This great Sonny Curtis tune has special meaning for me. You see, The
Law and I have been at odds since I was very young. I fought The Law constantly
– at home, on the playground, at summer camp – and after years of openly
and repeatedly demonstrating my spiteful defiance, The Law knocked my two
front teeth squarely down my throat.
I was only eight-years old but I had it coming, and I must admit, The
Law was applied justly, swiftly, and with absolute fairness: that Law we
know as Gravity.
It couldn’t have been a more beautiful autumn day as the promise of
a warm breeze rustled newly fallen September leaves. My pals and I jumped
on our two-wheelers and rode with that breeze into an afternoon adventure.
There was nothing to do, as usual – at least, nothing that had to be
done before supper. It was a weekday and none of the three TV stations showed
cartoons until 5:00 p.m. The school building was closed up tighter than a
drum so the teachers could go to their statewide meeting.
Weekdays out of school were always an event, but being outside that
lovely day was special, like exacting a gentle sort of revenge. While my
erstwhile educational “captors” sat indoors somewhere – probably fidgeting
at the words of some pedagogical pundit and wishing nothing more than to
trade places with me – I stood at the prow of my two-wheeled Schwinn steamer,
daring the world to cross my windswept wake.
There were any number of pursuits my friends and I could have undertaken
on that perfect, perfect day. There was frog hunting with slingshots by the
Scary Yellow House, or killing pop cans with The BB Guns of Extreme Prejudice,
or even strolling to the neighborhood grocery for frozen pops (5¢) and
a glowering scowl from the proprietor (free of charge). The day brimmed with
dangerous and destructive possibilities.
One of the most mysterious and distant places we ever dared visit was
a place called The Cut. The Cut was simply a wide gash through a shale
ridge that ran near the local college. The result of the original excavation
was a few acres of scrubby, flattened shale at the center of a deep gash.
However, there was treasure here, too. That’s what made The Cut special.
On one dark little spot, deep in The Cut, oxidizing ill-fated Detroit-iron
carcasses lay delinquently begging for juvenile dismemberment. Being treasure
hunters one and all, we descended on the unsheeted metal frames like cackling,
My Schwinn Typhoon was a real workhorse, equipped with large wire baskets
on either side of the rear wheel and one on the handlebars. These baskets
could hold a veritable fortune in worthless junk, as long as it was stacked
carefully, and stack it we did. I don’t remember exactly what was in those
baskets that fateful day, but we couldn’t wait to get home to tear each piece
apart. Oh, the simple pleasures of destructive discovery.
Baskets brimming, I raced the sun across The Cut. My pals and
I had tarried a bit too long, and the sun’s angle promised serious repercussions
if we didn’t hurry home. Just as my tires came off the crazed, hardpacked
shale of The Cut and onto a gravel-slickened concrete roadway, my trusty
Schwinn lost its metal mind.
That traitorous twenty-four-inch two-wheeler wobbled, wiggled, and wantonly
pitched me headlong over the handlebars and onto the ground. I tried to catch
myself with my hands, but The Law’s ardor for inertia ensured that my first
kiss was shared with oil-soaked concrete. My two front teeth were never seen
It was a hard but fair lesson that The Law taught me that fateful autumn
day. Blinded by the promise of beautiful junk, I tried to carry more than
my little frame could handle. Of course, I’m bigger now and I happen to know
of a great little junkyard over by Byron. Maybe if I strapped that bumper
to my fanny-pack…
Blair Wyman is a software engineer working for IBM in Rochester, Minnesota,
home of the IBM iSeries.