Growing up in a broken home, bouncing back and forth between two parents with mad love in their hearts had its pros and cons. My parents, fueled with venomous animosity towards one other, made easy targets for subterfuge and manipulation. This, along with double birthdays and Christmases, were the obvious pros; while a compartmentalized sense of identity and a lack of true belonging the greatest cons. Both households became popular hangouts for friends and afforded my brother and me the ideal living situation.
My dad’s residence was an old farmhouse in Freeland, MI on Dice Road which I loved. The house set in front of a lovely bit of wilderness and a cornfield bordering on the right. Wild lilacs grew out front serving as a sort of pseudo privacy fence, blocking out any traffic passing- not that there was ever much of that- essentially we lived in the boonies. The sweet smell of the flowers frequently filled our household, to this day the scent is the single greatest catalyst when it comes to bringing me natolgiastic bliss. The lot to the left of our old farm home was empty, its only occupants a massive weeping willow and various other forms of foliage.
So many fond memories took place in that old farmhouse on Dice. We’ve always been an odd group, my family. In February, 1997 my stepmom gave birth to my brother Ben. Shortly after his delivery my mom ran Pete and I to the hospital. Pete burst into the delivery room and the first thing he said was, “Where is he, where is he? Can I smell him?” To this day I’m awestruck by the request.
I remember once, around the time I was in 6th grade I was in dire straits, in need of ten dollars, for what I cannot remember. My resourcefulness and hustle were on full display, even at the tender age of 12, and I began to plant the seed, “geez dad, it sure is cold outside, and snowy too.” I said to my father as we were driving home from I don’t know where. “Yup,” dad replied: ever the cunning linguist. “Wanna make a bet?” I said, by now we were approaching home, then, in the most waggish of tones I could muster, “For ten bucks, I’ll betcha I jump butt naked into that snow bank in the front yard.” Dad just laughed, amused by my ingenuity and half expecting the notion to be a bluff, “deal if you…” he replied. Before he could finish the rest of his sentence I was bare ass making a snow angel in our front yard. Pete was eager to take on the same challenge, already begin to strip as I received payment for services rendered. To this day it’s one of my dads favorite stories to tell. Another, similar occasion, took place shortly after when my stepmothers brother Tom came to visit. He and Teri were conversing in the living room while Pete and I were in the den playing video games.
“Hey Pete,” I said almost sardonistically, “I bet you a dollar you won’t put on one of Teri’s bras, stuff the boob holders- I don’t know for certain if I call them boob holders but I imagine gradeschool me wouldn’t have the slightest idea they’re cups- and a pair of her underwear and go out there and shoot the breeze with uncle John.” In order to fully appreciate the humor in this you must understand the type of child Pete was (see for yourself): all skin and bones with funny round glasses and a goofy speech problem, “I’m foost (first),” he always had fantastic sense of humor and was the type of personality people gravitated towards. Sure enough out he strolled, boob holders filled with plastic toy sumo wrestlers, and my step mothers panties to shoot the breeze with Uncle Tom. “Where’s my dolloo,” he asked me afterwards.
Alternately, at my mums house we lived on an unfinished street adjacent a field. Legend has it there was a dispute between the farmer who owned said field and the developer of my mothers neighborhood. The subdivision would remain uncompleted for the duration we lived in the home. Fine by me, as the dead end street epitomized the ideal street hockey rink and a cluster of trees found in the adjoining field provided the groundwork for the perfect treefort. Here, deep in the heart of suburbia, our friendly neighborhood possi would congregate, spending countless summer hours running games of street hockey from dusk till dawn. Blood, sweat, and tears were shed over the asphalt of that street.