Here’s something so weird that I have to lead with it. I was driving home from my volunteer gig this week and saw a TV (turkey vulture) eating something in the middle of the road. Although I try not to breathe as I pass road kill, I do like to see what those varmints are eating. Usually it’ll be squirrel, rabbit, possum, deer or some such critter. This time though as I drove by (and I’m telling you, that TV did not budge as he ate) I noticed he was eating some indistinguishable contents inside a plastic container. I thought, man this is how species evolve. Next thing you know he’ll be popping that thing in the microwave.
It’s funny, a lot the years when I was a teenager have just turned into a muddle. I guess it takes stand-out events to help tell one year from another from this distance. But there were things about being 16 that fix that year in my mind quite distinctly. For one thing, my folks gave me a rifle for my birthday. That gun was an “over-under,” a gun with two barrels, a 22 caliber above and a 410 below. I had absolutely no skill at shooting the thing, and all the memories I have are of hunting, shooting and missing. I tried to shoot squirrels, and I’m sure they were laughing as they ran out into the street and got hit by cars. Serves them right. I went rabbit hunting with college friends and remember shooting a creek and actually seeing the water fly up as the rabbit scampered away. Skeet shooting? Clay pigeons only broke because they hit the ground. The gun hasn’t been fired since, even though I’ve been dragging it from one home to another for the last 50 years.
I also remember taking the test for my driver’s license and failing. I know exactly why too. I made a left hand turn onto a four lane road and turned into the far lane instead of the inside lane. I suppose the benefit of flunking me for that is that it cemented that rule in my mind forever.
I did pass the test a few weeks later, and it’s funny but I can remember like it was yesterday the first evening when my folks let me take the car out solo. Windows of the car rolled down, a cool dark evening, the absolutely marvelous sense of freedom. Each year, if The Princess and I are lucky, we watch young blue birds make their first flight from the bird house attached to our deck. They’ve spent weeks in a hot, smelly house in tight quarters with siblings, fighting for their share of a limited food supply. I think they must feel, on that first flight, something like I felt that evening when I was 16.
Later in my 16th year that car, a black, 1960 Buick convertible (about a block long) would figure in a number of typical teenage rights of passage, including eventually wrecking it.
And that rifle I got back on my 16th birthday appears in the commercial message below, for which I beg your tolerance.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
The NPA (National Pony Association) wants you to know that your right to a Pony is God-given and absolute. No government, state or other agency can deny you that right. Even if you want to use your Pony for illegal or immoral purposes, no one can stop you from obtaining one. No background checks. As a matter of fact, even if you’re dumb as a stone, previously convicted of a crime, or loony tunes, no problem, you can be a Pony owner. And get this, you don’t even need a driver’s license to drive one on the road. Pretty cool, huh?
And what organization do you have to thank for protecting this right, you got it, the NPA. Don’t let anyone fool you. Your right to buy, own and drive a Pony is always under threat. Protect your right and send all of the extra money you have to the NPA, in care of ThatIdioticTractor.com. We’ll make sure your hard-earned dollars are spent and are reflected in the blog’s Guinea Pig-O-Meter.
Remember, Ponies don’t kill people, but restoring one can bleed a person to death!
Now, here’s a brief message brought to you buy the NPA and Dean Martin.
Dean and I thank you for reading, watching and listening.