Tuesday, October 26, 2010

4 Stories: Childhood Games

A few weeks ago, my dear friend Megan introduced me to a really cool group blog series called 4 Stories which was started on one of my new favorite blogs to follow: Freckled Nest. Every week, she writes four random stories about a given topic, and then encourages readers to do the same in their blogs. Enjoy mine and feel free to link to your own, or even just share them in the comments!

1. Team Green

Though I lived in a pretty rural area, I was fortunate enough to have somewhat of a subdivision with just enough children to form a play group. Lucky for us, our elementary school playground was practically in our back yards, so most of our mischief was dealt there.

One Sunday, a few of us decide to make our rounds. We were shocked and utterly disgusted to find that someone had defaced our playground. Toilet paper littered the entire lot!

An unprecedented sense of moral obligation surged through each of us simultaneously. It was up to us to clean up this mess. And when we did, we would be heros! The principal would surely declare a national holiday in our honor! We rushed to my house, explained the situation to my mother (who was most likely supportive in her ambivalent sort of way), grabbed some garbage bags and swiftly got to work. Neither of us had ever felt so proud. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure I've felt prouder to this day! You know, kids just feel stronger.

The quality of this camera's photos are so bad I can't even tell which is me!

Outrageously, we never did get our holiday. You see, we hadn't really thought the whole thing out. Since the vandalizing had occurred over the weekend, and we cleaned it up before the week started, nobody on the staff had gotten to experience the mess first hand. With the two giant garbage bags full of evidence already resting in some landfill somewhere, our principal surely must have thought we were exaggerating. We rest assured however, because we had been clever enough to take photographs! Too bad the attention span of a fourth grader is marginally shorter than the time it took to develop film in those days. I think in a way we all kind of learned a lesson that day. Don't do the right thing, because nobody will care.

2. It's Morphin' Time

When I was little, my four cousins and I were inseparable. One of our all time favorite and most frequently played games was Power Rangers. We would all fight over which color ranger to portray. Shelly, being the oldest of the two sisters, naturally got to be the pink ranger every time. Ginny was stuck with the yellow one.

We would often take the game to the aforementioned playground. We would climb on the "fort" (shown in the above photo), which had the magical capability of transforming into anything from Ariel's under the sea palace to Zordon's Command Center. We swore that if we jumped from the highest point, we became a streak of whatever color we were wearing, just like a teleporting ranger. We would take turns calling out our respective dinosaur and leap off to find our foe, all of us, that is, except for Ginny.

Ginny was a fragile and somewhat... clumsy child. She would typically shout out her zord and then slowly make her way down the adjacent ladder. Well, one day, in what I wouldn't particularly call my most proud moment, I got tired of Ginny throwing off the whole effect. "Morph, Ginny!" I probably yelled as I pushed her off the edge. Even the other kids seemed to think I'd done wrong as they tried to calm down my cousin, sobbing and with a mouth full of sand.

Shelly and I passed out, probably due to a long day of kicking Putty ass!

3. Magic Carpet Ride

Another glorious past time I shared with Shelly and Ginny was putting on first-rate plays and musical numbers for our parents. We would practice all day long and then hold our premier in the living room later in the evening when our parents were just buzzed enough to feign interest. One of the best productions we ever put on was our rendition of Aladdin. Our version, not surprisingly, had two Princess Jasmines!

The early stages of rehearsal often involved a little R&D. We were pretty bright children, and were one hundred percent determined on creating awe-inspiring scenery and special effects. Unfortunately, sometimes, the logistics did not work out in our favor. Like in the case of the magic carpet scene. How can you adequately suspend a blanket (representing the carpet) in the air so that it will support the weight of two eight year olds? Short answer: YOU CAN'T. Don't try. Don't try tucking one end under the mattress of the top bunk and then tying the other end to a floor lamp! Don't try supporting one corner with a ceramic utensil holder that weighs five pounds at best! You will break shit and you will get in trouble!

4. Awesome Science Genius Kids

Again, in elementary school, when it was too cold to go outside for recess, we would play in the classrooms. A new show called Awesome Science Genius Kids* had become extremely popular with the student body almost overnight and it was the only thing the cool kids were playing. We would all hover around the sink, the area of the classroom which most resembled a laboratory, and we would take turns saying "smart things".

One lunch hour, after a particularly awesome imagination session, on what could have been Chicken Patty day, so I'm going to say that it was. Because those rocked. Especially when you drenched them in ranch dressing. I miss ranch dressing. I digress, big time. So anyway, this kid Shawn showed me a plastic test tube he had gotten out of a home chemistry set. He had brought it in and filled it with water and I thought it was like the best idea ever, because the characters on our favorite show played with test tubes and beakers and stuff all the time! My brain began to tick. I had a chemistry set! I could bring in a test tube! I could be even cooler and put something colorful in it like juice or Kool-Aid so that it looked like a real life, top secret, hazardous chemical! Yeah!

Somehow I must have known that I was doing something wrong, because I remember hiding the orange juice-filled test tube on my way to school. I whipped it out at lunch time and received the exact level of acclaim I'd anticipated. And then I had one of those dumb, clumsy, kid moments. My test tube was not made out of plastic, but glass. And then it was made of a million tiny, little pieces lying in a puddle of OJ on the cafeteria floor. And then I had the death grip of the principal yanking me to her office to scold me—wait, you know what? I'm angry now! Did I really do anything wrong here? Grownups are SO uptight!

*The name of the show was not "Awesome Science Genius Kids". In fact, I'm not even sure there was a show like this at all anymore. I spent literally three hours this morning googling and tracing the lineups of every TV network only to come up empty handed. I believe one of the main characters was a redheaded boy. Circa 1993. Does anyone remember this show? AM I CRAZY?

UPDATE: It was called The Tomorrow People. Another hour of searching did the trick!

So, I hope you enjoyed my four stories! They got a bit lengthy, heh? Don't forget to share your own and to check out other contributions!


  1. I am sitting here clutching my sides gasping for the oxygen that my extreme laughter has deprived me of. I think that at some point today I shall have to write the same series for my blog (I am sure that you will make it into the majority of them, but don't worry, no mermaid).

    This post made me ache for the bliss of childhood back. Well, not really any childhood, but OUR childhoods. We were awesome kids and we did awesome things. No lie, if I had three wishes, of course the first on would probably be Buffy related, but the second one I would use to have the ability for us to go back and live as children again for whatever duration we desire just to be so awesome again!

  2. Great stories Peter!! "MORPH, GINNY!!" hahaha How Rude!!! Hahahaha. Isn't it funny to think back on the times that we may have been "mean" as kids and totally feeling bad like 20 years later?
    I love that we both have cousin memories. I think if/when I ever have kids, that will be something that my kids will really miss out on is having a ton of cousins. You know?? Cuz, like... even if they do eventually have cousins they will not live near eachother OR be even close to the same age. That just sucks!!!
    I love that you performed Aladdin!! I almost wrote one of my stores about Aladdin too! The one about the writing club with my friend Alysha could have just as easily been about our Aladdin singing performances that we put on for our Moms when my mom came to pick me up from her house. We thought they were epic and our moms were surely bored by our lackluster singing abilities. OH well. :D

    p.s. I noticed I'm moving lower and lower down on your sidebar as new things come in. How RUDE. haaaaa.

  3. Shelly: I contemplated posting the mermaid story, but since that doesn't technically qualify as "childhood" I was thankfully off the hook!

    Megan: Aladdin was bomb. I think our entire generation was doing this! And I totally know what you mean about cousins. I have a feeling Shelly will be popping them out long before we go down that line, but we always used to talk about having our kids be together and as close as we were even though they wouldn't really be cousins, because nobody should grow up without them! And sorry for your luck on your little ad. :P I link to you like every 5 posts, though!

  4. OMG Pete! That was hysterical! I so remember you guys putting on plays for us all the time, however i don't remeber the being "buzzed" part! So that's how all of my crap got broken huh? love you more than words! You too Shelly!