Journals of an Insane Genius - July 2000


...a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Macbeth - Act V, scene v

Suddenly we all paused, as if turned into statues. The realization of what we had done slowly crept into our faces. A nervous glance at the clock showed that my dad would arrive home in less than forty-five minutes. Oh man, we're busted for sure this time.

I'm not sure who started it. It was a Thursday afternoon, what some people refer to as a "school day". Not that it meant much to me in 1979. That was the year I set the record for skipping school in Flint, Michigan. Even in underachieving I'm an overachiever.

The cast of characters is as follows:

Ted: My oldest brother. Graduated from high school around six months ago. Still living at home and working at a racquetball club. A true master at psychological terror, he once locked me out of the house after first tricking me into removing all of my clothes (bastard).

Bill: My second oldest brother. The biggest, strongest, hairiest, smelliest Miller boy of them all. Had a full beard in the seventh grade. Now in the eleventh and the kind of person that creeped you out if he was walking behind you, even if it was in church.

Charlie: Bill's best friend. Both them were on the football team. Bigger than Bill if that's possible. Like some fantasy comic book featuring Superman versus the Incredible Hulk, we all secretly longed for the day that Bill and Charlie would get in a fight. Never happened, they're still friends to this day. (Each still thinks he would have won that fight)

Bobby: My best friend. Two years younger than me. Present during this epic event during the first, and only, week he ever skipped school. While he would hit his growth spurt and join the football team himself in two years, he was still a chubby kid at this point.

So with the exception of Ted we were all skipping school. We were nearing the end of a seven-hour session of Dungeons & Dragons. It all started innocently enough, Bill asked someone to pass him the chips. Bill was the Dungeon Master and Ted, still ticked off about being killed by a female elf, threw the open bag of Doritos into the back of Bill's head. Several chips flew out and stuck in Bill's hair, giving him a rather comical appearance. My dad is a huge fan of old Laurel and Hardy movies; we watched them every Sunday morning for years. The influence was apparent as Bill calmly pulled one of the chips out of his hair, ate it, slowly stood up, crushed the remaining chips in the bag, and dumped them over Ted's head. Thinking that the blows would start soon, Bobby and I exchanged the kind of cautious glance that the weakest in the herd always do when a cheetah shows up at the water hole and began looking for ways to shield ourselves. Charlie provided the laugh track. Ted paused for a few seconds, giving Bill a moment to feel superior before retaliating by throwing his glass of Coke, ice cubes and all, squarely into Bill's chest. Some of the soda splashed onto Charlie. The situation deteriorated rapidly.

Charlie, who had apparently never seen a Laurel and Hardy movie in his life, grabbed the closest thing handy, a loaf of bread in this case, and started smacking Ted with it until it burst open in a spray of nutritious slices, doomed to never become sandwiches. In the mean time, Bill had retreated to the kitchen and returned with a bag of dried split peas. My dad had once envisioned leading a healthier lifestyle and had stocked up on an assortment of such staples, but a year had passed since then and they weren't likely to be missed. Much to my dismay, I quickly learned that, thrown with enough force, dried peas sting like a BB. I armed myself with a package of shell macaroni and Ted lunged for the lentils. Soon everything from soup to nuts filled the air.

One of the most disconcerting sensations I've ever felt occurred when Charlie tagged me across the face and neck with a handful of macaroni and cheese which he had found still sitting on the stove from last night's dinner. Bill failed to patent the first prototype of the super-soaker squirt gun, an economy size bottle of ketchup that he wielded with remarkable accuracy. Out of ammo, I waited until Bill had Bobby pinned down in the corner before making a run for the kitchen, I never made it. A grinning Ted had been laying in wait with a box of Grape Nuts. As I was cowering under the table I saw a terrible apparition rise up behind Ted. It was Charlie with what would turn out to be the tactical nuke of the food fight.

The unexpected blow to the head with a five-pound sack of powdered sugar actually dropped Ted to his knees. The bag exploded on contact and the air in the dining room took on a fog-like quality. With the war cry of his northern tribe on his lips, Bill avenged Ted with a ten-pound bag of flour. Suddenly we all paused, as if turned into statues...

Whenever I visit people who claim their house is a shambles I always secretly think, "amateurs." Nobody said a word as we surveyed the battlefield the house had become. You could actually taste the tiny sugar particles suspended in the air as you walked through.

Ted suddenly realized that he was late for work (yeah, right) and had no trouble convincing Charlie to give him a ride. They walked out of the house looking like a couple of gray haired old men. Bobby also decided that he needed to get home before his dad arrived. Bill and I stared at each other for a few minutes and then without saying a word he grabbed the broom.

The cleaning frenzy may have surpassed the food fight at its peak. Not even in basic training four years later did I clean with such fear. Somehow we pulled it off, I have no idea how. To this day (well actually until he reads this) my dad never found out the events of that day, although he did suspect something was up.

His bedroom was off of the dining room where most of the action took place. The door had remained closed the entire day. He called his then-girlfriend, now-wife as he always did when he got home and went into his bedroom to talk. About a half hour later he emerged, hung up the phone, and approached me with a puzzled look on his face. In his hand he had two peas, a couple of beans, one or two pieces of macaroni, and several lentils. "Any idea what these were doing in my bed?" While I've never perfected the technique of acting innocent when I know I'm not, it's never prevented me from trying. I matched his puzzled look and answered with a question. "That looks like macaroni, how would that have gotten in your bed?" The puzzled look turned skeptical, "That's what I want to know."

Well Dad, twenty years later and from two thousand miles away, now you know.


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