I had a neighbor growing up named Tommy Salami. Salami wasn’t his real last name but one that was acquired over time. I’m not sure how he got the name but I’m guessing it’s because he was a ham. This caused a potential Hatfield/McCoy situation within the neighborhood, as I was being called a “ham” and clearly it would be impossible to tell us apart if we were both called a “Ham”, so they went with “Salami”. The name might’ve also come about because he’s Italian, which in that case I’m glad to see that my neighbors at least had a sense as to which country meats originated.
Tommy, being the Salami he was, used to do crazy stuff all the time once he hit twelve years old. Tommy Salami would get in trouble for jumping off of his roof, joy riding in his parents car when he was 14, smoking cigarettes, killing dogs, and getting C’s and D’s in school. Ok, he didn’t kill dogs. That I know of. After every one of these mishaps, Tommy’s mom would drive my mom nuts by explaining that “Boys will be boys”. As a father of three lads, I’m concerned, to say the least, that my boys will just “be boys” and that our dog might end up “accidentally” murdered. Here are a few other things I’m hoping they avoid.
1. Secret Potions
I’m still amazed no one I know has gotten killed by this, but boys like to find the most random crap lying around the garage, mix it up with some poisonous berries and see if they can get someone to drink it. Of course it usually smells like kerosene, turpentine and mint and looks like diarrhea with berries floating in it, so no one ever takes the bait. However opened bottles in the garage plus a bucket and a slightly warped sense of what’s funny could lead to an emergency room trip for some unsuspecting kid. What has me worried is that today’s products look and smell so much like products you’d drink (Orange Clean or Orange Crush? Who knows!?) that it won’t be long before we see a story about a kid dying from drinking “PEAK Antifreeze – now with lime!”.
2. Fake Bails
Read it again, it says “bails”. Pervert.
Fake bails are when kids stage injuries to see if anyone’s watching. Jumping off of the swing when it’s at its peak, falling off their bikes onto the grass, there’s not much boys won’t do in order to psyche out passers-by.
Because we’re in the era of the Bodygroom I can’t imagine this is an much of an epidemic, but at one point there were mustache/beard trimmers and razors to, um, “trim” with. And typically a 18 year old boy has no need for such a device, but Dad certainly does. And that means Dad’s now trimming the hairs under his nose with a device that just shorned your scrotum.
Aside from the backyard wrestling, moronic stuff boys do, this one truly scares the hell out of me. Part of me thinks they’ll be more open about dating than my upbringing was, and then part of me thinks that they’ll probably still sneak in dates, a kiss — or worse — behind my back no matter what. I guess it would be worse – I could be Don and have girls and have to worry about EVERY penis out there.
5. Piercings, Tattoos, Motorcycles, Smoking, Heroin and anything else I may have missed.
There’s a plethora of things that I’m hoping my kids are never curious about, but realistically because of how society’s forced our kids to grow up fast I’m going to have to deal with things my parents never did. I recently learned that a former family friend’s niece, who’s all of maybe 20, is hooked on heroin in mid Michigan. MID MICHIGAN. We’re talking wholesome corn fields and State Fairs where B-list country artists perform, tractor rides and cross-town football rivalries that still involve pep rallies and TPing people’s houses and schools. And now there’s heroin. And AIDS. And guns aplenty. Watch a few Break.com fight videos and you’ll never let them hang out at the local 7-Eleven, much less go on Spring Break.
Bonus: Mailbox Baseball
I don’t think there was much of a mailbox baseball epidemic until this classic scene from Stand By Me:
Unless TV and movies have lied to us, smashing defenseless mailboxes with bats is clearly an American past time and is as wholesome as apple pie. That is, until some random guy gets tired of his mailbox that’s perched upon a giant spring getting hit by you and your friend at 10 PM which is way too early to be out mailbox baseballing so he hops in his car, chases you down a dead end street in a subdivision you’ve never been in, confronts you and forces you to go report what you did to the police in an effort to scare the crap out you, only to not press charges and have you come back to replace his and the other neighbors mailboxes that you bought at the hardware store in white because they were cheaper but spray painted them black so he totally didn’t know you’re replacing it on the cheap and during the process of replacing it decides you’re not a bad kid and introduces you and your friend to his hot daughters. Win.
But that’s then it hits you – we all did really dumb stuff growing up and, unless you’re a true Darwin Award winner, you’ll survive. Hell, I once hit a dishwasher that was on the side of the road in my Olds ninety Eight thinking it was a cardboard box and lived to talk about it (side note, the car suffered a small paint chip and was covered in moldy suds, but otherwise all good (side side note: they don’t make cars like they used to!)) – so I know it can’t be that bad. I also know that I have much better lines of communication with my kids and while I’m still tempted to drive donuts in parking lots on snowy days will refrain to show them that better judgment prevails if you talk about it or – gasp – stop and think.
In the end Tommy Salami’s mom was right – Boys will be boys. I just hope I’ll be able to handle it without having a heart attack!