Frisbee with a Girl

Summers meant I was stuck at daycare on the days my parents worked, which meant long afternoons of heatstroke in the blazing backyard of the sitter's house with nothing but the occasional tube-Popsicle or hard plastic kiddy pool with more grass in it than water to give us some relief. Each day after lunch we were just stuck out in the backyard like dogs to while away the hours with the clouds and the ants, and that was all there was. In any case, you can imagine why we might start getting on each other's nerves.

There I was, scuffing the grass like a rearing bull, upset with a girl there because she had no intention of going along or playing off the arm of whatever grand make-believe movie I was trying to make with her, and at some point a Frisbee entered the equation. We tossed it back and forth at each other for a minute or so, and she just couldn't throw the thing right--it'd always end up rolling back somewhere toward the bushes and the trees, and I'd always have to go fish it out "because I was closer." I began purposely throwing it wrong just to get back at her for her lame "girl-tosses." 

A bit of a shouting match ensued, and on one of her turns, she winged that thing with a perfect precision there-before unseen--on target too, right between my eyes. Clonk! It hit my face so hard I fell over backwards, and my eye and nose stung for a few minutes. She wasn't trying to be mean, but couldn't help from cracking up, which got me so enraged I stormed off to tell on her. I really played it up too when I got to the sliding glass door--"she hit me on purpose!" 

That sitter did the right thing. She said, "Oh don't be a crybaby. You're not hurt," and I swear the second she said that, the "pain" was gone.  If only she'd been good at it, I thought, then I could say it was on purpose! Getting a girl in trouble always was close to impossible. So that day I learned that when it comes to hitting someone with a Frisbee, it's only okay if it doesn't leave a mark. In fact, when it comes to angry boys, it's 5 points for the arm, 20 points for the head!

Battle Chess was Badass

Battle Chess was badass, as in, probably the coolest computer game you could play in the early 90's (besides Doom), and all the boys loved it. This was a decade before all these first-person shooters and role playing games took over the scene, and back then you were lucky if you saw blood in a video game.

But if I remember right, this game not only had  blood, but guts... and limbs getting chopped off one by one... and people going up in a blaze, or getting shrunk down and squashed...etc. This game was hard core in those days, and guess what, they even let us play it in school.

I don't know much about other schools, but in my elementary school, if you could play chess, you were considered one of the elite--the coolest of all. You had skills. If that game of chess involved knights that cut the arms and legs off pawns, rooks that turned into rock men who could pound pawns into a puddle, and kings that had a whole arsenal of weaponry under their capes (whips.. swords... bombs... guns??), then you weren't just cool, you were flannel cool. Heck, this game was so badass, it didn't even care if you saw it cheating. Seriously, you'd be playing against the computer, and all of sudden the pieces on the other end of the board would just switch places. "That's right, I just did. What you gonna do about it bitch?" 

Now I'm sure they would have preferred us playing girly games like Sticky Bear and Grammar (which to the eight-year-old me was something you called your grandmother), but the only other game that could touch this in "computer-class" was Oregon Trail (and that is deserving of its own post). Without games like this, computers sucked.

Freezies and Fumes

My favoritest.
The smell of boiling diesel gas automatically awakens my sweet tooth, and you want to know why? It's because that's exactly what the ice cream truck smelled like when it came sputtering to a stop along the street when I was a kid. It's funny how that tingle-toned "Do your ears hang low?" doesn't harken back sweet thoughts, just the burning gas. Either way, summer was made for Popsicles--that's not an 80's or 90's thing, that's an eternal thing (but for some reason I still think they were better then, but that's what everyone says, so obviously everyone is right).

We were fortunate enough to live on the end of an L-curve at the time, which meant we had much more time to grab some fast cash and run out to meet him somewhere along the perimeter. Those other kids who only had one side facing a road usually met up with us in our yard once he stopped. The old guy (always old guys) would pop open the hatch and the whole menu would spill out on the back in colorful, hand-drawn illustrations easy for kids. My brother and I loved the snow cones and Popsicles the best--especially the ones shaped like cartoon characters and the classic "red white and blue" rockets. They also used to sell the ones with jokes on them, where the bottom of the stick would say something like, "How did the square become a circle?" And then you'd eat down the Popsicle and the other end would reply, "He cut the corners!" 

No cymbals? Okay, how about this one... "Why did the window go to the doctor?  Because it had panes!" Or this... "What did one tomato say to the other when rolling down the hill? Don't worry, I'll ketchup!" Or...  "What do you call a frog that's illegally parked? A toad!" 

Okay, the jokes were corny, and yes, the smell of burning diesel is not what you think of when you think of sweets, but that was all a part of that classic summertime charm I will never forget. The one big regret I remember having about moving to the new house in 1991 was that the ice cream truck would always skip our street. And whenever he did make a run on it, he really was running-- seriously, they could have got him for speeding. 

Don't Taste Like Apples?

I might have been alone in this (judging by the commercials), but I thought they kind of tasted like apples.

Seriously, you always heard them ask the question: "Why do they call them Apple Jacks if they don't taste like apples?" But that's not even the half of it, because not only are they called what they're not, they're advertised as not being what they're not. Maybe this was reverse psychology or something.

And all this attention on the word "apple," but what about "jacks?" If apples are nowhere in the equation, then the real question ought to be "what the hell is a jack, and why are we eating it?"

Because we do?