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Friday, April 22, 2005

Napalm Suntan

Before the large homes on small plots got planted across from Conant High School in Hoffman Estates, there were barren manmade hills of mud and weeds. Kids rode cycles, teenagers did drugs, and construction companies left idle bulldozers and giant segments of concrete tubing there.

My friend Chris and I had lots of time, little money, and compulsive pyromania. I remember one day we spent collecting empty wooden pallets from behind grocery stores. We dragged them there with rope and skateboards. Once we had a decent ten foot tall pile, we took a small trash bin over to the Mobil station and chose a pump that faced the street so the clerk wouldn't see our dangerous container. It only took a buck to fill it up with gasoline. We spilled some on the way back, but we made the rest count. We used plastic cups to splash as much as we could all over the monument, paying special attention to the bottom.

Then we threw firecrackers at it until it caught. We crouched atop a two-story mudpile, enchanted and extremely pleased with our effort. When we heard the sirens we ran away.

A couple years later not much had changed there. Somebody had made bike ramps and and a few scattered foundations had been dug for future homes, but the concrete tubing still sat in orderly rows next to the rainwater maggot ditch.

I got mad at my dad and decided to run away. I think I was in junior high at the time. I lived across the street in Dunbar Lakes, an association of ugly brown townhomes populated by mean dirty children that spent their time catching frogs from the pond and killing them with rocks.

So I left home with nothing and marched indignantly across the street to the concrete tubes. I announced to my friends that the fifth tube with the red spraypaint marking was my new house. One buddy brought me cold hot dogs and vinegar chips. I ate those and sulked for a weekend. I was out of food and hungry on Sunday, so I started uprooting nearby plants. Somebody informed me that I'd found wild carrots. They were probably just thick roots, but they did kinda look like carrots. I rinsed them in the motor oil maggot breeding pond and tried to eat them. They tasted like moldy gingery radishes. I was proud of myself.

I went home later that night. I snuck in through the basement window well.
7:25 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm


April 22, 2005 9:48 AM, Anonymous Shawna said...

I don't understand Blogger. There is no guestbook? Just this? Well, here I go. Earthday is my birthday and someone is buying me an ice cream cake by 5pm or the shit hits the fan. I read on CNN about the robot camel jockeys and surely there is a racist joke in there somewhere. Maybe I will get diphtheria or dysentery, lose 20 pounds, and camel jockey will be my new profession.

April 22, 2005 9:52 AM, Blogger Anonysis said...

I remember daring to jump from tube to tube, to see if I could always make it. And I always did, though sometimes barely.

April 22, 2005 10:54 AM, Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

Rocket: You lasted lots longer than I did. My "runaway" experience only lasted till suppertime.

Also, thanks for what you said on my site about http://. One other thing: Do you have to put the " (quote marks) in when you make the link? Thanks,

April 22, 2005 12:27 PM, Blogger Floyd said...

I tried to run away once but I wasn't allowed to cross the street by myself so I just ended up walking around the block a few times. I was a real "brain trust" kid.

April 22, 2005 1:55 PM, Blogger ty bluesmith said...

that was nice, steve. once again you took me there.

i was the same kid.

April 23, 2005 8:49 AM, Anonymous Bobby said...


There was a massive fuel depot across the street and through our woods. It's where the Navy and Coast Guard diesel ships fueled up. Acres and acres of it. We snuck onto that base all the time. I still know where all the holes in the fence are . . . if you're interested . . .

April 23, 2005 10:06 AM, Blogger Bookfraud said...

if you don't try to run away once in your life, you're a pussy.

ditto if you don't try to blow shit up or set them on fire. "if you love somebody, set them on fire," i believe the song goes.

April 24, 2005 7:33 AM, Blogger Kerouaced said...

Ah yes, running away. I lasted for several days, staying at friends houses but then my bastard stepfather reported me to the school and I got in school suspension for a week. Thank God my mother divorced him...

April 24, 2005 12:21 PM, Blogger Cindy-Lou said...

According to Bookfraud's rules, I'm a pussy. Never ran away, never set anything in fire. I sure hope my kid is like me though.

April 24, 2005 1:20 PM, Blogger Wardo said...

You could have held out longer. Bugs are good eatin'. You could have made it, man...


April 24, 2005 7:31 PM, Blogger You've Got What I Need... said...

I like the Protestant Work Ethic [be ye raised protestant or not] of your activities. Real enginuity, Steve. You and my brothers would've gotten me into lots of trouble if we'd been bored, dumb, poor kids together.

We did the firecracker shizzle, too.


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