Stinky forgot to fasten her seatbelt the other day, and it made me a little nervous. Not just for the fine that we'd get if a cop spotted it, but for what would have happened if we had been in an accident. Then, I had to laugh at my spaz, because I don't think I ever wore a seatbelt until sometime in the late eighties. People always say that cars were bigger and safer in the seventies, but we had a little Toyota Corolla back then and now I have a Subaru station wagon. And honestly, I'm still not very good about making the girls wear bicycle helmets. I'm not saying it's bad that we're safer with our kids now, I just wonder how me and my friends made it out of childhood alive with all the dangerous shit we did. Here is a list of things we did the back then, that probably would cause DHS to maintain an active role in our lives now.
1. Not only did we not wear helmets when we rode bikes, we also didn't even wear shoes. My bike was red white and blue and had one of those big banana seats, (it was called the Liberty Bell, and you can start being jealous right now) so I could usually fit one friend on the seat with me, and one on the handlebars. I sure couldn't see very well, but no one ever seemed to worry about that.
2. When I lived in Mesa, during monsoon season we would lie in the gutters in nasty, dirty puddles of water on Horn Street ( a very, very, busy street) and wait for cars to drive by and splash us. I never heard of even one kid getting their legs run over. Weird.
3. We played in construction sites almost every day. In Mesa, during the seventies, you couldn't throw a rock without hitting a building project, and that's exactly what we did. We threw rocks at new windows, climbed around in half-built houses with bare feet and pretended they were ours. I do remember one kid stepping on a nail and having to get a tetanus shot, though.
4. When we lived in Chicago, we used to play this game called frisbee tag. It was basically like dodge ball, but with a hard plastic frisbee, so it would do more damage. Did I mention that we played this quaint game in the middle of the street?
5. We used to go up to a relative's summer cabin on Paw Paw Lake on the weekends. My Uncle and his brothers would get drunk and take us kids water skiing. After a while they'd get bored and think of imaginitive ways to make us fall, so they could drive the boat back to the cabin and get more beer. My two favorites were; cranking the boat up past 30 miles per hour and making the sharpest turns possible, and then taking us right up to the ski ramp so that if you didn't let go of the rope, you'd be forced to jump at neck breaking speeds. I wish I had been drunk at the time so I could have appreciated it. Come to think of it, it was really funny when they did it to my cousins...
6. My Uncle's mom used to give us a lunch bag full of M-80's on the Fourth of July to play with. Is it four or eight of those that equal a stick of dynamite? We liked to blow them up in the big pipes that were used for irrigation in the ground. (explosive gases? What gases?) One year, my cousin Teddy thought it would be fun to explode all the toys in his sandbox with M-80's. I have to say, there is nothing more satisfying than watching metal trucks blow-up and knowing you were responsible. The next morning, I found my six year old cousin on his knees in the sandbox, lamenting the demise of all his Tonkas. He must not have finally realized that when you obliterated something into tiny pieces, there was no putting it back together.
Here is me and a cousin on an inner tube at Paw Paw Lake in 1980.