This is the first in what I hope becomes an entertaining series of adolescent recollections. You see a lot of stuff when you’re young–some good, some bad, some happy, some sad. Some involving pooch caca.
All right, I’ll admit it, Rich Heschle was kind of a tool. What was with the wavy, Hasselhoff-esque hair? Dude, you’re 12! And those braces…man, those metal works truly put the “brace” in “brace face.” Still, he was just trying to do his thing, trying to eke out an existence in one of the least popular families in the greater Beaver Lake Area (his sister Nelly, though also considered “different,” would turn out, improbably, to be really kinda freakin’ hot).
But this poor bastard had to face the grief every, single, day, of, the, week, and often from Ed, who would sit right behind him, intrusively and loudly uttering “Ri-itch” in one ear, then the other, and adding to the ritual perhaps a sharp flick of the earlobe (or five) for painful good measure. It got so bad that on more than one occasion I saw Rich tearfully flee from the bus.
One lovely and warm spring day, Ed appeared to turn over a new leaf. He greeted Rich with a smile, told him to “sit right here buddy” in the seat directly in front of him, and offered him a delicious, individually wrapped piece of Bubble Yum bubble gum. Oh, how I wanted that Bubble Yum! Rich eagerly unwrapped this unexpected treasure. He held it to his mouth, and seeming to preternaturally sense the gum too good to be true, turned the blocky chewable sidewise, and rather than popping it in with abandon, chose to bite halfway through. His brace-faced smile turned quickly into a hideous grimace as the maliciously inserted dog pooh spooged between his teeth and his tinny hardware.
Thankfully, mercifully, Ed had delivered the unholy candy just before Rich’s stop, allowing him the opportunity to run, book bag a-flying, to a relieving and hopefully antiseptic beverage of choice.
While I was supposed to be on Ed’s side (he was my buddy after all), I wasn’t. Tool or no, that shit (literal, figurative) was just plain cruel. God, I hope that guy’s all right.