Clackers, Creepy Crawlers & Jarts

My parents were the Howard-n-Marion-Cunningham of the neighborhood. They based their parenting ground rules on how something affected their own comfort, or (if their comfort was not in play) their decisions fell into two categories: either they approved in a clueless and over-trusting manner or they were groundlessly and adamantly opposed. Determining which way they'd decide, or why, was never simple or obvious.

Although I played with my friend's Clackers, and whacked myself on the head a time or seven, I never witnessed them shatter or break (as they were alleged to). Mom wouldn't allow us to own them because she heard the noise from three yards away and didn't want that ruckus in her house.

The bubbling plastic and smoky molds which heated my day-glow worms and spiders . . . oh, I recall those smells and burns with fondness . . . (even now) a car sitting in an unshaded parking lot for hours can bring those memories wafting back. Mom restricted Creepy Crawlers to our basement; next to my wood-burning, and chemistry sets.

No one in our family or neighborhood got hurt by Jarts (even though we tossed them in each other's general direction). Playing with them was no different than playing with horseshoes, you watched where they were being arced and didn't play when smaller kids were running around.

Which reminds me of the worst Halloween injury I was involved with:

My little sister eagerly rode around me in a circle as I tried to arc a utility-pole anchor spike (tied to a string) through the back of her tricycle. The tricycle-lariat-king was off his game that day, I'll tell you. After over a half-dozen misses, I eventually hit her in the face with the pointy end, which punctured her left cheek and chipped her tooth.

It looked traumatic.

Of course I was sorry.

Only, at the time, I was actually feeling sorry for these things, in this order:
  • that I'd, again, missed hooking the back-rung of the tricycle

  • her screaming was, obviously, going to put a stop to the game

  • now I probably won't be able to convince her to play driveway rodeo with me

  • maybe ever again

  • getting really screamed at (what were you thinking!?) and grounded, by my parents, felt scarier than the blood and histrionics

  • saying "but she didn't mind playing the rodeo calf"

  • realizing the answer to my parent's shouted question was that I wasn't, but was old enough to (and that I could only blame my stupidity)

  • that in my imagination (as I waited in my room for them to return from the hospital) worse luck added an inch of arc to my throw, which punctured her left eye and stopped in her brain


Mary Witzl said...

I got hit by a Jart once. I put out my hand to shield my face, and it stuck there, in my palm. It looked worse than it was, but I milked it dry anyway. My cousin got into a little trouble over it, which was also nice.

veach st. glines said...

You know what them they used to say: A Jart In The Hand Is Worth . . .

Anonymous said...

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veach st. glines said...

Thank you, A-nony.