Gut Rumbles

April 14, 2008

40 years ago

Originally published August 10, 2003

Quinton starts fourth grade on Monday. My boy is growing up fast.

Last night, I told him the story of THE BIG HOLE IN THE GROUND that my buddies and I found in the woods one day when I wasn't much older than he is now. We weren't supposed to be on the wrong side of Whitfield Avenue, but we found a firebreak that bicycles could travel and off we went. We stopped when we saw THE HOLE.

It was about 20 feet deep and was old enough that a few 30' pine trees were growing up from the bottom. It was awesome.

Stop and think. You have six boys on bicycles, in the woods, with a 20-foot deep hole in the ground. What do you think happened next? OF COURSE WE RODE INTO THE HOLE! What would YOU do?

We busted our butts and went ass over teakettle. Man, that was fun. We dragged the bikes up the hill and did it again. I got the bright idea to jump off my bike and grab one of the pine trees and ride it to the ground. IT WORKED! Everybody wanted to try after that. Finn did it. Art did it.

Then Michael tried. Mike went flying up to the hole on his bike, took a giant leap and MISSED THE LIMB he was supposed to grab. He went SPLAT right into the tree and slid down the trunk to the ground as the bark worked on him like a side-on grinder. The boy was damn near eviscerated by the time he hit bottom. Blood was everywhere. We thought he was dead.

His brother took off screaming, running through the woods without remembering that he had a bicycle. Art sat on the ground and started crying. I ran to the bottom of the hole to check on Michael. "STOP BLEEDING!" YOU'RE GOING TO GET US ALL IN TROUBLE!" I said.

Mike looked okay to me. The tree whipped his ass, but other than that he was all right. "I missed," is all he said.

I gathered everyone in a huddle after we found Finn and decided that Mike was going to survive. I told them, ""Here is the story. Mike fell off his bike. It happened near Hesse school. That's all anybody needs to say. It's not a lie."

"That's not really the TRUTH," said Art.

"But it's not a lie, either," I countered. "What do you think we should do? Tell Mike's mom that we were where we aren't supposed to be, doing things we aren't supposed to do? I like my story better."

After a moment's thought, we agreed on the "Mike fell off his bike near Hesse School" story. We stuck with it, and nobody got in trouble.

I think I might have taught my son to tell creative "truths" last night.

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