The Coast News Group
Doorman Diaries

It’s all fun and games until you grow up

It was me.
I was that little jerk that pounded on your door as the moon shone white with my young group of marauding miscreant cohorts. Those stifled giggles weren’t coming from your fence or a feverishly sentient raccoon that patrolled your front yard.
No, that was just us laughing at you. We were bored and had nothing better to do with our time than waste yours and steal precious hours of sleep that you desperately needed.
I do recall having to branch out to other areas, or make new friends so we didn’t have to keep doorbell ditching the same handful of people who actually got up and answered the door. That would mean my parents could have found out, which would have put me on lockdown for a couple of weeks.
At some point we’d get caught and have to apologize, which was worse than running in scattered directions when the old guy threatened to shoot us with rock salt. I don’t know if that’s even possible, but to this day I fear the lawns of white haired men in flannel.
Playing hide and seek was another way for us to run around the neighborhood unsupervised, albeit with less chance of getting beaten or having vicious canines sicced on us.
There was always something oddly exhilarating about playing a block-wide game of hide and seek with 35 kids, doing your best to climb under cars, in trees, or stay stationary just long enough to find that perfect hiding spot … only to have it spoiled by having to pee as soon as you were in it.
I had the hide and seek bladder of a small girl. I would keep moving from spot to spot because I left whiz tracks wherever I went.
Then there was the curious schoolyard game of Butts Up. A group of kids throwing a tennis ball against the wall in hopes of one of them muffing it. Then, someone within the group pounces on it and rushes to chuck the ball against the wall before the muff-ee touches said wall. If that person drops the balls three times, then he or she is forced to face the wall and take a firing squad of one throw per Butts Up participant. There’s something to be said for simplicity.
Another simple game concocted by seemingly homophobic children is the ever popular, and always schoolyard banned, Smear the Queer. This one revolved less around rules and more on brutality to maintain its dominance throughout the decades. One person has a ball. Everyone else does their best to smear his or her face into the ground until everyone is roughed up to the point of bloodied submission.
Oh, how the games we play in our youth rarely translate to adult life. Or do they? You screw up, your “Butt’s” on the line. When you’re on the ball, everyone wants to “Smear” you into the dirt. Hiding from the masses is usually good for the soul on occasion.
And doorbell ditching? Well, OK, not all games translate. But you have to admit, you still want to. But not at my house. I have rock salt.