Gut Rumbles

November 21, 2011

how did we survive?

Originally published September 21, 2003

When I was 10 years-old, we moved into the house where my mama still lives today. At least 100 houses stand in that area now, but only about a dozen existed when first I came to live in that neighborhood. I was surrounded by woods and in a perfect Huck Finn world.

I met the Moffet boys and the Salter boys. We ran the woods, played an idiotic, acrobatic game called "tree tag," where we found the biggest, hoariest live oak in the woods and ran like squirrels along the limbs to avoid being tagged by "it" and fell out of the tree every now and then. But the ground was soft and as long as you didn't land on a root, you were okay and right back up in the tree. We ate a lot of candy and junk food back then, but never got fat.

What causes that?

My daddy took me to see the movie Spartacus one Saturday. I entered my gladiator stage after that experience. Builders were throwing up houses left and right in the neighborhood, so it was no problem to find a piece of plywood, steal it, grab a handful of nails and saw the plywood to shield porportions. Then, you built a handle to grab with your fist, you found an old lawn chair and nailed a strap to the back of your shield, and you were ready to rumble.

Of course, you had to make a sword, too. I always preferred a 4X1 inch board, because it was easy to work with, and it wasn't too heavy. I cut mine about 2 and 1/2 feet long, just like a Roman short sword, and made a really good hilt on it. Finn Moffet made a sword out of a two-by-four and he was hell for 30 seconds into a fight, but his arm got tired after that. Then, I could kill him.

We had circus games every day for an entire summer, beat each other's shields into sawdust, killed each other with bloodthirsty abandon, then just suddenly got bored with being gladiators. We found a field full of reeds that flew like spears if you cut them just right.

So, we had SPEARFIGHTS! We split into two teams and cut reeds with the energy of young boys filled with peanut butter and jelly. Once we had 100 each, the war was on. I had five guys on my team, and the enemy was lobbing random spears, one at a time, that stuck in the ground where they hit. I conceived the idea of a volley and a charge.

We launched two spears each, as quickly as we could throw them, and charged the enemy fort. We stampeded them, overran the fort and stole all their spears. VICTORY!

Why nobody ever got stabbed or had an eye put out is a mystery to me.

Somehow, doing that, we never got fat.

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