Showing posts with label donnie brainard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label donnie brainard. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Let's Go For A Walk!

My beautiful Vikki has been one of the most influential and and life-changing persons to come into our lives.  She arrived from another universe and didn't skip a beat from the day she stepped into my home and focused on my daughter.  This stunning but irritating and stubborn lady that I'm proud to now call Mrs. Brainard.

Vikki (India calls her "Dicki") took my child, pissed her off, didn't give in, treated her like any other child,  and the result was something that has more value than anything I can think of.  Vikki gave India physical mobility, independence and pride.  To this day, Vikki is India's best friend and now her mother.

This little compilation is of India walking, one of the most exhilarating things I've ever seen. And until Vikki, it was beaten into our heads that India could never take a step!

She can't do any of this now and most likely ever.  And the reason is gut wrenching but regardless, we'll not give up and continue to find ways to bring India joy which in turn makes our lives beautiful.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Wog Day" Initation Onboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Ranger CV-61 1989

"Wog Day" Starts at 1:21

The two-day event (evening and day) is a ritual of reversal in which the older and experienced enlisted crew essentially takes over the ship from the officers. Physical assaults in keeping with the spirit of the initiation are tolerated, and even the inexperienced crew is given the opportunity to take over. The transition flows from established order to the controlled "chaos" of the Pollywog Revolt, the beginnings of re-order in the initiation rite as the fewer but experienced enlisted crew converts the Wogs through physical tests, then back to, and thereby affirming, the pre-established order of officers and enlisted. Like the old physically and emotionally intensive boot camp, the "Crossing the Line" ritual deconstructs and then reconstructs the initiates' experience from newbie outsider into the experienced military fraternity.

The eve of the equatorial crossing is called Wog Day and, as with many other night-before rituals, is a mild type of reversal of the day to come. Wogs—all of the uninitiated—are allowed to capture and interrogate any shellbacks they can find (e.g., tying them up, cracking eggs or pouring aftershave lotion on their heads).[citation needed] This is not a thing that a true shellback will ever have happen to them.[opinion] The wogs are made very aware of the fact that it will be much harder on them if they do anything like this.

Polish line-crossing ceremony (Chrzest równikowy)
After crossing the line, Pollywogs receive subpoenas to appear before King Neptune and his court (usually including his first assistant Davy Jones and her Highness Amphitrite and often various dignitaries, who are all represented by the highest ranking seamen), who officiate at the ceremony, which is often preceded by a beauty contest of men dressing up as women, each department of the ship being required to introduce one contestant in swimsuit drag. Afterwards, some wogs may be "interrogated" by King Neptune and his entourage, and the use of "truth serum" (hot sauce + after shave) and whole uncooked eggs put in the mouth. During the ceremony, the Pollywogs undergo a number of increasingly embarrassing ordeals (wearing clothing inside out and backwards; crawling on hands and knees on nonskid-coated decks; being swatted with short lengths of firehose; being locked in stocks and pillories and pelted with mushy fruit; being locked in a water coffin of salt-water and bright green sea dye (fluorescent sodium salt); crawling through chutes or large tubs of rotting garbage; kissing the Royal Baby's belly coated with axle grease, hair chopping, etc.), largely for the entertainment of the Shellbacks.

Once the ceremony is complete, a Pollywog receives a certificate declaring his new status. Another rare status is the Golden Shellback, a person who has crossed the Equator at the 180th meridian (International Date Line). The rarest Shellback status is that of the Emerald Shellback (USA), or Royal Diamond Shellback (Commonwealth), which is received after crossing the Equator at the Prime Meridian.[When a ship must cross the Equator reasonably close to one of these Meridians, the ship's captain will typically plot a course across the Golden X so that the ship's crew can be initiated as Golden or Emerald/Royal Diamond Shellbacks.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

"El Globo Grande"

My Father's Last Flight

The El Globo Grande on fire as it drifted towards the Rio Grande River.

On October 3rd,1982, the El Globo Grande caught fire, causing the gondola to explode. This picture was taken just moments after my father and pregnant step-mother were killed in this tragic accident. You can see in the photo that there is very little left of the “gondola” other than a portion of the superstructure. To date, this is the worst ballooning accident in New Mexico ballooning history.

My mother left my father in 1968 when I was only a few days old. The final straw was when he came home one night especially drunk. He was a full-blown alcoholic by this point but this night was different; he became physical. My father took me from my mother and forcefully threw her out of the house. She was 2 weeks out of the hospital from my birth and still had stitches in her stomach.  My father and I were locked inside alone and all my mother could do was watch us through the windows.  He stumbled about the house with me in his arms, eventually passing out.  My mother was able to get back into the house. She grabbed me, and a couple changes of clothing and left my father.  My parents were divorced shortly after and I’d only see my father a few times in the next 8 years.

My father in Albuquerque 1967

In 1976 when I was 8 years old, my dad wrote me a letter.  He wanted to re-connect with me. He was living in Colorado where he owned an insurance company.  Not long after receiving his letter, my dad let me know he was driving to Albuquerque to see me. I’ll never forget the day.  I stood out at the corner down the street from our house at the southwest corner of Los Alamos and Laguna so I could see him coming.  He was supposed to arrive at 2:00 pm.  I remember vividly looking into every car that passed by for my dad. At 8:00 pm,well after dark, my Grandmother Marion "Bama" Cornish walked down the street, put her arm around me, and held me tight as she walked me home; not a word was said.  I fell asleep that night crying with my pillow over my head so nobody could hear me.  I still can’t forget the feeling of being worthless, my own father had forgotten about me.  He never did showthat spring and I didn't see him for a very along time after that.

My dad’s life was intense. He was born to William Anton Rank and Mary Collaer. William, my Grandfather, was partners with and a very distant relative of Conrad Hilton of Hilton Hotels.  William was killed in a mugging in El Paso, Texas, when my father was a child.  As a result of my grandfathers’ murder, my father inherited millions of dollars when he was eighteen.  My father enjoyed his inherited money and lived the life of a jet setter.  He was drawn to Hollywood where he produced music and television.  My dad however,was just another young good looking rich kid who eventually was chewed up and spit out by Tinseltown.  He wasn’t cut out for swimming with the sharks.  He retreated to Colorado to rebuild his life.

One of the albums my father produced with partner "Sam Riddle"

Tract 1:

Tract 2:

I eventually reconnected with my father and began going Colorado to spend time with my dad twice a year. This was absolutely an amazing time for me.  My life in New Mexico was chaotic and confusing; I was bouncing from home to home. But twice a year, I was with my “dad”, he was great and we had a ton of fun; he could do no wrong in my eyes.  I was never with him long enough to see his character defects, his human side.  I just saw the man who was always excited to see me, was new and exhilarating and lived a life that I desperately wanted to be a part of. 

I'm on the far right, then my half-brother Tom, dad's 3rd wife Martha and my father.

When I was thirteen, my grandparents let me know that my dad was moving back to New Mexico. They told me that he’d checked himself into a treatment center and when he got out, he’d permanently live in Albuquerque.  I was ecstatic.  I spent the next month fantasizing about how good my life was going to be with my dad home. My dad lived up to absolutely every expectation I had for him.  His first year home was an amazing year and to this day, it was the best 12 months of my life. 

My father and PJ at their wedding.

My father had remarried and his new wife, "PJ", was an extremely cool and beautiful woman.  We had so much fun together.  She had a great sense of humor,which made her a perfect stepmother for me.  My dad was working part time at a law firm and part time as a disk jockey at a local fm country station.   I used to love to go down to the station with my dad and just watch him work.  He had a wonderful deep voice and always said cool stuff.  One night, I went down to the station with my stepmother to hang out with dad.  My dad was pretty busy doing something so PJ and I started exploring the radio station.  We found another broadcast booth and started pretending to be disk jockeys.   We were singing into the microphone and saying the silliest things.  PJ really got into it and was acting like a complete clown.  Partway through her silly skit, I decided to play a joke on her.  I gave her an incredibly shocked look.  She stopped her routine and asked what was wrong.  I said, “the microphone is on, you’rebroadcasting over my dad!”  Well PJ absolutely freaked out.  She went tearing down the hallway to my father’s broadcast booth.  He was on the air, live as PJ slid into the room.  She was mouthing, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” over and over.  My dad, headsets on, cigarette in his hand, microphone to his lips, talking to 100,000 people over the airways gave PJ the funniest look I’d ever seen.  I was behind PJ in the hallway bent over laughing, snot coming out of my nose.  My dad shifted his confused look from PJ to me.  The look on his face went from confusion to a wonderful grin and obvious understanding of the situation. 

Dad signed off by saying “This is Nick Brainard at KRST; I’ll see you all tomorrow night.” He flipped the switch in the microphone, spun around in his seat and started to laugh.  PJ was still trying to explain that she’d drowned out his broadcast with the silly skit in the next room.  She was convinced that she'd been talking and singing to all the listeners out there in Albuquerque and she was mortified.  My dad of course knew this wasn't true and that I’d played one hell of a trick on PJ.  His laugh went from his chest to his belly; a deep cheerful laugh.  PJ was a great sport about my joke but I did have to watch my back for weeks after.  She never did get me back.

My father and PJ Christmas 1981

Although my father and PJ were not drinking anymore, they smoked lots of marijuana.  My great grandmother who we called “Granny” was the president of the African Violet Society.  She had a huge green room at my grandparent’s house that was filled with flowers.  Granny would help my dad grow his pot.  The two of them would start the plants in her greenhouse under the grow lights. Then, they’d transplant the marijuana into the back yard amongst the various garden bushes and trees.  I was fourteen, it was 1982 and I loved to swipe off my dad’s pot plants and get stoned.  I’m sure he knew but never said anything.

My father cleaning his "dope" with a little assistance from me.

By the fall of 1982, I was starting my freshman year in high school and my dad’s new wife was pregnant. It was a happy time.  For the first time in my life, I felt completely secure.  It was also time for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  This event draws up to 500 + hot air balloons; it’s amazing.  Since PJ was new to Albuquerque and had never seen it, my dad decided we needed to take her the next morning.

My freshman high school ID - 1982

That evening, I got a call from a really cute girl I’d met at the beach in La Jolla earlier in the summer.  Her name was Erin, she had blonde hair, and I had a huge crush on her.  Erin was in Albuquerque for a couple of days and wanted to go to a movie with me the next day.  Of course, there was no way that I was going to the balloon fiesta now!  I was an Albuquerque native and had already seen it.  But a blond cute girl asking me out on a date, well that just doesn’t happen every day and my hormones weren’t going allow me to pass up this opportunity!

"Erin" in La Jolla, California 1982

As my dad and PJ got ready to go home for the night, I told them that I couldn't go to the fiesta the next day.  My dad told me that was fine and they'd decided to go up to the top of the mountains to watch it from there. The Sandia Mountains tower over Albuquerque.  There is a spot at the top where you can look down at the entire city.  I was surprised that my father wanted to take PJ up therefor her first Balloon Fiesta experience.  It was a long drive and would be nothing like being at the launch site.  I spent a long time trying to convince my dad to not go to the mountains. I told him that PJ would have a much better time walking through the balloons as they inflated and launched.  It is a breathtaking event to be a part of.  I persisted until my Dad finally relented and promised to take PJ to the fiesta instead of the mountains.

The next morning, I awoke early; I was excited to go on my date.  Granny and I where the only ones in the house.  Both my grandparents and parents had gone to the balloon fiesta.  Granny and I were talking about my date with the cute blond from the beach while we ate breakfast.  She wanted to know all about the girl and what we were going to do.  Of course as my words told her about going to a movie but my hormones were telling another story!  The television was on; live scenes of the balloon fiesta were coming in over the airwaves.   As we were talking, a “breaking news” broadcast came blaring out of the television.  The reporter announced that there had been a balloon crash and the following scenes were not suitable for children.

The screen jumped to a very large balloon whose’ gondola was filled with passengers.  As the balloon landed we could see somebody jump out as if something was wrong. Flames appeared and the balloon began to rise back into the air. Several more people jumped out, the quick drop in weight caused the balloon to ascend rapidly.  By this point, both the gondola and balloon were on fire.

As the balloon reached a substantial altitude, there were a series of explosions and a lot of fire rolling in every direction.  I sat there with Granny, our attention fixated on what we were watching.  Yet another large explosion followed by two people falling from the balloon.   These people were holding onto each other as they fell to their death.  Smoke following their bodies as they plummeted to the earth.  The impact was brutal and there was no doubt that they could not have survived that fall.

It was a terrible scene, we’d just watched 2 people fall to a gruesome death and there was no doubt that other passengers had died as well.  People were scurrying all over the place trying to help.  The camera would occasionally focus back in on the balloon, which was engulfed in flames and disappearing over the horizon.  Until my dying day, I’ll never forget Granny, without taking her eyes off the TV screen saying, “I sure do feel sorry for the families of those people.”

A short time later, a friend came over to hang out and get stoned with me.  We went out into the back yard, lit up a doobie, talked about the balloon wreck and started throwing the football.  Partway through our smoke, my friend glanced into the house.  From the back yard, you could see the street in front through a large window.  His jaw dropped wide open, he turned back to me and said that a police car was parked out in the street.  I froze; I knew that they were there because of my dad’s marijuana plants.  Before I could say a word, my friend ran and jumped over the back wall.  I ran through the house and got to the front door just as the policeman knocked.

When I opened the door, there was a policeman in a suit and two uniformed officers.  I thought I could see my father and PJ standing out in the street, their backs to me.  The police came in and to my surprise didn't say a thing about the pot plants.  They told Granny and me that there had been a terrible wreck involving Mr. and Mrs. Brainard.  The policeman didn't say that they were dead; he just said “terrible wreck.”  Granny, being the wise old soul she was, looked the officer in the eye and said “are they dead.”  There was a long pause while the policeman stared at me.  He then looked back to Granny and whispered “yes.”

Rescuers on scene of the El Globo Grande crash

Granny sat there with her hands over her face, crying.  The policeman gently rubbed her back and tried his best to comfort her.  I was still standing there stunned, my grandparents had been killed.  I’d never experienced anything like this before.  I had no way to process what had just happened.  I stood there frozen, trying to make sense of it all.  How did it happen, where was the car wreck, why did it happen?

Granny sitting on my fathers lap in 1967

After a few moments, I looked outside towards where I thought my dad and PJ were. I needed my dad right now, I needed to hold him. I ran past the police officer and out the front door towards them.  Just as I ran out the front door, another car pulled up into the driveway.  As I ran, I looked over to see my grandparents pulling up. They were alive.  I stopped cold in my tracks.  I could see the wide-eyed look on their faces as they took in the scene taking place in the front yard of their house.

I was shocked, I’d just been told that they were in a wreck and were dead.  I was trying to comprehend what was happening, did the police have the wrong family? 

I turned my head back towards my dad and PJ.  They were no longer looking away from the house, they were looking towards me and they were not my dad and PJ, they were two more police officers dressed in civilian clothes.

In an instant, my world came crashing down around me.  Everything went into slow motion.  I couldn't stand, my legs didn't work.  I fell to the ground. I watched the young police officer run across the yard to intercept my grandparents.  I could see my grandmother’s face grimaced with agony as she was told that her oldest son was dead, the officer had to help her sit down; she too couldn't stand.  Then my grandfather, the toughest man I’d known in my life, started sobbing like a child.  It was an absolutely horrible scene.

I clearly understood now that there was no car wreck, this had nothing to do with a car.  My dad and PJ were the two people we’d watched being blown out of the balloon, falling to their death.  I’d just watched my parents die a drawn-out and violent demise.  I’d watched the whole thing not knowing it was two people who I dearly loved. Granny had said that she felt sorry for the family of those people and it turned out that we were those people. I don't know if this was Nick, PJ or another victim. 

I went into a deep shock that lasted for a long time.  To make matters worse, I got a little lost in the confusion.  My father was so popular and loved, not only in the family but in the community.  People were flooding the house and everybody was beside themselves with grief.  I can remember sitting in the corner, no able to move, not able to cry, not able to do anything but sit there, stunned.

At one point, a family member noticed me sitting by myself in the corner.  She walked up to me, rubbed my head and said that she had just the thing to make me feel better:she handed me a joint.  This was such a common solution to problems with my family, inebriation.

The person who really touched my heart and allowed me to grieve in the days following their deaths was my uncle Dar.  I was sitting in my father’s van. It had just been towed back from the Balloon Fiesta parking lot. I’d been sitting there for a couple hours.  It smelled like my dad and PJ so there was nowhere else on the face of this earth that I wanted to be.  Dar came out to check on me.  He opened the door and asked me if there was anything I wanted. I said “I just want them back.”  Dar grabbed onto me and we both started crying.  It was really the first time I’d broken down since their death.  I’ll always be grateful to my uncle Dar for that moment. I believe in my heart it’s what I needed to survive.

The next few weeks were a nightmare.  All the television stations kept replaying the scene; we didn't dare turn on the TV. People were coming and going and there seemed no time to decompress and grieve.Then I watched as people started to come and take my father’s things, right in front of me. I don't think the thought even crossed their minds that my father’s and PJ’s belongings should go to their children.  It was awful.  Their personal belongings were being carted off as if we were having a free yard sale.  People who had little to do with my father helped themselves to his belongings.  As I write this today, I still have a tough time keeping my resentment in check for these individuals.  I wish I still had every item of my fathers.  The few that remained, my brother and I have cherished as if they were the Hope Diamond; they're irreplaceable to us.  I've often wondered if anything was given to PJ’s daughter. I've been reconnected to her for a few years now but never had the courage to ask.

During the period that the looting of my father’s belongings took place and the constant stream of people flowing through the house, I found the perfect coping mechanism:Alcohol.  My grandparents’ house always had booze here and there but now it was overflowing.  People were bringing liquor by the gallons and nobody was paying close attention to me.  I found that a cup full of booze, the headsets over my ears to drown out the sounds, and Dan Fogelberg playing on the 8 track put me in a frame of mind that I could handle.  This was the beginning of a long and brutal battle with alcohol and drug addiction for me but I’ll save that story for another time.

It came time for my father’s funeral and this too was a terrible experience. There were so many people and I only knew a few of them.  I can remember during the service, I was up near the casket, I looked into the audience and there were two girls I went to school with; Kerry and Tanya.  I was grateful to see their faces, two friendly faces that I knew and liked very much.

When they put my father’s body in the ground, I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  I’d just been with him at the radio station having fun. He’d just let me drive on the road without my license!  We'd just sat in his cool green van and listened to music with PJ.  This couldn't be happening. I couldn't go back to my old life!  He couldn't leave! And that’s when it hit me; I’d talked my father into going to the balloon fiesta instead of the mountains. The realization that I’d killed them spread throughout my body.  All these people watching his body being lowered into the ground, mourning this tragic loss and it was because of me.  I couldn't look anybody in the eye. I just stood there staring at my father’s casket.  I desperately wanted to touch his coffin and say goodbye but I couldn't bring myself to move.  To this day I still regret not walking over and touching his coffin.

The level of guilt that I carried for the next twenty years was absolutely brutal. No fourteen- year-old should ever have to shoulder this kind of responsibility.  It warped my life in the most incomprehensible ways. I feel incredibly fortunate to have survived.

My addiction took me to exceptionally dark places.  I lived a viciously destructive life which put me in many deadly situations that normal healthy people wouldn't dream of getting near.  After all these years of reflection, I know that I was in a constant state of deep depression.  


I was compelled to relive this experience when my brother tracked down the autopsy report for my father. I still don't understand why he did it. He gave a copy to me twenty-seven years after his death.  I was rattled by the brutality inflicted on my dad’s young body.  I’d always thought that although his death was clearly violent, his body was intact and relatively unscathed.  I believe that this was a coping mechanism of a young boy.  All these years later, I now know better and it hurts as much as it did in 1982, if not a bit more.

2012 - Albuquerque Journal Article

2013 - Surprise.

Various Photos                                    Nick and PJ's wedding

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dooky Duty!

My grandfather always had Labrador Retrievers.  Some thought that he appreciated them more than his family and if he could get away with it, he’d make love to them.  They were always large, good tempered and their favorite pastime was bird hunting.

For the amount of love my grandfather had for these animals, he fed them surprisingly bad food.  It was always the absolute cheapest bulk crap he could find.  He’d sometimes mix in some table scraps to change up the flavor but for the most part, the poor old things were doomed to a lifetime of substandard sustenance.

There was an interesting side effect to the food these dogs ate; tumultuous colons.  These Labrador Retrievers were unbelievable gas factories, they farted unlike any dog I’ve ever seen or smelled to this day.  They would fart so loud and hard that you could literally see their anus lips slapping together and if you know a big lab, you know how big those poopers are.   The smell was shocking and not like normal dog gas, this was rotting corpse meets Tijuana hooker breath.  I’m convinced that whatever was mixed into their food had something that would expand in their bellies to give them the sense of being full.  It would also cause the poor animals to crap all the time.  I’m sure that you’ve already come to the obvious conclusion that their turds were massive.

When I was 8 years old, my grandfather decided it was time for me to have an allowance.  He let me know that I’d have to work a few hours for it each week, doing jobs around the house to earn my weekly money.  He decided that the main job for my pocket money would be to mow the grass and pick up the dog shit in the backyard.  It had never been actually picked up before, it was gross and my grandmother had had enough of it.

So my chores began, I had no problem doing them and to be honest, I was pretty damn excited.  I’d mowed the lawn before and enjoyed it.  I figured I could kill 2 birds with one stone and just mow the piles of dog poop along with the grass.  My first day of chores was interesting.  I started mowing the overgrown back yard grass that was riddled with fecal stalagmites.   It was pretty fun to run over the big piles of doo.  You see, my grandfather was too cheap to buy a mower with a catcher so the grass, twigs and shit would just fly out of the side of the mower.  The larger and fresher the turd, the cooler the sound it would make.  The only downside was that when I hit a large pile, it would vaporize it and the moist cloud would usually hit me in the face; I could taste it.  I was proud of my streamlining the process by mowing the crap but my grandparents thought differently.

I was told the following week to pick up the turds before I mowed the grass.  This was a serious bummer because it was now going to take much longer to earn my allowance.  Being the creative young man that I was, I came up with a solution; doo-doo catapult!  I figured that if I could come up with a device that would allow me to fling the turds out of sight, it would be a win-win for everybody!  Now to just figure out what the hell to make the catapult out of.  As I stood in the kitchen cooking my eggs trying to construct the tool I needed in my head, I looked down at my hand and realized that I was holding the perfect tool; grandmothers spatula! 

Things were great for the next 3 months of summer.  The grass was cut, clean and smelled nice.  My grandparents were happy because their backyard looked wonderful and I was getting a nice little allowance.  As an unexpected bonus, I was thoroughly enjoying my work.  I found that it was really fun to fling the heavy piles of wet smelly dog poop high up into the air, over the neighbor’s yard and onto their roof.  The higher I’d fling them, the greater the splat they’d make upon impact.  I was a hell of a shot too, I never once hit a wall, window or yard; pure roof baby!  Our neighbors were almost never home when I was blitzkrieging their roof with poo.  It was a good thing because they’d definitely would have heard the loud thumps.  I also made sure that my grandparents weren’t home when I did my chores; I didn’t want my “special tool” to be found out and taken away.  Plus I knew that my grandmother wouldn’t be very happy if she knew that the spatula that she used almost every day to flip eggs was also being used to scoop and fling turds.

Now our next door neighbors, the ones whose roof I was stockpiling doo-doo on, were serious assholes.  They were wiry folks who were always frowning, scolding their children and complaining about everybody else’s yards and children.  They kept everything absolutely perfect on and around their house and expected, even sometimes demanded that everybody else do the same.  There had been more than one unpleasant run-in between neighbors and this family; they were miserable people.

Towards the end of summer, I had been putting off my dog-poo duties for a couple weeks.  You see, summer was coming to an end and as much fun as professional dog poop flinging is, it’s not more fun than swimming and running amok with other kids around the neighborhood.  This is especially true when you know that summer is ending and school is just about to begin.  My grandparents had been patient with me knowing my final days of summer predicament but just couldn’t stand my putting of the pooper picker upper duties any longer.  I was given until the end of the day to take care of my backyard responsibilities.  After much whining, arguing and failed attempts to persuade my grandparents to let me do it later, I gave up and headed outside to do my duty and pick up the poodie.

I didn’t really care that day if my grandparents caught me using the cooking spatula as my personal poop mortar.  It never even crossed my mind that they’d give a damn about my using the unpleasant neighbor’s roof as a destination for our dogs’ excrement.  Frankly, I didn’t give a shit about anything at that moment, I had to do something that I didn’t want to that was taking away from playing; I was pissed.  I marched through the kitchen, snapped up my grandmothers’ spatula and stormed out the back door. 

I was determined to take care of the dog shit and lawn in record time so I could get back to my friends who were at that very moment waiting in the front yard for me.  I started running from dog shit to dog shit, scooping and flinging towards the neighbors roof.  I was scooping and flinging turds as fast as my grandmother scooped and flipped pancakes that very morning with the same spatula!  As you can probably guess, I wasn’t worried about accuracy at this point, it was the furthest thing from my mind.  I was concentrating on quantity and speed.  I’m sure you’ve also probably guessed that when the neighbors got home and found dog shit in their perfectly manicured lawn and wall of their house, that I got in huge trouble.  You would be wrong in this assumption.  Not that I didn’t get in trouble but how I was discovered.

I have to back up about 20 minutes earlier to clearly paint the picture of what happened and the incredibly serious trouble I caused.  I had ridden up to my house with a pack of kids on our bikes; not realizing my grandparents were waiting to ambush me and make me work.  As me and the large gang of boys arrived at the house, I noticed cars absolutely everywhere and figured somebody was having a party.  What I didn’t realize was that it was the mean neighbors who were having a massive party for their co-workers who were all bankers.

Now please remember, I was mad, deep in thought about how I’d never make my children clean poop when I grew up and furiously running from pile to pile, flinging with all my might, over my shoulder, towards the neighbors house; I was oblivious to the outside world.

About the time I’d chucked the 15th or 20th turd, I can remember seeing my grandfather come running out the back door waving his arms in the air, face bright red and screaming something at me.  I then remember my realizing that there was a lot more screaming and yelling, other than my grandfathers.  There I stood, spatula in hand, massive fresh dog shit on spatula, grandfather racing towards me and the full realization of what it’d just done.

I immediately felt like I was going to soil my pants, my chest grew tight and I began to tremble.  It only got worse when I could see the guests, bankers in suits, their wives in nice summer dresses, still running for cover.  My grandfather stood there yelling “Jesus fucking Christ, what the hell were you thinking!”  My grandmother walking up to me but only looking at the spatula and said in a feeble voice “how long have you been using my spatula?”

Almost at the same time, both my grandfather and I turned to look at the neighbor’s house.  It was a mess, there was shit everywhere; and it got worse.  The K9 shrapnel had not been kind to the partygoers.  I’d succeeded to hitting a number of people, including innocent women and children, with poop.  The food for the party had not been spared either; it was tainted with stinky doo-doo morsels.  The party was officially over.

I don’t know what my grandfather told the people next door that evening but he was in a heated negotiation for a very long time.  As they stood in their back yard, neighbors’ arms flailing, fingers pointing in every which way, retelling the horror of the carpet bombing they’d just experienced and presumably pointing in the direction of each turd and turd nugget strewn throughout their property; I began to feel sick.  I was sure that I was going to be hauled off to jail or grounded for life.  Just as I thought I was going to throw up, there was a lull in the discussions between my grandfather and neighbors.  My grandfather turned to me but to my surprise, his face was not red with anger but was a stern look indeed.  As I looked into his eyes in anticipation, he gave me the slightest of smiles and winked.  He then turned back to the wiry neighbor and recommenced the heated dialogue.

I was not punished harshly, almost not at all.  I was however given a very long and stern talk to by my grandmother about using her kitchen cookware as turd picker uppers.  But even towards the end of that conversation, both of us giggled each time she used the poop word.  My grandparents weren’t angry, especially because my grandfather thought the neighbors were assholes and got what they deserved.