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Couldn't have been me


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This came to me by e-mail and then by USPS from my good friend Scott Laxier after we reconnected via Facebook.  This is a little something he remembered and wrote down from way back when we were kids. 


Scott was and still is my friend till this day and we were the best of friends in our childhood days. 


August 7th, 1994 Sarapiqui Jungle, Costa Rica 6:00 am


Couldn't Have Been Me


I awoke this morning thinking of my days growing up with Chris Zeterberg.  He was my good friend from kinder years on up through junior high school, when we went our separate ways.


I say he was my good friend, because like most boys, at least it was my experience, best friends could change by the month, week, or even by the day, depending on the circumstances, activities, and predicaments.  Tom Bickell was my best friend for a couple of days.  Eric Pence too, when I could get him away from his other best friend.  Of course, John Rocchio, when he was nice to me.  He was a great best friend, sometimes.


But Chris and I were always there for each other.  Best friends came and went, as did so many neighborhood kids from the Monteval Court, and then Chris was still hangin' around after an unforgettable night of ditch.  We'd find something to do.


My awakening thought today was of one summer afternoon in my parent's backyard.  Cavorting through the tanbark and up the hill, chasing after the demure, orange flutterbies that are no more, the sun warmed our scalps and made our bellies yearn for an otter pop, perhaps a push-up.  Maybe it was the blue bellied lizards for which we were searching, but suddenly the world froze.


I had just landed some flecks of tanbark in the disbelieving eyes of Chris, or perhaps he threw at me and missed, but from the depths of his scrawny 11 years old body bellowed one commanding word: "Sh*t!"  Echoing through the yard, perhaps to the deserts of Nairobi.


"Aw. you said it! I heard you! You said it!"

"No way, Dude!  I said Shoot!  Aw, Shoot! That's what I said!'

"You said it!  You're gonna get it!  You said it!"

"Hey don't lie!  I said shoot!  That's it. You know it!"

"I'm not lyin'!  I heard you!  You said it!" 


This profound dialogue continued until Mom popped her head out to check the commotion.  We quickly occupied our attention elsewhere, but this event wasn't forgotten.  Chris being older by three years, and wiser than I, turned the tables on me moments later, yearning the situation be equaled.


"So what did I say, huh?!'

"You know what you said. You said it. I heard you!"

"If you know what I said, then tell me....Chicken!"

"No way, man.  I'm no chicken! You said it, not me."

"I said Shoot.  C'mon, admit it. You know it!"


But now his eye exposed the guilt, and before we dwelt on "it" any longer, something else of the summer day grabbed our attention.  But we both knew without really knowing that part of our childhood innocence had been stolen from us with one word, without warning.  It was bound to happen, as these were words with power, words that came from the mouths of other older Court kids to whom we looked at with great consternation and reverence simultaneously.


So now things like Hot Wheels, exploding caps with a hammer, burning designs on wood with a magnifying glass, throwing those sticker balls off the tree at each other, shooting marbles, makin' mud pies, ah yes, even gently cupping little orange butterflies in our hands until some of their iridescent dust became our glowing hands, all these things and more were modified with, "Sh*t".


Of course, we needed practice, and became quite proficient with its usage.  The power manifested in a young child's mind by the use of such words still intrigues me, and was certainly a very real consideration of influence.  We remember some strange things vividly, don't we.


So thank you, Chris Zeterberg, for all of those shitty-good times. I had a fine childhood that was enriched by growing up with you and your family.  I reckon our tarzan calls are still echoing through the Almaden foothill.


Thank you Scott for your vivid memory.  I can still remember that day and all the crazy stuff when we were kids.  I've tried the Tarzan call, but it just doesn't come out the way it did back then.




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I love the way you tell your stories. You should write a book. Sounds like you had a fantastic childhood, full of wonderful memories. It's funny how there are certain people from the past we remember with such affection, and even if we haven't seen them in 40 years, the fondness and memories seem like yesterday.

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