As we start summer, I’ve been thinking about how wimpy so many kids are today – not all, but far too many. And it’s not their fault. It’s mommy and daddy who are the real wimps afraid for their precious little pancake to take the slightest risk. It’s far safer to let them stare into cellphones and play video games all day. You could say there’s a danger that their spines will warp, but they don’t have spines. They’ve been surgically removed at birth by their parents. Thank God all this electronic junk wasn’t around when I was growing up.
When I was a little kid, I played with knives a lot. I threw them, stabbed things. I had some big ugly ones. I’ve still got scars on my hands from knives. Also, hatchets. One scar I still have is from a poorly aimed hatchet chop. For years on my other hand I had a knuckle scar from my brother’s teeth. It was a different epistemology. It’s just how we learned back then. Yeah, all of that and firecrackers.
I lived in Illinois, which has always been in the forefront of wimphood like a great, bloated mother protecting her weak, pitiful children. Except from random murders. She allows them in select communities.
In Illinois, real firecrackers were illegal. All you could get was that “safe and sane” junk. But what kid wants that? I wanted unsafe and insane. Thank God, I spent almost every July in Oklahoma. You could get anything there. I think they would have sold hand grenades if they could find them. I loved it. Each year, I would save up my money to binge at Oklahoma fireworks stands. Cherry bombs, M-80s, Roman Candles, you name it, it was all laid out in big wooden boxes. Could there be anywhere closer to heaven?
The whole week of the 4rth was a combat zone as we threw firecrackers at each other’s bare feet. When my brother was little he chased our uncle blasting a Roman Candle at him. I’m sure it was an accident, but it was pretty funny watching the old guy running zigzag and yelling with balls of fire streaking all around him.
But for me, firecrackers were more than fun. They were business. I always brought a big selection back to Illinois where I sold them piece by piece to other kids at hideously inflated prices. They had no choice, I was their only source. It’s where I began to understand how government and business can work together. Government creates the market and you supply it.
The whole time I was growing up, I never knew a single kid who got seriously injured from a firecracker. I’m sure there was some idiot somewhere who got an eye blown out, but you had to be stupid. Survival of the fittest, baby. Now all they do is blast each other to fake death in video games. Poor, little wimps. Firecrackers blasting around your bare feet gave a REAL thrill. To say nothing of exercise.
In high school, we delved into more sophisticated high-risk activities. In one youth group, we played a horrible game called Scoot. Think of it as musical chairs in hell. Let’s say you’ve got 30 teenagers. You set up a big circle with 29 metal folding chairs, the kind that collapse really easily. Everybody takes a seat, except one kid who is the first leader. He starts running around inside the circle close to the seated people. He grabs one person by the hand and drags that kid along. That kid grabs another. After you’ve got six or seven, the last kid’s feet are barely touching the floor. Whole bodies were bashing into seated teenagers who haven’t been jerked up yet. It was like the cracking of a human whip.
At some point the youth leader yells, SCOOT. The whip splits apart and everyone fights to get into a chair. And I do mean fights. It was brutal, sometimes bloody. And the girls were the most vicious of all. Parents came to pick up their kids. “I see you’ve got a broken nose. Adds character to your face. Get in the car.” (Not quite that bad, but close.) Today it would be, “I’m suing the church and all the leaders. This is not how you create a safe space for my precious little pancake.”
It was a different world, my friends. I’m glad I grew up in that one and not this one.
May you have a great and insanely dangerous summer of fun.