40 Important Life Lessons We’ve Learned from Horror Movies

jamie-lee-curtis-halloween_600x338

 

1. If you have stupidly stored an important item in a basement where the light flickers, you just need to forget about it and buy a new one.

2. If the hotel clerk hands you the registration book for you to sign, and the page is dusty and blank, get back in the car.

3. Do not assume that a massive flock of birds flying overhead is simply natural migration.

4. If an apartment neighbor gifts you with a necklace that smells like tannis root, smile politely, escort them to the door, hurl the necklace into the fireplace, and start packing.

5. The last house on either side of the street is not a preferred destination.

6. Large groups of identical, blond-headed children are a warning sign, not a photo op.

7. If Jamie Lee Curtis shows up at a cocktail party, run.

8. If she shows up at the sequel, run faster.

9. Never investigate any noise that sounds like a chainsaw.

10. I don’t care how sexy he is, if his hands are cold, the deal is off. Move on.

11. If the furniture in your daughter’s room is levitating, don’t you think it’s time to get her out of that room? Stop asking people to come in to the room and poke at her, especially if they know Latin.

12. One questionable grisly death at the isolated resort is enough. Why would you sit around the next morning and try to figure things out over coffee? Go!

13. Pizza delivery guys can never be trusted. Have him leave the box on the porch and shove money under the locked door. Especially if you didn’t even order.

14. If the quaint little tourist town or a nearby lake has a really pretty, serene name, you need to change your vacation plans.

15. Do not grab a bucket and head to the ice machine after midnight whilst wearing a skimpy nighty.

16. If the person you are looking for in the abandoned warehouse doesn’t answer the first time you call their name, just assume that things didn’t work out for them and you need to motor. You’ll make new friends.

17. If you repeat any phrase multiple times in front of a mirror, you’re just asking for it.

18. The very first time you sense something odd in the restored Victorian home that you just had to have? That’s the time to leave. Don’t sit around for days in a frumpy sweater, looking sad, wondering if you’ve made the right decision to buy this place. You didn’t. Take the financial hit and start over.

19. If the babysitter you are contemplating hiring is wearing better lipstick than your own, terminate the interview and change the locks.

20. Hoarded food hidden under the bed means the relationship is over.

21. Socially-awkward girls with puritanical mothers should never be underestimated.

22. If you spy a want ad for a winter caretaker at a Colorado hotel, throw the newspaper away before your husband sees it. And get rid of any axes that might be lying around.

23. Never eat almond cookies.

24. Don’t have wanton, promiscuous sex if you want to make it to the second half of the movie. (Cheerleaders usually go first, add that to your notes.)

25. Former child stars have a lot of bitterness.

26. If someone says “try and get some sleep now,” you’re next. Sorry.

27. Always keep a supply of lumber, nails and hammers in your car trunk, because you never know when you might be in a rural area where you suddenly need to reinforce a rickety farmhouse.

28. Pancake makeup is a sign of depravity. Trust.

29. If you can’t get a signal on your phone, you shouldn’t be wherever you are.

30. If you happen upon children’s handprints on cellar walls, you have roughly one second to shake off the demonic spell affecting you or you’re toast. (But if you do manage to get away, make sure you backhand the hipster chick who is hollering “Josh? Josh!!” with annoying repetitiveness. That’s not helping things.)

31. There are a lot of delusional people who live in ancient, fog-bound English manor houses.

32. Best-selling authors need to pay more attention to their fans. Dirty birds.

33. Learn how to run without falling down at a really inappropriate time.

34. Neighbors who bring a house-warming gift of freshly-baked goods are often possessed by spirits from the ancient burial ground under their house. Don’t eat anything until you have reviewed old land records at the Town Hall.

35. There is absolutely no good reason why anyone should go camping. Ever.

36. People who wear striped sweaters should be avoided at all costs.

37. Try to make your neck as unattractive as possible.

38. Don’t ever say something along the lines of “Cemeteries don’t scare me. I find them peaceful.”

39. Don’t open the closet door.

40. Don’t. Go. To. Sleep.

 


The Streak, Part II

skating rink

 

Note: Click here to read the first part of this story.

 

Sharon paused in the midst of comforting me as I lay sprawled on the skating rink floor, not quite certain that she had heard me correctly. “The naked man? What naked man?”

Just then , the Hellions on Wheels both came racing up, trying to make it look like they had been nowhere in the county when this tragic misfortune had befallen me. They immediately launched into overly-dramatic poses of concern, wringing their hands and making noises of lamentation and grief. I really, really hated them with an intense passion.

Meanwhile, the rest of the skating crowd paused for roughly three seconds to determine my status and assess any possible impact this new development might have on their own lives. Upon seeing that I was clearly not dead, and noting the absence of any blood pools or exposed bone, the crowd was quickly over it and went back to circling the giant room and looking for sexual partners.

In fact, several of the skaters didn’t even bother to slow down, choosing instead to whiz around us and glare at me like I was one of the reasons for the downfall of mankind. Well, excuse me, Teenage Stud-Wannabe with the feathered hair, so sorry that I nearly died and accidentally disrupted some tenuous love connection you had going on with that slut in the designer skates just ahead of you.

With all this commotion, Sharon apparently forgot all about my request for a naked man. Or at least she never mentioned it again. Instead, she helped me to my feet, brushed me off, and our little quartet of drama and juvenile delinquency wandered off the rink.

Needless to say, I no longer cared very much for the skating rink outings. Of course, this did not deter Sharon and Mom in their quest for romantic companionship. We continued to visit the rink quite often, the Hellions continued to torment any victim they could find, and I continued to wonder what the nuns were thinking every time we rolled by in a cloud of dust.

At least Sharon tried to mix up the manhunt venues in an effort to minimize potential boredom. She and Mom would also go bowling. (Remember that point in the 70s when nearly everyone in the country joined a bowling league of some kind? It was truly a moment of temporary national insanity.)

Trouble is, bowling alleys are not designed for children. They are designed to maximize the profits off of drunken, rowdy adults who get lit and then continue to pay for additional games even though their bowling skills slide deeper into the toilet as the night progresses. Eventually, no one cares what their score is as long as the beer keeps coming.

In this environment, the younger crowd has to entertain themselves. Granted, back in that day, kids still knew how to use their imagination to come up with interesting things to pass the time. (Unlike the modern age, where every new child-targeted product seems to have “And you don’t even have to drag your fat ass off the couch!” as a design principle.) But still, creativity will only get you so far in a noisy barn full of drunken people who high-five a lot. Eventually, a bored child will do anything.

You could watch the grown-ups bowl for a little while, and maybe even be slightly invested when mommy or daddy did something loud and fancy that made some people cheer and other people use naughty words. But once you had the basics of the game down, you really didn’t need to see the same actions performed a hundred times. You roll the ball and knock over the wooden things. Got it. Can we go play in the street now?

Most bowling alleys had pinball machines. This was also a diversion that started out pleasantly enough but quickly lost its luster. For one thing, you had to have money to play these noisy contraptions. You might score a dollar or two from your distracted parents, but this stipend usually did not last very long, especially since you weren’t the right height and really didn’t know what you were doing.

Soon enough, you were out of coins and had to relinquish the controls to someone else, and eventually this someone else would be a greasy-haired male in his late teens. These guys somehow had an endless cash flow, probably the result of drug deals and/or questionable activity involving jacking open locked doors, grabbing something, and then running very fast as sirens wailed in the distance.

And of course, it didn’t take long for the greasy thugs to decide they didn’t really want you hanging around, clutching the side of the pinball machine with gooey fingers and trying to see what they were doing. Eventually, you would be strongly encouraged to get lost. If you were stupid and didn’t heed this directive, they would lean down to your scrawny level and threaten you with unsavory violence, their breath reeking of a curious smell that you would not be able to place until years later in some smoke-filled frat house basement.

Once banished from the clanging and the flashing lights, you had to select alternative entertainment options.

You could get something to eat from the trashy “restaurant” that you could find in most bowling alleys, usually with names like “Buddy’s Burger Basket” or “Chicken Shack” or just plain “Snack Bar”. This would require an influx of funding, so you would have to trek back to the lanes where your parents were bowling, wait until one of them realized that you were still alive and apparently wanted something, and then request a withdrawal.

In my particular case, I didn’t understand all things financial when it came to family solvency, but I did realize that Mom was on a budget. So I kept my requests to a minimum. But those Hellion kids? They were constantly asking Sharon for something to eat, and she would always shove money their way. Then the little brats would march over to the snack bar, order the most expensive thing they could find, take one bite of it, throw it in the trash, and then go ask for more money. Which they would always get. Because they were hellions.

Once you had milked Alice’s Restaurant for any possible iota of fun, your entertainment choices drastically dwindled.

You could check all the payphones and vending machines for coins that were possibly abandoned by some drunk suddenly realizing it was his turn back at the lanes. Everybody used cigarette machines and payphones back then, and everybody was blitzed, so if you were really diligent and timed it right, you could score a dime or two. Once you’d made the circuit a couple of times, though, the excitement paled.

You could go stand by the slightly-older kids who always managed to pile up right outside the public restrooms. I never understood the reasoning behind this choice for a gathering place, but that’s where the older kids were. If you behaved yourself and didn’t get in the way, you could pick up the latest swear words and cut-downs that were currently in vogue. You knew that you couldn’t repeat these phrases to an adult without risk of a commotion, but you could definitely repeat them on the playground and bask in the spotlight for a bit.

And finally, you could go outside the bowling alley.

This was an entertainment option that you had to earn. Not everybody got to go outside. The qualifications involved some hazy mix of your current age, the general reputation of the surrounding neighborhood, the number and quality of people in your proposed expedition party, and the frustration level of the legal guardian who really wanted you to just shut up and quit bugging them.

At some point, our little clan of degenerates bartered a contractual agreement and was given authorization for exterior travel, as long as both Hellion Kerry and I swore to look out for the womenfolk, namely Dawn and Hellion Kristy. Since I really wanted to go outside, I kept mum about the analogy that granting any type of authority to Kerry was like handing a gun to Lee Harvey Oswald and asking him not to come back until all of the bullets were gone.

The very first time we were permitted to leave the bowling alley went something like this:

Our little disparate quartet was issued parental visas, and we excitedly headed toward the entrance doors. Both Kerry and Kristy were waving maniacally and blowing kisses at Sharon, so I knew right away they were planning some type of deviltry and were merely softening Sharon up for the eventual tap on her shoulder she was going to get from a police officer. Great.

The second the double doors closed behind us, Kerry and Kristy took off running for the side of the building.

What the hell? Dawn and I looked at each, looked at the thundering terror twins, looked back at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and ran after them. Those little imps were FAST when they wanted to be, and they obviously knew something that we didn’t as they sped around the side of the building and kept running. Dawn and I were already out of breath when we ran around the corner and spied the twins rounding the next corner and heading into the alley.

This just did not seem right at all, with warning bells clanging in my head, fully aware that regret was on the horizon. But Dawn and I kept running, because we were stupid and slightly curious.

We came around the second corner, and almost slammed into Kerry and Kristy, who were standing there and glaring at an older couple, a guy and a girl in their mid-teens. The twins had obviously interrupted this couple in the middle of something, but I was too naïve for it to make immediate sense. I could see that both of their lips were really red and puffy, and their faces were kind of sweaty and shiny, and they were clutching each other in an overly-friendly way. Had they been kissing? Wow, this was wild. I expected my dad’s hand to appear out of nowhere and cover my eyes like he did during the parts of a movie that I couldn’t watch.

The guy was focused on Kerry. “What the hell did you say?”

Kerry: “Are you having sex?”

(Oh my GOD!)

There was a moment of shocked silence. This allowed me time to glance down the rest of the alley, and realize that there were lots of couples in sweaty embraces. And lots of uncoupled people who were just standing around, smoking cigarettes and drinking out of bottles. Nobody back here looked old enough to drive. And the whole place reeked of a smell I remembered from when Daddy used to make beer in the garage when I was very little. And there was some other smell… was somebody doing laundry?

The puffy-lipped guy let go of the puffy-lipped girl, letting her slide a bit down the side of the building until she regained her drunken balance. He took a step toward Kerry. “You want me to kick your ass?” (He’s saying this to a 9-year-old. Tough guy, right? But I wasn’t about to point this out, as long as it wasn’t my ass getting kicked.)

Then Kristy takes a step forward as well, focusing her attention on the tramp leaning against the building: “Are you pregnant?” The tramp’s eyes shot wide open, and then she briefly glanced at the puffy-lipped guy with a slight look of terror. Oh really?

Puffy Daddy’s eyes narrowed, and then he started marching toward Kerry. “I’m gonna beat the-”

That’s it, it was TIME to GO. I grabbed Dawn’s hand and she grabbed Kristy’s and somehow Kristy had a moment of sanity and grabbed Kerry’s. We all turned and ran for Jesus, still holding hands and running along like some twisted, half-ass “Sound of Music” family fleeing the Nazis, leaping over abandoned tires and questionable smashed food. But there wasn’t any singing.

We raced up the side of the building, around the corner, across the parking lot, and then slammed through the front doors of the bowling alley, not stopping until we skidded to a halt behind the lanes where our Moms were laughing and socializing.

Sharon turned to look at us, somehow not noticing the sheer panic in our eyes and the sweat-soaked clothing. “Back so soon?”

Kerry: “It was kind of hot out there. We decided to come back in.”

Sharon smiled. “Okay, then. Well, we should be done in a few minutes” Then she turned and went to grab a ball.

We sat there quietly until it was time to leave, only occasionally glancing at the front doors to ensure that some hopped-up Fonzie wasn’t bearing down on us with a switchblade.

The final incident where I allowed the Hellions to lead me astray took place later that summer. And this one was purely Kerry’s fault. (I guess Kristy was distracted by some other anarchistic agenda and was probably busy ensnaring my sister Dawn, leaving Kerry to single-handedly work his evil on me.) The Moms were driving us home one night from some event or another, and “The Streak” was playing on the radio as we pulled into Sharon’s apartment complex.

This complex was relatively new. Some of the buildings weren’t even finished yet (and yes, we would sneak into them and play sordid childhood games while the clueless Moms chatted in Sharon’s kitchen), and the whole property was peppered with fledgling landscaping, including baby trees that were being held in place by thin wires anchored into the ground.

So anyway, as Sharon navigates toward an available parking slot, “The Streak” is winding down on the radio, with all the “look at that, look at that” and “fastest thing on two feet” business. Kerry turns to me and says “Know what that song’s about?” (For the uninitiated, this song concerns “streaking” which involves stripping down to your birthday suit and prancing around in public, which was actually a fad at the time. What can I say, it was the 70s. Blame the drugs.)

Me, instantly suspicious: “Yeah. Why?”

Kerry: “We can do that.”

Me: “What, run around naked?”

Kerry: “Not NAKED. That’s stupid. But we can let our weenies hang out.”

And right there, folks, I should have signed off. Because it was Hellion Kerry. There can be nothing good about any idea coming out of his mouth. I was outraged. But also slightly intrigued. Nudity and running? That was an interesting combo. He had me. “What do we do?”

Kerry: “We just get out of the car, act like we’re walking with everybody else, then unzip and start screaming and running.”

He sounded very certain about the details. Just how many times had he done this? “Okay, let’s do it.” (Dear Mom: That was Satan talking, not me. Your loving son, Brian. You sure are pretty.)

So Sharon parks the car, and everybody piles out and starts walking toward Sharon’s building. Suddenly, Kerry lets out with some Indian war whoop thing, unzips his shorts, digs around for his little stub of boyhood, and then pops it out. I’m still new at this, so I’m a little slow on the draw, but I eventually get there, with my precious poking out as well. Then Kerry, still whooping and hollering, takes off across the parking lot. I whoop and holler and run after him, because I didn’t really have any reference notes for this situation.

Behind us, I think I can hear Mom screaming after us in some type of outrage. I also think I can hear Sharon guffawing and doubling over. I’m not sure, a lot of things were happening at one time, but the realization was already subliminally dawning that perhaps I hadn’t made the wisest of choices in the last five minutes.

Kerry veers out of the parking lot and sprints across the grounds in front of one of the unfinished apartment buildings. I stagger along behind him (it’s hard to run and make sure your penis is showing at the same time, what can I say), just trying to copy his actions because I’m new to this whole scenario.

Kerry, who’s doing a lot of weird moves and is clearly more invested in the drama than I am, suddenly changes course and makes a sharp turn to the right, heading toward one of the entrances to the vacant building. I’m a ways behind him (sorry, still on a learning curve here) so I realize that I need to gain some ground or I’m going to lose him and I sure as hell don’t want to be the only one blowing in the wind.

So I pivot and race directly toward the door that Kerry has just entered, instead of following the path that he had taken. This is a critical fail point on my part. Kerry lives around here, and he knows what’s what, including the intricacies of the local landscaping. I don’t know squat.

Halfway to the door, just as I’m about to brush past one of the baby trees, I have a split-second to realize that this tree is one of those anchored to the ground with thin wires. But it’s not enough time to stop my forward momentum.

I crash into the wire, which hits me right about mid-section, and the next thing I know is that my feet are above my head as I flip over the wire and then slam to the ground on my back. The air is knocked out of my lungs and I can’t breathe. I’m in a total state of paralysis, with my hands still spreading my shorts wide open for the world to see my business.

Kerry bangs back out of the door that he just ran through. “Brian, come ON. What are you doing?”

Me: “Ulgg… unk… unhhh.”

Kerry, being an experienced hellion and knowing just how long we have before the authorities arrive, races out, grabs my arms and pulls me to my feet, pushing and shoving me toward the entrance of the unoccupied building. We get inside and the door slams shut.

Kerry: “Wasn’t that COOL!”

Me, finally catching my breath: “I HATE you. I’m never listening to you again. HATE you.”

Kerry: “Dude, shut up and put that thing away. We’re done.”

 

(Originally posted in “Memory Remix” on 01/31/10. Slightly revised and edited with extra flair for this post.)

 


The Streak, Part I

skating rink

 

Summer, 1974.

Or thereabouts. It was either that summer or the next, making me either 9 or 10 years old. The exact time frame is a little hazy, but I remember a certain song playing on the radio all summer. A quick check of the Billboard charts shows that “The Streak” came out in ‘74, so I’m fairly certain it was that summer, but maybe not. You see, this was Tulsa, Oklahoma. We were always a little behind the times. There are some folks in that state TODAY who still don’t realize that the Civil War is over.

Anyway, it’s summer. Lately, Mom had been running around with her best friend at the time, Sharon. Both of them were recently divorced, both of them were a little bitter about men, and both were trying to get back into the singles scene. (This last bit really didn’t make sense to my elementary-school mind. If the last men in their lives had proven so unsatisfactory, why were they racing out to find replacements?)

Sharon was much more aggressive about the manhunt, convincing Mom to run around and participate in all these social activities that promised to offer a bumper crop of males who were both available and non-psychotic. Sometimes us kids got to go with, other times the two of them would dash off to mysterious adults-only rituals while we stayed with babysitters or slightly-reluctant relatives.

Speaking of “us kids”, there were two matched sets. Myself and my younger sister (Dawn), and Sharon’s kids, also an older boy and a younger girl. We were all roughly in the same three-year age span. That being the case, Mom and Sharon assumed that we would be the best of friends and get along just fine, so they didn’t think twice about leaving us all together while they went on a stud safari.

On the contrary, I did not find this to be an ideal arrangement.

I didn’t like Sharon’s kids. I don’t know what had happened in their lives, but it was obviously something that didn’t happen in mine. They were little hellions, always doing their urchin best to find trouble wherever they could. And they usually found it within twenty-three seconds of being left unsupervised. And because I was the oldest, everything was at least partially my fault, if not entirely.

And the mouths on those kids? Good God. Now, my daddy was no saint, so it wasn’t like I hadn’t heard special grown-up words before. In fact, every third word from his direction would have been bleeped in primetime, even today. But it was different when HE did it, because that’s what adults did, they cussed, and you really didn’t pay any attention. You just wanted to ride your Big Wheel until you got tired of the sidewalk cracks making your butt jiggle.

Cute little tykes sporting Garanimals should not be requesting that the Lord pass unfavorable judgment on pronouns, or offering travel directions that involve fiery destinations. This just shouldn’t be happening. And that was just the cussing. These kids also were fully schooled on every known sexual position on the planet, and would happily offer up any further intimate detail you may require. There were many times when my jaw would be hanging open in shock, until I remembered the 47 things they said you could do with such an exposed orifice, and my mouth would slam shut.

Those kids scared me.

Sharon, on the other hand, was a peach. I really liked her. She was very nice, and was always encouraging her kids to be creative and explore anything that they found interesting. (Obviously, this free-format educational concept must have included sex clinics or brothels at some point, but I digress.) She was very outgoing and not afraid to rush headlong into new situations, which balanced Mom’s tendency to remain quiet and just go along for the ride.

And the best thing about Sharon? In her bedroom, on the back of the door, was an almost life-size poster of a naked man. The first time my eyes spied THAT, I nearly wet myself. I may have been too young to really understand what things were all about, but I knew getting a gander of that naked man certainly put a smile on my face. At that point, I thought Sharon was the most thoughtful and gracious person I had ever met, arranging for this display and all.

After this discovery, I couldn’t wait for the opportunities to visit Sharon’s apartment. I would practically run to the front door. (I’m sure Mom thought it was sweet of me to be so friendly and polite during these social calls.) Once inside the apartment, I would use every plausible reason to wander down the short hallway to Sharon’s bedroom, peek around the door for a quick eyeful, then dash back to the front room.)

It was very innocent, really. After all, I just wanted to look. I certainly didn’t want to do anything like the hellions described. That business just seemed so messy and rude. It would be many years before their knowledge had even the most remote application in my life. By that time, I’m sure one or both of those kids were already serving a prison sentence.

Anyway, Sharon and Mom was lookin for some menfolk. And one of their favorite places to participate in an outreach program was at, amazingly enough, a skating rink. This particular skating rink was in far north Broken Arrow/far east Tulsa. Somewhere over there. I’m sure the place has been gone for years. I only remember the location because we would pass this still-standing nunnery just before we got there.

Yes, a nunnery. Practically adjacent to the Skating Rink of Sin and Un-betrothed Sexual Conquest. I’m sure that if the Sisters had known what was going on within rock-throwing distance, they wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night. Or maybe they DID know and would gaze longingly out their cloistered windows. You never can tell.

This skating rink must have been there for some time before it blossomed into a place of lust on wheels. It had a great wooden floor that was worn-in just right, nice and smooth so that you no longer felt the tiny cracks between the strips of wood. There was a long concession area down one side, where you could get all kinds of fried and greasy things to eat, because it was the 70’s and nobody knew a damn thing about fat and cholesterol.

The concession area was raised several feet above the rest of the building (who knows why, it just was). The main entrance to this section had a short flight of stairs. But the OTHER end of the concession area had a thrilling feature that was wildly popular. Instead of stairs, the whole floor ramped down and around to the main skating area. Which meant that all you had to do was barely roll over the precipice, and suddenly you would be hurtling downward with a velocity that would fling your ass out into the throng of circling skaters with an amazing amount of power.

People lived for this. Cable TV hadn’t been invented yet, so you had to make your fun where you could.

Now, not everyone dared to use this ramp. I didn’t go near it, in the beginning. I barely knew how to skate at the time, so my preferred method of rink entry was to gingerly ease myself through the normal gate, and then cautiously work my way forward in that awkward-looking clunk-clunk manner that newbies have, clinging to the railing on the periphery like there were no more lifeboats on the Titanic.

Sharon’s hellions, of course, were master skaters, zipping and twirling and practically doing back flips. They’d learned how to do this long ago, just like they’d somehow learned everything else fifteen years before a normal person should. They’d win competitions, while Dawn and I clunk-clunked on the sidelines, often tripping over a strand of hair and slamming our head into the ground.

The hellions considered us failures and babies. And it was not cool to be seen with babies. The only time you should associate with babies is if you are tormenting them in some way, preferably while other cool people watched. That being the case, Hellion Number One (Kerry) hatched a devious plan. Dumb-ass Number One (me) fell right into his trap.

Kerry was suddenly being very helpful. Over the course of several visits, he gave me pointers and showed me how to do things and gave realistic pep talks. And it worked. I got to the point where I didn’t have to hang on to the baby rail, and I could actually make it around the rink without incurring a flesh wound. There was a slight possibility that I might someday be cool.

Then the hellion on wheels moved on to Phase Two. He started talking up the massive ramp on the other side of the snack area. It was just so NEAT to roll down that thing. You didn’t go THAT fast, and if you started to fall you could always grab the handrail. Don’t you wanna try it?

I didn’t know about that.

Just then, probably acting on some evil, predetermined signal from Kerry, Hellion Number Two (Kristy) came zipping up in perfect form “I’ll show you how to do it, Brian,” she said chirpily. “Watch!”

And off she went, zipping effortlessly through the crowd at the concession counter. Two seconds later she shot over the crest of the ramp and whizzed downward, in a perfect arc, pigtails standing straight out behind her. She zoomed out into the rink with amazing grace, did this little figure-eight thing, then she screeched to a halt, finishing off with a twirl and a pretty hand movement. Several people stopped eating nachos long enough to raise scorecards.

Oh boy. I had to follow that?

“Come on,” urged Kerry. “Don’t be a baby!”

And what was wrong with being a baby if it meant that you lived to see another day?

Then Kerry clicked the last of his satanic plan into place. “Hey, why don’t I go to the bottom of the ramp and wait for you? I can help you if you start to fall. Okay?”

I looked at him for a second, not really sure about that, then sighed. “Okay,” I whispered.

He grinned broadly. “Cool! Okay, I’ll go wait at the bottom.” Then he was off, hurtling down the ramp and then stopping perfectly just before the ramp spilled onto the main rink. He looked up at me and nodded his head.

I shuffled to the top of the ramp, my heart-pounding. From this perspective, the angle of descent looked incredibly severe and seemed to guarantee certain death. I looked at Kerry again. He nodded his head again.

I gulped and rolled over the edge.

Suddenly, I was moving faster than one would think humanly possible. I’m pretty sure I started screaming immediately, but the wind was whipping by my ears with such force that I couldn’t hear anything else. About a third of the way down, my legs started to roll apart, a sure sign of incompetence and a certain indicator of social doom. Somehow I managed to get my legs back together before I ripped myself in two.

Halfway down, I hit the sharpest angle of the curve, but I managed to stay upright. Wow. That was the hardest part! I just might make it after all. I stopped the soundless screaming, and I think I might have even started to smile as I approached the final stretch.

Kerry was smiling, too, but not out of any shared jubilation over my non-death. He was grinning because it was time for the big show that he had carefully plotted over several weeks.

He stuck his foot directly in my path.

In my surprise and panic, I lost all bodily control and my skates slammed into each other, the wheels locking up and sealing my doom. My feet slammed to a halt, but the rest of my body shot forward. Houston, we have lift-off.

I sailed through the air, my mind vaguely registering the fact that Kerry had pulled his foot out of my trajectory at the last possible second. Clever little bastard. He could truthfully claim that he hadn’t actually tripped me. This is how politicians are born.

Then all of my focus was on the impending return from orbit. The wooden floor rushed up at me in a blur, then I crunched to the ground and slid a good ten feet across the aged, seamless wood. People scattered in all directions, struggling to get out of the landing zone. I finally came to a halt, ending with one of my skates somehow flopping upward and jabbing into my butt. I had just kicked myself in the ass, literally and figuratively. Damn hellion Kerry.

“Brian! Brian, are you okay?”

I rolled over onto my back and shook my head. A face came into view. Sharon! Nice Sharon. I liked her. How did she manage to raise these Dual Damiens?

She leaned down closer and brushed my hair out of my face. “Are you alright? Can I get you something?”

In my delirium, I blurted the first thing that came to mind.

“Did you bring the naked man with you?”

 

Click here to read the humiliating conclusion to this story.

 

(Originally posted in “Memory Remix” on 01/29/10. Slightly revised and edited with extra flair for this post.)

 


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