Adults used to ask me what my favorite subject in school was. I would say “Recess!” with a big smile on my face. This was cute until I was in college and it was my advisor asking me this question. But really, what was better than recess? You could play football with a soccer ball because they didn’t allow footballs, you could watch a kid get pushed off a slide then see a helicopter lift him off to the hospital, and you could break your own leg imitating the American Gladiators. My favorite thing about recess through all of the horrors was finding something new. The best place to do it, the baseball backstop.
(I don’t think my elementary school playground had nearly this much grass. Must have been salted over during war)
The baseball backstop was located as far away from authority as possible. I don’t remember when I started hanging out there a lot during recess. Sometime around when I realized I was too slow for things like hop scotch or sitting on the swings. Luckily my friends enjoyed hanging out there too. If we knew what drugs were we would have been doing them. But we didn’t know what drugs were. We’d have to make do with talking to the dog that lived on the other side of the fence. Someone named him “Doggy” and it stuck. It was simple enough to remember. Doggy’s probably long dead now. I like to think he still haunts the playground and occasionally eats a kid.
One game we’d play back there was called “Bench Wars.” At least that’s what I call it now. It involved standing on the tiny wooden, splinters poking out like Vietcong bamboo spikes, bench alongside the field. If you sat on the bench it could fit maybe 5 asses. Easily a safety hazard. The most memorable game of Bench Wars took place when I helped my friend Rob (I’m just going to name you from now on so you become some sort of underground legend here) win by hitting him. His opponent, our friend Matt, was twice his size. I knew Rob would lose due to the size difference and his incredible ability to never win a thing in his life. To this day he’s kept it up. I couldn’t be more ashamed. Anyway, my hitting Matt got him disqualified. That meant that Rob won. We paraded around the baseball field chanting “Rob is the Champion” to the tune of “We are the Champions.” This got Matt very angry. He started to whine saying it wasn’t fair. We had cheated. Matt calmed down then showed us how he could take kicks to the nuts without feeling any pain. I bet he’s gotten a few free drinks out of that.
(Matt is a multiple winner on America’s Funniest Home Videos. Golf club to the nads version 781-9783 was him)
One of the strangest things I have ever seen was the inside of a mouse. I was at my babysitter’s and a kid cut a dead mouse open with a stick. Even stranger than that was when I was at the backstop and saw the insides of an animal all sprawled out. Organs were everywhere. One of my nerdy friends said that a cat cut open a rabbit and put them there. I am still shocked how he could have come up with such a logical statement about dead animal parts on the grass while I was standing there thinking it was food. Being curious and hoping to impress girls by being as sadistic as possible, I picked up a large rock and dropped it on what was either the heart or stomach. I was hoping for a huge explosion. Instead it kind of fizzled out the way an air mattress is properly deflated. I would have to live another day to show girls that I could destroy things with rocks.
My favorite find ever at the backstop was a beer can. Like every fifth grader would do, I picked it up. I knew this would make me popular, at least for the day. I decided that I wanted to see something explode. Not having access to dynamite or large rocks above rabbit stomachs, I started to shake the beer can. Stealing the idea from the April Fool’s episode of The Simpsons, I would cause a massive beer can explosion. I shook and shook and wondered what the aides on duty thought I was doing. Finally time came. I opened the beer can slightly then tossed it up into the air. I made a run for it to clear ground zero of the explosion. The beer can hit the ground and shot beer out all over the place. It was epic. If you were a grasshopper, it would have been like it was raining Budweiser. Since were merely boys, it was just kind of cool. My hands smelt like beer and I cleaned them out in a puddle of water. This made them smell really bad, but at least I didn’t smell like beer. A classmate came up to me and said “that was cool.” Finally I was popular for a moment.
(The Holy Grail of backstop finds. I don’t think it was a Pabst either. Teenagers in my town were not quite sophisticated for a beer which has earned the right to call itself Blue Ribbon worthy)
The last time I went to the backstop was around 3 years ago. I was bored one night so Rob and I went there. I had heard that an Indian kid we went to school with went there a few months earlier and peed on the slide. I did no peeing. Instead we joined in on one last lap around the baseball field chanting about how he was the champion. I drove him back to the Retarded Person Daycare he lives at. He thanked me and I told the doctor to kill him afterwards. I know wherever he is (probably reading this) he’s wondering why I killed him off and made him retarded. Needed a closer, that’s why.