a bat pracitcally from birth. In the summertime in Oklahoma there are fireflies. Lots of fireflies. We actually call them lightning bugs but fireflies is easier to type. They come out just at dusk and stay around all night if it is warm and humid and calm. I would take my plastic baseball bat and run around in the dark looking for flashes. When I would see one flash I would run to where the flash was and then scan the horizon with my corners of my eyes for the next flash. Eventually I would connect the dots and guess where the next flash would come. When it did i would triangulate its position and give a mighty babe ruth swing that most often would result in a spectacular flying glowing green dead insect. When you hit them their butts would explode and glow with fluorescent yellow-green sticky goo. Every summer night my plastic bat glowed too. Glowed with the light from a dozen smooshed lightning bug butts. I was superior.

When the creek was full of water during or after a rain I would take little plastic airplanes...hold on. Yes I had these big bags of little plastic airplanes like plastic army men only they were airplanes. All colorful too. Small. The largest plane was only maybe two inches across. I don't know why. I never ran around with them playing Charles Lindbergh games. Anyway i would go out in the rain to the creek and I would put a bright yellow plastic airplane in the stream and watch it float with the current. There were lots of little waterfalls and pools and I helped it along with a stick if it got stuck. I would do this for hours. In the pouring rain. The way the water gave the little toy plane energy and made it come alive and give it movement fascinated the hell out of me. The little plane would spin this way and that and tumble down the falls and bounce over rocks and stumps and roots. And never ever the same way twice. Sometimes I would put two or three planes in the water at the same time to race them downstream. Put it in the water. Poke it with a stick. Walk a hundred yards watching it the entire time. Pick it up. Take it back as far as possible and do it again and again and again and again. All by myself in a pouring rain on a warm summer afternoon.

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