Monday, September 07, 1970

The Birdbath

Watching the relationships my teenage daughters have with their friends brings back memories of high school and the struggles to get along.

In my time the two big groups were the Greasers and the Jocks. You weren't a Greaser if you didn't have long black hair held into a cresting wave with a tube and a half of Brylcreeam or if you were a girl, a two foot tall beehive held up with this wire conehead thing and two gallons of hairspray.

I once witness a poor gal, who while trying to light a cigarette at the bus stop, had a chip fly off the match into here hair. It went up in flames like a towering inferno stopping only when nothing remained but the wire conehead thing. Nothing we could do to help her.

If you weren't on all the sports teams and had all the cheerleaders fawning all over you, you weren't a Jock.

I wanted to be a jock. Tall pointy black zip up boots with switchblades in them didn't interest me and I hated it when my dad would cut my hair and but that axel grease in it, even though he cut it no more than 1/4" long!

So Jock it was. My freshman year I joined the cross country running team and the tennis team. I enjoyed both, particularly the running. I loved getting into the zone where my legs just went automatically and all I was aware of was the wind through my quarter inch greased hair.

That all came to a crashing end shortly before the end of the school year when I had a massive asthma attack after running a race. Anaphylactic Shock and an emergency race to medical attention. Massive doses of adrenalin and antihistamines to save my life.

At first the doctors though it was a fluke thing, but when it happened again several days later while playing tennis I was ordered to cease strenuous physical activities.

So much for Jockhood - no shuffleboard or dart teams!

Thus I was relegated to being a Nerd. Broken glasses with adhesive taped bridge, radio club, electronics club, math club - the whole enchilada!

Have you ever had one of those friends whose sole existence seems to be to take harassment from you? Why is that? As Nerds we took harassment from the Jocks and the Greasers so we only had those nerdier to pick on.

This is what I was noticing in my daughters. Kind of a hierarchy thing or something. I guess it's just part of the teen development stage. It seems so toxic from the outside, but they maintain it as if it were the norm.

I had one such friend - Monte was his name. He would hang around with my group of friends and was accepted as an equal on a one to one basis, but became the butt of the jokes and pranks when part of the whole group.

Another friend, Bill, and I had taken to playing a practical joke on Monte. We would go out on a weekend night and move his family's birdbath from the front to the back yard. It was one of those heavy concrete ones with a separate bowl and pedestal.
It would take two trips with both of us carrying each piece together.

We would go back sometime the next weekend and move it back. (There were no fences in our community so access was easy.)

It was always such a blast to listen to Monte telling us all about it Monday mornings.

We had done this five or six times already and returned for another move. We picked up the bowl and carried it about ten feet when a spotlight came on - we were busted!

Setting the bowl down we took off running into the adjacent field and hid in some bushes.

After about an hour we decided to go back and put the birdbath back together and then call off this prank. Wrong move!

Monte and his brothers were hiding in some bushes which were between the birdbath and the field. When we were again spotlighted and headed for the field they jumped us.

Bill slipped in the snow that was beginning to fall and Monte's brother caught him.
Soon Monte and both brothers were on top of Bill so I had to go try and help him.
Monte's dad grabbed me and they held us until three patrol cars and six officers showed up.

We explained the situation and since I lived only a couple of blocks away they sent me home. I thought I was off the hook! However Bill was inclined to wise off to the cops and he pissed them off. They took him home to his parents, waking them up and instructing them that Bill had to go to see the Sargent at the police station the next day.

As I walked into the house my mom was on the phone with Bill's mom. All holy hell broke out and despite my insistence that only Bill had to go to meet the Sargent since he was mouthing off, I too was told by my parents that I must go.

The next morning was a raging blizzard. I proposed the scenario that due to the weather I obviously couldn't go.


"It is only 1 1/2 miles to the police station and you can darn well walk."

So out I went slogging through waist deep snow and whiteout conditions to see the Sargent. Bill, who lived about five miles away was brought in on snowmobile by his dad.

When we arrived the Captain was the only one there. The Sargent couldn't get in because of the storm. He sat us down and had a talk with us, it went kind of like this:

Captain: So why are you here?
Us: For moving a birdbath.
Captain: Moving a birdbath?
Us: Yes sir.
Captain: Please explain.

So we gave him the above account of the evening.

Captain: I see, how many patrol cars showed up for moving a birdbath?
Us: Three.
Captain: THREE??
Us: Yes.
Captain: How many officers?
Us: Six.
Captain: SIX?? For Christ's sake, that's the whole night force - - for moving a damn birdbath! Just go home and don't do it again!
Us: Yes sir!