Alright, so after my parents divorced, we moved with my mom to a house that was two doors north of my Uncle Larry’s place. He was my dad’s brother, and it wasn’t uncommon to see Dad’s pickup parked there on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
It also wasn’t uncommon for me to have stupid ideas.
This is one of those times that the two landed on the same day.
Now this was a weekend that we were at Mom’s and my brother Larry and I were playing in the yard. We just happened to be looking for something fun to do, when Dad’s truck pulled into Uncle Larry’s driveway.
“Hey, we should go and crawl under Dad’s truck.” said I, in my infinite wisdom.
“We’ll drag underneath it when he backs up, then we’ll climb into the box and scare the shit out of him. He won’t be able to see us in his mirror, then…BANG! We are yelling at him in the back of his truck. It’s going to be so funny.”
“Haha, that’ll be so awesome. Let’s sneak through the ditch, so he doesn’t see us. We’ll be like ninjas.”
I thought that was a great idea, so I answered with a silent nod and point towards my uncle’s place.
Back in the early 80’s, people weren’t as flippant with the word “ninja” as they are today. Back then it meant something; especially to a young boy who had just watched this.
So we stealthily crept through the ditch and crawled under the truck, hanging on to the rear bumper so he couldn’t take off without us, and we waited. After a short while that seemed like two days, we heard the screen door open and heard him say goodbye to Uncle Larry.
This was it, our time to shine.
He fired up the beast and started backing out onto the road. Everything was going according to plan. We smiled at each other and laughed inwardly. As the truck came to a stop we spun around and grabbed the bumper while moving into a crouch position behind the truck. YES! It was totally working. As he started going forward, Larry lost his grip on the bumper and was left behind as I “land skated” behind the old girl.
Shit. I was going to have to go this one alone.
As he picked up speed, I reached up to grab the top of the tailgate and pull myself into the back of the truck. This was going to be so cool. I secretly wished I would be able to record the the manoeuvre and the look on his face as I leapt into the box and started yelling at him.
That was when the tailgate popped open from not being shut all the way and smashed me in the face. That sent me skittering onto the road at about twenty miles an hour. I’m not going to tell you that I wasn’t concerned, because I was, but when I finally stopped and realized that I was okay, I began to grin. Partially because I was glad to not be mortally wounded, but also because I knew I would have made it had the gate stayed shut. A few scraped up limbs was worth knowing that.
The truck slid to a stop and Dad came running back toward me, as my brother was yelling and making his way toward me too. He was laughing and grinning when he got to me, and had a look of incredulity at what had just happened.
Then there was Dad. I’ll never forget the look on his face through the stars and my pulsing, bloodshot eyes. It was an expression of shock that turned to horror. Oh, and then the fear, that I might have mistaken for rage.
Can you imagine being a parent and seeing your kid in the middle of the road with blood all over his smiling face? I couldn’t then, but I sure can now. He had no clue what had happened, just as I suspected, but instead of that being funnier, it was just a lot scarier. I think about the myriad of emotions that would course through me if it was one of the girls that this happened to. It’s really hard to fathom.
Not that I will ever have to worry about that though, because they are far too smart to pull that kind of stunt, and they rarely go outside. This is good, because that means that most of the things I expected to die from as a young man are off the table, and there’s a way less chance of them developing harmful sunspots.
I can’t say I’m proud of all of the things that I’ve done, but I can say I’ve never intentionally hurt anyone,