I'll get back to the terrifying series on How to Take a Summer Vacation in the next Cameron Column. Thanks to everyone who has written about their own summer mishaps--turns out, We Are Not Alone.|
So let me tell you about Ricky and Billy.
Back when I was a kid I was very, very cool. Billy and I wore white slip-on tennis shoes, white jeans, and white T-shirts, plus sunglasses because we were frankly so cool. We called ourselves the "Deltoids," mostly because we didn't know what a Deltoid was but also because we ended every noun with the suffix "oid."
A typical conversation might go like this: "Hey, Bruce-oid, what's that stain-oid on your thigh-roid?" (Hilarious laughter.)
Well okay, that probably doesn't exactly qualify as a conversation.
We would do our best to locate the uninitiated and get them to participate, maneuvering them to say the word "him" with the -oid added on, as in "him-roid." Like, "I went to the store-oid with him-roid." (Him-roid = Hemorrhoid, get it? Hilarious laughter.)
We didn't actually know what a hemorrhoid was, we just knew it had something to do with butts, which were considered funny under all circumstances. Billy's Uncle Ramsey had hemorrhoids and took a bath with a funny looking inflatable pillow which resembled a yellow donut. Billy and I would wear it around our necks and pretend to be rock stars with hit songs like, "Take the Last Train to Hemorrhoid."
Like I said: cool.
Ricky lived down the street, and despite the fact that he eventually got a pair of white slip on tennis shoes, he could not be a member of the Deltoids because his bicycle was a five speed with fat tire-roids. Billy and I owned Schwinn Varsity ten speeds with narrow, tread-less road tracks. We were so fast that we had to make jet noises when we peddled past poor Ricky on his five spoid bikeloid. We were so fast that I imagined mothers grabbing their children and hauling them inside so as not to be caught up in the tidal wake of the Deltoids. I especially imagined this happening to Ricky's sister Sally, who was my age and kept disturbing me with her existence. She would know I was darkly dangerous because her mother would tell her so. Watch out Sally, it is Bruce, King-oid of the Deltoids.
One day Ricky suggested a bicycle race, him against the Deltoids. It is the first time in my life that I can remember wearing a smug facial expression. Ricky showed us the course, laid out across a series of fenceless backyards. It went through the creek and up a muddy slope, down a narrow ten foot hill we called the Dead Man's Fall because Calvin Mordy fell and broke his arm there or at least hurt his arm or something, and from there into a grove of trees and out the other side.
I put my sunglasses on with the care of a superior athlete about to lay waste to the competition. Ricky, I said, we'll give you a five second head start-oid.
Ricky refused my condescending offer, and at the word GO we all took off. The Deltoids grabbed an early lead, geared way down on our ten speed sprockets and making Apollo rocket take off noises, but the muddy slope changed everything. Our tires spun uselessly, while Ricky's stupid, uncool big bozo tires bit down and hauled him up ahead of us. Every rut in the path hit the Deltoids like hand grenades, while Ricky's thicker frame seemed to handle the impact with much less trauma. We lost sight of Ricky long before Dead Man's Fall, and Billy began sobbing. Mud spattered all over our white jeans. A particularly deep hole sent such a smashing jolt through my tail bone that I gained an instant comprehension of what Uncle Ramsey used his pillow for.
By the time we caught up with Ricky at the finish line the Deltoids were an extinct species. Facing our defeat like men, Billy and I threw mud balls at him. We even called Ricky a Kotex, which we considered to be the most horrible insult in the English language. Ricky didn't seem to mind.
Mothers let their children back out, and Sally waved at me and smiled, causing me to vow to hate her my whole life. Billy and I changed clothes. And now, many years later, I think about Ricky when I see people tooling up hillsides on bicycles with big, fat, bozo tires.
He was ahead of his time.
Copyright W. Bruce Cameron 1997
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