"Now hold on there just a second, boy."
"Why, it looks like that one's tryin' to get away."
"Oh, don't worry. I got him."
The late night silence of the suburbs was shattered with a sickening THWACK and the sound of two corrupt law enforcement officers descending into hysterics.
Except the two officers were me and my friend Curt. And we were in high school.
I should back up.
The night hadn't started well. My mom and I got in a fight. A huge fight that escalated quickly into probably the biggest we had ever gotten into. She grounded me, and I just picked up my keys, walked out the door and left. I had never done anything like that before.
But Curt and I had tickets to see Love and Rockets that night, and I wasn't going to miss out on that.
I vaguely remember all sorts of ridiculous plans on the way to St. Pete. I was going to run away and...well, I'd make money somehow, and I wasn't going to come back home until I had my first million. My parents would change their tune then, especially when they had some time to reflect on how shabbily they treated their now rich son.
Love and Rockets were great. Maybe not as awesome as the tour we had seen previously, but still, seeing the music that I played in my bedroom or car stereo actually coming out of three people on a stage about two feet away was incredible. Opening act Jane's Addiction were mind-blowing. All in all it was a great night of music that helped forget my problems for a little while.
Of course, I had the 35 minute drive home to worry about what was going to happen when I got home. Luckily, Curt had been saving something for just such an occasion.
He told me to drive about a half mile past his house. At the time this area was full of sandspurs, scrub brush and pine and Cyprus trees.
“Keep going…further…further. OK. Stop.”
“Open the trunk.”
I parked the car on the side of the road. Curt took the tire iron out of the trunk and led the way. I wasn’t really sure what was going on, but I really didn’t want to go home, and Curt had never steered me wrong, so why not take a midnight hike with a tire iron?
He walked to a little wooded area and stopped.
“Check it out,” he said, motioning with the tire iron.
He was pointing to a field of wild melons, all about the size of bowling balls, just hanging out in the moonlight.
“I’ve seen these from the bus for months,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to come out and smash them.”
As a grown man, I realize how silly this sounds (unless you are the beloved comedian Gallagher), but as teenagers, you have all this extra energy and aggression, and few ways to channel it. Sometimes massacring a bunch of fruit is exactly what you need.
And it was. The first melon smashed with a satisfying sound. We started talking in comical Southern sheriff voices, just to sort of set the scene a bit, and give the whole thing a little more flavor.
Soon our shoes were covered in melon guts, our hands ached from the vibrations off the tire iron, and I thought I was going to pass out.
Have you ever laughed so hard you actually thought you were going to die? Where your stomach hurts and you can’t breathe, but you can’t stop laughing at something that in retrospect, isn’t really that funny? It happens to me fairly regularly, probably because I’m easily amused, but this was the first time, and it still feels like last week rather than…jeez, over 20 years ago.
After we had destroyed all the melons, helping nature by distributing seeds for future growth, we probably had a 7-11 meal and skated for a while up at the middle school. Things were certainly looking better.
Mom and I eventually made up, and I have yet to make dazzle my parents with my first million. Or thousand, actually.
Now I’m not suggesting smashing up a bunch of fruit will solve all your problems, but…hey, you know what? Screw it. You’ve got problems? You’re stressed out? Go smash up some melons. Talk like Jackie Gleason in Smokey and the Bandit while you’re doing it. Seriously, you’ll feel so much better.