When the mercury in the thermometer begins to rise – those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer when the humidity and the temperature continuously vie for superiority – Valet Boy’s thoughts turn toward hibernation.
Memorial Day was the Unofficial Start to Summer. Damn! Wasn’t St. Patty’s Day just last week? There are few things that will send VB into the dark, cool comforts of the cave like a preternaturally early summer.
I know as kids, our mouths watered with anticipation at the liberating escape these steamy months so happily brought. Swirling disorienting dreams of white sand beaches, wild-child antics at summer camp, charging through our neighborhoods with the “gang” striking fear into the hearts of property owners everywhere…far away from the stifling influences of our dreaded parents and their Victorian rules. Staying out until long after the departing sun admonished us with “Go home, you little hooligans.” Summer time was the joyous abolition of educational indentured servitude.
Those were the days when Turpentine was the panacea on every pantry shelf.
“Mommy, mommy! Billy fell and scraped his knee!”
“Don’t worry, hon, I’ve got the turpentine right here.”
“But that’s not all! Then a rabid squirrel jumped down from a tree limb and chewed off his nose!”
“Thank Heavens, I’ve got extra bottles of Turpentine.”
“He may be constipated too.”
Mom would just smile, grab an arm load of the green glass bottles and head out to the back porch to administer the required first aid.
As kids we were eternal. Personally, Valet Boy was afraid of nothing….
Nothing that is, except Butch Carmichael. Butch Carmichael was a MONSTER!
Butch was stout – Translation: Built like a wall – and had a round-pie-dough face with pin-prick eyeballs that sat way back in his head. His bisected ears looked like butterfly wings-only not in a good way.
After school, he’d lie in wait for Valet Boy and pummel him on his way home.
It happened with such regularity, that Valet Boy began to wonder if it hadn’t been imposed upon the kid as part of his daily regimen.
“Hurry up, Butch, honey. Don’t be late for school.”
“Remember to take your vitamins.”
“Brush your teeth before you go and don’t forget to beat the crap out of that little snot Valet Boy.”
In so doing, Butch achieved larger than life star status as L’Enfant Terrible in Valet Boy’s world. So, VB learned early on the many health benefits of running away from trouble.
Butch was a big bully…I mean he must’ve weighed 357 lbs. – At the age of 10! The muscle and fat so intertwined as to be indistinguishable…and frankly, when a knuckle sandwich is finding your face repeatedly, the difference between fat and muscle is negligible. Valet Boy was only about 70 or 80 pounds himself in those days; skinny, bony, awkward…(Okay, VB may still be awkward)…and big-mouthed (Thank God some things never change) and could usually joke or talk his way out of any scrape.
But, not with Butch Carmichael.
Valet Boy never learned how to fight. He was above that. He believed that great intellects never relied on common brutish fisticuffs.
Actually, VB was just a big scaredy cat. A coward. A spineless chicken. A lily-livered yellow-bellied…..
OK, ok….I think they get the picture.
Then one warm Spring after-school day, as VB poked his pointy head around corners and studied the topography of the school yard, Butch Carmichael was nowhere to be seen. Had Valet Boy somehow been blessed by the miracle of a reprieve? Had Butch turned his meaty attentions toward some other hapless kid just as lame and deserving of a trouncing as VB? I was gleeful beyond belief at the prospect of making it all the way home gloriously unbowed, unbloodied, unbothered.
I gazed up at a cloudless blue sky, waves of utterly pure contentment cascading over me. Rounding a street corner, my blessed house in full view — Butch jumped out of the bushes lining the sidewalk.
Holy Crackers! He was practically in my yard!
Once the initial shock wore off, Valet Boy wriggled out of the attacking grasp and sprinted for his backyard fence. But the S.O.B. caught up with me, grabbed me, spun me around like a top and started to rearrange poor Valet Boy’s dental work. Flailing, kicking and shrieking like a Cheerleader on Meth, I tried to bat those beefy hands away from my face. Somehow I’d gotten hold of Butch’s shirt and in so doing, accidentally tore his pocket. The sound of the material shredding was like a rip in the world. “Scccrrrriiiiikkkkcchhhh.” Really, it sounded just like that.
Everything stopped. I mean, it stopped cold.
My throat was busy holding Butch’s stubby fingers at bay, while his other fist was cocked and ready to strike. He looked down at his shirt. His eyes grew to the size of a John’s Original New York Pizza.
Then Butch glared at me. Wait…what was that?
Sweet Mother of Apple Pie… Was he crying?…. Were those tears streaming down his chubby red cheeks?
“Damn you! You tore my shirt. This is brand new! My mother just gave it to me.”
I didn’t bother to tell him at the time that his mother had atrocious taste in clothes, preferring rather to take advantage of the confusion of the moment and get the Hell outta there. I dashed through the gate, up the steps to the back porch, threw open the screen door and froze. There was Mom and my Grandmother enjoying refreshing glasses of iced tea and casually listening to the radio as they snapped green beans into glass bowls resting on their laps.
WHAT!?!? They were just sitting there! Didn’t they know what was happening mere feet from them?
Valet Boy, sweat glistening on his forehead, blood trickling from his lips and nose, screamed: “RUN! We’re all going to die!”
Then the screen door squeaked on its hinges.
Valet Boy turned around and there HE was. Butch Carmichael — all 357 lbs. of terror — huffing, puffing, slobbering and red-faced, standing in the doorway. He was here! Right here in MY house. MY SAFE PLACE! Dear Lord, is nothing scared?
Mom and Granny looked up from their beans and smiled. (I couldn’t believe it. They actually smiled!)
I think Granny spoke first, “Why, hello there, Butch. What are you boys doing?”
I was literally speechless. Dumbfounded. It was like Lewis Carroll had given everyone a toke off his magic hookah (except for Valet Boy) and they were all gaily romping around some kind of Never-Never Land. (I know we’re mixing literary metaphors here…just roll with me.)
But, before I could utter a sound, Butch filled the void: “He ruined my new shirt. Just ruined it! Look, its ruined!!!” The tears flowed. Now, he was just milking it.
“Now, now…let’s have a look at it.” OMG!!!~ Could it possibly get any worse? Any weirder? “Why that’s not so bad, Butch. I can fix that right up. Take your shirt off and I’ll sew it for you.”
When Valet Boy dies and goes to that really warm place near the Earth’s Core, he imagines this is what Hell will be: A constant cacophony of corporal humiliations. The last thing Valet Boy wanted to see was Butch Carmichael’s huge bare blubber-belly ON HIS BACK PORCH! I gazed, helpless but hopeful, in my mother’s direction. Couldn’t she see the pain in my eyes? Read the screams of agony in my twisted facial expression?
Then while Granny sewed up the tear in Butch’s shirt, Mom turned to me – Surely, she would come to her son’s aid: “Honey, why don’t you get Butch a nice glass of iced tea?”
When I awoke from my coma three days later…… I was amazed to find that the world had not spun off its axis. Was not in fact hurdling toward the Sun and certain destruction.
It seemed as if nothing had changed. Well… One thing had.
Butch Carmichael never laid another finger on me ever again.
I guess there’s a lesson to be learned here somewhere… Perhaps, having to do with flies and honey, or Doing Unto Others, or maybe that whole Turning The Cheek thing. Hell, if I know what it is though. The only lesson I ever learned was: “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.”
Thanks for reading,
Next Week: In Part Deux, Valet Boy further explores the concepts of Monsters and gives Glenn Beck the opportunity to refute the charges that he is indeed Rush Limbaugh’s unborn twin.
“Confessions of a Valet Boy” is a weekly Blog of typically topical topics, current events, childhood memories, related embarrassing adult experiences and semi-intelligent humor hopefully to make the Reader smile, possibly reminisce, maybe think and sometimes even get a little PO’d. Subscribing is easy – simply enter your email address in the allotted space under Valet Boy’s photograph and Voila. You’ll be receiving Valet Boy’s pithy remarks (along with pathetic hyperboles and similes) hand-delivered by Actual Arizona Aliens to your InBox every Sunday morning.