I’m finding as I age there are just certain inevitabilities. Hair is graying. Various sagging is taking place. My vocabulary is slowly falling behind the current vernacular. Right there! See?! Did you see that?!!! Who the hell says vernacular anymore?
Anyway, as it turns out one of the more peculiar inevitabilities is my transformation into the “Hey you damn kids get off my lawn!” guy. Much like Annikan Skywalker, once I started down the path, forever has it dominated my destiny. I should have seen it coming; only retired dude on my street, more importantly the oldest dude on my street, there really was no way to avoid it.
On the first day of a new class at the NCO Academy I would tell my students, “Look around at your classmates. If you can’t find the jerkoff, then you’re it.” Well, I look around my street and I can’t find the “Hey you damn kids, get off my lawn!” guy. So…
It started so innocently.
In 2004, when we first moved in, some neighborhood kids were destroying our next door neighbors tree with croquet mallets. After I wrapped my diet coke addled brain around what in God’s name they were doing I went out on our deck and literally yelled over to them, “What in God’s name are you doing?” They looked up and then they ran. They ran fast and they didn’t look back. They were hauling the mail back to wherever kids who disrespect other people’s property come from. Probably Newark NJ.
That was it.
My first step down the path.
Destiny meet inevitability.
Forward to summer of 2013.
Frank and I are in the backyard hitting golf balls. Through the trees we can hear what sounds like some kids trying to climb the fence to the neighborhood pool. We move in for a closer look. It’s a ten year old kid and what I thought was his two little sisters. He looks at me and says, “Hey do you have an electric drill?” No way this ends well.
“No I don’t have a drill.” Of course I do. I have an awesome electric drill and a cordless one too. But I’m not giving it to this kid.
While I start thinking about what a cool set of tools I have the kid turns to the other little kids and says, “How does a grown man not own an electric drill?”
I go all adult and say, “I’m sorry I couldn’t hear you. What did you just say?”
He goes all gangster; throws his arms out to his sides and juts his chest out proclaiming, “My parents built this pool!” The little girl next to him whispered, “No they didn’t.” I tried to say something and he did it again.
I finally said, “They built it eh. Good go get them I want to speak to them.”
Man, he went silent then turned nine shades of pale.
“I don’t know where they are.”
“Really you have no idea where your parents are. OK when and if you ever see them again you tell them I want to talk to them.”
“Uh, uh, uh, OK.” It must have dawned on this kid at some point that I had no idea who he was so really, unless he told his parents, there would be no way they would find out. His mood brightened a little and they all ran off.
Frank looks at me and says, “That’s an angry boy.” Yes Frank, yes he is. More than likely unless he either learns some manners or learns how to fight, someday he’ll be a toothless, angry boy.
A day later we’re watching some golf channel and someone knocks on the door. Frank runs to the door and yells, it’s a lady with a boy. I’m not trusting his analysis and it’s not registering. So I go to the door.
It was a lady and a kid. She asks me if I was in my backyard yesterday. Then it hits me. It’s the kid! It’s the smart-mouth kid! He actually told his parents?
Nope. Turns out the little girl was not his sister but a next door neighbor. She starts crying at dinner because she thought I was mad at her and tells her parents the whole deal. The girl’s parents call the smart-mouth’s parents and viola! Big shot is on my porch apologizing. I have to say I was impressed. Kid even looked me in the eye while speaking to me. That’s a sign of solid character. He just wrote a check his mouth couldn’t cash. And who hasn’t done that in their lifetime.
The little girl was collateral damage but such is life in the war for neighborhood supremacy. So if you’re keeping score at home, from that one exchange with the punk I was able to make 2 kids cry.
Not a bad days work for the “Hey you damn kids, get off my lawn!” guy.