As always, it’s good to hear from the collective men on the topic at hand. On any topic, it’s good to go to the collective wisdom and experience of the men and see what is to be shared and revealed. This month we hear from the men posting on social media, in answer to this question: “From your childhood and your gang of friends, how would you finish the phrase “I remember the time when…”
I remember the time when me, Kevin, Joe and Ian made a tree house. We called it The Creek because there was a massive creek that ran through. And then we got a bag of 100 goldfish and put them in the creek. They all disappeared but two. And then there was one. We called him Moby. He went from an inch to four inches. He got big! How crazy was that? He lived in that creek; he grew in that creek.
I remember the time when me and Brian pushed that huge boulder off the cliff. It rolled down into the river and knocked down a few trees on the way. I’m just glad we didn’t KILL anyone.
I was 12 and I couldn’t find charcoal lighter fluid for the BBQ… so I used gasoline… a lot of it… scorched the ceiling of the patio… mom grabbed a hose to put out the fire. Had to repaint the front of the house.
I remember a time when I hung out with a gang of boys throwing grass dirt clods. I grew up on Guam, an island in the South Pacific. Guam is a tropical island. The year was 1955 when I was 8 years old. We lived behind a my father’s restaurant. The house was built on 6-feet poles because of the monsoon season. Next to the house was an empty lot covered in grass about a foot high, with shallow roots. Given the moisture in the ground, we little boys could grab a fist full of grass and pull it up to create a big clump of wet muddy clay dirt clod bombs. Just perfect for throwing. The field grew in reputation and was known as “THE FIELD” where you could pull up your ammo and wage war on other boys. One summer night there were at least 25 boys throwing these perfect muddy dirt clod bombs at each other. At dark I would come into the house covered in mud … and so absolutely filled with the joy. Pride of a battle well fought.
I remember the time at Lewis Wadhams, a private coed school I went to from 1973 to 1975. There were a bunch of us who were called “middle boys.” We were agee 13 to about 15. In the main living room is where we would jokingly and lightheartedly dry-hump each other. Sometimes there would be, out of about 12 middle boys, up to eight middle boys front to back, humping each other and laughing deliriously. Now, we would do this a few times a month just for the hell of it, and sometimes a prospective student and their parents would come in. And boom! There we would be going at it like something out of Clockwork Orange but without the violence. Of course, the parents were aghast, but their kids were amused. Out of all those middle boys no one was or became gay. And yet, we had incredible love for each other. So much so that I think that we felt that we needed to jokingly, hilariously, tease each other and act out as if we were gay. At that age I often thought “Geez, if I could only love a woman the way I love my buddies…”
I remember when I was in high school and some of us finally got our own cars. That meant unlimited access to parties and skiing in Taos, NM (since I grew up in Santa Fe). The best adventures were always the ski trips to Taos. Those trips will never be matched again because I was with my boys: Matt, Dave, Lars and Tony. When I try to dissect the difference between hanging with those guys then and good friends today, what rises to the surface is that back then I had no doubt.
In elementary school, I remember playing like we were a gang and we’d play fight with other boys. We’d charge at each other and do a kick to the midsection and then through them over with a backflip. Later, I recall lots of crazy times tearing up the country roads in my old Mustang, even did some Dukes of Hazzard-style jumps with that car.
My boys were Ronnie and Richard in elementary school up in Los Angeles. Then, in Junior High through High School, I had a big team of boys through the drum and bugle corps. But what comes to mind now is times in Junior High with Rich Sandoval, Doug Demattei, and Steve Nicholson. Rich and Doug were on guitar, Steve on bass, and me on drums. Our band was called “Sky.” We won the Parkway Junior High talent contest. Played Beatles and Paul McCartney and Wings songs. We were all Beatles freaks. And I remember after the performance, backstage, I found Rich. And he and I gave a big hug because we were so stoked and blown away from what we just did. That was cool as fuck.
I never had a group of boys that I hung out with. There are a couple of kids that I spent some time with… but it wasn’t until I joined a men’s circle that I knew that I should’ve had that group. East Coast men seem to have had that. I had more girls that I hung out with. An LA thing I guess.
My experience growing up was abnormal. My mum being schizophrenic didn’t allow me to really consort with anyone outside of the household much. I did however spend time with kids from other cultures, and to this day I value other cultures perhaps more than my own. This was due to the boys and their families welcoming me into their homes and treating me as one of their own. I have in my adulthood come to realize my culture “Sikh” isn’t about exclusion but rather inclusion. And it was my mother’s illness that disallowed me to be a normal boy who just hung out with the boys belonging to my own culture.
I remember jumping off bike ramps set up with trash barrels and plywood like we were Evil Knievels.
I remember countless backyard and driveway games of football, basketball, street hockey and baseball with Mark, Peter and a mix of others.
In my childhood town in Kentucky, there were new houses being built, so lots of dirt piles, which led to dirtclod fights lasting all afternoon.
I remember when we were 10-12 years old. My next door neighbor Kramer (we called him Krambutt), Rorbach and I would spend all day up on Cowles Mountain. Would take our BB guns, picks and shovels. Try and break big rocks loose and watch them roll down the mountain. Just glad nobody was hiking where they were rolling. It was fucking great.
I remember this time when Javier Bravo wanted to kick my ass for some reason that I don’t even remember. I was able to convince him that we did not need to put on a show for everyone to see. So we spoke like civilized people and agreed on our differences. We ended becoming best friends, and we started playing marbles. I was 10 years old. We played marbles almost daily for about three years.
I remember getting my brother plastered the first time and having to take care of him at the Edgewater football game.
I remember the time when we climbed up Mark Delgado’s tree fort.
I remember the times we would play pick-up basketball with Kevin, Kelly, Craig, my brothers and their friends.
I remember the time I climbed up to a high tree fort platform just using what nails there were in the tree trunk. Then I dropped the rope ladder down so the other kids could climb up.
I remember when I was 16 and we went skinny-dipping at a hotel called the Pig and Whistle. This was a place that was frequented by the mob. We were quickly escorted out at gunpoint … we’re talking machine guns. Boy were we scared! Lesson learned: don’t take your pants off before you look for any guns!
I remember the time that my friend threw me off a cliff. I was able to push off the side of the cliff and land in the water clear of the rocks, fortunately. That friend was nasty in those days, but we’re now good friends.
I remember when it snowed in Bellevue, a rare occurrence, and kids were sledding down a street on a hill next to our house. At the bottom of the hill was an open sewer hole for the gutters to empty into, with no grate. Kids were traveling so fast on their sleds that they shot right over the hole and ended up in someone’s backyard. I remember the time me and Jimmy decided to go tandem on my sled and shoot the hole. Jimmy lay on top of me and we successfully made it, then rocketed into the neighbor’s backyard. We were going SO fast! At the edge of the backyard was an open trench where the gutter runoff ran. Jimmy rolled off just in time and I went over the edge and was knocked unconscious. My parents were having a cocktail party on the deck of our house overlooking the hill when they saw my older brother carrying my limp body up the hill with a gash across my forehead.
I remember one year, maybe 2nd grade, when boys would swagger down the hall 3 or 4 abreast with their arms around each other. When I came back to school the following year, boys avoided this. It was suddenly not OK. I never understood.
I remember one from my teen years. I remember when Pink Floyd was coming to Santa Monica Civic back in 1968. My little group of stoners all bought tickets. Another boy in our group, Jon, said he’d never heard of them. “Oh, you’ll love it!” we all chorused. We drove down together. That week, windowpane acid had just appeared on the scene. One of us scored a quantity and passed it around to the rest of us. Jon said he’d never dropped acid. “Oh, you’ll love it!” we all chorused. And he did. And that show is still at the top of my list of best shows I have seen.