“You can fool some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can make a damn fool of yourself any old time.” (Laurence J. Peter)

Back in my younger days, I did a lot of stupid stuff. I’d like to be able to blame my foolishness on numerous head injuries that occurred when I was even younger but the truth is I knew better. I just liked taking risks, always have and probably always will. Most of my foolishness was just a by-product of the friends I had at the time and their own desire to throw caution to the wind.

During high school, I met my match in thrill seekers. His name was Jim. I’m not going to use his last name because I’m not completely sure about the statute of limitations on some of the stuff we did and I would like to stay on his good side, lest I hear from his lawyer. Jim’s family was a lot higher up the socioeconomic ladder than mine, which was evidenced by the cars he drove. The first time I saw him at school he was driving a Fiat 850 convertible and I thought he might be some Italian kid who just moved into the district. After he wrecked that car his folks bought him a Fiat 124 Spider convertible with glass-pak mufflers and leather seats. We became friends immediately, once I saw his new wheels.

Jim’s personality had equal parts of Eddie Haskell’s insincerity, Buster Keaton’s comedic timing, Parnelli Jones’ lead foot and Superman’s invincibility. Why his parents ever bought him not one but two Italian sports cars, I will never understand. There were times when I thought they must have ulterior motives like a large life insurance policy on him that would easily fund their retirement in Tuscany. At that moment in time, none of that really mattered to me as I was the other beneficiary of their largesse. Whenever I craved a completely senseless act of daring, I knew who to call. I could hear him coming a mile away and all I had to do was jump in the passenger seat as he drove by.

One of our favorite driving past times was a rear seat full of water balloons. We had no fear of getting caught in the act because Jim was a pretty good driver when he had to be. We assaulted other kids we knew at every stop light and then sped away in a loud, red blur. Late at night, after most of the other kids had gone home we got bored enough that we invented a new game. The idea was pretty simple. I would throw a water balloon ahead of us and he would try to swerve the car so it would hit me not him. I still can’t believe he went for it, because on a hot summer night I wanted to get wet and it was his car no matter what happened. He never seemed too concerned about his car’s welfare which is good because he ran the sh*t out of it.

During school hours, Jim and I worked on the newspaper together selling advertising. We even volunteered to write jokes for the paper. Let’s just say our sense of humor was met with some administrative opposition. The journalism teacher finally relieved us of our duties as apparently we had achieved a new low. I think he used the words obscene by any community standards. We argued loudly for freedom of the press but pretty much everybody agreed with him. Secretly, we were quite proud to have lasted two whole weeks. At least we were successful salesmen and we got to leave school early every day to ply our trade.

During the spring of senior year we came way too close to not graduating or ever breathing again. We were cruising down Ward Parkway, which was our favorite patch of pavement. We pulled up next to a carload of very attractive females and tried our best to look like we belonged in a red Italian sports car as we paced their speed. As the co-pilot it was always my job to make eye contact with the objects of our affection and Jim was supposed to stay focused on his driving till we could convince them to pull over. That night he forgot his first responsibility as captain and was also trying to hit on them. The first sign that something was wrong came from the girls as they all got scared simultaneously. I turned to look at Jim just about the same time that he turned his head forward and slammed on the brakes and jerked the car right in behind them to avoid a bulldozer that had been left overnight after construction. There were lots of signs and warning lights and barricades but since neither one of us was paying any attention we missed it by the smallest of margins.

We kind of drifted apart after that episode. I think I knew we had just burned up several of our nine lives and I really didn’t need to tempt fate that much anymore. We still hung out occasionally but once we went to different colleges the party was effectively over. Jim recently got a hold of me on Facebook and it sounds like he’s had a good life. He lives in Vegas now, which seems only too fitting. I will say this much in his favor, thank God he had incredible reflexes and a car to match.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content


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