It’s cold. It’s rainy. I have not been invited out into the night. I am alone. It could be 2014.
I settle into a night of Benson, Bosom Buddies, and Dallas. It’s 1981. I will not be watching Falcon Crest because of their refusal to feature actual birds –Lorezo Lamas’ hair doesn’t count no matter how majestic it may be. Also, I find things go easier if I force myself not to look at shirtless guys.
Besides, my main job this evening isn’t TV. I need to listen for the sounds of an imminent TPing –mass movement of any kind. This is Muirfield, nothing moves after dusk because there are no streetlights, no sidewalks, and everything is painted brown. I am alone. Mom and Dad are out with other executive couples. The men talk business; the women, my mom’s cancer.
To fortify, I pour approximately ¼ inch each from similarly shaded bottles in the liquor cabinet.
About eight minutes into Lorenzo (you know how hard it was to change channels in those days?), I hear an engine rev. I want to tell myself that it’s just Lorenzo’s sports car taking orders. When I get to the window of the rec-room, I see an upper-classman’s car coasting down Cruden Bay Ct. with its lights off. It didn’t’ t take long for word of an easy mark to filter upwards in my high school.
I go out front and stand invisibly in the soft rain. They commence the TPing immediately, beginning with the trees. The trees are for the most part stubby hot-house things, fresh in the dirt to replace the native trees that were there 16 months earlier. Still, with the rain, they’re having a tough time getting any vertical, and most streamers end up in the woodchips under the more ornamental trees. A detachment curls to the side and pelts our garage door with three eggs. Word on bus was that Muirfield garage doors were the best to egg because the homeowner’s code stipulated rough wood garage doors. “You just can hose that shit off.” Then this George guy, a disagreeable amalgam of velour, Jordache, and blue-tinted prescription glasses saunters over to me. I just stand there, silently expecting to get sucker punched. Instead, he throws a stink bomb behind me into the foyer. Eye contact is minimal.
They all run laughing back to the upper-classman’s car, even that one girl who sometimes talks to me in Health class. Their general whooping coalesces into “Faggot!”
Mom and Dad will be home by the news. They’re always home by the news. I do my best to clean the yard and air out the foyer. But the paper is wet and heavy. I don’t want my mom to see them in the normal trash, she’s stressed enough already, and so I begin heaving bags of wet TP into the creek that runs alongside our yard. It begins to back up. I hurl stones at the TP dam to get it to break. It does, coating all the rocks in wet paper. I don’t know how to get TP drippings out of the wood chips.
They’re home, and their headlights catch a wet 14 year old sobbing in the beddings. My dad just shakes his head, disappointed, unsure how to handle a crying teen nearly his size. “Let’s go in, and you can clean this tomorrow.”
“And he better clean the woodchips, too!” hissed my mom. “Not like last time!” She entered the front door and caught whiff of the stink bomb. “You know you’re letting them do this. Giving them the reaction they want.”
By the time that was all over, it was time for SCTV. No one TPs in Canada. They vanquish their foes with gentle humor that goes over the heads of people who can only communicate with Quilted Northern. I am happy for 90 minutes as I imagine quips that could stop any stink bomb.
Tonight’s it’s The Americans on the DVR. I can pour as much I want from any color bottle I want. The Cold War is back.