Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hey, Watch This!


The freeway took our house on Factor Street in Azusa in the early 1960's. This photo shows the family at that house in 1957. We moved to 1005 E. Galatea Street, which wasn't all that far from the previous house. Dad was the Bishop of the Azusa ward.
It was a great time to be alive. The war was over, the economy was booming and we had a 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air.


The ward had a plot of land to raise strawberries. It was a southern California version of a church farm. It was great fun to go as a family to pick strawberries. Eating our fill was part of the assignment as I recall. At some point a portion of the farm, which was adjacent to a shopping area was converted to a trampoline center. People could come, pay a fee and jump on the trampolines. I think a drunk driver drove his car through the fence and that was pretty much the end of that. I'm not sure if the details are accurate, but that is my memory.

One of the consequences of the drunk driver was that we acquired a trampoline for our family. Dad dug a great pit in the northwest corner of the back yard. Soon the day for the installation came and we had a ground level trampoline.

We spent hours jumping on the trampoline. I remember having seat wars that lasted forever. We got pretty good at back drops, swivels, knee flips and jumping high. For some reason the thought of doing a standing flip was scary for me. But after a period of time I summoned up the courage to make the attempt.

This was forty some years ago and I have to confess I'm not sure if I said the words but I'm pretty sure I did think "Hey, Watch This!" Having an audience is critical for stunts of this proportion. I wasn't sure exactly what kind of body action was required to complete the flip but I went for it. Somewhere between the vertical axis and a complete rotation, my head made contact with the springs of the trampoline. Clearly my arial acrobatics had been miscalculated.

After the bleeding stopped and the healing was completed I was the proud owner of a perfectly positioned scar in the middle of my forehead. Certainly a badge of honor for someone my age. I remember being enamored with the flexibility and skill-sets of monkeys. I always loved speed.

Some time later on Christmas Eve my Dad spent the good part of a Saturday working on fixing up this mondo-clunker bike for me. I couldn't wait to ride this steel steed that was slightly smaller than the german motorcycle Steve McQueen rode in the The Great Escape. Soon the time for the maiden flight arrived. I remember mounting the bike and thinking "Hey, Watch This!" I pedaled with all my might as I left the driveway and drove strait into the front wheel of the older paper boy whom lived next door. It completely ruined his wheel and jacked-up the my newly restored bike. Bummer. (This created a sort of road rage with the paper boy and the catalyst for a future story involving a bicycle built for two.)

Well the years passed and as I got older, I became convinced of my immortality. Under the careful tutelage of my Father I learned how to spin donuts on snowy roads. I won't mention that I was only 14.

One day when I was in College in Rexburg, Idaho I discovered this really sweet dip in the road by Becky's apartment. I learned, by trial, that if you got your speed up just right you could get some pretty awesome 4 wheel air. One day my roommate "foul" Al Wynn was with me and I said "Hey, Watch This!". I successfully competed the maneuver to the delight and thrill of my friend. Little did I know that I had inspired him to his own acts of stupidity.

One evening I was riding with him in his father's pickup truck about dusk. As we were approaching the dip, I noticed that a car was approaching in the opposite direction. I start to say this is probably not a good time to execute the move. But Al decided at the same exact time to shift down and punch the accelerator. As we hit the dip the approaching car signaled for a left turn —in front of us.

Now airborne the only thing I can think to say is "we're going to die!" Of course the driver of the opposing car saw us and then hesitated. This insured there was just enough time for us to make contact with the pavement at the precise instant necessary to insure a spectacular skid, before we impaled the side of their car. I couldn't help but feel responsibility for the whole affair. But I did my best to feign ignorance.

We were working with Dad one time in Denver. Blair and I took Trevor's chopped VW Beetle to run an errand. Now the truth is, Trevor basically drove like a complete maniac back then. I'd like to have a dollar for each time he had his car on two wheels. So he is primarily responsible for my actions.

Blair seemed to be pretty bored and inattentive as we approached the business park on the way back from the errand. I remember thinking, here's a great opportunity to wake Blair up. So I said, "Hey, Watch This!" and immediately cranked the wheel very hard to the left to enter the business park.

My intent was to get a slight amount of air on two wheels to increase his heart rate. There was only one problem, after I had started my maneuver, to my horror I realized that I hadn't paid attention to the position of the curb-cut. I instantly realized that I had to make a split second decision. Either continue the path directly into the curb, which I knew would insure the need for a complete front end overhaul, or over rotate even farther.

I chose the later. This insured completion of my two wheel acrobatics plus 2 more wheels. Soon we were sliding on the pavement inches from Blair's head. We came to a stop. I quickly jumped out, primarily to see who had seen us. I peered back in the car and yelled to my brother who was clearly in shock and said, "don't just sit there get out and help me push the car back over".

It was only after he exited the car that I realized the engine was still running, the transmission in gear, and the back wheel was rotating at a high rate of speed. Well, our adrenaline must have been really pumping because we went to the roof side of the car, lifted with all our might and push the car back over. We drove to Trevor, confessed our sins and took our medicine.

I'm not sure if Trevor ever really forgave me for that.

You'd think by now I would have learned the "Hey, Watch this!" was sure to result in undesirable outcomes.

Audible or not saying the words causes certain doom. I think the experience that finally taught me to remove the words from my vernacular was when I rolled the go-cart in front of the family, in the school parking lot, after saying those infamous words to my self.

I would never have believed it would have been possible to do so, but I'm convinced "Hey, Watch this!" is inexplicably tied to Newton's laws of physics.

I am happy to report that now years later and with the help of my family and a competent therapist, I am almost completely cured of this syndrome. The words come to me on occasion but my impulse control prevents me from uttering it audibly or otherwise.

11 comments:

Hugh said...

You forgot another episode (I'm not sure if it is on purpose, or just your age) when Amy and Brad were riding in the front passenger seat of Dad's dune buggy "Mazurka" and I was on the back. This was in the dirt hills north of 17th ave. in Longmont where the Stake Center now stands. You spotted a mud puddle and decided that since I was alone on the back, I would be a perfect target for a mud missile. I'm not sure if the words "watch this" were audibly spoken, but the spirit of those words were present and Amy and Brad both became covered in mud, I (the intended target) on the other hand stayed clean as a whistle.

Amy said...

I totally remember that! Unfortunately I was a baby about it and cried because I got all dirty. Wow - what a whiner I was!

Doug said...

I know there was at least one episode I had forgotten. You are so right and I did say it audibly. I remember the sheer look of dread, fear and anger Brad and Amy gave me before I punched the accelerator. I laughed and smiled an evil grin. It was so awesome when the wall of water hit me because I knew the fireworks were going to start. This event was especially important because Amy and Brad were really ticked off and pouted for several hours, which makes the story even better.

Side Note: I'm sure Terry was afflicted with this same syndrome as there are numerous accounts of him high-centering Dad's pickup truck at caribou. Terry it's time for you to come clean and write your stories.

Hugh said...

Doug, I had forgotten that you got hit as well. Too funny!

I vaguely remember going to (what I think was) caribou. Is that where this picture of Terry was taken?

The Bradford said...

i vividly remember dad leaning close in to me and saying "were gonna get your uncle hugh covered in mud!" I was riding shot gun....i remember feeling the icy blast of muddy water and gasping for breath. I have a very strong picture in my head of Hugh wearing a white shirt curled up in the fetal position....and then laughing as amy and i cried. I felt insulted that dad had purposely covered me in mud. But i do remember having to change i think in a hotel lobby and shower with a hose which was pretty cool after all was said and done.

Doug said...

LOL. I am just cracking up thinking about this all. Thanks for sharing your perspective Brad. We all experience things slightly different and I love your discription "icy blast". I wonder what Amy's reaction was at the point of impact.

Yes Hugh, I'm sure that picture was taken of Terry up there. I didn't realize you could hyper link a picture in the comments box. How?

Hugh said...

<a href="http://link-to-picture">Text that displays</a>

Doug said...

For the record, Trevor was building his house and had the Mazurka there. You and our family were visiting his family. We also hosed Brad, Amy and I down at his house and then drove to the motel by the interstate so the kids could freshen up.

Hugh said...

Really, is my memory that bad?

Becky said...

Hey what about the mom who had to take care of the muddy kids and cries!! It was quite an adventure though. I have learned to cringe when I heard those words "watch this"! Life is full of adventure and it is great to read the different perspectives of those involved!
I think that there must have been some watch this moments when Doug was riding mountain bikes! At least he has some scars to talk about.
I think that doug must have had a watch this thought go through his head this summer when he did the slip and slide this summer! His back was just a bit out of whack the next day!

Becky said...

Hey what about the mom who had to take care of the muddy kids and cries!! It was quite an adventure though. I have learned to cringe when I heard those words "watch this"! Life is full of adventure and it is great to read the different perspectives of those involved!
I think that there must have been some watch this moments when Doug was riding mountain bikes! At least he has some scars to talk about.
I think that doug must have had a watch this thought go through his head this summer when he did the slip and slide this summer! His back was just a bit out of whack the next day!