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Death-defying Summer Flashbacks

PeaceOf Mayhem Summer What? by EH

What?! by EH

Summertime, mid-80's, "Cruel Summer" by Bananarama plays somewhere in the background...

Imagine a neighborhood in suburban Utah where there were three or more kids in every house (except Superman and his older brother) and not one stay-at-home parent among them. That was my childhood. Summer was full of cherished, unsupervised chaos - once our chores were done. 

It was a time and place entirely separate from adult reality. No one wanted the parents to become involved. The only time they were informed of anything that transpired during their absence was when something was lost, damaged, or broken OR an injury occurred that was worse than what we could deal with on our own. Because of that, I have seen some serious shit. I even had a cousin stitch me up once to avoid the dreaded phone call to mom at work and a trip to the emergency room.

On any given day you could participate in water fights, any sport or game you can think to play, and neighborhood feuds (started by trades gone wrong or cheating at the games and sports). Prank calling could have a story all on its own with how crazy it got some days. Anyone in the phonebook was fair game, and we loved answering machines!

Noone spent any time bored. At the first sign of nothingness, a new idea would spring up, and we experimented all the time. There was the "mix everything you can find in the kitchen to make a gross concoction" kind of days. We fed it to our volunteer "guinea pigs," which were just younger kids willing to play.

Then we had fun "tightrope walking" on the peak of the garage roof until that seemed lame and we took on the peak of the house. The bigger boys turned regular ground flowers into M80-esque fireworks using masking tape. When they put it in the metal chalice, the cops showed up looking for the origin of the loud explosion they heard. One day they soaked a tennis ball in gasoline and tossed it back and forth with hands wrapped in gasoline-soaked rags, while we watched. 

The most liberating part of summer was riding bikes. The main road in the area has a blind curve. Standing on one side the cars can be seen before they can see anything. Taking turns, timing it just right, we'd ride across the road at the same moment they made the turn. They'd slam on their brakes and cuss. We couldn't get enough of the wide-eyed shock on their faces. I still laugh when I think about it.

No wonder I have such high expectations for summer. All my life Summer meant heart-racing adventure and complete freedom.

Well, what are we waiting for?



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