Due to issues related to computer hardware, I will be having difficulty updating for the foreseeable future. It is my intent to return to writing as soon as possible. Please keep checking back in~
Five of us were loaded into GG’s baby blue Ford Pinto. Link’s mother rode passenger, and Cousins-L and B, and myself sat under the hatchback glass, eschewing seatbelts in favor of the better view. I had finished a can of diet soda and was absentmindedly pinging the tab. Cousin-L asked me if I could pull the tab off with the mounting ring still attached. I asked her why, as I’d never even thought about doing that before. Evidently the kids at her school were collecting them. So, I thought about how I might approach the problem, and went about pulling the tab off. Presently, it popped right off, and while I’m not sure exactly how it happened, my thumb slid into the can. I could feel immediately that I had injured myself. Nervously investigating my thumb, I saw that I had somehow scooped a chunk of flesh right out of the softest part of the digit. The pain was distressingly intense, and the sight of the deeper layers of my skin sent me into a minor panic. GG asked what had happened and Cousin-L informed her that I had cut myself. No one seemed as upset about it as I felt they should be. Blood started to gush from the wound, so I wrapped it tightly in my shirt. The pressure of my ersatz tourniquet did much to relieve the pain and stop the bleeding. I thought for sure I was going to lose my thumb. When we arrived at our destination in La Mesa, I hurried into the bathroom to run some water over the cut. As soon as I unwrapped it from my shirt the intense pain returned, and so I wrapped it again and did my best to put on a brave face. When I was back home, Mother asked me what had happened. I told her about the can and she asked “Why did you do that?” and so I did my best to explain Cousin-L’s desire for the intact tab. Mother just looked at me and said “Dummy.”
After school, I had been waiting for Mother to pick me up when J1 came out of the school office carrying a large grey skateboard with a bird skull logo on the bottom side. He tossed the board to the ground, hopped onto it and started to glide away. I called out “Hey, can I see your skateboard?” He let me ride it around, and I was amazed at the difference in quality between his board and my own, which had recently made it’s way to the garbage. To my surprise, J1 offered to help me buy a new board at the swap meet, if I could come up with enough money. I begged Mother, and with the promise of extra chores being completed without complaint, she gave me a twenty dollar bill with which to buy a skateboard. The following Friday, after class J1 and I walked from school to his home, and then the couple of miles to the El Cajon swap meet. I was amazed at the many kiosks selling a wide variety of merchandise, everything from yard sale fare, to handmade crafts and outlet fashions. J1 led me around and to a tarpaulin shaded table displaying a variety of skateboards. I chose a yellow board with a sunset and palm tree logo. It wasn’t a professional model, but it was of much higher quality than my found board had been. After that time, I would spend a couple days each week, and most every weekend not otherwise taken up riding dirt bikes, skateboarding with J1 or S3. That swap meet skateboard lasted me the remainder of the sixth grade school year, and most of the following summer.
Cousin’s L and B spent most of the week at the bottom of the canyon with their mother and her new husband. Aunt-T owned a hair salon which she operated out of a tiny building situated across the street from the bar which Uncle-E had made his second home. One of her neighbors was hosting swimming lessons for children. After the class, we shared snacks and some free swimming time. The teacher said I was a natural and that she’d never seen anyone take to the water with such ease.
S2, Cousin-L, and I were playing in the creek, where it ran through Old Ironside’s park. Mother watched from the single picnic table as Sister and Brother ran circles around the steep, metal slide. As we waded through the cool water, scores of tiny frogs fled from the disturbance created. Cousin-L skipped from rock to rock, weaving some fantastic tale I don’t recall. S2 held a yellow plastic bucket and directed me to the straggling frogs, which I scooped up and dumped into her custody. Later, we took them to my house and put them into a terrarium I had carefully prepared with soil, water, and greens. Three survived the transition, but I don’t remember their names.
One of the endcaps in Mr. A’s store was set up as a magazine rack. Most of the books displayed there were of little interest, but the rack nearest the floor was the one I wasn’t supposed to look at. These were the adult magazines. I was assured they were quite shameful, but often those covers contained the only interesting colors in the dimly lit shop. One of those pictures especially grabbed my attention. The two blond women were obviously twins. They had bright eyes and wide smiles, but it was the composition of the photo that I found so intriguing. The girls wore a matching yellow babydoll set, one the top, the other the bottom, but posed in such a way as to sidestep any obscenity laws. I was fascinated by the energy and artistry of the shot, and mentioned this to R2. Somehow his older sister caught wind of this and teased me about it relentlessly, which was more confusing than hurtful to me.
We were camping on Pole Line Road, north of Ocotillo Wells. I was still riding the Honda Trail 50 which I had learned on. Father was leading on his beloved Bultaco. There was a wide, flat area to the west of the road, broken only by one small knoll. Father turned a wide circle around the hill, then rode over it. I saw this and turned to follow. The other side of the hill dropped off abruptly, and I found myself unexpectedly air born. Father stopped to talk. “I didn’t expect you to follow me up there.” he said. “Did I just jump?!” I asked in surprise. “Yeah!” he affirmed. After that, I was always on the lookout for places where I could feel that brief reprieve from gravity.
One of the neighborhood kids had a little 60cc bike, and they wanted to go for a ride with me and Father. We had ridden the fire break road around the back of Goat Mountain, and along the top of Crazy Man. On the way back, they asked if they could try riding my larger RM-80. So we swapped bikes. I was surprised at how light the little KX-60 was. The front wheel fell into a rut and I reacted how I usually did, by leaning back and rolling on the throttle. The much lighter but almost as powerful bike stood up vertically and I had to quickly lean forward while reversing the throttle. I had a new respect for that little bike that had almost dumped me off its back.
Evidently Mr. D and Father had been in a motorcycle club together before I was born. Neither of them seemed much like bikers to me, but as we were all out in the desert riding motorcycles together, it didn’t seem too much a stretch. Mr. D loved to tell stories though, so I remained at least slightly skeptical. His taciturn son was a few years older than me and I’m not sure we ever spoke, but one day Mr. D offered to let me ride the boy’s larger, taller dirt bike. Sitting on the 125cc bike, my feet didn’t even reach the ground, so I leaned it over and with some struggle managed to kick start it. I was terrified to ride the bike, because it was new and conspicuously not mine. It felt good though, to know that I was able. Afterward, Father suggested that perhaps it was time I graduated to a larger motorcycle.