Edward’s backyard abutted that of our friend, Hoppy. Hoppy, a hideous nickname given to him by his mother, encouraged, well maybe encouraged is a bit strong strong, but he never refused an opportunity for us to dress him in drag. Hoppy was almost game for any make-over and, truth be told, he didn’t look half bad in a tube top and eyeshadow; which was more than I could have said.
Hoppy had a pool. In the summer, we would play endless hours of Macro Polo. The pool was small and round, which made Marco Polo similar to trying to find each other in a bathtub. If you had a big enough wing-span, like Eddie did, all you had to do was helicopter around until you clipped one of us. I had perfected a stealth-like move of quietly lifting myself onto the edge of the pool to keep myself out of Marco’s reach.
One afternoon, during a particularly heated game of Marco Polo, I used my wily avoidance tactic to escape being caught. I lifted myself onto the flimsy corrugated metal trim. The warning clearly posted, “Do not sit, jump, or dive, from edge of pool”. I had read it a thousand times. I actually read it that very instant, the one that came just before I lost my balance. I fell out of the pool and hit the back of my head on the one and only tree stump in Hoppy’s entire yard. I remember falling and I remember coming to.
The three idiots, who also learned all of their life saving techniques from Bug Bunny, were throwing buckets of pool water in my face. I nearly drown in addition to acquiring my first, of several, concussions.
My “rescue" was nothing short of miraculous, a story that rapidly grew in infamy. Apparently, I was perilously close to needing a trach fashioned in a life-saving instant from a ball-point pen. We watched a lot of M.A.S.H. too and we were pretty confident in our pen knife tracheotomies.
Soon after my near death experience, Hoppy’s father decided we needed a less potentially litigious way to piss away our summer and decided to build us a club house. Hoppy’s father spent weeks transforming a shed into a play house for us. We four spent days decorating; curtains, paint, table, chairs, radio, a hidden ashtray, all the creature comforts of home with none of the hassle. It was brilliant.
When our club house was complete we hosted an official open house for the rest of the neighborhood kids. We were boastful and dying to see if any of or friends, hopeful to retain a wait list position, could successfully mask their envy. I masterminded the entire event.
Everyone came for a look. We handed out cookies and discussed the promise of a parent free pad with all the luxuries of home; including the hidden ash tray. We were royalty. An apartment of our own. Granted, the four of us could barely fit in the small shed, any sudden movement had the potential of serious injury and our only running water was from Hoppy’s hose, but we didn’t care. We had the coolest party house in the neighborhood and everyone knew it. They left our open house defeated and begging for membership to of our elite, albeit tiny, digs.
The next day we arrived at our club house to bask in our victorious open house. As we approached the backyard, we were overcome.
“Jesus, Eddie! How do you smell so bad?” I asked.
"Shit! That isn't me!"
"Hoppy, is your mother cooking cabbage or something?"
"You people are the only ones in this neighborhood who eat that crap."
Very true. The closer we got to our clubhouse the stronger the odor.
Hoppy ran to the door and it flung open only to be met by a mother skunk, her young, and a smell so putrid, that to this day the mere recollection of can curl my toes. The immediate projectile vomiting of Hoppy did not scare off the rancid intruders but did solidify my conviction to never set foot in our clubhouse again.
A few years later we stole the clubhouse and used it for firewood.