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Saturday, April 30, 2011

I never met a kid with a can opener

I never met a kid with a can opener.

That thought came to me this morning as I was laying in bed preparing to get up. You prepare to get up if you have vertigo. No point getting up just to do a face plant!

Anyway, I was thinking about a crack the dentist found in one of my molars. It's from an old filling that has acted like a wedge and is being driven down into the tooth, causing it to split.

So I'm going to have to get a crown on May 12 2011.

This will be my 2nd crown, caused by the same problem, but on a different tooth.

The noise from grinding the tooth for the crown is the worst part. Last time, I mentioned it to the dentist while he was grinding. He disappeared for a few minutes, then came back with his iPod, selected some blues for me and handed it to me. I cranked up the volume, allowing it to mask most of the grinding. It made for a much better experience.

Anyway, thinking about my tooth cracking led me back to my childhood and visions of us kids walking up to the corner gas station to get a soft drink - either Pepsi or Mountain Dew, another Pepsi product. We preferred these over Coke because Pepsi gave you twice as much for a nickel, the cost of a drink in the 50s.

These were the old style bottles with crimped metal bottle caps on them.

We were four, five and six years old, plenty old enough to walk to the gas station by ourselves.

Buying the drinks was an experience. We had learned, if you were barefoot on the cool moist concrete floor of the service station, you would get a little jolt of electricity when you reached into the old top-loading drink cooler. It would make you dance, and everyone would giggle - us and the grownups. We giggled because we knew there was a secret. The grownups, not being barefoot, didn't know the secret. They thought we danced because we were happy.

So being barefoot was the preferred method of obtaining your drink.

Reach in, grab your drink, squeal, dance a little, giggle. All for a nickel.

We all left with our drinks. We didn't open them on the side opener. Instead, we all marched out holding our drinks. The grownups thought we were carrying them home to drink.

But we didn't wait to get home to drink them. We were going to drink them on the way home, after pouring a pack of salted peanuts into them.

Pouring salted peanuts into a drink makes the drink fizz. You have to drink the liquid down enough so there's room to accommodate the peanuts and the fizz. It's a delicate balance; drink too much and the drink is too salty; too little and it will fizz over when you pour the peanuts in.

But to add the peanuts, we had to open the drinks. We didn't open them in the store because we were going to all open our drinks by using our teeth to carefully lift an edge of the bottle cap. Lifting three or four of these edges would allow us to pop our cap off our drink.

This was the preferred method for opening a bottle cap. We didn't need no stinking can openers, we carried our own can openers! We could open a bottle any time we wanted one.

It gave us a little swagger. Four kids, heads held high, a swagger, and barefoot.

When you lift a bottle cap in this way, an instant of fizz gushes into your mouth, and a smile breaks out. Everybody laughs and giggles.

One kid said his momma said not to do that. He wasn't sure why. We thought about it and realized it was stupid. Stupid being telling his mother. We knew telling a grownup anything only resulted one one thing - being told "don't do that".

I still remember the day my best friend Paul told me his mother said for him not to eat his buggers, so he wasn't going to eat his buggers anymore. I asked him why we weren't supposed to eat buggers. He said she said they were dirty.

We thought about it. We decided the little hard buggers were, in fact, probably dirty. However, the clear runny kind that hadn't hardened yet were obviously clean, you could see through this, so we could continue to sop those up. We felt good, we had solved the issue - we were obeying Paul's mother, and not eating dirty buggers. Of course, it wasn't a problem for me anyway because my mother, who knew everything, hadn't told me to stop eating my buggers, so I knew Paul's mother was wrong. But I didn't mention this to Paul, I didn't want Paul to know his mother was stupid.

Paul and I had a favorite game. It consisted of going to a field behind his grandmother's house. If the field had just been turned over by a plow, and then allowed to sun dry for a day, the earth would have baked hard, which made for perfect dirt clods that could be thrown at each other.

I liked this game a lot because my aim was better and I could throw harder, and thus stand back out of Paul's throwing area. I could hit Paul, but he couldn't reach me, and if he threw harder, it went wild.

I remember hitting Paul in the chest with a clod. His surprised look when it hit him tickled me so much I fell down on my back laughing. When I opened my eyes, there was Paul, standing over me, backlit from the sun, holding a dirt ball over his head that was so huge, it took both hands to hold it. He raised it up over his head, and at that instant I foretold the next. It came crashing down on me. Paul ran into his grandmother's house.

This wasn't fair, and I was going to get Paul.

I couldn't just go into his grandmother's house, I had to knock. His grandmother told me Paul was in the bathroom. I waited a while then knocked again. He was still in the bathroom. Soon, she quit coming to answer the door.

I realized he was never going to come out to get his reward.

I left.

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