About mystupidchildhood

Yes, the stories are all true, but the names have been changed to protect me from the wrath of my stupid childhood friends.

Mystery Meal

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They say, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” And I believe it to be true. Having known my younger brother, Kenny, both before and after his service in the U. S. Marine Corps, I’m convinced that being a Marine is much more than a brotherhood of comrades; it’s a unique way of looking at life.

Allow me to explain.

Ordinary people—myself included—play by the rules of life. We drive the speed limit, arrive on time, stand in lines, say “please” and “thank you,” watch our cholesterol, and change our oil every 5,000 miles.

Marines—including former Marines—view the items above as roadblocks in the game of life; a temporary setback if you will. To them, a speed limit is merely a suggestion, an appointment time is pushed to the very limit, courtesies are closer to guttural sounds and cholesterol concern is a complete waste of time.

A Marine views any roadblock as an obstruction to be scaled over, tunneled under, run around or blasted right through the heart. It’s a mindset that is instilled into their very being during basic training. And once it’s been turned ON, it never gets turned OFF.

Truth be told, I wish I possessed just half of this USMC mindset. Instead, I tend to follow the path of least resistance. I’ve have always thought that my little brother has lived his life a little fuller than I have lived my own. He eats, drinks and smokes whatever the hell he wants and doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks about him. He has been his own boss—and his own man—ever since he left the Corps. And whenever I visit him and his family, it’s fun to go along for the ride.

Kenny commutes like a NASCAR driver swapping paint. When he takes the four of us out for sushi, the bill always exceeds $300. He has missile-locked on the 747 that was transporting the space shuttle, destroyed several of my father’s transmissions while driving on railroad tracks, (“Smell this clutch, Tiny. This was a heavy-duty clutch,”) and played “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC over WHLS radio during the live Sunday morning service broadcast from Griswold Street Baptist Church. He even turned my mother’s wake into a legendary party (among my friends, anyway) at the Brass Rail, (“Mare, Mare, just one more, Mary.”)

Visiting Kenny in Arizona is always an adventure. (I wish I could go more often.) Thanks to my brother, I have hot-air ballooned over Cave Creek, raced Mustang Cobras at Bondurant, shot a fully-automatic Uzi, Jeeped rocky trails in the desert, watched the sunset at El Tovar and celebrated New Year’s Eve at the largest block party in the world—The Fiesta Bowl Party—with over 100,000 revelers. (Thanks, little brother.)

So, you would think I’d be used to his Type-A personality, but no, he still surprises me.

A few years ago, we flew out to Phoenix for a visit. Kenny arrived with his Yukon XL just as we walked out to the Arrivals curb. (Again, pushing the time envelope.) Always the good host, he asked us if we wanted some fast food for the hour drive north, and we did.

He pulled into a McDonald’s on Scottsdale Road only to find the drive-thru line backed up to the street. There were eight cars in front of us. At two minutes per car, we were looking at a 15 minute wait, but not Kenny.

Without any hesitation, he drove past this real-life roadblock. He rounded the back of the restaurant, drove past the menu board and pulled right up to the cashier’s window.

“What the hell are you doing?” I asked.

Kenny shushed me. The drive-thru window slid open.

“That’ll be twelve dollars and eighty-seven cents,” said the McDonald’s employee.

Kenny did a quick head count and handed over a twenty.

“And add four large Cokes,” Kenny said.

“Instead of the coffee?” asked the clerk.

“Yes,” said Kenny.

“Your new total is seventeen dollars and sixty-three cents,” said the cashier.

He handed Kenny his change and we pulled forward to the next window. I was dumbfounded. WTF?

“But you didn’t order. You don’t know what we’re getting,” I said.

Kenny shrugged and replied, “We’ll get burgers, fries…you’ll see.”

They handed him a bag of food and the four Cokes. He handed the bag to me and drove away. I opened the bag and—sure enough—there were burgers, fries, a Big Mac, and a couple of pies inside.

“See? I call it Mystery Meal,” he said.

Within one minute of pulling into a very busy McDonald’s, we were back on the road — with a bag full of food.

“But Kenny, you screwed up everybody’s order behind you,” I said.

He popped a few fries in his mouth as he processed this (apparently new) information with raised eyebrows.

“Oh yeah,” he said with a nod.

Once again, the ordinary person’s rules of life did not apply to my brother.
“Once a Marine, always a Marine.”

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Tiny’s Last Hurrah

As long as I can remember, my father has farted in my presence. He’d grin and say something corny when he broke wind.

“Your grandmother always said, there is more room outside than there is inside.”

If there were other people around, he would try to coincide his fart with the slamming of a car door or loudly dragging his foot through loose gravel on the ground.

Pfffffffffftttt. SLAM!  …ewww.

That being said, the last fart I remember my father passing was at the Cadillac House restaurant in Lexington, Michigan. He was 82. It was a family gathering of the five of us. My brother, Kenny, was in town from Nevada and he sat next to me on one side of a booth. My sister, Shawna, and my mother sat across from us on the other side of the booth. My father used a walker, so he sat in a chair at the end of the booth.

It was a great time. We relived events, vacations and embarrassing stories. Kenny tends to tell the stories that we cringe at, yet we love to hear repeated. He told us about his misdeeds at my parent’s church. I say my parent’s church because they switched churches when I was in high school. For whatever reason, I never considered it my church and neither did my brother. We were strangers in a strange land. So when my brother told a story about his disdain for one of the ministers at “their” church, my mother took the story as a personal insult. Without considering the consequences, she grabbed her drinking glass and threw all 12-ounces of ice water in his face.

That changed the mood.

Shawna and I were stunned, but that quickly turned into laughter. My mother was furious and indignant, but she started to laugh at my soaked brother too. I looked at Kenny. He wasn’t laughing. His wet face was red. And getting redder.

I’ll give Kenny credit. He took the hit, removed the ice from inside his shirt and let it go. My mother tried to explain her actions by saying she didn’t mean to throw the water in his face, but was just going to pretend to throw the water at him. Yeah. Right. Shawna and I laughed even harder at the whole situation.

While we were still laughing, my mother noticed that my father was standing up at the end of the table. We turned our attention to him. Sure enough, he was standing with his hands on the table to support his weight. My first thought was that my mother’s actions had embarrassed him and he was ready to go home. Cool. Serves her right, I thought.

“Tiny. Why are you standing up?” asked my mother.

My father didn’t reply.

“Tiny,” my mother said just a little louder.

Again, no reply. My father wore a hearing aid, so this time my mother said his name loud enough for the other tables to hear.

“Tiny! What are you doing?” she said.

Most of the people in the dining room turned their attention to our family. My father glared at my mother.

“Shhhh. I’m tooting,” he whispered a little too loud.

On cue, a long series of loud farts flopped out of his butt.

A man seated directly behind my father heard the farts and naturally turned his head. My father’s butt was no more than 18 inches from his face. He had turned his head straight into ground zero. I can still see his facial expression of horror.

Have you ever laughed so hard that you can’t catch your breath?

You shake as you exhale every last bit of air in your lungs, but it’s not enough. You just want it to stop—whatever it is that is making you laugh—please make it stop. Although I was seated in the booth, I fell into my brother. I had lost my equilibrium. This latest event was too much. I was still laughing at the ice water incident when the farts happened. Too much. Too soon. Too funny.

My father sat back down. The table behind us got up and left. Who could blame them? I wanted to join them.

Memories stay fresh, even after (40) years

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Note:  I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that 40-years have gone by since 1974. So, I dug deep in a box (that I keep out in the garage) and dusted off an article that I wrote for the Port Huron Times Herald after I had attended my 20-year class reunion. Enjoy.

TH articleWe scattered.

After an encouraging speech—that hardly any of us listened to—and after walking up on stage to receive our diplomas from Port Huron High School, it was over. 12-years in the system—13, if you count Kindergarten—and we were being released from Neverland to face our destinies. We hugged. We laughed. We cried.

Many of our paths crossed during the summer; Port Huron just isn’t that big. Friday night cruising through town, Power’s Hamburgers, Lakeside Beach…”Hey, this isn’t any different than last summer.” But time is silent; it sneaks up on you and leaps past when you’re not looking.

With each passing year, the number of faces I recognized from high school became fewer. A tightly knit clan of classmates began to congregate every Friday at the Zebra Bar. We clung to each other not wanting to let go, but knowing deep down that the odds were against us. Some of us were now students at St. Clair County Community College and we knew we were short timers in Port Huron; just waiting for our exit ramp up ahead. Others had already begun their careers down the highway of life and a few were driving down roads with warning signs that say “Dead End” and “Bridge Out.”

We got married. We stayed single. We had kids. We had none. We moved away. We stayed in Port Huron. Mortgages. Car payments. Sofas. Tuition. Vacations. Disposable diapers. Life insurance. Maytags. Time had passed by again. We had become grownups.

And, then the invitation arrived for the 20-year reunion for the Class of 1974. Who would show up? What would they look like? Were they still my friends? Of course they were, but some of them I hadn’t seen in 10, 15, hell…since graduation. What happened? Was it really possible? I mean 20-years had gone by. Twenty. Years.

I hesitated as my wife, Julie (also a Class of 1974 alumni,) and I walked up to the entrance of George’s Upper Deck Bar. It wasn’t too late to turn around and go back. After all, this was just the pre-reunion party the night before. This was optional. Maybe we could just take a peek and see who was here without committing to going inside.

“Bluegene!” someone shouts.

It was a name I hadn’t been called in decades. Immediately, I was swept into the midst of old friends. As if by magic we had traveled back in time, but we all knew that the dream was just on loan. We went back not just 20-years, but 33-years, for these were the kids I had gone to elementary and intermediate school with as well: Jim, Linda, Mitch, Shelly, Oscar, Peter, Greg, Randy, Jane, Laurie, Chris, Dan, Carl, Paul, Gary, and Phil. These were my childhood friends and they were all here. Photographs were pulled out and passed around. Peter, a friend from Kindergarten days grabbed my arm.

“Remember the time we won the plastic hockey tournament?” He asked.

“Yeah, I do,” I replied.

“We got our pictures in the paper for being the hockey champions and we won the Christmas and Easter door-decorating contests too. Remember Mrs. Monk? She always said, ‘I’ll shake the stew out of you,'” Peter continued.

I wouldn’t have remembered that on my own, but the memory was there, just waiting to be picked up and held for a while. It was a night of revisiting long-lost memories and filling in the blanks.

The next night at the Thomas Edison Inn, I saw even more faces from the past. Everyone was eager to talk. The walls were gone. Old flames talked to one another with a flicker of “what if…?” Trailing spouses were pulled into inner circles of conversations. Cameras flashed continuously. And when we danced, it was lunch hour at Washington Intermediate once more. We showed our silly sides in the line dances. One-by-one, we soloed down the chute to the hoots and jeers of our classmates.

And then people began to get their coats. Please don’t leave; not yet.

Silently, persuasively, time was passing by again. The evening was, all too quickly, coming to an end, but many of us refused to let it win. Not tonight anyway. We pushed back on the hands of the clock. Some of us went to a bonfire beach party at Lighthouse Park and then we hopped on a classmate’s boat docked at the marina. That night, we were still in Neverland. We didn’t want to grow up and we refused to give up without a fight. Still, subtly, the sky began to lighten and the birds began to sing their morning serenade. An hour later, the first rays of dawn peeked over the horizon.

We were the same and we were different in a weird sort of way. There were winners, but no real losers, (although a few of us had crashed and burned.) They say that the most important things are said last—as the the door is closing—and I believe it to be true.

“Good-bye, my friends. I miss you.”

We hugged. We laughed. We cried. And, then we scattered, again.

Table Scraps

My younger siblings, Terry and Dawn, are only a few years apart. Whenever an opportunity to belittle one another presented itself, they were both quick to pull the trigger. Since I am eight years their senior, sibling rivalry with them was nonexistent. I ignored them and they ignored me. When I left home for college, they were just two elementary school kids. When I got married, they were teenagers, still living at home.

And that’s where this story starts, way back in 1983.

Julie and I returned to our hometown for Thanksgiving at my parents’ house. It was just like that Norman Rockwell painting; family, close friends and laughter. After the feast, most of us retired to the living room to watch football and let the tryptophan kick in. My mother retired to the kitchen to load dishes into the dishwasher.

Now according to her rules, dirty dishes had to be prepared for the dishwasher. This preparation was exactly the same as washing the dishes in the sink. Using a spatula, she scraped each plate into a bowl (so as not to clog the garbage disposal,) immersed each dish into hot soapy water, wiped it clean with a sponge, rinsed it with the sprayer and then—and only then—placed the sparkling sanitized dish into the dishwasher.

My mother grew up during the Great Depression and we were reminded of this fact daily as kids. Nothing was wasted. Ever. A holiday feast, such as Thanksgiving, just put her into overdrive. Morsels of mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, lettuce, turkey skin, biscuit crumbs, pie crusts…all ended up in one collective bowl for Buddy, the neighbor’s dog.

About this time, Terry put on his coat and told my mother he was going over to a friend’s house for a while. My mother handed him the bowl.

“Feed this to the dog on your way out,” she said.

Terry agreed. He walked into the living room and handed the bowl to Dawn.
“Mom says you have to eat this,” he said.

My groggy sister took the bowl and watched Terry walk out the door. She tried to process what had just happened. My wife and I were just as confused.

“Hey mom,” she called out, “what’s this bowl of garbage for?”

You could hear the anger in my mother’s voice.
“For crying out loud, I told your brother to feed that to the dog!” she yelled back.

We roared with laughter. Dawn just rolled her eyes. I’m guessing Terry could hear us outside. Mission accomplished. A perfect surgical strike. He pulled the pin and simply walked out the door. I’m sure he was grinning as he drove away. We laughed until it hurt to laugh. Except Dawn; she didn’t laugh—which was the point.

Terry got the last laugh that year. Other years, it would be Dawn’s turn, but this is the holiday story that still gets repeated every Thanksgiving.

Maybe I’m a Robot

This is one of those stupid moments in my life when any answer my brain conceived made perfect sense regardless of how ludicrous it may seem now—let me explain.

The year was 1979 and I had just moved to Ann Arbor during the Christmas holidays to go to college. I was still in the process of moving into a dormitory on North Campus and I hadn’t met my roommates yet—they were still home for the holidays. Winter semester classes wouldn’t start for another week, I had just broken up with my girlfriend and I didn’t know anyone in town. In other words, I was bored and lonely, so I went to the bars alone.

If the university buses had been running, I would have taken the bus to central campus, but they weren’t, so I didn’t. I drove my Ford Pinto to downtown main campus to acquaint myself with my new hometown. It was a fun evening and the bars were packed. I decided to bar hop, by myself, and experience several spots I had heard about. I started at the Second Chance on Liberty, rounded the corner to Dooleys, hit Rick’s Cafe, the Brown Jug and closed the Full Moon Saloon at two in the morning. It was a great evening. I met a lot of different people and started an international beer card at the Full Moon. They have about 100 beers from around the world and as you order, your server checks off each country on your card. I  remember I had my first Red Stripe from Jamaica that night.

In all honesty, I shouldn’t have driven back to the dorm. As I left the Full Moon Saloon on Main Street, I should have turned north, but being new to Ann Arbor, I drove south. About a mile later I stopped for a red traffic light at a fairly dark intersection, Main and Stadium. I looked to my left and saw the “Big House,” Michigan Stadium, for the first time in my life. “Wow,” I thought, “this is where the Wolverines play football and over 100,000 fans cheer them on.” Still, it didn’t look that big to me. I looked ahead. The light was still red and one single street light illuminated the intersection. I looked both ways and noticed a car approaching very fast—like 100 mph fast. I could see that the traffic light had turned yellow for that car, but it wasn’t stopping. My light turned green as the car literally flew by in front of me.

But—when the car blew past me, it appeared and disappeared in steps, like a strobe light. “What the hell?” I said. I was very confused. Like I said, I shouldn’t have been driving, but I knew what I just saw. The car appeared and disappeared in several stages right in front of my eyes.

Today, this type of street light is very common—it cycles 60 times every second. If there had been multiple street lights on the corner, you wouldn’t even notice the cycling lights. But this was single street light at the intersection. Not another light in sight. So, when that car flew past at a very high rate of speed, I saw the car every three feet in brief flashes.

It didn’t make any sense.

I tried to figure out what I had just witnessed. My mind was going crazy trying to sort it out. It was there, it was gone, it was there, it was gone… Jesus. What on earth just happened?

Let me remind you it was 1979. There were no personal computers and no VCRs or DVDs. The digital age was still a long way away. The closest thing we had to a glimpse of the future was the original Star Wars movie which had just been released the previous year. George Lucas had introduced us to incredible gadgets and characters. Remember R2D2 displaying the hologram of Princess Leia? “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” And the jump to light speed? And Luke’s video binoculars? And C3PO? I really loved that movie.

And, in my drunken state, I went there for answers.

It was obvious to me that my vision had just failed, but what could cause this? I quickly determined that I must have an artificial vision system installed in my head, but that didn’t make sense because I would remember having something like that installed in my head—unless—oh my God—unless it was there from the beginning.

I had an an epiphany. It made me gasp.

What if I was a robot? Just like C3PO? It made perfect sense at the time. I’m a robot. A robot would have a visual processor and mine just failed. Were other people robots? Did they know they were robots? Did C3PO know he was a robot? What if no one told him he was a robot? Would he know? I looked at my hands and moved them slowly while I watched. Wow. Incredible. That is so cool. I looked at my eyes in the rear view mirror. They were bloodshot. Really bloodshot. And that’s when I returned to reality.

But, for about 30 seconds, it all made perfect sense to me.

The International Day Parade

Every year, Port Huron throws a week-long celebration aptly named the Blue Water Festival. The carnival sets up downtown, there are fireworks every night, the International Day Parade is on Wednesday, the Mackinac Sailboat Race Party is all day & night on Friday and the start of the sailboat race on Saturday morning officially ends the week of celebration. My point is that the parade was a very big deal. It runs through the heart of town and was attended by over 100,000 people.

The organizers of the parade needed quite a few convertibles to drive some beauty queens and elected officials in the parade so they could wave at the crowds. They asked if any employees of the City of Port Huron owned convertibles and if they would be willing to donate their time and car to a good cause. You bet. I stepped up to the plate without hesitation.

On the day of the parade, I showed up with my spotless Porsche 914. The chrome was polished and the tires were glossed with ArmorAll. The roof was packed away and the targa roof support made a perfect bench seat for the beauty queen to sit upon. She was probably Miss Saint Clair County or something like that. She stepped in, sat on the targa roof support and I drove us into the line up.

Ahead of us, and behind us, were marching bands, fire engines, Shriners on mini-bikes, veterans in formation, baton twirlers, clowns, and other convertibles. We waited for our cue and entered the parade at a snail’s pace. The beauty queen in my car waved at the crowds. She was a natural.

About a minute into the parade, I rolled up the passenger and the driver windows. My windows were operated by hand cranks, so I had to lean across the woman’s white-fluffy gown to roll up the passenger window.

“What are you doing?” she said through clenched teeth and a fake smile.

She seemed pissed, but I didn’t care—I had a car to sell. A “For Sale” sign was taped to each window with my telephone number printed in bold type. The International Day Parade was now my private used car sales lot and I was quite pleased with myself. For the next hour, my car was exposed to thousands of spectators. Surely one of them, I thought, would like to buy my Porsche. And I was right. The calls came in that same day.

But there was hell to pay the next day. I was called into the City Manager’s office. My boss, Mr. Bouchard, and two people from the parade organization were waiting for me. They glared at me. So did Mr. Bouchard. He was furious.

“The International Day Parade is not your private used car lot!” he said in a calm and controlled manner.

It seems the parade officials were livid about my blatant use of the parade to sell my car and they were demanding my head. In the end, a heart-felt and sincere apology did the trick. (George Burns once said, ‘The secret to success is sincerity; once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.’ but I digress.)

I was allowed to keep my job.

And, for what it’s worth, my “For Sale” signs worked. I had so many calls on my answering machine that week that the tape ran out. That didn’t matter—the car was sold to one of the first callers.

Too Many Hands

Penny and I met in 1974 during our freshman year at college. We were both in the same program and our schedules were nearly identical. We met in August and by October it was a “ring thing.” This story starts well after the giddy stage of new love. In fact, it was the following summer because I remember laying in the warm tall uncut grass on the shoulder of River Road.

I was living in an apartment, going to college, and working three jobs to pay for it all. A free evening was a special event and they were far and few between. Most evenings I worked as an hourly employee at Krogers. It was a union job and I was the low man on the totem pole. Whenever the store slowed down, they were quick to release an employee early. Being the new guy, I was always released first.

This was one of those nights. I was released while it was still sunny out around eight o’clock. The sun doesn’t set in July in Michigan until ten o’clock. I drove to my apartment and called Penny. We decided to see whatever “B” movie was playing at the drive-in or at the Playhouse Theatre in Marysville. I was changing out of my uniform and into normal clothes when David, one of my best friends, stopped by because he saw my car in the driveway. Like I said, Penny and I were well past the giddy stage of our relationship, so I asked David to join us at the movies. I knew Penny wouldn’t mind. She invited her friend, Lela, along on our dates all the time. Anyway, David had just recently broke up with his girlfriend and he was feeling kind of down. A movie, some popcorn and a few laughs with good friends was just what he needed. He jumped in my big-honking four-door power-everything 1969 Chrysler 300 with bench seats as big as any sofa you’d find in a living room.

Penny lived seven miles away in Marine City. That gave David way too much time. He came up with a plan—a devious plan. David proposed that he hide on the floor of the back seat and cover himself with the blanket. I listened to the rest of his plan. It was brilliant.

When I pulled into Penny’s driveway, David was already hiding under the blanket. I ran up to her house and knocked. Penny came out and we both jumped in my door. My car had bench seats so Penny sat in the middle next to me. We drove through downtown Marine City and headed towards Marysville. Once we were out of town, I put my arm around Penny’s shoulder and she snuggled in to me. This was how we usually drove so it wasn’t out of the ordinary.

Except, this time I didn’t put my arm on Penny’s shoulder—I put my arm behind my seat and tapped David. This was his cue to put his right hand on Penny’s shoulder, which he did. Get it? My hand was dangling behind my seat and David’s hand was on Penny’s shoulder. After driving a few miles down River Road, I pulled my hand back and drove with two hands on the steering wheel. The tumblers didn’t immediately click into place for Penny. We drove another mile before she stared at my hands on the steering wheel. I saw it coming. She turned to look at the hand on her right shoulder, snapped her head to look at both of my hands on the steering wheel, did the math, and literally tried to jump out of my moving car—screaming at the top of her lungs.

Her scream wasn’t like the screams you hear on a roller coaster. This was an unmistakeable scream of sheer terror. I’m not kidding when I said she tried to jump out of my car. She launched herself straight into the dashboard and cut her forehead on my rearview mirror. She ended up on the floor of the front seat still screaming uncontrollably at the threshold of her vocal chords. I pulled the car over and stopped on the shoulder of River Road. Penny bolted out of the car before I had fully stopped. David fell out of the back door and rolled around in the tall grass laughing so hard he couldn’t stand up. I got out, laughing too. (Big mistake.) I doubled over on the hood of my car because I couldn’t stand up either. I tried to walk to Penny, to console her, but I doubled over and fell down in the warm tall uncut grass. Penny screamed and yelled at us, but that just made David and I laugh even harder. (Even bigger mistake.)

Penny was livid. Enraged. Infuriated. I expected her to continue to rant and rave, but she started walking—no, more like marching—back to Marine City in silence.

Regaining my composure, and my balance, I got back in my car and drove in reverse on the shoulder to catch up with her. I pleaded for her to get in the car. I begged for her forgiveness. Even David apologized. Nothing. No response. This woman was really ticked off. I made an offer.

“It’s over three miles back to your house and it’ll be dark soon. Just get in and I’ll take you home. You don’t even have to talk to me,” I said.

She got in—and, she didn’t talk to me either.

I pulled in her driveway and she got out and slammed my car door as hard as she could. I’m surprised the window didn’t break. She stormed into her parent’s house and slammed every door she came in contact with. Her father, Bruce, was in my face immediately—and he was mad. We had only been gone ten minutes and I had definitely done something to his daughter—that much was clear. Protective Papa Bear wanted answers. I held up my hands like I was surrendering or as a defensive position in case he decided to strike me—not sure which.

“I know it looks bad, but just listen to me. This is what really happened,”I said.

I explained that David—I pointed to David—and I had just pulled a very mean trick on Penny. He looked at David in the front seat of my car. David sheepishly waved at Penny’s dad. Bruce listened intently and processed the whole story. He grinned. He even chuckled; a little too hard it seems, because Penny heard him from her upstairs window.

“It’s NOT funny!” she yelled.

Her dad was pretty cool. He patted me on the back and walked me to my car with a smirk.

“You better go. I’ll make sure she’s alright,” he said.

Dave and I cruised back and forth through Port Huron that night and relived the moment several times—laughing just as hard each time we retold the story. I apologized countless times before Penny and I went on another date. Cards. Flowers. Chocolate. The works. She finally forgave me—or so she said.

We dated for three more years, but I’d be willing to bet “the hand” played a small part in our final break up. I’d also be willing to bet she still checks the back seat of every car she gets in to to this day.