73. unerringly

Today my stats say that 900 hits have been recorded on my blog. Okay, let’s have a party! Who will come? Where should I hold this blog party? Well, right here on this page full of vowels and consonants, the punctuation kids, and clumps of syllables.  The phrases can sit next to one word expressions. I’ll seat the fully developed sentences properly at the table in manicured paragraphs like freshly mowed suburban lawns. And then what? I’ll set up the entire blog on power point and the guests can see themselves in action along with a sound track powered by Little Feat’s Greatest Hits. Awesome and pathetic at the same time. What’s going on here?

In a very tenuous manner this illusory party reminds me of a story from my teens. There was a notorious XXX drive-in theatre on Lee Highway, about 7 miles from my house. I think it was called The Palmer Drive In, no kidding. Anyway, a bunch of us teen boys were sitting around one summer night wondering what we could get into. One of the guys mentioned that his older brother and his gang used to climb on the roof of the furniture store that was in clear view of the huge screen. It took about ten seconds for us to nominate, second and approve this as an awesome idea. It had sex, illegality, and adventure all wrapped into one tight burrito. Off we flew in two or three cars.

We didn’t have a real plan, big surprise? No, typical. A plan would indicate that we were more mature than what we were up to. And that was not the case. When we got to the store, we shimmied up the support poles in front of the covered walkway. There was one tricky moment when we had to reach up and back to pull ourselves onto the roof. That was the critical moment when you’d expect a thought to arise like, ‘Is this really worth it?’ No such thoughts overrode the jet fuel mix of testoterone and peer pressure. Fortunately we were young, in shape, and stupid. Not once did any of us think about what misfortune might await us. Responsible thinking kills the buzz of anarchy every time.

Together on the roof we could see the huge porn images on the big screen minus sound. The big screen sex was not as thrilling as being on the roof running about like squirrels. The porn was two dimensional and not fully real. Tromping about and trespassing was very real, very 3D. My heart was thumping.

“This is so cool.”

We laughed out loud and felt we had accomplished something already.

“Look! Isn’t that Jody’s dad?”

“Oh my gosh, yeah. That’s his car alright.”

“What a perv!”

“Hey stupid. What are you doing?”

“Oh, yeah. But we’re not paying to get in…and we’re not dads, and we’re not 18 yet.”

“Brilliant, but we’re not  here to see Bambi either.”

“Shut up!”

Other profound dialogue ensued as we settled in to enjoy our illgotten advantage.

It did not take long for the cops to pull in, no sirens, just one car with two cops. Panic kicked in and everyone ran in a different direction. The cops went in search of a fire escape ladder or some easy way up onto the roof. I guess they figured we were trapped up there with no escape. As we watched them run to the back of the building, we ran down to where some evergreen trees grew up against the support poles. It was a tricky proposition:  jump into the cedar tree against the grain or wait to be arrested, booked, shamed, and mocked? I jumped and endured the sappy, sticky, itchy slide to freedom. We ran to the cars and took off in a cloud of dust, laughing once we were sure that we had ditched the cops.

I can’t say that I saw the cops on the roof watching us high tail it, but that is how my memory filmed it. A helicopter shot of two county cops shaking clenched fists at three cars full of teenaged boys  who laughed all the way back down Lee Highway to their boring suburban lives. “Man, that was fun!”  Everyone agreed it was a great moment, but what exactly happened was up for debate. Was it fun because we narrowly got away? Would it have been just as fun if the cops had not shown up? Probably not. And what if one of us had been arrested and ratted out the remainder of the gang? Probably not. Things are fun until they’re not fun any more. Sometimes that line is crossed quickly. That night it was not crossed, just danced around.

I recently read about the pleasure center of the brain being divided into two parts. One part is the excitatory/anticipatory component. It sends out messages of pleasure in anticipation of the food, winning, sex, drug, purchase, etc. A second part of the brain processes the actual physical pleasure that comes from the activity. This matters in addiction, as you can guess, when the anticipation is stronger than the reward. I’d like to suggest a third part wherein memory pulls up the file and massages it gently with nostalgic ointments forty years later, unerringly.


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