I like to think that my childhood was incredibly, stupendously normal. I lived in a small town on the second floor of a suburban brick house. We had a basketball hoop and a ping pong table in the garage.
I played recreation league soccer when I was in elementary school and took the bus home. When I reached fifth grade I became an officer in the safety patrol. This meant that I got to wear a cheap yellow vest on the ride home from school everyday. It had cheap white ribbons that tied on the side. I looked very professional.
The purpose of the safety patrol was to distribute gold of pink cards. Gold cards were good. The more you got the better, and at the end of the year they would all be put into a huge raffle. Prizes were given away. If you got three pink slips in a row, you had to go see the principal.
I was great at safety patrol, better than average. I gave out gold cards like they were high fives at a Chicago Bulls basketball game, when they had Jordan. If you moved your book bag as I walked onto the bus, you got a gold card. If you let me play with your sweet new GI Joe with a projectile gun, you got a gold card. If you threw up the ham and cheese from lunch, well, you didn’t get a gold card that day, unless you threw up on Jim Thompson the boy who smelled and nobody liked.
The sense of power I got from being able to reward people for helping me was euphoric. I think, from that point on in my life I never lost the drive to be able to place myself in a position where I had authority over others. It might also have something to do with being the youngest son, and never getting such attention at home. It also might have something to do playing strategy war games in my teens where I created and conquered whole continents. There still hasn’t been a study put out to prove this otherwise so I believe it to be true.
I had a best friend when I was young. His name is David Moore. His father and two uncle owned and ran Moore’s body shop. One uncle is over three hundred pounds, unmarried and without kids. The other isn’t as large, but he’s also unmarried. David has two older sisters. He is destined to live in Wilson for the rest of his life and take over the family business. He hates this idea, and already works for his father. David made it through three days of college before he got kicked out for getting blackout and “borrowing” his friend’s car. The car was found parked in the side of a tree. He will get his license back in February.
Six miles out of town lay the city known as Sims. Sims has one stoplight and a Red and White. Sims also has a fifty acre farm that David’s uncles and father own. It used to be a junk yard. They let a local man farm rent out much of the land to farm tobacco. Together, they built a barn and a large electric fence that houses six horses. When we were between the ages of seven to thirteen we would spend Sunday afternoons playing on this farm.
Each Sunday morning I would arrive at his house around ten. His father, also named David, would take us by the convenience store on highway 264 and let us each buy two drinks. I would always choose black cherry Clearly Canadian.
When we were about ten David got a used two man go-kart for his birthday. With a full tank of gas we could drive all day through the rows of tobacco. Our heads were just barely visible above the leafy green plant.
Next to the tobacco field David’s father decided he wanted a pond. For two weeks he rented a small Cat bulldozer. Over the course of those two weeks a rectangular shaped hole formed about the size of two football fields. It was at least ten feet deep.
I asked him. “Why isn’t there any water.”
“Cause the damn thing aint deep enough. I dug as far as I’m gonna go. We don’t have no where else to put the dirt.”
“Well, maybe you could bring some?”
“Maybe. I tell ya, if we hit water it could really be something. I could put some bass fish in here and make it a nice little pond. Even go swimming in the during the summer.”
He explained to me that some of the dirt left over was sold to the new Golden Corral being built at the Forest Hills intersection. I was ecstatic over the knowledge of such information and quickly informed everyone in class that David owned all the dirt around Golden Carroll. To me, this meant he was part proprietor. The hole still stands to this day and so does the Golden Carroll.
Though we lost touch in high school, many a Sunday afternoon was spent at their farm.