I was born in Iowa.
Stay with me, the story gets better, I promise.
I was born in Iowa. Iowa is really, really flat. You can place a marble on any surface in Iowa and it won’t roll. When I was seven we moved to upstate New York. New York has hills. Big ones.
Our street (in NYS) was shaped like a U. The turn in the U was on a hill. At the top of the hill was our driveway, which went farther up the hill. Two hundred feet up. This sucked, because you had to push your bike all the way up. And when it was icy, it was almost impossible to get a car up it. Sometimes it would backslide. I learned to swear from my dad trying to get the car up that hill.
My best friend Gordy learned to swear from his dad, who apparently would swear simply because the day ended in a Y. Nasty mouth on that man.
This is headed somewhere, honest.
The fun thing about that driveway was that when it was icy, it was balls for sledding. Remember those sleds that were just a sheet of blue plastic? Balls on that driveway. Blue balls. Except that we weren’t allowed to sled down it. My mother had some strange notion that we’d slide into the street and get hit by a car. Stupid parents. Don’t know nuthin’.
So Gordy and I used to play at the bottom of the hill, near his house. Our favorite game (next to The Ginger and Maryann Club) was to play Partridge Family in the woods. There was a clearing that we made the stage. We used sticks for guitars. Gordy was always Danny. Stupid Doug was always Keith. I always got stuck playing Reuben. I hated it. And it was always hard getting a Chris. We’d usually kidnap some little kid and force him to pretend to play air drums. He’d usually run away in tears, crying “I don’t wanna!” Usually the kid was Gordy’s little brother Phil. Red-headed little brat. Obviously had no interest in the entertainment arts. Phil would rather just ride his Big Wheel. Remember those? They were the Lamboghinis of tricycles.
I guarantee, I’m going somewhere with this.
A few years later, Gordy and I had a falling out. We even got into a fistfight. We rarely spoke. My sister no longer spoke to his sister. My mother no longer spoke to his mother. It was sad, really. Our families used to be so close. Drifted apart, I guess.
But every now and then we’d still see Phil. He’d walk his Big Wheel up our long driveway, then ride it, pedal-free, down our driveway, then turn right onto the street and ride all the way down the hill to his house. I’m sure it was a sweet ride, but by this time I realized what folly it was. He could have been hit by a car! And he’d do this over and over again.
My mother used to worry about him a lot. “That kid’s going to get hit by a car and die!”, she say.
And he did. He got hit by a car and died. Or maybe not. I forget. Either he got hit by a car and died, or he went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Silly me, I can never remember which it was.
Good on yer, Phil.