So I went to the funeral today. I hate funerals. But this one was probably what a funeral should be, allowing people to share memories of the person they loved. They played a few country western songs and read a passage from the bible and then asked the crowd of people in the room to share stories of person they were there to honor.
Now this is a country where men don't cry, so you wont get many public speakers. A couple of women said pleasant things and one guy tried to tell a story of how one of the boys hooked grandpa with a lure while out fishing one day. Then there was silence. So I stood up and shared part of the story I had been thinking for days, and in fact have thought of many times in my life.
Mike and I were maybe 11 years old. We slept out in the garage because his parents politely banned us from the house. Not only were we overly impressed with all types of flatulant jokes, there MIGHT have been a long night of me asking Mike questions like, "Pssssst! Psssst! MIKEEEE!"
"What?" he would ask from the twin bed on the other side of the dark bedroom we were sharing.
"Wanna play Army? I'll act like a tank and you can come along and BLOW ME! HAHAHAHAHA"
Did I mention we were 11? In fact at this time we were probably more like 9. My maniacal laughter would be interrupted by Mike's Dad's patient voice saying, "Boys... You need to settle down in there. We got to get some sleep."
Maybe 5 minutes later I would start again, "Pssssst! Psssst! Mike!"
He would be laughing because it was just too obvious. "What?"
"You want to play Navy?"
Later, I was reminded I had eventually included all branches of the armed services and tried more than a few vocations. All followed by Mike's Dad telling us to settle down. In the dark, in an unfamiliar house, the parental bedroom seemed like it had to be in another world. In the light of the next morning, Mike showed me it was more like 5 feet away. I don't believe we ever spent another night under the roof of the house.
Which is why, a few years later, we were much older but still banished to the non attached garage. Mike pointed to the refrigerator and told me his Dad had a 5th of Cherry Vodka in a plain brown paper sack. So we checked it out, and thoughts of awe turned to dares of courage to the point we each pretty much shamed the other to try a drink. When we realized it didn't kill us we tried another and another. Sometime, maybe 3:00am or so, one of us thought about checking to see if we had drank a noticeable amount. So we rolled the paper sack down a little, then further and further and with each inch our hearts started trying to jump out of our throats. Finally we yanked the sack off the bottle to see it was nearly empty!
There was no way to hide this! We had gotten into something we never should have and we STAYed there! We were so going to get killed! I don't know if I have ever been as afraid as I was that night. Finally we did the only adult thing we could think of, we put it back in the brown paper sack and back into the refrigerator and tried to act like it never happened.
Two days later I got a call from Mike. "He knows!" SO I waited for calls to my parents and the end of the world, which never happened. Life seemed to continue as normal so I never expected the question Mike's Dad tossed out one afternoon while we were goofing around in the yard. "Cris...?" He asked as he looked speculatively over the tops of his glasses. "Was that you and Mike that got into my Cherry Cough medicine?"
I know it sounds lame to see that written out here on a blog post. But I can't tell you the number of times I have re-heard that question in my mind. It ALWAYS sends cold fear shivers down my spine. I hung my head and 'fessed up. And instead of a beating, a lecture or another banishment, he just chuckled and told me he was going to have to start marking his bottle thereafter.
For years following that event, Mike said his dad would from time to time take a drink from his old "Cherry Cough Medicine" and start to put it back in the fridge, then stop, look at Mike suspiciously and pull out a marker and mark the level of what was left on the glass bottle. But he never mentioned the incident again.
God we are going to miss him.
7 months ago