Ron's Blog

Enjoy Ron Culberson's insights on a variety of topics

I Thought I Was Being Clever 22

I Thought I Was Being Clever

When I was a teenager, I didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, and didn’t engage in other wayward behavior. I was basically a rule-following nerd. However, since I was a funny and somewhat clever rule-following nerd, I did occasionally harm others with painful wordplay. I probably should have received some sort of pun-ishment (see what I mean?).

A common hangout for my friends was a local Putt-Putt course. We would pack into someone’s car and spend a Friday evening in a hard-fought battle to out-putt each other on those iconic 1970’s recreation venues. There were no windmills or rivers running through these courses.  Instead, they were straightforward holes, clad with orange walls, that required actual putting skills. In fact, there were even Putt-Putt tournaments on television. I watched them regularly as a way to study the techniques of professional Putt-Putters so as to avoid the study required of my school work.

The route to our favorite Putt-Putt course wound around a narrow country road for about ten miles and there was one hill that rose to a very sharp point. If we picked up enough speed, the car would actually leave the ground for a second or two as we flew over the top. We’d all let out a yell as we soared through the air and then landed on the other side of the hill. This, by the way, is how we nerds got a short-lived, non-drug-induced, head rush. We thought we were being quite clever.

One Friday, there were four of us in my friend’s father’s sedan. The car was huge and likely weighed more than three Prius’s. On the way to the Putt-Putt course, we sailed over the hill and laughed all the way to the course, recounting the thrill of flying. On our way home, we hit the hill again, went airborne, and came down so hard, the back bumper scraped the road. We all whooped it up as if we had stolen one of the rental putters. It was quite a thrill.

A little while later, we came to a red light and my friend yelled,“Scramble!” 

This was one of those stupid adolescent activities when we all jumped out of the car, ran around the car, and tried to get back into our seats before the light turned green. As we were scrambling, we noticed the strong smell of gasoline. When the light turned green, we quickly pulled into the next gas station to investigate the odor.

As we peered under the car, we could see that gas was dripping out of the tank at a pretty good pace. Apparently, when our airborne-ness returned to groundborne-ness, we punctured the gas tank. My friend looked at the gas gauge and sure enough, it had gone down way more than it should have.

None of us had any mechanical skills whatsoever. This was a few years before MacGyver but ncouraged by our cleverness and an unrealistic view of our abilities, we decided that our only hope of fixing the leak was to somehow plug the hole. So, each of us bought a pack of bubble gum and started chewing “fast and furious” (see what I did there?). Once we had a nice big sticky wad, we gave it to our driver who scooted under the car and tried to plug the hole. It mostly worked but some gas was still seeping around the edges. The money we had left would only pay for enough gas to barely get us home so we filled the tank with all the gas we could afford and made a run for it.

We all made it home but my friend later told me that after dropping everyone off, he rolled into his driveway just as the engine ran out of gas. He was grounded for a week for damaging the car and taking such a stupid risk. I was grounded for a week because I was ten minutes late for curfew. I never told my parents about our flying car or the damaged gas tank. Looking back, if they had known, they probably would have preferred that we smoked or drank. 

You would have thought that the outcome of our clever aerodynamics would have deterred us from other smart-ass antics. But a few weeks later, we literally embraced this smart-ass-ed-ness on yet another Putt-Putt outing.

There was one Putt-Putt course located in Bristol, TN which was about thirty minutes away. It was a “city” course so it was busier and had a different clientele than our back-woods course. One of the strange attributes at this course was that two or three times a night, a car full of young people would drive by and moon all of the Putt-Putt players. For those of you who are unfamiliar with act of “mooning,” it was a practice that was quite popular in the seventies where someone would drop their pants and shove their “nekid” back side out the window of a car. I’m not sure what the appeal of this activity was but whenever we saw someone mooning, we always cracked up (again, you see my problem). However, there were always a few uptight folks on the Putt-Putt course who attributed the behavior to a lack of proper parenting or the need for religion.

One night, after our round of Putt-Putt, it was still early so we we discussed what else we could do to entertain ourselves. Someone in our group suggested that we moon the other Putt-Putters. We all laughed and agreed that we weren’t that brave. But being the funny, clever nerd that I was, I suggested that we do it with our pants on—because it would be ironic. The idea hit everyone else as funny too. And yes, looking back, I do realize what a sad existence we lived. But that was life in a small town.

So, the four of us drove around the corner and then two of us positioned ourselves, fully clothed, so that our back sides stuck out the window. Our driver came back by the Putt-Putt course and honked the horn several times to draw attention to our, well, assets. We then sat back down, rolled up the windows, and had a good laugh. However, as we were driving away, we realized that one of those up-tight Putt Putt patrons had jumped into his car and come after us. He was right on our tails, so to speak, trying to get us to pull over. We panicked. This kind of thing didn’t happen to us. We were never a threat to anyone. In fact, we never got into any trouble. Now, we were being chased through the city by moon haters.

Well, my friend took a few side streets and eventually our pursuer lost interest. But not before he flipped us a hand signal indicating his dislike of our irony. After ditching him, we drove the few miles back to Virginia and flagged down a police officer to let him know that we were being hunted by a maniac. The officer listened carefully and I could see the muscles in his face tense up as he tried to avoid laughing. He told us that we should not “ironic moon” anyone else and that we should just leave the area. We thanked him and nervously drove back home, staying alert the entire way for any erratic drivers.

The moral of the story is that you don’t have to be a hardened criminal to get into trouble. Sometimes good clean fun can lead to problems. And when that happens, no matter how clever you are, the situation can bite you in the, well, you know.


Add comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.