Stories are what make legends! And we do have some legendary tales to tell.
Here is a place to share those stories of our mispent youth as we engaged in mischief, merryment and myth making! So, please, if you have any tales to add, simply add them in a comment to THIS post, and I'll be sure to add it to the memoris.
We were filming one of the end scenes for the Bounty Movie "Aerosol Nights" (later renamed "Nick Bounty: Public M"). The scene called for Steve to get thrown off of a bridge. This was really written just as an excuse to try to cause Steve some bodily harm, but he was up for the stunt... until the actual day of filming.
We got to the bridge,he had a wet suit on under his clothes, but now he was having second thoughts. "I don't know guys..." he said. "I don't know how deep it is." Of course we didn't care and kept assuring him that is was good for the film. "But if it's too shallow, I might get hurt. And if it's too deep..."
Mid sentence, Steve was interrupted by a scream followed by a splash. And then another... and laughter. Giggling actually. Steve turned is head to see a group of 8 year old kids gleefully throwing themselves off the small bridge. Having been shown up, Steve jumped and the film was completed.
Nothing defines what I call "the Otter swagger" -- our wonderfully nonchalant approach to pretty much anything -- better than this incident, which took place during my senior year of high school. I had skipped lunch, as I often did, and snuck out in my car to have lunch at Mark's house.
Being a part-time-unemployed-college-student, Mark was just waking up around noon or so, so my lunchtime was his breakfast. As we sat and conversed in his kitchen, I began to notice small wisps of smoke drifting from the area directly behind Mark's head. Mind you, I was used to seeing strange things at Mark's house, mostly involving his brother (who even then was an Otter-in-training), his mom (whose impatience with our wacky ways has become the stuff of legends) or his dad (who... just did weird stuff). But I couldn't recall, to this point, ever having seen anything actually on fire at the Darin residence.
Nevertheless, I was an Otter, and as such, I had an unflappable demeanor to maintain. "Mark," I muttered, craning my neck forward to check out the source of the smoke, "your toast is on fire." Mark answered my non-emotional announcement perfectly. "Hm?" he said, almost as if I'd interrupted something much more pressing, and then, "oh," as he realized what was going on. He very casually stood up, made his way to the toaster and put the fire out. He tossed the blackened toast, and promptly resumed his half of whatever conversation we'd been having. Of course, any normal person would want to scream out "FIRE! FIIIIRE!" and proceed to call 911 and wave their arms frantically until the proper authorities arrived. But that just wasn't what we were about.
So, AAlgar, LG and I were playing hooky for the day (well, okay, not LG, since he wasn't in high school anymore), and were heading up to the Aaron Space Museum in Washington, DC to see the Star Trek Exhibit. Along the way, we thought we saw something in the woods as we passed the Zekiah Swamp, and so we stopped to investigate. LG pulled out the camcorder, hoping maybe we were going to catch a glimpse of the fabled Zekiah Swamp Thing, and trained it on the woods... we saw movement, and we watched, and waited... but then it turned out to be just this guy, Llainx. As we got back to the car, LG stopped us, and performed a ritual (involving, among other things, singing like the Thugee guards in the Indiana Jones video game) in which Llainx and I became Semi-Unofficial Junior Otters. I'm still not quite sure what that entails, but I felt vaguely proud nonetheless. At least I didn't have to do The Antler Dance.
Ok, so, Roman and I were walking around outside my house when he suddenly wrinkled his face and began wiggling his foot around in the air. "I think there's something in my shoe!" Roman complained. I looked down at his notoriously holey, checkered pattern shoes and saw a small cricket head poking out from one of the holes. Roman, angry at the violation of personal space, brought the insect inside to my fathers workshop to torture it. His torture device of choice: silver spray paint. He sprayed the insect again and again, but it refused to die and eventually ended up jumping away to safety. So now my house had an indestructible silver cricket on patrol known forevermore as RoboCricket.
Pat Evans, LG and I (perhaps there were others as well, I don't remember) were in my back yard getting ready to film the ill-fated and ill-conceived "Nick Sunshine interview with Beetlejuice". We had extension cords running all over and lights and video cameras set up in various spots. LG and I were trying to explain to Pat that the question "Are there any lady Beetlejuices' in your life?" had to remain in the "script" for continuity reasons. Suddenly my mother pops her head outside the kitchen door and yells "You boys put that stuff away and come inside! The neighbors are going to think you're paling around out there!" …Paling around… I still don't know what it means.
It was a strange, boring, foggy night in St. Mary's County: exactly like every other night in St. Mary's County, except that it was foggy. Mark was driving his gargantuan sedan-like vehicle, which had been named Loulio, (by virtue of a famous compromise), and was a beach simulator (by virtue of a dirty beach towel permanently affixed under the rear window). We had just left Francine's house, an unfamiliar address in a particularly rural and sinister area. At hand was the task of finding our way out of this strange, backwater neighborhood.
Through the thick fog, we could hear the moans of cows, somewhere nearby. Before then, I had never thought of cows as anything but peaceful, lumbering herbivores. But on that night, there was something menacing about their droning cries. Everyone felt it. Two of the riders simultaneously shared a waking nightmare of a cow viewed through the rear-view mirror, sitting in the back seat of Loulio, with a 'Michael Myers' Halloween mask stretched across its long head.
We became less and less at ease as we wound our way down the dark back roads, unsure of our path. We still heard the cries of the creatures, as they seductively called to us like the sirens of Ulysses. Our panic grew and we took a wrong turn. Mark made a corrective U-turn and we headed back the way we came. Not more than a few yards later, Mark slammed the brakes and we came to a screeching halt. Loulio's tires, and everyone in the car, screamed as we stopped.
There in the middle of the road, deserted only a minute before, was a small strike force of cows. They were staring directly at us, and their eyes glowed red in the lights of the beach simulator. Their malevolence and power was felt by all. The next several minutes are a blur of screams and panic in my memory. Somehow we did escape the beasts and Mark valiantly navigated us back to downtown Lexington Park, the unofficial center of power in St. Mary's. For a moment we felt safe in the light of Lexington Park's most historically important strip-mall. But once there, we crooked our heads to the sky, and the terror came again. For there, as it had always been, was a life-sized, concrete, full-color sculpture of cow. It towered there like an overlord, bathing the Belvedere Hotel and all the world below in its bovine malevolence. It was then we knew the horrible truth about the cows.
So there we were: Roman, Mark, Littleguy and I, along with Melanie and CFJ. It was one of those endless spring/summer nights where those of us who were underage (all of us but Mark and Roman) crawled out our windows to engage in some very important group activities. Our venue of choice on this particular evening was the playground outside Town Creek elementary school. There really wasn't anything especially immoral or unlawful about our actions -- we were just doing what one is supposed to do at a playground: play.
I guess we were making too much noise for the surrounding neighborhood, though (I do seem to recall a bit of pseudo-swordplay involving large metal pipes we had found lying about), so we ended up being confronted by a cop. This in itself wouldn't have been so bad, but right behind the cop was a photographer/reporter for St. Mary's County's most infamous tabloid rag, St. Mary's Today. The cop went through the motions of scaring us: threatening to call our parents, haul us off to jail and so forth... then he let us go once he was convinced we'd been sufficiently intimidated. (Apparently Jenn resembled someone's daughter, which was reason enough to cut us a break.)
As we gratefully piled into Loulio to get our underage asses back home, I noticed the St. Mary's Today reporter snapping our pictures. Being, as I was, filled with the piss and vinegar of youth (not to mention a desire to impress my friends -- especially Roman, whom I had only previously known by reputation), I spoke up. "He can't take our pictures," I said to the cop. "We're minors! That's illegal!" The officer indicated to me that this was not, in fact, illegal, and who did I think I was to challenge that? I vaguely recall my companions saying something like "shut the hell up" or "quit arguing law with a cop!", but I was too wrapped up in my adrenaline-fueled arguments to notice.
I can't remember how we finally got out of the situation, but I distinctly remember no one being impressed by what I thought was a ballsy move on my part. Upon reflection, I can't say that I blame them for being annoyed, but in my defense, it's not like I knew any better. I was young, dumb and full of mufungo.
It all began with my deep seeded hatred for Mrs. Kennedy's Spanish class. The woman was a nightmare and a terror to both the students and the English language. She would take words like "Jew" and "raisin" and use them in a Sentence like "Do jew get in your raisin car and zoom outta my classroom?", but I digress.
It was September, 1985. David Lee Roth was a rock icon, parachute pants were pretty awesome and fall classes were starting at Great Mills high school. Spanish 2 was one of them. I reluctantly accepted the textbook for the class and immediately began defacing it, knowing I was to return it at the end of the year. I wrote nonsense Spanish sounding words in marker across its pages. Words like "Mufungo", "Pollo leche, Mmmm", and "Guimpo ssscchhrrrrrlp". Instead of carrying my book from class to class, I dropped it to the ground and kicked it as I made my way down the hall. I'm pretty sure I tore out an entire random chapter the first time I even opened the book.
But the crowning achievement came when at lunch, I asked Roman if he cared to contribute anything to the defacement of my Spanish textbook. Roman didn't speak. He simply took my book, opened to a random page, removed the mystery meat from his sandwich (For which he had no appetite) and placed it in my book slamming the cover down upon it. Casually he slid the book back to me. Since I never had any intentions of ever opening the book again anyway, I was content to let it stay there.
Ten months later, after somehow passing the class, it was time to return the textbook. I rummaged through the pile of trash at the bottom of my locker and found mine as I had left it at the beginning of the school year. I flipped through its pages laughing at the things I had written and done to it. As I turned a page near the end of the book, the page slipped from my grasp. I tried again and page still pulled away as if it had been yanked from my fingers. I took a firm grasp and pulled hard to reveal what was once inanimate lunchmeat, now alive, furry and shockingly blue!
That night I made a special non-contamination suit to wear as I removed the meat from the book. I also used a pair of long handled tongs, a screwdriver and 3 cans of Lysol. I quarantined the Blue Meat the best way possible, in a Ziploc baggie. It stayed in that baggie until the end of 1988 when it escaped. To this day no one really knows what happened to the Blue Meat, but personally I think TR ate it.
So I'm staying at Erik's house, which was about as common as Erik at my house, or Erik at Mark's house, or me at Mark's house, or...anyway, you get the idea. We had told Mark that we would be stopping by later that evening, but there was apparently an interpretational difference in the "later" portion of the statement.
About midnight or so Erik and I hit his old man's scotch. I couldn't tell you what kind. I don't think fifteen year old boys have a good appreciation for that type of thing. Once finished with the scotch we head out for our meeting with young Mr. Darin. Along the way we stopped at the 7-11 for Swisher Sweets. We smoked an enormous amount of inexpensive cigars in our youth. The damned things just seemed right for our travels. The trek from Erik's home to Mark's was perhaps two miles, maybe a little more, up the "freeway" then down some side streets. The freeway, on this evening proved more challenging than it probably should have. As Erik and I walked and smoked and talked of things of great importance (Star Trek mostly), we heard behind us a barking that grew louder as the barkers, two dobermans with the cute cut ears and bobbed tails, decided we were just to stupid to exist and needed to remedy that great cosmic injustice.
I don't know that anyone saw these events, after all who the hell else is wandering around the freeway in Lexington Park, Maryland after midnight. I remember running faster than I ever had. I don't remember when the dogs stopped chasing us. I know only that we made really good time getting to Mark's house. This is where the interpretational difference of "later" is important. Erik and I knew that it would be in the small hours of the morning. Mark, I think, felt if would be, oh when normal people are up walking around, or at least conscious. Now, with Mark being dead asleep we, of course, had to at least try and wake him. This consisted of a series of window taps and "Hey Marks" which proved fruitless.
Defeated, we left. Our only joy came the next day when we discovered that we had indeed roused someone that night. Mrs. Darin was most unhappy with Mark and whoever it was that had come to the house at such an ungodly hour. I'd like to say that was the last time we did that, but of course it wasn't, and it was a lot more fun once we learned how to pick the lock in the garage. Sleep well Mark