Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Tale of Violence and Interstate Pubes

  When I last left you, I signed off with a promise that the next time we were together, I would tell you about a game. And I will, along with how we got there. However, please let me warn you that this isn't a very nice game.(Or it is, I suppose it depends upon your own perspective.)
  I also warned you that things could get a bit vulgar.
  At first I figured that I would write a few nice little pieces and then, after we had gotten to know each other a bit, I'd cold-cock ya with a dirty little zinger. I soon realized that this could not be so. If we are going to co-exist here, you need to know now how things really can be. I wouldn't feel right if you were to feel ambushed without knowing where the exit door was located. That having been said, we can now reach that fork in the road where you either join me, or we bid each other adieu.

  I grew up in Hutchinson, KS. And in the fall of 1994, at age 18, I was to meet 3 guys who would become nearly constant companions for the next six years of my life. One was a rail-thin, pale wraith of a guy named Jason, who at the time was homeless, wore occasional eyeliner and sometimes liked to sleep in sundresses. The other two were brothers named Brian and Danny who grew up in Lansing, KS and had just reached an age where they could leave the youth homes they had spent a greater part of their childhood in, having no parents to speak of.
   What the brothers did have was a house to live in, and upon meeting Jason they immediately took him in, knowing about being misplaced themselves. I spent a lot of time in the next few months hanging out at that house. Never had I been witness to such squalor. No one had any money or jobs except Jason who worked at Burger King, yet there always seemed to be beer and other substances of an illegal nature. Brian had hardcore porno pics and High Times posters on his bedroom walls the way that normal kids had posters of their favorite rock bands. Danny, who kinda resembled a young Jim Morrison with lighter hair, was always trying to get into the pants of different girls, often succeeding. Almost every dinner included mac and cheese, and once I saw a pitbull forgotten in a refrigerator icebox. The dog proved to be okay and lived another 13 years, so no need to worry there.

   Another thing that everyone had in abundance, was boredom. And when young stoned men with no skills of any sort to speak of get bored, they sometimes turn to a loving, friendly form of violence. Everyone could be in conversation, laughing, having a great time, when completely out of nowhere you would get a lightning quick punch to the arm. Other times it could be a slap to the back of the head and in extreme cases a straight kick to the balls. I once took a thrown cigarette lighter right between the eyes, drawing blood. And keep in mind you, that all of this was out of friendship and love. Honestly. You took your blows, you gave your blows, everybody laughed and you moved on. Also, this was pre-Jackass. If we had filmed everything, it could have been us having our 15 minutes.

   Eventually, things began to get out of control a little bit. One day I walked into the house and found all 3 guys with another friend sitting in a circle facing each other. They had fashioned little homemade darts out of sewing needles and aluminum foil, and after holding the tips of these darts to a lighter flame for sterilization, they would throw these heated little missiles at each other. The rule seemed to be: limbs only. Soon enough, one of the little bastards(as was bound to happen) went astray and ended up embedded in the top of our friend Dave's ear. I was out! Fuck you guys! And Fuck THAT!!

   Years went by, houses changed, many more friends were brought into the fold, but still we took and gave our blows. Homemade darts even gave way to real darts. Jason and I were now co-workers and once, a guy we worked with who was about as redneck as you can get, witnessed Brian and Jason throwing real weighted darts at each other. It was a long time before he came back around.
    As one would expect, that kind of pain gets old after awhile. At least I imagine that it does. I happened to be one of the very few lucky ones to never catch a dart. And while we still took and gave punches, slaps,and kicks, I believe that deep down everyone knew that a new game was due. A less violent game. A game that was fun, yet was still punishing. And THAT, FINALLY is the game I've promised to tell you about.

    I have no idea who thought of it first, but that man was a genius! It spread like a wildfire through our vast clique of wayward misfits, and that was because ANYone could play. Those who had once avoided our immediate reach could now come close and take part in the fun. This game had a name, and that name was Pubing!
    What is Pubing, you ask?
    Well, allow me. You know the game where someone connects their thumb and index finger and extends the remaining 3 fingers while keeping the hand below the waistline. If someone looks at the hand, you get to punch their arm. This was like that, kinda, only you hooked your thumb into the waistband of your pants and lowered the front down enough to give your victim a full view of your pubic hair. Fun, Right?!? And if they looked, you didn't even have to punch them. Looking was enough punishment in itself. Unless, of course, you wanted to punch them. In which case, you did.

    As I said, wildfire. Getting pubed became a rite of passage. Sometimes, if you were really unlucky, someone would lower the pants a little too low and you'd end up getting an eyeful of part of your buddy's dick. Then he'd get punched. A few girls even tried playing but soon quit because the guys would fail to see this as a perpetration upon their senses and would lean in for a closer view. Wildfire. Everyone played and this game went on for probably 4 years! It even outlasted friendships! There were drive-by pubings, and Jason I believe, even once committed a pubing by post. He simply trimmed a little off, stuffed 'em in an envelope and mailed them to a friend out of state. Complete genius that guy!

    The game eventually died out with encroaching TRUE adulthood. Some of these friendships fell apart, some had kids and moved away. You know? Life. Today I only keep in touch with just a few of those guys. Jason and I are still long-distance friends. Our friend Mooney still keeps in touch. Brian and Danny I had to let fall by the wayside, it happens. Sometimes I miss some of those guys all of the time. Sometimes I miss some of those guys some of the time. I'll never miss the sudden blows. Sometimes I miss the utter absurdity.