Tall Tales From Youth

cometazzi

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I moved to a small town in Southern Oregon in the early summer of 1986. The following fall, I started the 7th grade in the local school. Our family was having a hard time getting re-established, and we were pretty bad off financially. The kewl kidz picked up on this and I got picked on a lot. There was one guy who was probably as po' as me that also got picked on, but he was always cool to me. His name is Joe.

Joe and I became fast friends, and in our pre-teen days we shared a love of many things. We both loved sci-fi and fantasy books, and we both got into Dungeons and Dragons together. Later (in high school) we both got into playing guitar around the same time (we both had interest, but he actually got a guitar about a year ahead of me).

From 1986 on, I have all these memories of doing all this crazy kid stuff with him. The time he jumped the creek in his bike and broke the frame. The time we built a big scarecrow type thing on this sandbar in the creek behind his aunt's house... we found some old clothes and the skull of a bull, fashioned a wooden sword and shield and stood it up like it was going into battle. He named the sandbar Minotaur Island, and "Minotaur Island" later played cameos in various DnD adventures later on. We used to wade up and down through that same creek looking for cool rocks, crayfish, periwinkles and other neat stuff. We had other adventures as teenagers, many of them that cannot be discussed here. Let's call it the "sex, drugs, rock n roll" variety as a couple of guitar wankers in a small town with not much else going on. Yet it's those precious and innocent childhood memories that I hold more dear though. Building forts in the wood, joining the SCA only to learn that we couldn't do any combat till we were 18, going on imaginative adventures and whatnot...

Impoverished metal kids High School pic, probably 1991:

1669433724838.png


Joe is on the far left, I'm the emaciated Ginger he's leaning on. Next is Homie the Weed Man and last is Dungeon Master Jake.

Sadly, whenever I bring our exploits to Joe some decades later, he doesn't remember any of it. None. Joe had a rough childhood. I don't believe that he or his sister know their biological father. His mom had various boyfriends throughout our growing up, and most of them weren't very kind to her or her kids. It could be that Joe has blocked his entire childhood out of his memory as a result. I don't know if that's the case, but I sure wish he'd have been able to hold onto the good parts though. The stuff we shared as a gang of poor misfit kids. The stuff he and I shared. He's still my dear friend to this day, and the only one I seem to have retained from my youth. Yet I feel like I have this big long history of 'us' to talk about but I was the only one there.

That is all.
 

cometazzi

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I've had high school friends who can't reconcile their teen selves with whom they are striving to be today. Maybe that's Joe.

Or maybe he and those others are trying to forget those mullet haircuts. 😄

Neither Joe nor I have any hair these days. But we're both ok with it.
 

Toto'sDad

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I had a good friend who we did the kid stuff with, then when we both got married, and had kids, he had a boat, and I had a pickup. I'd pull his boat to the lake, and we'd go skiing and have a great time with the wives and kids.

Then we kind of drifted apart, he got involved with some people he shouldn't have and got caught driving the getaway car for some guys who were knocking over liquor stores, and small businesses. He had to do some time, and that kind of was that.

Years later I ran onto someone who had my buddy's phone number. I was excited to get in touch and called him and told him I was through the town where he lived and worked every Thursday and would love to buy him his lunch. He didn't hesitate, he replied, I don't much look like I used to, I'm fat and old, and I don't like seeing people from my past, I'd just as soon you don't call again. I was somewhat devastated, but what could I say?

The next that I heard about him he had passed. Another guy I should have made a greater effort to see. I could have talked him into coming around if I had put the time in on it.
 

Kandinskyesque

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There's a whole lifetime in those teenage years that seem to add up to more than all the subsequent decades put together.

I belonged to a similar gang of four in the early 80s. We all played guitar, just two of us at first, then the other two picked up on it by the time we were 14.
We squeezed a lot of history between 1979 and '89. Fishing, camping, and even cycling across Ireland one summer.
Each year seemed to contain a soundtrack album, Dire Straits "Communique" one year to Thin Lizzy's "Renegade" the next, The Police "Synchronicity", Big Country's "The Crossing" and so on.

The highlight for me was a top billing at an inter schools' concert in the local theatre in our final year in '84. One week later my life turned upside down after my brain injury.
By '89 two of them had left for London with their graduate degrees in hand, however we still met up regularly and conversations would pick up as if no time had passed.

Eventually by 2001 there was only me left in the hometown; I didn't leave till 2017.
One carved out a career in Engineering in the far east, one an architect in Vancouver, one an English teacher in Madrid: he returned after surviving the train bombing in 2004 and now lives 10 miles away from me but on the same road.

Sadly, the other two passed away in 2010 and 2016, they were cousins and died of the same bowel cancer.

I still meet up with the other one that's still here, usually every few weeks he pops round for a coffee and a strum.
Despite the obvious sadness, the past seems to come up as if it happened last week.

As far as we're concerned the 4 of us are all still alive in some parallel eternal 1980s.
 

Toto'sDad

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There's a whole lifetime in those teenage years that seem to add up to more than all the subsequent decades put together.

I belonged to a similar gang of four in the early 80s. We all played guitar, just two of us at first, then the other two picked up on it by the time we were 14.
We squeezed a lot of history between 1979 and '89. Fishing, camping, and even cycling across Ireland one summer.
Each year seemed to contain a soundtrack album, Dire Straits "Communique" one year to Thin Lizzy's "Renegade" the next, The Police "Synchronicity", Big Country's "The Crossing" and so on.

The highlight for me was a top billing at an inter schools' concert in the local theatre in our final year in '84. One week later my life turned upside down after my brain injury.
By '89 two of them had left for London with their graduate degrees in hand, however we still met up regularly and conversations would pick up as if no time had passed.

Eventually by 2001 there was only me left in the hometown; I didn't leave till 2017.
One carved out a career in Engineering in the far east, one an architect in Vancouver, one an English teacher in Madrid: he returned after surviving the train bombing in 2004 and now lives 10 miles away from me but on the same road.

Sadly, the other two passed away in 2010 and 2016, they were cousins and died of the same bowel cancer.

I still meet up with the other one that's still here, usually every few weeks he pops round for a coffee and a strum.
Despite the obvious sadness, the past seems to come up as if it happened last week.

As far as we're concerned the 4 of us are all still alive in some parallel eternal 1980s.
I've said it before, one's best times are probably as a teenager. It's like you're in a movie, and you are the star. Thing is, most everyone you know is a star in their own movie. They just all intersect at different times. The girls are all so pretty, and the boys are handsome. Time hardly ever improves on those teen years and the long hot August nights.
 

cometazzi

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When your parents name you Homie the Weed Man you can get pigeonholed into certain lines of work. You have to work twice as hard if you’re a neurologist and your diploma says Homie the Weed Man.

His name is actually Jamison. I gave him the nickname Homie, probably because he listened to rap. It stuck and even his parents started calling him that. He did always have weed though.

These days he's been married for almost 30 years, has 2 kids and owns a construction business.
 

ndcaster

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J's parents were tennis pros, so we got free food at the club and knew all the dirt (and boy howdy was there ever dirt) on club members

I hung out with Skinny Jenny's crowd that partied around bonfires with beer cans, smokes, and Tom Petty tunes in the unincorporated land outside the suburbs

an older dude used to buy me, J, and R beer on the regular and gave us nicknames that stuck

we all saw Van Halen on the 1984 tour ; J cried tears of joy, which was embarrassing

R's dad was a rich gastroenterologist, so R got a succession of Porsche Carreras that he wrapped around trees now and then and got replaced

I spent every summer in northern Ontario, canoeing and fishing

R became a very good pool shark, knew all the bouncers by name, and in time got us into clubs where we didn't belong ; he wore sweatpants, was a big Tony Iommi and SRV fan, and he once said "I prolly got AIDS" from bedding so many women

last I heard, J works for Disney, R is now a rich gastroenterologist like his dad, and I've gotten around in life

I've always lived on the edges of many circles
 

ce24

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Funny,,,,due to a broken family, ive lived so many different places and done so much weird stuff that sometimes i feel like nothing can really excite me any more……on one level its kinda sad but on a other level im so glad ive done and seen so much. Born 1950…still alive and gigging. Livin the dream.
 

redhouse_ca

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I moved to a small town in Southern Oregon in the early summer of 1986. The following fall, I started the 7th grade in the local school. Our family was having a hard time getting re-established, and we were pretty bad off financially. The kewl kidz picked up on this and I got picked on a lot. There was one guy who was probably as po' as me that also got picked on, but he was always cool to me. His name is Joe.

Joe and I became fast friends, and in our pre-teen days we shared a love of many things. We both loved sci-fi and fantasy books, and we both got into Dungeons and Dragons together. Later (in high school) we both got into playing guitar around the same time (we both had interest, but he actually got a guitar about a year ahead of me).

From 1986 on, I have all these memories of doing all this crazy kid stuff with him. The time he jumped the creek in his bike and broke the frame. The time we built a big scarecrow type thing on this sandbar in the creek behind his aunt's house... we found some old clothes and the skull of a bull, fashioned a wooden sword and shield and stood it up like it was going into battle. He named the sandbar Minotaur Island, and "Minotaur Island" later played cameos in various DnD adventures later on. We used to wade up and down through that same creek looking for cool rocks, crayfish, periwinkles and other neat stuff. We had other adventures as teenagers, many of them that cannot be discussed here. Let's call it the "sex, drugs, rock n roll" variety as a couple of guitar wankers in a small town with not much else going on. Yet it's those precious and innocent childhood memories that I hold more dear though. Building forts in the wood, joining the SCA only to learn that we couldn't do any combat till we were 18, going on imaginative adventures and whatnot...

Impoverished metal kids High School pic, probably 1991:

View attachment 1054883

Joe is on the far left, I'm the emaciated Ginger he's leaning on. Next is Homie the Weed Man and last is Dungeon Master Jake.

Sadly, whenever I bring our exploits to Joe some decades later, he doesn't remember any of it. None. Joe had a rough childhood. I don't believe that he or his sister know their biological father. His mom had various boyfriends throughout our growing up, and most of them weren't very kind to her or her kids. It could be that Joe has blocked his entire childhood out of his memory as a result. I don't know if that's the case, but I sure wish he'd have been able to hold onto the good parts though. The stuff we shared as a gang of poor misfit kids. The stuff he and I shared. He's still my dear friend to this day, and the only one I seem to have retained from my youth. Yet I feel like I have this big long history of 'us' to talk about but I was the only one there.

That is all.
Thanks for sharing. It sounds a lot like my childhood. I grew up in a rough area and pretty much all the people I grew up with were a lot like Joe but it took me years to realize that. What I mean is, until high school, when we first started meeting kids outside of our neighborhood, I never fully realized that almost every home in my part of town was broken in some ways (some in many ways, sadly). I dunno if this explains Joe, but I don't like to talk about it much. We did a lot of the same things you describe and I am sure they were fun but I never realized, literally until reading your post, that I lumped it all together and filed it away long ago. Im sure I've come across to people from the past as maybe a jerk because I don't really ever participate in reminiscing about those days. I don't mean to compare myself with Joe and I don't have any insights but my own, but it makes sense to me.
 

cometazzi

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Thanks for sharing. It sounds a lot like my childhood. I grew up in a rough area and pretty much all the people I grew up with were a lot like Joe but it took me years to realize that. What I mean is, until high school, when we first started meeting kids outside of our neighborhood, I never fully realized that almost every home in my part of town was broken in some ways (some in many ways, sadly). I dunno if this explains Joe, but I don't like to talk about it much. We did a lot of the same things you describe and I am sure they were fun but I never realized, literally until reading your post, that I lumped it all together and filed it away long ago. Im sure I've come across to people from the past as maybe a jerk because I don't really ever participate in reminiscing about those days. I don't mean to compare myself with Joe and I don't have any insights but my own, but it makes sense to me.

Yeah, I understand that. And I've wondered if in his case he sort of 'forgot' the old days because the bad stuff overpowered the good. I.e., it's still in there, but he doesn't want to open that door.

In our 20s he got married and had 4 kids, but the marriage ended. His wife wasn't very good to him and also slept around. It made him bitter for awhile, and I feel like he's since gone from bad relationship to bad relationship. Obviously, he's picking them but he's also paying the price.

Outside of that, he's been in a fairly popular local band throughout and he's a phenomenal guitar player and bandmate. I hope he gets enough joy from that to offset the other crap that's been flung onto him over the years.
 

Dan German

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In 1974, I switched schools (9th grade) at Christmas. First half of the year in Tulsa, OK, second half in Winnipeg, MB. Major shift. Anyway, when I started in Winnipeg, the job of integrating me into school life was given to a guidance counsellor. He came up with the brilliant idea of getting three guys who amongst them would be in all of my classes and giving them a day off to show me around the school. The end result? I have been friends with one of those guys since that day. We have travelled the continent, lived in other countries, moved a thousand times, and now (2500 km from Winnipeg) we live ten minutes apart. And his brother lives 45 minutes from here. We get together a play guitar badly on a regular basis. I owe that forgotten guidance counsellor a debt that is unplayable.
 

bottlenecker

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When your parents name you Homie the Weed Man you can get pigeonholed into certain lines of work. You have to work twice as hard if you’re a neurologist and your diploma says Homie the Weed Man.
But not if you're a weed man. Then you're set. This might be a good time for him to register his name as a trademark if it's not already.
 

Fiesta Red

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Re: teen years being the best…I totally disagree.

I remember a teacher saying, “Enjoy this time, because these are the best years of your life!”
I retorted, “If this is as good as it gets, shoot me now, because this sucks! I plan on living at least 50-60 more years—if this is great, I’d hate to see the bad times!”

I had some things I liked and enjoyed about my teen years, but the thing I didn’t have was loyal friends.

I didn’t like being lonely, but it was better than a person who’d lie to (or worse, ABOUT) me.
I didn’t mind being corrected, but unfair, unwarranted and unrequested criticism made me even more of a loner…if you had an opinion about me, you best keep it to yourself.

My best years were much later—my early 30’s were the beginning of some of the best days of my life. I finally carved out a good spot for myself and found some loyal friends.

And right now (in my early 50’s) things aren’t so bad, either.

The only thing I really “worry” about now are loss (my parents are elderly, my best friend is in his 70’s, so borderline elderly) and change (it looks like my daughter has found “the one” and will probably marry and move 200-some miles away, and it kinda scares me)…and all of those are inevitable things I can control so they don’t bother me as much as they could. I’m just making sure to enjoy these folks while I got them.
 

ce24

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In Jr High we owned a horse and I was a wannabe cowboy…rode calves in the jr rodeo etc…..once in a while a few of us would go campout on our horses on the weekend with our bb guns and play real cowboy and indians shooting at each other with our bb guns……nobody got hit…..you cant hit anything riding a running horse but we sure had fun.
 

KyAnne

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I moved to a small town in Southern Oregon in the early summer of 1986. The following fall, I started the 7th grade in the local school. Our family was having a hard time getting re-established, and we were pretty bad off financially. The kewl kidz picked up on this and I got picked on a lot. There was one guy who was probably as po' as me that also got picked on, but he was always cool to me. His name is Joe.

Joe and I became fast friends, and in our pre-teen days we shared a love of many things. We both loved sci-fi and fantasy books, and we both got into Dungeons and Dragons together. Later (in high school) we both got into playing guitar around the same time (we both had interest, but he actually got a guitar about a year ahead of me).

From 1986 on, I have all these memories of doing all this crazy kid stuff with him. The time he jumped the creek in his bike and broke the frame. The time we built a big scarecrow type thing on this sandbar in the creek behind his aunt's house... we found some old clothes and the skull of a bull, fashioned a wooden sword and shield and stood it up like it was going into battle. He named the sandbar Minotaur Island, and "Minotaur Island" later played cameos in various DnD adventures later on. We used to wade up and down through that same creek looking for cool rocks, crayfish, periwinkles and other neat stuff. We had other adventures as teenagers, many of them that cannot be discussed here. Let's call it the "sex, drugs, rock n roll" variety as a couple of guitar wankers in a small town with not much else going on. Yet it's those precious and innocent childhood memories that I hold more dear though. Building forts in the wood, joining the SCA only to learn that we couldn't do any combat till we were 18, going on imaginative adventures and whatnot...

Impoverished metal kids High School pic, probably 1991:

View attachment 1054883

Joe is on the far left, I'm the emaciated Ginger he's leaning on. Next is Homie the Weed Man and last is Dungeon Master Jake.

Sadly, whenever I bring our exploits to Joe some decades later, he doesn't remember any of it. None. Joe had a rough childhood. I don't believe that he or his sister know their biological father. His mom had various boyfriends throughout our growing up, and most of them weren't very kind to her or her kids. It could be that Joe has blocked his entire childhood out of his memory as a result. I don't know if that's the case, but I sure wish he'd have been able to hold onto the good parts though. The stuff we shared as a gang of poor misfit kids. The stuff he and I shared. He's still my dear friend to this day, and the only one I seem to have retained from my youth. Yet I feel like I have this big long history of 'us' to talk about but I was the only one there.

That is all.
That's heavy man, heavy. I can relate.
 

Mjark

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I had a friend I met about 6th grade after we moved to the Boston area who my parents didn't like. His family had a sewage pumping business, they were pretty hard core blue collar. Everyone in his house was cursing a blue streak all the time. My parents wishes did nothing to keep me away and we had many adventures but eventually I drifted away as I got older and in with the "cool kids". My friend confronted me about it once. I don't recall how I responded except unsatisfactorily. I don't think we ever spoke again. All these many years later found him on Facebook and tried to get in touch be he never responded. I saw he became a nurse. It appeared he has a nice life.
 




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