Monday, March 14, 2011
I was talking to one of Abraham’s converts, a young man who was addicted to drugs and in a violent gang. He now helps Abraham lead the church service on Andong Village church. I called him the “big gangster” in Khmer. We were talking and he asked me if I ever got into any knife fights when I was a teen. I told him, ‘no,’ just a few fist fights, and those I could count on one hand. I was trying to think of the worst thing I had done when I was a teen but couldn’t come up with anything worthy of a knife fight. I do remember hiding in the closet of a friend’s math class in 10th grade and walking out half way through the class, saying “Hi, Mr. Mac,” to the teacher and disappearing out the door. And there was the time I tried to steal an empty keg of beer from a Greek restaurant when a barrel-chested, curly headed Greek mad man chased with me with a cleaver as I jumped through the back window of a friend’s station wagon as we sped away. And there was the time the police arrived at a party and while they were in the back yard, I got into their squad car and turned on all the lights and sirens and sped away in my ’66 Volkswagen Beetle. Or, there was the time my boss got his deer in Vermont and brought it back and gutted it at his gas station in Greenwich. I noticed the legs of the deer in the dumpster so I got them out and put them in the trunk of VW. Later that week (it was cold) I just happened to see my friend’s car parked in back of a restaurant near a pizza joint so I got a pizza box, put the legs in it, and put it on the front seat of his car. His girlfriend hit the ceiling when she realized it was not extra pizza that was in the pizza box. I also used to roll my neighbor’s car (Mr. Pemburn) down the street and park it in another neighbor’s driveway. And there were times when we put M-80’s (quarter sticks of dynamite) on people’s front stoops using a cigarette as a delayed fuse so when it would blow, we’d be a good half mile away. One of my more devious tricks was to sit in the library, going through all the magazines, filling out the “bill me later” ads and sending magazines of questionable morality to various school mates, sign them up for military service, and enroll them in refrigerator repair courses, etc. One day I heard my father, who worked at the post-office, tell my mother that Mrs. Starr, mother of one of my school mates was in the P.O. ranting and raving to the boss about her son having been subscribed to Playboy Magazine at age 15. I did get suspended in my senior for staging a fake fight with a friend. It looked so real that all those watching us in the quad jumped out of classroom windows to come and watch the fight. And one time camp at Scout summer camp I took bug spray and sprayed a spot over our Senior Patrol Leaders head on his tent. Doing so takes the water proofing out the canvas. That night it poured and he got soaked. He chased me half way around the camp and caught me, only to give me a stern reaming. So as I look back, I was more of a merry prankster than one who was into gang violence. I guess the only really violent thing I did was make my brother stand on a #10 can with an M-80 under it which totally flattened the can and blew Steve a few feet in the air. He noted that he had a nagging headache for the next few days. Like the former gangster at Andong Village, I have repented, and no longer engage in any prankster like activity. I don’t even know how to pull pranks anymore. Maybe I should look for the old manual and dust it off a bit, and try to sharpen up my old skills.