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Death of the Playground 

 Kids of the 70’s would wreak ass-kickery over these weepy whiners we have as kids today. Not all mind you, but the vast majorities are in serious need of a backbone.  The kids I grew up with knew pain, stitches, and scabs—Hell, we invented vert (called a ramp back then), and survivor began as another of our brainstorms, “The Backyard Campout”.

These were the tools used during the summer that kept us in shape all year round.

 

In the 60’s and 70’s if you couldn’t ride it (without helmets and pads), climb it, tackle it, swim in it, build it, shoot it—It plain wasn’t worth doing. 

Today’s kids are more upset because they’re not accepted in the newest, coolest online Goth chat.  Kid’s in that era did without and survived a decade where gas was rationed, no vacations, a lot of Salisbury steak, meatloaf, gravy, bread, and we were never fat…ever. If you were fat then, you got made fun of. Today there’s just too many to do that. 

In the 70’s we played outside all day—not a few hours—I’m talking all day long and had to be threatened by parents to finally get back in the house—sometime well after dark and had to be examined for ticks before bath and bed.  

Today, kids leave the house to get a burger, then leave again to hit the mall. 

In the 70’s we made our own weapons and built forts. Today they open chat rooms and hate everything. Whatever happened to part time jobs?  Back then you knew times were hard, so you didn’t ask for extra’s and learned to get by without complaining about it.  We never avoided rain; we played in it, and snow days were made for fun, not to be locked away inside. Summer vacations were three months of every day adventures, chores, chiggers and ticks.

Our generation went astray when the playgrounds eroded into a yuppie wasteland of saw dust filled fairy tales. Playgrounds were a rite of passage then, a survival of the fittest for future generations. Not today and here’s where the crevice lies—they’re all gone.

 

What happened to our alpha-male making playgrounds?

 

Teeter-Totter 

We had a device known as the Teeter-Totter, which saw daily drop and launch episodes resulting in plaster of Paris covered limbs. This came from a time when kids were revered by how many scrawled names they could acquire on their cast. Often referred to as the fat-kid’s revenge—Husky to our politically correct readers—and I have seen it many times used as a means to launch the class midget into space.  

Monkey Bars  

So what if cracked heads and a few thousand stitches resulted from this gem, was that any reason to banish this classic piece? Monkey bars were the learning curve of the urban playground scene. You learned crying made you a sissy, scabs made you tough, and gravity’s a bitch if you were to fat to hang on.

Slides   

Slides today don’t measure up like they used to. Slides must be a minimum height of twenty feet, solid metal with steps respective to the overall elevation of the model, and then sunk 3-feet into a bubbling, gum and cigarette butt stained asphalt surface. Ladies will remember this mid-July, shimmering hot, short pants horror of summertime melted skin. The sound of screeching flesh still haunts my ears, and you best hit the ground running with both feet once the 90-degree angle spat you out. Asphalt is the most unforgiving flesh disfigurer invented by man. 

Lawn Darts  

How about this classic piece? Take sharpened dart, attach aero-dynamic wings, walk backwards 20-feet, and then toss in the direction of your asshole cousin Billy’s feet. I think there were a few other parts—something about a plastic set of rings—anyway it ended up in an asswhipping and another scar. Not to mention a whole assortment of punishments handed down by Nazi parents to include yard work, splitting wood, cleaning garages, taking out garbage, etc.

Bikes, Ramps,
and Skateboards 

Bikes, ramps, skateboards, even stunts deemed to dangerous. We did that shit barefooted with no shin guards, elbow pads, knee pads, or helmet. We did our stunts flat out and stayed scabby for it throughout the summer months. The first week of the new school year was a rehash of scars, broken bones, and feats of physical dexterity unmatched in today’s times.

 

Umbrellas and Rooftops  

I don’t think at this point we need to investigate this wonderful deployment of sheer genius. I do recall a gangly kid who once attempted this pre-youtube feat of idiocy. He ended up with one leg and foot normal size, while the other looked something compared to a baby’s pudgy arm with tiny midget-like toes sticking out. He finally had to buy a “special” shoe with a mounted contraption resembling a Goodyear tire glued to the bottom of the midget-leg side. He still managed to run a 4.4 second 40-yard dash, and all state halfback his sophomore year.

Merry Go-Rounds  

The greatest gravity death disc known to earth, and for the children reading this, we learned about science and the effects of centrifugal force the old fashioned way. Place the smaller bullied children in the center, and then spin the “Satan Sphere” until said kids fly off into the air’s gaping jaws of gravity.

Wham-O  

Wham-O toys and other skull busting spawn of debauchery. “Wham-O” was the end result of trying out these handy backyard gimp-gadgets (along with six stitches and missing teeth). Everyone knew at least one kid with a chipped-in-half front tooth from a Wham-O Frisbee toss.  

 

Sleds 

The wonderful joys of winter time and being in a full body cast during Christmas because you uttered the final words, “You think that’s something, well, watch this shit!”

Thus, with those words out, the end result was pain, followed by the astonished gasps, “Someone help me up, find my leg, and PLEASE don’t tell Mom!”

 

Every Ski Resort across this vast land of ours was first utilized by the sled runs we carved.

 

How the hell do you think the Olympics came up with Bobsledding? How do you think the Winter X-Games came to be? Just remember the next time you watch “Jackass” on MTV, we did it first. We had no video cameras then—but rest assured—Johnny Knoxville wasn’t the first kid riding down a hill in a run away grocery cart.

 

To the kid’s of that generation, anything with “queer” in it meant you didn’t have enough people for a football game, so you played “smear the queer”.  Today it means letting four guys punk me on television for free furniture and colorful clothes.

Thanks but I’m going to pass, I may walk a little slower but I still get there—eventually.

   

Uncle Buck

 

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Prostate Exams 

There’s nothing like a yearly prostrate exam to get the anxiety levels peaked. It’s reassuring to my wife knowing the doctor found no evidence my head remains lodged there. I have come to understand how a Muppet feels and cannot fathom how the doctor can talk through this procedure. Somehow, I have the feeling in Uganda it would qualify as a legal marriage by going where no man has boldly gone before. This yearly evil is like choosing between a root canal, or diving into a tank filled with Jellyfish—it’s a tough call.

 

Once in the position with nothing left but imagination, you have to wonder what the Doctor is thinking, then again, maybe not. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to dread these semi-compassionate examinations with humility, or lack thereof (depending on the giving end, or receiving end).

 

Who set the standard by which all doctors whose fingers hold the circumference of Pluto enter the Proctologists course?

 

Finishing this examination removes all doubt where lawyers originate, and it leaves you feeling dirty while not wanting conversation with the person who performed this action.

 

I have heard this before, though it slips me now just where.

 

Consider this article as advice for the younger men yet to face the angst of a knee-bend, tuck and spread’um situation. Think of the experience like a parking meter with fiber control—while notable effort goes in, nothing comes out. And don’t think of looking cool when Chewbacca squirts a dollop of Crisco on his latex covered digits—it ain’t happening.

 

 Conversation should contain the subject of sports only, not that you care; batting averages don’t matter at this point

 

 Never use the word Mmm while Dr. Feelgood is searching for the man-gland—Ouch is acceptable.

 

 If you’re lucky enough to receive a two finger probe-a-thon, consider it a second opinion that won’t cost a penny extra. When paper with the texture of a pine cone is thrust into your clenched and deformed hand, you’ll know the end is near.  Once you start exiting the office do not stop to talk, or make eye contact with anyone until you reach your vehicle.

 

In all seriousness, prostate cancer is the second leading killer among men. A simple check-up could save your life, or the life of a loved one. Adding a little humor may make it easier to face, and caught early, the treatment is widely successful. Talk with your doctor about prostate screening and a PSA blood test. A little reading and research could go a long way.

 

When it’s all said and done, take it like a man.

  

Uncle Buck

Dr. Phil or Fabio 

  What is the fascination with Dr. Phil these days (essentially the educated version of Jerry Springer)? Why are we so mesmerized with this guy, and do you buy into it?  

  If I want advice on relationships and how to talk or act around those of the opposite sex—I’ll shop around for someone of experience. I know this may upset men, and a few women, but these are the facts as I see them. 

  Fabio is in that still youthful without surgery group, and he maintains a low profile. When was the last time you heard Fabio getting into someone’s business, or hogging the gossip headlines about whom he is dating? It doesn’t happen and he is consistently one of, if not, the sexiest men alive. He loves big dogs and riding dirt bikes in his free time, and I’m sorry, but that’s not all bad in my book. 

  This gent grants hours of his free time for charitable causes without charging a penny, and never dominates the news headlines. The guy has great taste in clothes, and I do not have to go into great detail with the women, about his body. Here is a gentleman who’s aged to perfection and still remains dedicated to a rigorous physical routine. It’s not to impress the opposite sex, it’s something he’s devoted to and he sticks with it. Now take a good look at Dr. Phil’s shape (another point for Fabio). The bottom line; if you’re going to offer advice on diet and exercise by writing a book—try to look the role. 

  If Dr. Phil offered you advice on sex, could you hold a straight face? If you had to think about this for a second, you and I both know you wouldn’t. 

  I ask the ladies to reach deep down into your soul and answer this question with complete honesty. Would you rather have Dr. Phil or Fabio give your husband, love of your life, advice on bedroom fun? 

  If you remove these few phrases from Dr. Phil’s show, you’re left with nothing. 

  • Avoiding reality.
  • Logical thing to do.
  • What’s the problem?
  • Get over it!
  • Are you nuts?
  • A whole new you.

 Once completed, you have a reality and there’s no avoiding it. When they’re stripped down you’re left with one in boxers wearing black socks, and the other in a loincloth, chiseled, bronze, and sweaty. It forces the mind to create a fresh angle on the ‘whole new you’ outlook, and it leaves you with the perfect choice.  I think we need a Fabio show. 

Uncle Buck

The Switch Dance   

  On my last trip to that human hell hole [Wal-Mart], and after having had the pleasure of hearing—“You’re going to time out when we get home mister” or “I’m going to count to three…one…two…” I startled the wife by wondering aloud.   

  Whatever happened to switches?   

   I recall a time when these handy backyard disciplinarians froze young folks in their tracks. The mere mention of this word turned demons into angels without threats, Ritalin, or losing X-box privileges.   

  A switch to parents not only symbolized the crowning moment in ass-kickery, it came fully programmed to seek and swat bare legs. This twig of destruction remains the ultimate skin conditioner for ghastly manners, forgotten chores, or sneaking a sip of your Dad’s beverage.  I firmly believe I kept in great shape during the summer months by one simple exercise—the switch dance.   

  For the other crowd having a hard time following, try this in your next aerobics class. Have someone hold one arm at a right angle, roughly 45-degrees, and place your free hand behind your backside (ensure complete coverage of your fanny). Now run in circles high stepping until you collapse to the ground. Remain in fetal position for 30-seconds to gather thoughts while gurgling for air, and then make an obscene gesture, or mutter my all-time favorite…    

   That didn‘t hurt!”   

  The sheer idiocy of this statement—knowing full well the outcome—mystifies me, and we all tried it at least once.    

  Next, spring to your feet repeating the previous act until one person smacks the ground toes up, eyes rolled back in the head, and blowing snot-bubbles. The only sound ranked close on the petrified-scale of a switch cutting the air. The sonic crack of my father’s belt slicing the sound barrier as it passed each belt loop. The entire movement completed in the blink of an eye and left Dad poised in a fencer’s on-guard position. Dropping down in a Kung-Fu stance, he could whip the belt with a snap and magically turn it into a doubled-over attitude adjuster (Bruce Lee didn’t have crap on Dad’s back then).   

  I see so many low hanging branches in yards these days, but then again, I guess the branches seemed a little higher to a kid. They don’t scare me anymore, and I have come to enjoy the music they provide as the shade creeps along their lengths. It’s not often I cut a switch for personal use, and on those rare occasions, I draw great pleasure from their company—I whittle. As the shavings litter the ground at my feet, their memories loose slightly that rough edge of yesteryear and leave the purest of times…sadly gone forever.   

   I tried to pull my belt off with the same flair and grace as my Father, and I guess some manly characteristics are handed down, some are not. There’s no snap or showmanship for me, and not an ounce of flair, grace, or coordination resembling that of a true Master. My technique leaves a distorted impression of Otis from Mayberry trying to break-dance. I don’t remember Dad’s belt being this long doubled-over, so I guess waistlines are subject to the passing of time, as are memories.

  

Uncle Buck

 

 

The Airborne Ranger Mascot  

 The year was 1981 when I stepped off a UH-60 Blackhawk onto a grassy field at Hunter Army Air Field to begin RIP (Ranger Indoctrination Program). Cocky tough and sporting a shit eating grin; it soon disappeared as the first black beret wearing RIP instructor walked before the other twenty-six hopefuls. It was a time when the black beret was earned, not issued, and the RIP program was taught at the respective Battalion level—meaning, you got your ass smoked without regard to your physical limitations. I wasn’t concerned because I already knew I could run with the best and road march all day on an empty stomach.

  I was wrong.

  By the end of the first day I gave serious doubt to not only making it through the selection, but survival became a real issue.

  A chisel-jawed RIP instructor stood cursing our weakness and informed the class by 0430-hours tomorrow (when a new day of misery began) we would prepare a class mascot, decorated for their inspection and approval.

  Across the grassy yard, forbidden to be stepped upon by mere mortal jungle boots, a circle of large rocks glistened like sweaty tombstones in the Georgia heat.

  Black, yellow, and white with the painted words of bravado “Death From Above”, “Ranger’s Lead The Way”, and “Kill’um All-Let God Sort’um Out” stained their grainy surfaces. These stony toadstools of past testaments encircled a fetid swamp we would come to know as the “Worm Pit” in our later adventures.

  Their size didn’t need explanation—they were heavy—and once told the mascot went everywhere with the class, and after humping an already 110-pound rucksack, Uncle Buck wasn’t having any of that shit.

 Dismissed to get our asses squared away at 2200 hours, the quite murmurs of “fuck this shit” already seeped its way into the subconscious.

  But I had a plan.

  Teaming with a large New Yorker we collected enough funds to put “Operation Lightweight” into action, and after lights out—we slipped from the barracks into the dark town of Savannah.

  Grabbing a cab, whose turban-clad driver knew exactly where to take the two recruits, we found ourselves in the seedy section of the city. The quarry was easy to locate, and with the price negotiated and agreed upon, we set about our work.

  Working quickly, our operation saw completion and we arrived safely back at the barracks undetected.

  Little sleep and tired muscles groaned as a voice bellowed, “FIRST CALL SO GET THE FUCK UP!”

  Our classmates looked at our red-rimmed eyes as we hustled out the door for formation to be greeted by several more smirking faces of fresh RIP instructors.

  “Got yer mascot?” Chisel-jaw inquired in a true Georgia drawl.

  “Roger that!” Uncle Buck the hopeful replied stepping forward of the line.

  “Where the fuck is it?” His Copenhagen stained teeth parted as he spat a stream.

  “In my pocket Sergeant.”

  The few snickers I heard from the rear went quickly silent as chisel-jaw stepped forward extending a meaty hand.

  I dropped the zip-lock bag into his dickskinner as the fresh RIP instructors gathered round to see what kind of mascot would come to their compound in a bag.

  Inside was a large patch of dark pubic hair {newly shorn} from a prostitute, complete with Polaroid photos of two camouflaged Ranger’s shaving the objective, and one solitary pebble with the words “Sua Sponte” written in magic marker across the surface.

  A few here might remember this “Mascot”, perhaps it’s lost to time—I guess it really doesn’t matter because we got our asses smoked for three weeks for leaving the barracks without permission. We still had to grab a rock, we still had to hump and run with the heavy bastard every day—but no one ever told which two left the barracks.

  I guess that’s when I understood what the “Rite of Passage” into a brotherhood truly meant.

  

Uncle Buck

The Recipe   

My mother came from the Appalachia mining towns while my father hailed from the Smokey Mountains, and their union gave birth to a cultural communion of first-rate eating.

 

The immigrant influence of the coal industry came to the dinner table in the shape of pierogies, cabbage rolls, and stuffed peppers. The south kept to traditions with biscuits, fried chicken, and corn bead (buttermilk optional). My family revolves around cooking, recipes, and eating, so when I volunteered for the Army and found myself perched in Savannah—I fit right in with their idea of cast iron creations.

 

Savannah holds a fond place in my heart, and thanks to the miracle of cable I keep this devotion alive through The Food Network. Each Sunday my cooking addictive veins crave that first, ‘Ya’ll gonna love what I’m cook’in today’ and when Paula Dean steps into the picture—life gets mouth-watery in a hurry.

 

I’ve grown fat and happy with her as supreme guide to my pre-football Sunday victuals, and I have concluded—she could slather rocks with butter, roll them in sugar, and I would relish each tooth shattering chomp.

 

Paula’s recipes fit well because they’re broken down into two food groups to eliminate confusion—the good for you, and the good to eat. Good for you would contain such finery as mushrooms, chicken, and fish to select from. In this group you have a wonderful medley to apply your favorite batter before plunging them into a cauldron of bubbling oil. Transfer this scrumptious fare to a paper towel lined plate, and they are miraculously transformed into enchanting nuggets of greasy delight.

 

Good to eat recipes would contain any meat product slathered in gravy, items you eat with your fingers, or savory delight’s served with its own dipping sauce. In this group you have the fixings for a feast or something to snack on until that halftime burp of contentment. Any pre-ground meat product served on buns, or foul swathed in barbecue sauce and devoured by pudgy napkin daubed fingers are definite palate pleasers.

 

The wonder of her recipes allow you, the fortunate consumer, to interchange any group by adding a condiment to alter the healthy/tasty ratio. If you munch the deep fried mushrooms with a side dish of ranch dressing, you have transferred this item from the good for you to the good to eat category. The same would apply by taking the chicken fried steak away from the gravy and consuming it with a side of fried taters.

 

If you’re one of those (bean sprout and tofu worshippers), Paula’s culinary creations are best left to the experts. It’s dangerous because if you tried just one recipe and got any of those vittles on your forehead—your tongue would smack your brains out.

 

Uncle Buck

10 Things To Do In Wal-Mart If You’re Bored  

1. Grab 24 boxes of condoms & randomly put them in people’s carts when they aren’t looking.

2. Set all the alarm clocks in house wares to go off at 5 minute intervals.

3. Make a trail of tomato juice on the floor to the rest rooms.

4. When a clerk asks if they can help you, begin to cry and ask, “Why can’t you people just leave me alone?”

5. While handling guns in the hunting department ask the clerk if he knows where the antidepressants are.

6 Dart around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the theme from “Mission Impossible.”

7. In the auto department, practice your Madonna look using different size funnels.

8. Hide in the clothing rack and when people browse through say, “PICK ME! PICK ME!”

9. When an announcement comes over the loud speaker, assume the fetal position and scream, “NO! NO! It’s those voices again.” …..and last but not least.

10. Go into a fitting room and yell loudly, “Hey! We’re out of toilet paper in here!”  

Uncle Buck 

Stinky Girl   

  For men who endure wives owning those “adorable” dogs instead of the genetically superior {hunting} breeds, I share in your misery. When did Lassie lose out to the hairless lab rat gnawing on Paris Hilton’s arm? If you live with such a vile creature, your life’s about as wonderful as poison ivy to a leper colony.

 

  My wife has Roxie the Jack Russell or the malicious midget from Hell as she is better known. And make no mistake, she can do no wrong. No matter the inadequacy of holding bladder fluids, it wasn’t her fault—she’s little and couldn’t help it.

 

  No matter the slick brown sausages greeting my early morning bare feet, it wasn’t her fault—she’s little and couldn’t help it.  Her evil world is driven by two insatiable needs, food and greed. She shows no shame at begging, giving cute barks, snuggling, or face licks to quench her bottomless, never ending, cavernous hole of a gut.

It’s a deceitful ploy to divide and conquer the household inhabitants—and she went “medieval” on yours truly from day one.

 

  My faithful sidekick (Rocky the Golden Retriever), and our evening game of fetch has become a battle over me tossing, and receiving in return a series of smug stares from ‘stinky girl’. As long as Mommy’s within eyeshot of her little princess, it’s not her fault—she’s little and couldn’t help it. 

 

  Everything is hers, and I concede this atrocity so the little she-demon won’t emit those choppy gurgles passed off as—don’t make me mad in front of my mommy—excuses for barking.  Dinner time finds tinker bell perched gaily on Mommy’s knee while my dog is confined to a dark corner. And should the slightest morsel of food fall in Rocky’s direction, he gets mauled and she gets the food. 

 

  Rocky hasn’t caught the gist of this situation and each time the ankle-biting fiend attacks; he looks to me with those dejected gold eyes. Her treats are little—like her—and my dog has zero entitlement to her gracious ruler’s snacks. I once tried to restrain the Tasmanian horror while feeding Rocky a handful of her treats as revenge; she chomped two fingers to nubs and ate my lower lip. Since this vicious episode, both Rocky and I steer clear of her damned treats.

 

  No one is entrusted with her care because she goes every where with us…and why not? If it’s too hot outside, she’ll enjoy an air conditioned nap (on Mommy’s lap) while I brave sun stroke. If it’s too cold she’ll press her nose against the window from her climate controlled interior, and then grin hellishly as she smears snot across the clean glass.

 

  I believe a woman began this crusade against our hearty breeds’ years ago, and before the Rosie O’Donnell disciples burn their anti-NRA bras, I said a woman—not all women.

 

  Poodles used to be large dogs, still ugly with their hedge in front of a mobile home hair cut, but big dogs nonetheless. Once upon a time, a well respected breeder let his wife connive him into allowing the teeny dogs to make teeny puppies. This communion began miniatures, and miniatures dropped the dimension to toy sized, and now they have the mutated fad of teacup pooches. How would Hee-Haw have looked with a teacup Chihuahua lounging on the porch instead of Ole Blue the faithful bloodhound? Junior would have eaten that critter with possum gravy before the camera’s started recording.

 

Uncle Buck

Pirates of the Shenandoah  

    My sister’s (whom I dearly love) saw my departure into the Army as the perfect opportunity to get married and pop out nephews like toast. By the time my service to this great Nation ended, I had half a dozen eager nephews waiting to torment my days and nights. Trying to become the “uber-cool” uncle, I found their parents oddly cooperative in letting me have them for fishing trips and other outdoor activities.

 

  My plans were extra hands to help drag deer and fetch beverages from the cooler. Their plans differed in that perspective. One by one the little chuckle-heads formed a terror cell aimed at Uncle Buck’s demise.

 

  Accidents happen and the occasional fish hook through the thumb is tolerated when the bait-thrower thought the master-baiter was finished with his appointed task. If this happens more than once per fishing excursion—the bait-thrower’s intentions become fishy.

 

  Picking blackberries became a game of monofilament line tied to rubber snakes that were pulled across the feet of the appointed berry picking guardian. I don’t share their enthusiasm in seeing a heart attack victim launch skyward in a cussing blur. I tried to toss these games off as youthful camaraderie—but it got worse.

 

  Icy Hot found its way to the camp toilet paper, and I will fully affirm that you haven’t lived until you’ve tried walking in the woods with a blistering sphincter. I’ve come to understand why dogs appreciate a good “drag”—butt first—across the carpet. Grass is a last resort if you’re outside, but avoid areas with hidden pine cones; those prickly ground grenades leave welts the size of silver dollars.

 

  Operation Redemption went into full effect the following day.

 

     The worst of the worst are Ricky, Randy, and Ronnie—or Run, Rut, and Romp as my wife calls them—and they forgot Uncle Buck grew up when kids were tough. I’m sorry, but most kids today don’t have the grit we had, and Uncle Buck waited patiently to apply a heavy dose of humility (something their parents referred to as time out).

 

  A Sunday matinee brought their level of wickedness to an all-time high, and the latest Johnny Depp pirate ass-kickery flick seemed to turbo-fuel their foul Caribbean hearts. A few whacks across the shins from their plastic swords forced a chuckle, soon you little deviants…soon you will pay. So I planned a weekend fixing up the hunting cabin to afford me the high ground for Operation Redemption.

 

  Relatives planned cookouts and ordered kegs since they would be away for the weekend, and thus packed with my own seeds of destruction; I kissed the wife farewell and went off to war.

 

  Three hours of fart and booger jokes later, we locked the cattle gate behind us and eased down a shadowy road towards a rendezvous with fate. Once unpacked and all items checked for contraband, Ricky became the first to fall victim. Firing my wrist-rocket at cans and missing each time, the anticipation became too much for him.

 

  “Can I try?”

 

  “Sure.”

 

  Handing over the slingshot I offered a bit of manly advice, “Make sure you hold your thumb dead center of the “V” and you’ll hit what you’re aiming at by using it as a sight pin.”

  Thwack!   

  I figured one purple thumbnail equals four fish hook impalements.

 

  Randy’s “Bull in a China Shop” mentality made his demise as simple as a friendly bet.

 

  “When I was your age I could grab that rope swing and sail across the creek and land flat-footed on the other side.”

 

  Brows wrinkled in thought as his medieval wheels spun into motion.

 

  “Never once even so much as got our feet wet back then.” I threw my challenge out as a trump card, “I bet you can’t do it.”

 50-yard running start with Tarzan yells of defiance—free. One rope swing attached to willow limb across 20-foot creek—free. Coating the rope with grease for evil nephew—Priceless.  

  I figured one fully clothed dunk in a creek equaled three snake induced heart attacks.

 

  I saved Ronnie last for a reason. He alone masterminded the infamous fiery death march, and I wanted him to suffer…bad.

 

  His romp and snoop attitude offered the perfect opportunity for a redemptive strike of revenge. By taking latex gloves and coating a Playboy magazine’s pages with a thin layer of liquid fire and cayenne pepper; I set my trap by hiding the smut in my duffle bag.

 

  For two days his nose ran and his eyes became red hoods of surrender. The wretch rubbed and scratched those places of misfortune in such a manner; its best described as a horny monkey locked in a cage without access to females

  I figured one sizzling walk equaled two days of mystery blisters covering anatomical nether regions.

 

  With the battle won, I now set about a final Coup de grace of sheer genius.  A pre-dug hole of 4-feet, two five-gallon buckets filled with runny cow manure (fresh), and a crude cross would issue a defeat befitting the swashbuckling trio. A night recon found the hole filled with manure and covered with a dirt crust to mask the smell. Add one white spray painted “X” across the stink pit, and with the crude cross planted in place—I shivered with diabolical deviancy.

 

  “Hey Uncle Buck you wanna go smash rocks at the creek with us?” A cooing voice sounded.

 

  Knowing their minds were in “all-out” war mode, I feigned a yawn, “Naw, you boys have a good time, I think I’ll take a nap this afternoon. I was up most of the night looking at this old treasure map I’ve had for years.”

  “ Treasure map?” Three voices sounded in unison as their heads popped through my door.

 

  “Yup, bought it off an old mountain man when I was your age, and it’s said a pirate called the “Happy Ranger” brought his treasure to these parts and buried it. Indians killed him and took the map, and one of the old man’s ancestors stole it from the Indians.”

 

  “You think it’s still here, I mean buried somewhere around this camp Uncle Buck?” Randy asked a little too eager.

 

  “Sure do. I’ve never found it so it’s still buried here somewhere. Why don’t you take the map and put it in the glove compartment of my truck so I’ll know where it is when I wake up from my nap.” I asked rubbing my eyes and stretching.

 

  “Yeah Uncle Buck, you do look tired. Take a nap and I’ll put it in your truck safe and sound.” Ronnie grinned.

 

  “It’ll stay right where you want it while we go to the creek.” Ricky smiled plucking the map from Ronnie’s slurpee-stained fingers.

 

  Running footsteps faded minus the sound of a truck door slamming in their wake, and with the glove compartment forgotten—only fame and fortune awaited our fair Pirates of the Shenandoah. 

 

  Bribery is illegal in all fifty states and blackmail over pictures applies to trashy American Idol hopefuls. Having in your possession a camcorder film of three putrid youths washing in a creek cannot be rendered as blackmail, and threatening to download said film on www.youtube.com does not reason bribery. I delivered these hard lessons with the smugness of a Politician, and while my beverage of choice is fetched from the cooler; the hook is baited and rod cast in the direction my disciplined finger points. Once the pole is surrendered to my callused hand…then…and only then…I ponder our truce while sipping the spoils of war.

 

Uncle Buck

 

 

 

 

         

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