The town I grew up in had a lot of horrific connections to it the last 20 years. It’s the origin of Megan’s Law, the home of the Anthrax mailer, and I’m pretty sure John Wayne Gacy was the entertainment at my 3rd birthday party. With all these dangers surrounding us, the people demanded that the new wave of children be more informed about how unjustly deathful life is. Thus was born a little place called Safety Town.
Safety Town is located behind a police station and a library. The two places that if you are in and not on the clock, your life probably sucks. It’s pretty small really. What it contains from my memory are 8 colorful sheds with roadways in between. The roadways are used for teaching children bike safety and traffic rules. The sheds are used for hiding the screams of children from the public and storage space.
It was common for kids in my area to go to Safety Town before entering real school. I was one of these kids. They gave everybody a red shirt with a traffic light on it. This was very appealing to children because there’s nothing more a 5-year-old does than obey traffic lights. We never pay more attention to Batman or whatever talking animal movie comes out this month than we do to traffic lights. Didn’t a black guy invent the traffic light? That’s got to be near the bottom of the list of black inventions that children actually care about. I’d say peanut butter, FuBu jackets, and terrible music are more important to a child. Rap music is a nursery rhyme with the word “bitch” thrown in instead of “old woman.” Definitely made for children.
(I couldn’t find a picture online of the classic t-shirt, but for some reason this adorable image popped up)
I remember at Safety Town making a friend. I insisted that this friend was the kid from the Jurassic Park movie. They kind of looked alike. The kid from the Jurassic Park movie was probably like 11 or 12? My friend was 5. That should have tipped me off immediately that I was retarded. I remember us tickling each other during nap time. I think he said something homoerotic to me and we didn’t talk anymore. I encountered him two more times in life. One time was when we were on the same baseball team. He would always stretch. He once asked me in which box he should stand. I should have predicted our 1-21 record that season. The other time I ran into him was in high school. He wasn’t so much gay then as he was really strange. I remember him laughing a lot while eating a red frozen treat. He’s married and has a kid now. I wasn’t invited to the wedding, baby shower, or bachelor party so fuck him. Fuck him in his big face. I wish he was the Jurassic Park kid. Maybe he too could get electrocuted on a fence.
(I wonder if he’s a good tickler too)
Of course being such little tikes at the time, we weren’t allowed to ride big people bikes. We would have to settle for learning traffic laws by riding Big Wheels. I was never good at Big Wheels. My legs are the same length now as they were when I was born. I made it about 10 feet on my Big Wheel before crashing into the sidewalk. One of the teenage volunteers told me to get off and I had to be a pedestrian the rest of the time. That’s probably for the best. I’m really good at crossing the street now. All of that extra practice helped me for sure.
My only other memory of my original time there was playing the game “Farmer in the Dell.” I don’t know what the purpose of this game is but it ends with someone standing by themselves and everyone singing “The Cheese Stands Alone. The Cheese Stands Alone.” and so forth. It’s basically a game of pick’em and the last pick is called the cheese. I was the cheese once and it was horrifying. Another time the farmer had to pick a wife and he picked me. I was even more horrified. Here I was, an asexual 5 years under my sweat pants string (I hadn’t grown into belts yet) and I was being mistaken for a female. A female teenage volunteer corrected him and I think I ended up being something like a duck later on. The point is, kids are assholes.
(“HaHa you look similar to me” is the only thing he could possibly be saying)
Second grade came and we had a field trip to Safety Town. Wonderful. The first graders get to go to the Philadelphia Zoo and the fifth graders get to go to Six Flags. Us second graders have to learn a skill that most old people forget. I think part of the trip involved going into the police station. An “Officer Friendly” showed us some drugs. That may or may not have been part of the field trip. My memory is hazy. He was a pretty friendly guy though. One time I saw him years later beating a black gentleman with a club and I waved to him. He was kind enough to shoot me a smile before going back to keeping the peace.
All of us except for the midget in our grade had outgrown Big Wheels. Now it was time for real bikes. I don’t know how to ride a bike. It’s one of those things my parents were too busy/didn’t love me enough to teach me. I blame this for my poor balance yet great pedestrian skills. I never forget what the big orange hand means. Luckily I had broken my leg a few months earlier and to save myself some embarrassment used that as an excuse for not partaking in the bike riding. My friend had a similar problem. He too had unloving parents who would rather argue and have affairs than to teach their little boy how to deliver Chinese food. His excuse was that he left his helmet at home. So we were pedestrians together while everyone else had fun and bonded with each other over being physically fit. But here we were, the fattest and thinnest kid in the class going for a stroll. We learned a lot in that walk. Like that we didn’t belong.
(This man’s daddy managed to put down the beer can to teach his son a special skill)
Triumph did happen in the mental aspect of our field trip. My friend and I had failed the physical tasks, but inside the library we had a test of brainpower ahead of us. The creep running the show asked us what each of the colors on the traffic light meant. I was the only one who made sure to say that green meant “Go Carefully.” Everyone else thought it just meant go. Pshhh amateurs. Something else came up too where my friend said “drive a bike” instead of a “ride a bike.” I thought he was stupid for making a mistake, but the creepy ring master who had nothing better to do with his life than watch children ride bikes thought differently. He told us that he was impressed with my knowledge of the meaning of the color green and my friend’s ability to see that you don’t ride a bike, you drive it. High praise was received and our classmates cheered for us. We eventually went on to become Co-Prom Kings and every hot girl we have ever met has had sex with us. Thank you Safety Town. Because of you I had something to write about today.