Over thirty years ago, I was roaming the inner city streets well past curfew, on nightly basis. Every other telephone pole had a faded sign mounted upon it, stating the hours in which a minor is permitted to be outdoors, unaccompanied by an adult. A kid was free to explore his or her whim until10:00 pm on weekdays, midnight on Fri.- Sat.
However, no one paid attention to this soft Marshall law, not even the law itself. They were too busy having sex with under aged girls. Well, there was one cop in particular, but that’s an entirely different story. Numbed by boredom, but fueled by the idea that something might happen, life wasn't so much lived as it was spent waiting, wondering, and wandering—Finding amusement in what might be perceived as mundane to depraved by others who may have had it 'better'.
If only Harmony Korine was around….
It was a few minutes pasted curfew, I was walking aimlessly with a friend on what was a typical humid summers night. The thick polluted air hung like an endless blanket of rank steam. Thinking alone would make you sweat, never mind walking at a steady pace. I was young, not yet thirteen, poor air quality was far from any concern of mine. I thought everything around me to be normal. I heard the sound of a motorcycle, a small dirt bike.
Anxiously, I looked in every direction to see who might be on it, and what kind it might be. As I turned a corner, there it was, right in front of me—A Honda XR 75. For a second, frozen in a state of excitement, I quickly came to the assumption that I would be riding this thing for the rest of the night. The kid on the bike, which had stalled, was an undesirable character that no one really cared for, quite harmless, but still not one to be trusted. He was having a hard time getting the bike to kick over. I offered my assistance, got the thing started, and hoped on the back without asking. He immediately began to take me for a ride. As we proceeded on our would be thrill ride through the inner city streets of Haddington, West Philadelphia, I became dumbfounded. Why are we were moving at a snails pace? Then I realized the kid at the helm, let's call him 'shady', didn't know how to ride a motorcycle. We were still in first gear. I made shady stop, and told him to switch places with me. 'I'll show you how to ride' I snipped. We blasted off—heading nowhere and going fast; ignoring stop sighs, stop lights, and one way signs. I could have gotten us killed with every wide turn I made. We travelled at a rate of speed well beyond the posted speed limit of 25 m.p.h., full throttle.
Luckily, there was no other traffic that night. At some point, I made a turn onto the street I lived on, going the wrong way up a one way. There were a few girls sitting on a front stoop to my left. I then decided to take another run up my street in an attempt to impressive the young hotties. As I flew by, I noticed one of them waving. One more time around, I thought to myself. Shady, never uttered a word the entire time he was on the back of the bike. Before I could fly past where the girls were sitting, the one who'd been waving, jumped out in the middle of the narrow street. I had no choice but to stop. “Sam! Sam! Your Mother.” she whispered loudly. As I turned to look behind me, there she was, my Mother, in her nightgown, stomping up the street, pissed off. I hooped off the bike, without even looking at Shady, or giving a f**k about his lack of riding skills. He was on his own, again. As I walked towards my Mother, I was hit by a few choice words, clearly expressing her anger. The phrases “No helmet!”, “Too fast!”, “One way…. The wrong way!” “Not looking at where your going!” were stated in between the swear words.
Of course this killed my short lived self-image as a low rent James Dean, Marlin Brando, or Paul Newman. There's nothing cool about getting the business by your mother in her nightgown! So much for impressing the little hotties.
What happened thereafter, I have no recollection of. The joy ride felt hours long, but in actuality it lasted a mere twenty minutes or so.
Nothing really mattered, I had found that something. Mission accomplished, until next curfew.