Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Strippers and Summer

Like you, I have so many incredible childhood stories and adventures. I enjoy remembering them and reflecting on that time in my life. The following is a true story, but I made some changes to my friends' names. This is one of many such adventures, and I certainly hope to share more.

I grew up in a well-kept, middle class neighborhood, but I lived in a house surrounded by a strange combination of lifestyles.  Next door to me was a boy’s dream: a house rented by three women who worked as adult entertainers for local strip club.  I kid you not.  They moved in as I moved through puberty, and my friends and I hoped each and every day that we’d catch them in a spontaneous performance in their living room.
                Across the street from the ladies’ house and my house was an Apostolic Christian church, neighbored by Apostolic Christians who took care of the church and its property.  If that wasn’t the epitome of lifestyle juxtaposition, one only had to look to the neighbors on the other side of my house for more culture.  There lived my two best friends as a child, Ronnie and Danny, who were raised by their gay dad and his partner.  Strippers, Apostolic Christians, and gay parents: I could not imagine having more culture as a child.
                “Chris!” Danny yelled as I walked over to his house.  “Did you hear the bad news?”
                “Yeah,” I answered, frowning.
                “I can’t believe they’re leaving.  This sucks!”
                “We have one week left.  We need a plan.”
                “I already have supplies!” Ronnie said as he pulled three dynamite long smoke bombs from his pocket.  “Tonight, we use these babies!”
                It was the first day of summer, and to our profound disappointment, word on the street was that our stripper neighbors were moving.  We had looked forward to the summer all year long.  Hot days and hot nights would mean even fewer clothes for our salacious neighbors.  We had been trying to catch glimpses of them by peeping into the windows late at night.  During one Saturday night party, we heard music and laughter.  We went to the windows and the girls were dancing, but we ran away laughing when a man in the party dropped his pants and blocked our view from the window with his ass. 
                Danny’s brother, Ronnie, came outside to meet us.  “Danny and I have a battle plan,” he said.  “We wait until night and we light these smoke bombs under the windows at their house.  Then we’ll hide by the bushes in your yard and wait for them to run outside naked!” Ronnie giggled as he said the word in his best villain voice. 
                “What makes you think they’ll be naked?” I asked.
                “We’ll wait till it’s late,” Ronnie said.
                I nodded and smiled in agreement, as if it was the most logical thing possible. 
                We passed the time playing basketball in my driveway.  Danny, as usual, won our little street game.  He was the athletic one, two years younger than me and Ronnie, but muscular and toned.  His blonde hair moved with the wind, and his blue eyes focused intensely on the ball.  At 11 years old, Danny may have been the youngest of the three of us, but we admired his athleticism.  Ronnie, on the other hand, was the scrawny, non-athletic brother.  A year older than Dan, Ronnie had dark black hair, dark as a raven, and a pale complexion.  He was the worst of us at any sport, but he had a contagious laugh and honest humility that made us fall in love with him.  I was the oldest of the three, a proud 13 year old and it was my first summer as a teenager. The brothers looked at me with awe as the wiser, more experienced member of our trio.
                Finally the sun set and we met together in my backyard to finalize our plans.
                “You take this to the kitchen window,” Ronnie said as he handed me the smoke bomb.  “I’ll put one by the front window, and Dan you put one by the window on the other side of the house.  Once we start walking over there, we each count to ten-Mississippi.  On ten, we light and run like hell to these bushes.  I even brought a camera!”
                “Awesome!” My heart was racing and my arms were shaking.  We stood up slowly and made our way to the edge of my yard.  Ronnie looked at us intently and carefully.  “Ready?” He paused and took a deep breath and then said, “go!”
                We ran, smiling, scared, and excited all at once.  I found the kitchen window and placed the smoke bomb below it.  I wasn’t sure if I was counting right.  As I reached four-Mississippi, I thought I was going too fast.  Then I thought I was counting too slow, but at ten-Mississippi, I lit the smoke bomb and ran to the bushes.
                Within seconds we were huddled by the tall, wide bushes that lined my front yard.  We grabbed onto each others’ arms and shoulders, trying not to laugh, but full of the excitement of youth and adventure.  The smoke bombs were overwhelming.  These weren’t the cheap kind that lasted a few seconds.  These dynamite long sticks poured out a fountain of thick smoke that lasted at least a minute if not two.  To our surprise, all three women ran out of the house screaming and waving their arms.
                “Is there a fire?” one asked.
                “What the hell is going?” asked another.
                Unfortunately, they were fully clothed, but their reactions forced out our laughter and we could hold back no longer.  We laughed as loud as we had ever laughed before.
                “It’s those fuckin’ boys,” one of the girls yelled pointing at the laughing bushes.
                “Oh shit,” Ronnie laughed.  “Let’s go!”
                We ran in the opposite direction, past my friends’ house, down to the end of the street.  We ran down to another block and then hid in an alley between the two.  We were still laughing as we panted from the sprint.  Our arms interlocked in a little circle as we leaned on each other while we caught our breath.
                “That was awesome!” Danny cheered.  “Let’s do it again!”
                And so began our first day of summer.

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