Monday, July 28, 2008

Hitchhiking, Switchblades and JAWS

The DJ on WRKO warned of another shark sighting and we were getting antsy. There were shark sightings every hour on the hour during the summer of '75. It wasn't safe to go in the water, but it wasn't the water where we wanted to be. Even though the city of Boston was in the grips of a sweltering hot summer we didn't want to hit the beach. Not for fear of a shark attack, but because we wanted to go to the movies. Jaws had just hit the movie theaters, horrifying audiences and causing thousands to never swim in the ocean ever again. I sat on the curb in front of my apartment listening to my transistor radio with my friend Sean trying to figure out how we could possibly go to a movie our parents would never let us see. I had plans to meet up with my friend Neil later that day. Neil was a friend from my Catholic school that was one of the most deviously fun kids I had ever met in my ten years. He had taught me the best spots to peg cars with snowballs, the best stores to pilfer candy and how to elude the security guards at Curry College where we would run wild through the grounds stealing tennis balls, scarfing down food in the cafeteria along with many other harmless endeavours. Neil would have a plan.

We met Neil around 9:30 AM at his house and we hopped a bus to Cleary Square. Our friend Stevie, who was another Catholic school classmate, lived on the other side of the square and he was all in for going to see Jaws. Stevie was waiting for us on his porch when we got to his house. We sat on the stairs thinking of our plan. First we would have to get there. The Dedham Cinemas were four miles away and we only had enough money to get into the movie, so a bus was out of the question. We could walk, but that would take over an hour and it was already approaching 90 degrees. Neil suggested we hitchhike. Yeaaah...hitchhike. Just stick out your thumb and get a ride to where ever you want to go. That was easy. Now the hard part, how would we get into an R rated movie. Stevie suggested that we sneak in. Effective, but risky. Sean suggested that we buy a ticket for the latest Herbie The Love Bug movie, which had to be G rated, then go into Jaws. Maybe, but there would be ticket takers checking especially since this was such a high profile flick. I offered that we just ask someone to pose as our parents and buy us a ticket. Everyone thought that was a stupid idea, that no adult would do such a horrible thing as to buy a kid an R rated ticket. We decided to play it by ear, but first things first we had to get there. We stepped off the porch, crossed the street and put out our thumbs.

We didn't walk for more than 5 minutes when a car stopped. "Where ahh you boys goin?" he inquired. "Dedham Cinemas" I piped up. "Hop in, but watch all the crap in the back theah, my cahs a wreck", he informed us. I got in the front seat and sized the guy up. He had long, scraggily hippie hair and a fu-manchu mustache. He had a cigarette sticking out of the side of his mouth and a Narragansett beer between his legs. There was a switchblade sitting on the gearbox. The others jostled for position in the back, while I stared forward, pretending not to notice the beer and the switchblade. He started down the road taking a right onto Eneking Parkway in the direction of the cinemas. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him reach for his beer and take a swig. He then reached down and picked up the switchblade. "You fuckin' kids think you're cool?" he screamed as he flicked out the blade, pointing it in the air so all could see. I felt like pissing myself, but was not as shocked as the others, knowing all along that the switchblade was there. "Are you kids stupid, I could be a murderer or a child molester, you are sooo fuckin' stupid." "Please let us out", Sean whimpered. The rest of us felt the same. "I'll bring you to the movies", he half chuckled, "but promise me you'll never hitchhike ever again!". "We promise" we all said in unison. He took a long swig of his beer and threw the empty can out the car window. The next five minutes seemed to take forever as we drove in silence. "Take it easy boys" he said and left us in the parking lot of the theater.

"Holy Shit," said Stevie, "we almost got wasted". "Shut the fuck up," scolded Neil,"he was just fucking with us". I knew Neil was just as scared as us, I saw it in his eyes, but he always appeared cool and in control. We quickly moved on to the task at hand which was to get into the movies. I approached a middle aged guy and his wife and asked him to buy us tickets. "Where are your parents?" he asked with genuine concern. " moms divorced...and she was gonna take me, she really wanted to, but she has to stay home with my brothers and sisters and..." "Ok, Ok" the guy interrupted my line of bullshit, "How many are you?" "Four, here's the money". "Ok, follow us". We got in the ticket line with the couple and the escorted us right into the theater, no questions asked. "Thanks" I blurted out as we got to the door of our theater and ran for the front row. We got the last four seats together as the theater was filling up fast.

The movie was well worth the trouble. It had everything a ten year old would want in a movie, a little bit o' nudity, bawdy dialogue and of course a blood thirsty shark. After the movie we decided to walk the four miles home. Half way home we it started to pour. We got completely drenched. None of us suggested that we hitch a ride.

When I got home the smell of dinner and the warmth of my couch reinforced the fact that I had made it through another adventure safe and sound. As with most of my childhood adventures my mother never knew the better. I probably told her I was playing baseball all day at Neil's or that I was at the library or the YMCA. To this day I've never hitched a ride, but I do swim in the ocean.


Suldog said...

Good tale.

I remember hitchhiking once, from Cleary Square to Lower Mills. We were on our way back from Hyde Park Pool and didn't have bus fare, so we walked, but got tired of that by the time we hit Cleary.

Anyway, we got picked up by a couple of older teens in a junker. We were something like 12 and 13. There were four of us, all squeezed into the back seat. I looked down and saw that the floor was rotted out. River Street was visible through this huge hole.

I was scared shitless that, before I had seen it, I might have put my leg down and just got it sheared off. I pointed it out to the rest of the guys, so nobody would do it by mistake. We all rode back to Dorchester with our legs lifted up! It must have looked pretty weird to anyone who saw us.

David Sullivan said...

Its funny, as a kid we used to walk miles and not think about it. It never dawned on me to hitchhike until my friends brought it up. Hitchhiking is the same as gin with me, tried it once and thats was enough!



bunghole said...

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz................. readin this crap puts me to sleep.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Suldog said...

Well, now you're a success! You've gotten your first asshole comments!

David Sullivan said...

Not really cuz. This is just a poor, tortured soul who's low self esteem and self image causes him to lash out at the ones he loves the most because he doesn't feel like he is deserving of any kind of positive attention. He obviously has conflicted issues concerning sex and sexuality as evidences by his aliases (stinkfinger and bunghole). Since I know who this is I'm afraid that he is too far gone to find any kind of effective help and hope that his lack of empathy and common sense as well as misanthropic leanings doesn't continue to affect his personal relationships and work related interactions as he is close to alienating everyone in the world thus could be traveling down the same road as Dahmer, Bundy and Gacy, possibly even GW Bush.

I hope God, if there is one, has mercy on this pathetic creature.

Dirty Red said...

Man you should write a book. Or either a screen play for a movie. You have the gift man.




Melinda said...

Came to visit via Suldog - great story (despite what some of the comments here say) that kinda had a "Stand by Me" feel to it.

Looking forward to reading more!

Melinda said...

I wanted to stop by and tell you that you've been tagged! (sorry if you hate memes)
The rules are pretty simple:
1. Write 7 interesting or random facts about yourself.
2. Tag 7 people you want to learn more about.
3. Post a comment on their blogs to let them know.

Have fun!

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