Sunday, September 25, 2011

Do you remember?

Brent's parents called us The Troublemakers. He was the jokester, his twin the one I remember I could be serious with. I remember their room, Wacky Packages on every surface. Star Wars sheets. Rock And Roll Over. The Westlake Municipal Dump was our playground, where we played Vietnam, and found Playboy magazines. We made cigarettes from their older brother's rolling papers and dried Sassafras leaves from the tree in our yard, and smoked them in the attic over my garage. We ripped off K-Mart, over and over and again, stuffing our jackets with Micronauts and heading out unmolested into the parking lot through the Nursery.

I watched The Interception in their living room.

Hot Rod Lincoln. Cheech and Chong. Pee-Wee Herman. Big Chuck and Little John. Disco Duck. Space Invaders. Pop Muzik. Uncle Vic. Battle of the Planets and Star Blazers. They had cable first, and we watched every movie my parents would be horrified to know I was seeing. I made the most hideous mixed drink ever from their mom's liquor cabinet - like maybe, Vermouth & TAB.

We climbed through the sewers. We investigated all the new houses that were being built near our elementary school. We listened to that bit in Love Rollercoaster a hundred times and debated whether that was really the sound of a girl getting raped. We walked the pipe. We read the graffiti. We bought "near" beer. We stole candy from everywhere. We kept mice. We talked about the girls.

They had a way with girls that I did not. Once he helped me out after a disappointing (for me) game of Spin the Bottle by politely suggesting to his girlfriend that she give me my first tongue kiss, you know, as a favor. And she did. I still think that was entirely awesome.

We met in second grade, the Bicentennial. By 1980 it was as though we had known each other all our lives. Middle School was the most terrible place on earth for me, but I feel my association with them kept it from being the living hell it was for my older brother. By eighth grade, however, the differences were just too great. Their new friends hated me, the "trouble" we were getting into was losing its appeal to me, or it was just getting too deep. I was afraid, and they all knew it. Our friendship never officially ended in any kind of "break up." We just started "seeing other people."

In early 1996 we reconnected briefly ... I cannot even remember who got in touch with whom, or why, but I went over to their house with The Scroll, a fat roll of paper towel we snuck out of the bowling alley and started using as a journal, sharing it at each of our houses. But I was the one who wanted to be a writer, so it ended up with me. The twins told me they didn't really have any artifacts from their childhood, and they wanted to look at it again. This was when we were in our late-20s. I told them I would be happy if they kept it, and they were pleased at that.

His brother Burt told me later how surprised he was at the ending, when I was writing about all of the disappointment and confusion I was feeling, with our friendship ending. I no doubt sounded like a self-righteous little shit, but he understood that, and that it was coming from a thirteen year-old, and that it made him feel better to know that it was important to me. That they were important to me.

Last night my parents told me they saw Brent's obituary in the paper. I don't know yet what I am going to do about that. And I have been mood-swinging about it for twenty-four hours now. When I met him I was only slightly younger than my daughter is now. She seems so much older than I think of myself being, meeting him. God, we did a lot of illegal shit. Dangerous shit. And we had so much fun, before video games, before VHS and DVD, before MTV or much more than four TV stations. Suburbia was our playground, and we survived that.

I didn't play with my brothers when I was a kid. Henrik was always a school ahead of me, Denny (who turned 50 today) was practically an adult. Brent, his brother, our friends, defined my childhood. They were my childhood. We were boys. We were troublemakers. And that was awesome.

Distance: 3.3 miles
Temperature: 68ยบ
Weight: 173.5 lbs.
Weather: nice. humid. at least it's dark.

September Genius Mix
September - Earth Wind & Fire
Let's Go Crazy - Prince & The Revolution
On & On (Live) - Erykah Badu
Got To Give It Up (Part 1) - Marvin Gaye
This Is How We Do It - Montell Jordan
Let's Hear It For The Boy - Deniece Williams

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