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  • Craig Messenger

The Summer of Our Youth

This summer in question deserves an actual novella written about it but I’ve convinced myself that if I don’t finish one of these posts each month then I will spontaneously combust or develop a debilitating iron deficiency or something else at least similarly terrible. And here I am, a few days to bingo, racing to finish again. So I’m just cutting this one down to a couple of scenes. I’ll actually dramatize and finish the whole story of this summer one day. Maybe.


 

2013


[Nighttime. Construction site, lots of 2x4s, green fences, the whole deal. Maybe a porta potty. 4 boys in hoodies. 4 more shirtless, baring the ocean breeze. The alliances were clearly drawn. Lighting is provided by 2 floodlights, and we are in the pre-LED era here, so they get hot as hell. Real scorchers. Illuminated is the Holy Game, that bright battlefield of the 6 foot folding table, some Stigas, and the legend himself – Red Solo.]


And on that battlefield, we fought for teenage superiority. It was last cup – Berto’s move. We all talked over each other.


 

This is so stupid.


I don’t care, I’m gonna end these bitches.


Hey we’ve got to watch the light.


Berto, do that shit, just smack the shit out of it.


Hey I’ll watch the light, I’ll watch the light.


I’m gonna grab the chair.


Are you filming?


Hey no move those cups.


Hold on what?

At least take that stuff off.


Yeaaaa. Yeaaaaa.


Yo, dude, put your shirt back on.


I’m with you guys now.


I need you to do it. Somebody has to do it.


I’m gonna do it.


I’ve done it before, it hurts so bad.


Guys someone’s gotta take those cups off.


Hey everyone we’re chillin.


THIS IS A NEIGHBORHOOD!!!!


If I knock it off, it’s game?


No, it’s a tie.


No, no, no. Then we go to the same cup again.


You’re right, he’s right.


OVERTIME!!!!!


Berto just go.


Let’s go baby!


There’s no fuckin’ way.


No chance he makes it over.


He’s going.


WATCH THE LIGHT!


Huh!


OOOOHHHHHHHH!


DUDE


You didn’t really even…


Where is it?!


IT’S IN THE CUP, IN THE CUP!!!


IN THE CUP. bitches.


OOOOHHHHHHHH!


*a squirmish breaks out*


THAT’S A WIN!


We won. WE won.


He’s got some big ass balls for doing that.


 

I think that both the happiest and the saddest people in the world believe that they have nothing to look forward to.


No big plans, no big hurdles, no waiting. Just here, now. And for a while there, we fit nicely into that first group; losing basketball games, collecting alcohol, and doing stupid shit.


The collecting being the most important part really, because while the outcomes of our beer pong games would largely shape our future adult personalities, and while the logistics of scavenging tables and vacant house keys and lighting equipment was probably the most fun part of all of this – our alcohol procurement scheme was the lifeblood of the entire operation, the thrill that made us feel all gooey inside. And we stocked a large inventory.


You name it, we had it. The Jim Beam was parked between the Red Label and the Jack Daniels Honey. They each threw up nicely. The Skull Vodka stuff? You bet. We even had a limited edition Captain Morgan Parrot Bay from 1997 that I found in the back cupboards. It was gross. The hard alcohol was easy to get and those bottles were our most sacred trophies, but we needed beer to live. And that was a lot harder.


 

Ian is a skilled driver. Ian is also a terrible driver. He pays about 15% attention to the road. He likes to turn around and look back into the rear seat to make conversation, whether anyone is sitting back there or not. Most of the rides with him are punctuated by last second lane swerves and aggressive braking before unseen curves. And whiplash. But everyone in the car really feels heard. I was indeed in the back seat this time while we headed to a scout mission at Rite Aid.


“Craig, you won’t believe the brakes on this thing.” Ian turned and said to me, impressed with his car’s abilities.


“Oh I believe them.”


“And the turbo! It’s like I just think about the gas and BOOM!”


“Dawg you don’t have to turn around. It’s a sedan. I can hear you.”


Luis, in the front seat, was the best basketball player amongst us but the least mechanical.


“What's a turbo?”


“Right now, at this green light, watch when the light turns green. We’re going TURBO!”


“Like is turbo just like, fast?”


I had never hoped for a power outage more in my life.


It eventually turned green and Ian apparently thought about the gas because we took off and picked up a bit of speed. There was another stoplight about three football fields ahead.


“COME ON BABY! What’s that 0-60 Craig?! Probably like 4.4 I bet!”


“4.4’s good!” Luis chimed in, thinking of football.


“Ian turn around you idiot”


“I am turned around!” He responded, still staring politely into my eyes.


“Dude the light’s red.”


“You won’t believe these brakes.”


“There’s a car right there!”


“BELIEVEEEEEE!”


They were pretty good brakes I guess, just not good enough. We slowed down to about 8 mph before we crashed into the car in front of us and came to a stop. It was relatively gentle. The car we hit slowly turned into a gas station right next to our crime scene, and we were shocked to see that its rear bumper didn’t look very damaged. Ian had been waiting for this moment his entire life. He turned to me in the back seat with a calm, professional look on his face.


“Do I run?”