Twelve Tales of 12

Evening, gang.

Yep, back again to hang with you for a bit.

One of my favorite things about sharing this stuff with you guys is that it’s the kind of stuff we don’t really talk about. Stuff that embarrassed us, maybe. Or stuff that we’re just too chicken shit to share.

So, what do you think? Is there a statute of limitations on embarrassment? If there isn’t, let’s establish one
right now.

Back in those years (yes, those teen and pre-teen years we discussed some yesterday), it certainly seemed like there were a lot of firsts, huh? Plenty of rites-of-passage stuff we all had to endure.

That’s why I’d like to share a few of them. In fact, in honor of countdown day 12, let’s go with a quick dozen.

  1. FIRST TIME GRANTED PERMISSION TO USE THE STOVE. No sooner did my Mom give me the green light to use the stove on my own, I tried making hot chocolate (the old-fashioned way, in a saucepan, on a burner). The phone rang, and I went to answer it. When I returned to the stove, though, I wasn’t paying attention, and I somehow dunked my elbow directly into the open cooking pot. I spent the next few hours with my partially cooked elbow submerged in a bowl of ice.
  2. FIRST TIME DRIVING A CAR. I had a friend who had something of a hell-raiser older sister who thought it would be funny if her kid brother (and, of course, a few of his dumbass buddies) drove around the neighborhood a bit. When my turn came, I nearly chickened out, worried that I would mistake the gas pedal for the brake.
  3. FIRST BEER. It was a very hot June day, and I saw a cold beer in the back of the refrigerator. Worried that I would get caught, I grabbed the beer and hightailed it out of the house. Not sure what to do next, I hastily shoved the bottle (a Rolling Rock) into the mailbox and ran back inside. I came back out to fetch it a few minutes later, and I did my best to chug it down. The thing that I’ll always remember about that day is that shortly after I guzzled down that first-ever cold one, I had to go to a neighborhood party with my family. To say I was drunk would be a stretch, but it was my first lesson in understanding my limitations. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m probably the biggest lightweight ever born.
  4. FIRST TIME WATCHING SOMETHING DIE. Short of seeing a predatory animal score his prey in a science film, or at worst, killing a few flies over the years, I’d never really seen anything die. That was until my dad and I treed a squirrel who had been living in our attic. (I guess the little bastard had been scratching all night long, directly above my parents’ bedroom.) My dad, a decent and warm-hearted man (who I learned that day was also a pretty capable marksman) must have been pretty tired of listening to that varmint claw away at the attic ceiling. So, taking a chance that no one would call the cops, he grabbed a shotgun, took aim, and literally blew the animal in half.
  5. FIRST TIME CALLING A GIRL. On a dare, I called a girl in my class and told her that a friend of mine liked her. (That was a lie, of course; I just didn’t have the chops to tell her that I thought she was pretty.) Ironically, before I could say anything too stupid, her mom picked up the phone, literally letting me off
    the hook.
  6. FIRST TIME STARTING A FIGHT. I was walking in the courtyard of my junior high, and I noticed three kids pushing around a much smaller kid, who was carrying a briefcase. I was never one to look for trouble, but the more they picked on him, the more agitated I got. With all of the courage my then-12-and-a-half-year-old frame could muster, I walked up to the smallest of the three kids (that’s right, the smallest; what’s that thing that Shakespeare said about discretion being the better part of valor?) and told him to lay off the kid with the briefcase. Before he could finish telling me to go to hell, I hit him three times right in
    the face. The kid I helped was grateful, and many years later, I ran into him on the streets of NYC.
  7. FIRST BROADWAY SHOW – Family friends allowed me to tag along to see
    The Magic Show, featuring a then-unknown Doug Henning, future star illusionist.
  8. FIRST THING I EVER BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY – I went to a Sam Goody record store (defunct as of 2012) and purchased two .45 records, “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” (War) and “The Night Chicago Died” (Paper Lace).
  9. FIRST THING I EVER STOLE – Desperate to take a break from cutting weight for wrestling, I broke down and bought a container of chocolate frosting. As I got ready to head for the cash register, I realized that I had no way of eating my coveted treat. (And I only had enough money to buy the frosting.) So, as stealthily as I could, I walked to the aisle where they sold plastic wear, opened up a bag and stole a spoon.
  10. FIRST TRIP TO THE PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE – To this day, I don’t know why I did it, but during an impromptu food fight, I picked up a paper cup full of apple sauce and fired it against the wall. A teacher saw me, and soon, I was on my way to face the music.
  11. FIRST (AND LAST) TIME ON A SKATEBOARD – You think skateboards are big now? Travel back to the 1970s and experience the initial craze, some years before Tony Hawk came on the scene. (As for my skateboarding prowess, I traveled maybe 20 feet, hit a rock and went ass over tip in the middle of the street.)
  12. FIRST STORE ITEM I EVER TRIED TO RETURN. I had gotten a remote-control helicopter as a gift, and the damn thing just wouldn’t get airborne. And when I got to the store to make the return, the two store clerks got nasty about it. They claimed that I had purposely damaged the toy, in hopes of getting a new one.

Hope that jogged your memory a bit. And if you’re willing to take the time to share similar memories of your own, please send them to me at:

See you tomorrow.


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