Friday, December 12, 2008

Lessons from Dad: Gang Life...

Until the end of my 5th grade year I grew up Vienna, Virginia. It was a tough place to grow up, mainly because we had to stop our hockey games in the streets to let the soccer-moms in their mini vans to pass. I lived in a townhouse on Lafora Court. If I remember, I think ours was the fourth on the right.

I think I was about seven years old when Melissa moved in across the street. She was probably about nine at the time, and boy was I crazy about older women. Melissa wasn't exactly the best of girls. Looking back at it, she was probably a little brat. At one time I think I was planning on marrying the bratty older woman across the street.

Matt Norton lived on Towney View Court, only one court down from ours. I don't remember a whole lot about Matt (or Melissa, for that matter) other than he wore glasses, and has probably been in a few other "courts" since... just a hunch. Matt was a year older than me, and also a friend of Melissa.

We both tagged behind Melissa and tried our hardest to impress her. She really was the puppetmaster, and she loved every minute of it.

One day, I'm sure it was a summer day because we had a lot of daylight to get in trouble, we decided to start a gang. Melissa, of course, was to be the "president" of the gang. We weren't sure if gangs had presidents, or the general pecking orders of gangs. But either way, Melissa was the boss. Matt was second-in-command, because he was next oldest. I was the youngest, and it was decided that I had to earn my way into the gang; an initiation if you will.

I could not believe I was asked to be in a gang! Me... Tim... in a gang! I could see myself in the leather jacket from the get-go.

I don't remember what our gang name was. If it was up to Melissa (which I'm sure it was), I bet we were the "Teddybears"... or the "Ponies"... or "Melissa's Gang." Whatever it was, the name was fierce, and struck fear in our rival gang's hearts.

On that supposed summer day, we hiked through the "big field," by the "huge old tree," under the "scary bridge," and up a big wooded hill that overlooked a two-laned road. It was then that President Melissa and Second-In-Command Matt declared my initiation challenge. In order to be initiated into the gang, I had to stand on the hill, and through the trees, hit a car with a rock...

A rock throwing challenge? Are you kidding me? I invented rock throwing!

They gave me three chances... like I needed three shots, but it was a nice gesture. I knew they picked this challenge because they thought I would either wimp out, or if I decided to try it, I would fail miserably by hitting a tree or just plain missing a car.

I grabbed a rock that was roughly the size and weight of a golf ball. I saw a white Jeep SUV come around the corner from my left to right. President Melissa smirked and said something bratty like "Don't miss!"

She obviously had forgotten that I invented rock throwing.

I led the SUV with my aim, I reared back, and threw a frozen rope (baseball term) through the trees that landed square in the middle of the passenger side rear door...

I couldn't believe it. My eyes were huge. I stood there as a newly initiated gang member as I admired my shot. It was so perfect! It was then that I realized that the driver was standing out of his car and staring right at us.

President Melissa and Second-In-Command Matt immediately ran off. I was a wirey and fast little kid, and if something was chasing me, I think I was the fastest runner on earth. We all three ran towards an office building. I watched the President and Second-In-Command immediately climb two trees. Why did they climb a tree? I still have no idea...

I was too small to reach the branches, but that wasn't my style anyways. When you're small for your age, you get good at hiding. I ran under a car and spread flat on the asphalt parking lot.

I saw the man's feet trot by my car and over toward the two trees. The President and Second-In-Command didn't see where I hid, so they couldn't rat me out. The man grabbed them and threatened to call the cops unless they told him their addresses. I stayed under the car for at least a half an hour (thinking about how awesome of a throw that was) before I trotted home.

I caught up with Melissa and Matt the next day. I was told that I was out of the gang because they got in trouble...

Melissa moved away to some big apartment building nearby. I have no idea what happened to Matt Norton. I still laugh about the gang to this day.

There are two morals to this story...

1) If you join a gang, make sure you're faster and smarter than the other two members, and

2) Never challenge your dad to anything that involves throwing rocks at something... because he invented rock throwing!

1 comment:

Matt said...

And somehow we were never recruited by any gangs in high school. I'm shocked!