Most of the activities in which my friends and I engaged during our glorious youth were harmless. There were, however, occasions during which our clean records may have been in peril.
One such incident began on a spring evening when a carload of us was cruising down Grand Avenue looking for adventure.
Shackleton was driving, I was riding shotgun, and Satch, Sonny, and Skippy were piled in the back seat.
Satch was a fan of television and cinema, which tended to color his worldview. He especially enjoyed stories about teenagers cruising around towns in the 1950s. He was convinced that mooning other motorists was an essential part of cruising, even though he had never engaged in this activity.
Little did we know this was about to change.
We were in the left lane when we stopped at the light adjacent to the bank. There were several cars behind us and to our right.
Satch seized the opportunity. A short, stocky fellow, he scrambled up and stood on the seat on the passenger side, unhitched his belt, lowered his britches, and pressed his ample backside against the glass.
Things began to happen quickly at that point.
The driver of the car next to us in the right lane took out a wallet and tapped a badge against his window.
Shack swore vigorously and with feeling.
When the light changed, or rather, just before it changed, Shack dumped the clutch and made a sharp left turn across two lanes of traffic without bothering to signal. He stomped the pedal to the floor and the engine roared as we hurtled down a couple side streets at a lively clip.
Our abrupt departure caused Satch to overbalance and fall forward across Skippy and Sonny’s laps with his britches around his knees, a situation which occasioned them grave disgust and annoyance, based on the howls of disapprobation emanating from the back seat.
Meanwhile, Shack was driving like there were demons chasing him. He kept moaning that we were all going to go to jail, and inquiring loudly how could Satch be so stupid as to moon a cop.
Satch didn’t reply, because at the time he was too busy writhing around on his comrades’ laps trying to recover the lower half of his wardrobe. Every time he began to make progress, Shack swerved around another corner and sent him back to the drawing board.
Skippy and Sonny, for their part, began pummeling Satch to encourage him to get off them. They loudly speculated about whether it might not be better to go to jail than to be trapped in the backseat with Satch’s exposed posterior in their faces.
We approached Zayre’s Shoppers’ City from the rear, skirted the parking lot and headed east at a brisk pace.
When we reached the slight grade leading up the railroad crossing, the old Pinto took off like a startled grouse and remained airborne for an impressive distance before crashing back to earth, dislodging a shower of rust from its stricken quarter panels and scattering loose gravel in every direction.
Meanwhile, in the backseat, Skippy and Sonny, although not strictly religious fellows, took a break from beating Satch to promise their maker to reform if they were delivered from this madness alive.
I, too, began to wonder if the unfortunate incident was worth dying for, especially since I had seen no evidence that the cop was actually following us. During most of our flight, I had been bracing myself between the seat and dashboard to avoid being thrown around the cockpit like a pea in a bucket.
I mentioned this to Shack, but he continued to drive like a wild-eyed fiend, taking the next corner on two wheels.
He was convinced that the officer was still hot on our trail, and even though he had been driving an unmarked car, it was almost certainly equipped with a radio which had allowed the offended upholder of law and order to call for backup. Even now, Shack insisted, the dragnet might be closing in around us.
He finally slowed down when I pointed out that racing through a residential neighborhood was likely to attract attention. He weaved through some side streets and headed up Horseshoe Bend.
He turned west on Skyline, and found a place to pull over and park. We piled out like passengers disembarking a cruise ship that has just weathered a gale.
Skippy and Sonny practically dove out of the back seat, cursing Satch as they went.
We all followed the path through the woods down to the river and sat on the rocks to catch our breath. Satch, the last to arrive, had finally managed to get his britches back where they belonged.
Shack, Skippy, and Sonny immediately began to berate Satch for getting us into such a mess. He protested mildly, but I suspected that, despite his sheepish grin, he considered the evening an unqualified success. He had finally had his own mooning adventure, and he would be regaling anyone who would listen with the chronicle of his exploits for years to come.