Friday, February 12, 2010

Build It...

      Old guys cuss youth.  What is, is.  Deal with it. 

-    Today's kids are gutless. 

-    There was a cool old dude in another century that would do things to stimulate the neighborhood kids.  He had no children of his own and enjoyed watching the crew where I was raised.  He would grab a chair and popcorn when the sandlot games began.  Binoculars sat on the window sill, handy for snowball wars.  An old push scooter just showed up on his lawn one day, and the temptation was too great not to test drive it. We didn't consider we'd stolen it.  Just used for a bit.  The scooter became the property of the entire neighborhood, and when not in use, could always be found under the juniper bush in the old man's yard.  When it broke, it somehow got fixed. 

-    We had an abused soap box go cart that steered with rope and when the hard rubber lining stripped away from the wheel, a new full axle set was found in the street. 

-    We used the concrete flood channels for playgrounds.  Skateboards were ruined where the steep sides met the flat channel bottom.  The old man down the street spent a weekend building curved plywood ramps in the ditch.  We never considered that he spent retirement income on us.  To my knowledge, none of us ever thanked him.  When he died, nobody went to his funeral.  We read his name in the paper and thought of him fondly. 

-    My home sits on a steep circle drive.  The island in the circle is the respository for snow cleaned from the roadway, which we get a bit of.  From the piletop of snow to the bottom of the street is a vertical drop of about twenty-five feet. 

-    I've watched a dutiful mom pull her bundled little people up to the base of the snow pile and give them a gentle shove.  I've listened to the squeals from the toddler and noticed the eight year old looking wistfully up at the huge mound of snow. 

-    A coworker gave me a small broken fancy toboggan because I have tools and time.  I fixed it.  It hogs a surprising amount of valuable storage space in my garage. 

-    I'm sure you know where this is going.  I cut a staircase into the backside of the hill.  I flattened the top for a perfect mounting platform.  I sunk past my waist filling the gaps between peaks.  I piled and packed, got cold and wet, polished the path, misted the soft spots, waxed the sled, set it in plain sight atop the hill, and went inside to warm up and watch. 

-    Nuthin'. 

-    Now I am certain my activity was noticed.  My old Santa shaped neighbor shook his head.  The sulky teen who shortcuts through the deep snow in the corner of my yard walked past and turned his head away instead of offering to help me extricate myself.  The two little guys who had already made the street glassy had their faces plastered to the minivan windows when they came home from school and daycare. 

-    I got a long stare from one kid I've never seen before.  He walked the entire circle, suspiciously inspecting the setup from a distance, but could never make himself climb the hill. 

-    The lady I share my life with laughed at me.  She told me that while I won't admit it, winter is getting to me.  She says that I so miss fishing that I built a deathtrap for children, and I am enjoying watching them being drawn to it.  She giggles that the children are too smart for me.  She says I am fascinated like a NASCAR fan waiting for a wreck, or a hockey fan.  She won't quit.  She says she doubts our insurance agent would be impressed.  I say "What sled run?  What Toboggan?"  She says that perhaps I should demonstrate the sled run for the poor hesitant children.  Right.

-    And now I have an epiphany.  The nice old man from my childhood was evil.  He was a disaster junkie and empowered children to kill themselves while distancing himself enough to deny liability. 

-    The sky turned red and I retrieved my toboggan with disgust.  Cowards, this new generation.  Smarter than we were, but cowards.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What these youngsters lack is imagination. When we were young, we did crazy things because we dreamed big dreams. A staircase up a hill became Aconcagua; a bicycle was freedom.

For my part, while I've got my daughter's undivided attention *ahem* I'm committed to leading by example.