Piltdownlad #8: The Olympic Spirit and Other Stories
Autobiographical tales from the San Gabriel Valley… AKA, the Güero Chingón Stories, Vol. 2 — set in a time when kids weren’t allowed indoors until the sun went down… various shenanigans and random hijinks in Rosemead, Alhambra, San Gabriel and El Monte… turf wars on Columbia Street, free food from McDonald’s courtesy of the Eastern Bloc, smoking pot at Mark Keppel High, riding bikes in The Wash, destroying government property, playing Rambo at Marrano Beach, trashing Emerson Elementary, locked up at the Temple City Police Department, hunting the Night Stalker, having Parents Without Partners and more…
“The Baudrey Boys” At the house there were five of us. We were a pack a marauding pre-teens, wandering the streets of the neighborhood, always on the prowl for trouble. Or candy. Whichever came first.
“The Olympic Spirit” The Olympics were in town. We were just as excited as everybody else. But not about the sporting events. No, we were psyched about the McDonald’s promotional game called, “If The US Wins You Win.” The prizes were McDonald’s food, which was the holy grail of all fast food. It was the best summer of our lives.
“Emmaus” Emmaus sucked hardcore. It was better than public school, but we had the stink of poverty and ridicule on us. And the upper class kids had their own methods for keeping the weak ones down.
“A Totally Different Head” We all had our own theories on how to blow thirty million in thirty days. Mine was foolproof. I’d start a band. Hire all the best musicians and stage benefit concerts that rivaled anything by KISS or the Rolling Stones.
“Ditch Em” As far as any of the adults could tell, Rick was a good influence. Around adults he was careful to find his manners. But out of view, he was a ceaseless provocateur. A Peter Pan to our Lost Boys.
“The Joyride” “So here’s the deal: I work your stick and then you work my stick. A joyride for a joyride. Deal?”
“The Summer of The Stalker” That summer, there was a killer on the loose. And high school was right around the corner.
“Marlboro Country” Across from Mark Keppel High, between a dead end road and the faculty parking lot, there was a small patch of scrub with a few palm trees. This was Marlboro Country. Where the cool kids went to smoke. I lit a Benson & Hedges and tried to fit in.
“Parents without Partners” For years, the old man sat there, taking the brunt of these dinner-time gripe sessions. Until one night, he set his fork down, calmly pushed back his chair, lifted up his plate and dropped it onto the table. Crockery and tuna casserole went everywhere. “Enough,” he said and walked out the door. Never set foot in the house again.
“The Bachelor Pad” It was hard to believe that my own father lived in an apartment complex. I’d always thought of people who lived in apartments as different from us. Apartment people. Not Baudreys. We lived in run down houses that smelled like cat piss with old furniture covered in crayon graffiti and food stains. When the old man asked if I wanted to spend the night, I said, “Does the pope shit in the woods?”