Sunday, February 06, 2005


I grew up with a guy named Skip. He was always coming up with some cockamamie idea. Like the time he showed me some hotel matches he found.

It was a July day in California. We were sitting by an empty field. It was as dry as chapped lips in a desert. In California the green fields dry to a golden brown. It�s because, well, there�s no water.

Skip had this idea that he was going to light the match and watch it burn to his fingers to see how long he could hold it. He lit the match and it started to burn. It was great fun until it reached his fingers as which point he yelped and flung the lighted match. It didn�t land on the concrete sidewalk where I was standing but he flicked it into the dry field of three-foot grass. It lit almost instantly, as if there was gasoline on the ground. I made a beeline for his house where both our parents were. I walked into the living room nonchalant and sat down with the grown ups.

It wasn�t long before I heard sirens growing louder. At first I didn�t make the connection because I left Skip stamping out the small fire. But when the fire trucks turned down the street I knew Skipper wasn�t successful with his fireman imitation.

Next thing I knew there was lots of smoke and activity near what was once a golden field. And then the terrible thing happened. There at the front door was a fireman with Skip by the scruff of the neck: �Is this your son?� Skip was turned over to his parents.

Another time Skip and I were sitting out on the curb, between two cars, late at night, while our parents were inside talking. Skip has some walnuts that we were eating. Of course, there were lots of shells, handfuls of them. Skip got the great idea of tossing them into the street, when a car went by, a fancy sports car, a fancy sports car with a mean guy in it.

The guy stomped his breaks, his tires screeched, and I saw the big guy get out of his car. I was always faster than Skip. So the guy came for Skip. He had to, I was already over the wooden fence listening on the other side. I was over the fence before the guy threw his transmission into park. I waited in the back while I heard the guy cuss and swear at Skip while herding him to the front door where he turned him over, again, to his parents.

I never came up with good ideas like Skip.

�No, he's pretty dumb. He's in all the same special classes I am."